July 28th, 2009


My mother called me up after Thursday’s comic to demand to know what happened to Shadowchild….(I told her. Personal rules about spoilering are useless in the face of one’s mother.)

She didn’t disown me, so I guess that bodes well…

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Discussion (49)¬

  1. SayblFox says:

    twofold reaction to this new ShadowChild; so very intriguing and an awesome development, and yet, i mourn for the “passing” of little larval SC :(

  2. jassius says:

    …And thus the knowledge of good and evil came into Shadowchild.
    Not sure if that is good or bad, but that will make him a different shadowchild for sure.

    Nothing like a mother to keep the plot user friendly ;) Send her the readers grattitude

  3. Wayne says:

    As I mentioned at the end of the last comic’s comments, Shadowchild’s “plumage” resembles that of a Kingfisher. Quite interesting.

  4. Zamael says:

    I don’t think he knows much more about good and evil, jassius: demons are supposed to be above such pettiness, after all, so the memories of Sweetgrass probably didn’t help him much in that regard.

    Still. Why would an all-mighty shadow creature ever be afraid of a simple wombat who isn’t even part of any ancient prophesy? I do wonder.

  5. Zat says:

    <3 i feel so sorry for him :X He has the stigma that comes with knowledge now. He know much more, but he’s lost his innocence :P I think that his time of learning from digger is over.

  6. bakafox says:

    Man. I wish I had some kind of familial thing to hold over you to get spoilers, even with THIS much answered.

    *waits impatiently for Thursday now*

  7. Sil says:

    Sounds like Shadow was worried about Digger disowning Shadow!

  8. jassius says:

    Oh, just noticed a couple of things.
    – Shadows seem to be genderless. Even with the new knowledge, SC referes to SGV as “it”, so possibly SC would take no offense on being refered as “it”.
    – And Digger is the one feared by the gods and shadows. Too bad for Murray’s destiny mision and that. And yet she is there for some reason.

  9. Orjan says:

    I think Digger is feared by gods and shadows because they have no hold on her. The statue of Ganesh has only managed to steer Digger by appealing to her sense of duty and morals, and Digger has resented the manipulation.

    Beings who work directly on emotions will be nervous around a people as rational as the wombats.

  10. Veritas says:

    Shadow’s “you” could have been plural; Murai may still have a role to play in that.

    That said, indeed, the gods – and dark influences upon them – are probably quite nervous about things they can’t control, nor even predict.

    Wombat rationality isn’t the only thing involved there, after all – Helix mentioned some supernatural element involving(or rather, refusing to involve) any of his (many, many) descendants. Not only can Digger not be commanded as gods command their followers, even her future is a mystery to them, without the hints they can get about, say, Murai’s destiny.

  11. tiggertoo says:

    Ursula, at least you’re not one of those horribly evil authors who wake up each day with the thought “What is the worst thing I can think of to do to my characters today?”

    Poor ShadowChild – to leap into knowledge so suddenly – likely very ancient knowledge as well – no telling how old SGV is and all it has seen and done (plus, I would expect SGV to share some of the Not Quite Dead God’s knowledge also – so SC likely got a double whammy of knowledge).

    Wasn’t it Ganesh that was relieved that the Oracular Slugs could see something of Digger’s destiny – that the thought of a whole race immune to the forces of destiny was a bit unnerving?

  12. tolly says:

    to paraphrase Terry Pratchett, knowledge of good and evil is unnecessary when you have a highly developed sense of right and wrong.. i think that’s what’s tripped up Digger’s discussions with Shadowchild the whole time

  13. Did she invoke the large amount of money she paid for your art education over the years? (And presumably in her case, the large amount of time she personally sunk into it.) That’s what mine did when she wanted some Absinthe backgrounds without having to donate.

    She got ’em with no complaints, too!

  14. Niall says:

    The “I have learned a great deal” panel: a blob of black ink and two little white shapes. And yet, they are the perfect white shapes to convey a myriad of complex emotions. Holy crap, Ursula, you are an Artist.

    I am going on vacation and will not see comics until Monday, but I am glad it’s after this one and not the previous one. This is a mini-resolution of sorts, at least of SC’s immediate frame of mind.

  15. wolfofsilver says:

    I feel relief, and immediately sadness. SC has now gained the knowledge that we all eventually gain as we transcend from children to adults–only in demon form. The look in SC’s eyes is that of innocence lost, along with other things that can only mean the learning of terrible knowledge. My heart breaks to see that look in SC’s eyes. You have a done a wonderful job, Ursula, as Niall so eloquently put. :)

    I have no speculation other than this (then again, I’m checking Digger at 9AM, when I’m normally asleep at this time. I have not had coffee yet. -.- ). But it is good. Your mom hasn’t throttled you for having SC grow up, so….yeah. ^_^

  16. theysabet says:

    Poor Shadow; instead of eating the apple, he ended up eating the snake. **thinks random thoughts of Adam & Eve having a barbeque**

    …and the fact that your MOM, your actual MOM called you up and demanded to be told the next bit of the tale is actually one of the cutest things I think I’ve ever heard. Now *that* is good storytelling in any medium. ^_____^

  17. Michael says:

    (Should really be posting this on the preceding strip, but since there’s a new one up now, what the heck.)

    This has to be one of the most emotionally powerful moments in any fiction I’ve read. I’ve pretty much only just discovered this comic and read all of it so far in about a week, and when I got to here, it just hit me so hard. It still gives me twitches, just reliving the memory of that moment. Absolutely awesome.

  18. Wolf says:

    SC’s “oh” worries me. It’s not a childish “ok!” or a relieved “oh, good”. Just “oh”. Something’s up. Who knows just what SC’s learned from eating SGV; maybe at some level He-Is considered SGV his only friend.

  19. hailfire says:

    love the BBQ snake comment theysabet made.

    your lucky that your mom even reads your comic. my mom refuses to read any of my stuff untill its finished, she’s had too many storys that never finished from my dad and being disappointed in not being able to finish reading the story.

    still interested why SC thought that digger wouldn’t be friends anymore, its got to be more than because SC ate something that spoke. perhaps because it realizes that demons typically aren’t the best creatures to hang around..

  20. TekServer says:

    Well, I think I’ll hold off on any speculation, since I was so wrong on this one. I see motub hasn’t posted yet; when you do, apologies: you were right, I was wrong, in all but a few details. :\

    I still love the way this was handled. SGV sent a shadow of itself, and is now weakened, but certainly can’t be counted out yet; and because of this humiliation, may now be more dangerous than ever.

    You know, I’m going to choose a different route: instead of mourning Shadow’s loss of innocence, I’m going to be happy for what it’s gained. Yes, we’ve all heard the trite little sayings about knowledge bringing sadness. But knowledge is also power. And I believe that it doesn’t just bring sadness; used properly it can bring a different flavor of happiness, not to mention (if you’re lucky) wisdom.

    So welcome, New and Improved Shadow!
    (“I am, and always shall be, your friend … “)


  21. ayline says:

    You mean if I threaten to disown you I can get spoilers? Or does that only work if I give birth to you?

  22. Kelseigh says:

    Hold on…if the shadow that came earlier was part of Sweetgrass Voice’s shadow, then does that mean that Shadowchild is actually part of someone else’s shadow? Perhaps a piece that had been separated somehow and therefore lost its memories and became autonomous?

    If that’s the case, whose shadow did Shadowchild come from?

  23. motub says:

    Aw, TekServer, don’t sweat it :) . Not that I don’t love to hear someone say, “motub, you were right,” (since I do), but not atthe cost of making someone else “wrong”… certainly not with regard to differing opinions about a webcomic, no matter how wonderful :) . And I wasn’t quite right– Shadow did eat SGV (and indeed much more of SGV than I had even expected), but (maybe because it was only a “shadow of a shadow”– how do you do that, anyway? Must come with age and cunning) only “grew up” because of it…. clearly Shadow is still itself, just colored by its experiences and the new knowledge it has gained.

    I’m really glad that Ursula made it so clear that Shadow is still itself. And I agree that there is cause for joy, just as TekServer said; I noticed that, once having confirmed that Digger was still a “friendly”, what Shadow did was immediately begin to supply strategic information about “the enemy”, which ShadowChild would not have done so explicitly.

    So Shadow has gained full status as a member of the “team”, since it is now significantly more mature, or at least no longer a child.

    I do regret the newly-acquired aura of grief/sadness/regret that now hangs around it, and miss the open cheerfulness of its childhood state, but perhaps some of that will come back as it integrates its maturity more fully into its new being (i.e., as it continues to grow up).

    But at least its still Shadow. As long as that’s true, it’s all good as far as I’m concerned (and I’d think that Digger might well agree). As long as Shadow is still Shadow “underneath it all”, we can handle all the setbacks and backwaters and confusions and emotional vagiaries, because…. you’re my friend, and you’re still you, at the end of the day.

    Challenging, sure… but it’s all good when all is said and done. Helps a lot that Wombats know a lot about immoveable objects (rock), and are not themselves changeable creatures by any stretch of the imagination. I’d think, if you’re “going through changes”, as Shadow is, that Digger is quite possibly the best guide and helpmate you could possibly have by your side.

    Shadow probably still needs about 100 hugs, though….. let[‘s take it in shifts :) .

  24. TekServer says:

    > Helps a lot that Wombats know a lot about immoveable objects (rock), and are not themselves changeable creatures by any stretch of the imagination.

    I would think this would also make Digger an excellent emotional “anchor” for Shadow to hang on to while the tide is rushing …


  25. reapicheep says:

    Very well, I am now convinced that Shadow Teen/Person/Whatever-It-Is both ate some of SGV and absorbed memories. Though, hopefully, not much soul/personality. Maybe it’s like lead poisoning, where trace amounts are bad, but only accumulated amounts cause poisoning.

    “I ate it and the shadowskin of memories inside it.” Stupid question: what exactly is a shadowskin, and how the heck is it /inside/? Is this like the outer “skin” on sausages? Rather like eating bratwurst in Bavaria?

    Aha! It just came to me. Shadow___ [insert ending appellation later] just ate the rind of Sweetgrass Voice’s shadow’s liver. This explains the the tummy ache, the growth spurt, and the acquisition of knowledge. Won’t the hyenas be proud?

    On another note, people keep discussing the pros and cons of lost innocence. People often say “ignorance is bliss,” unaware that they are quoting a famous poem out of context. In Thomas Gray’s great poem “Ode to a Distant Prospect at Eton College” (Okay, so the title stinks, but the rest of the poem is pretty good), he ends, “WHERE ignorance is bliss / ‘Tis folly to be wise.”

    He was talking about children playing, unaware of their impending exposure to adult realities. So the question is, was ShadowChild happier wondering about his family, or will he be happier now knowing the awful truth?

    And…drat. We’re back where we started.

    Still, my answer is that ShadowChild was more blissful in ignorance, but that “it” will ultimately be happier knowing. I would rather work from knowledge, too, even if it’s not as comfortable. It is more empowering, and, in the end, easier on the conscience.

  26. Rowanmdm says:

    SC mentions the “shadow skin of memories” inside SGV, so now my question is does every shadow have memories like that, or just demons? I’m guessing not everyone since SC probably would have grown up a bit faster thanks to all the other shadows it ate. Interesting how all the other shadows only fed SC tastes and emotions, but SGV also fed knowledge. Actually, since SC mentions the shadow and skin of memories as separate things, could this be something everyone has, but that SC choose not to eat previously?

  27. Hawksong says:

    Thank goodness it is still Shadow.
    Those hugs are incoming, yes indeed!
    I also notice that Digger’s reaction isn’t “yes, tell me the strategery now” but more concern for her friend. I’d be concerned too. I wonder what kinds of rocky emotional terrain Shadow will now have to deal with as it matures.

    When I read the first panel I was practically cheering again, because it is the only right answer Digger could really give. But now I’m back to sadness, because…Thursday’s so far away…ack!

    *goes back to re-read archives a while*

  28. Hawksong says:

    And – regarding innocence lost.
    Knowledge is power. But neither knowledge nor power are comfortable at all. What makes me sad for Shadow is not so much that the innocence was lost. It’s like losing a baby tooth – it’s painful but necessary and it’s part of growing up, right? But it’s one thing for the tooth to fall out; it’s another kind of painful for the tooth to be torn out (I can say this from experience having lost two baby teeth due to accidents that broke them out of my jaw – double the ouch!).
    So part of my empathy for Shadow is the extra pain he suffers from such a RAPID growth spurt. Also the pain of knowing what he is, what his kind is, and what they do. There’s somewhat a parallel with JK Rowling here – the more Harry Potter knows about his enemy, the harder it is for him to recall the differences between himself and Voldemort. It seems very likely that Shadow is deeply disturbed by the similarities between itself and the memories/knowledge of SGV it has now gained. How can Shadow be anything but uncomfortable and saddened, knowing that it is (in a sense) a spawn of evil and grief and pain? Knowing that its only friend (that it knows of at this moment) is Digger?
    His response to Digger’s affirmation of friendship may have seemed lackluster. To me, it seemed that Shadow felt somewhat comforted by that. The hugging-itself gesture is repeated in that panel, which seems to me to be an echo of the kind of self-comforting you see in abandoned children.
    My sadness for Shadow grows out of what I see as the inevitable feelings of abandonment, questioning, and grief it now suffers.

  29. Arwen says:

    Le gasp! So if you mentioned that your mom didn’t ‘disown’ you because of the foresight you gave her, does that mean something devastating is still to come?! That was a rhetorical question. The new developments are sure interesting though!

  30. jomiller says:


  31. rista-liehna says:

    That little”oh” made me feel sorry for Shadowchild all over again. “You’re still my friend” is clearly not something it expected to hear… anything else, I’m not sure about. One moment, I can easily interpret its pose in that panel as surprised and happy, then I look again and it’s sad because it thinks it doesn’t deserve friendship. Then I look again and, no, it’s definitely happy.

    OK. I’ve got it sorted now. Shadowchild is both happy and sad at the same time. I think it fits.

  32. reapicheep says:

    @theysabet — btw, your comment about eating the snake was awesome.

  33. Kelci says:

    Well, I didn’t think that was the whole SGV. If it was, he probably wouldn’t have needed SC to kill Digger and Co. Still, poor SC has lost his innocence. Give him a hug, Digger!!

  34. D.G. says:

    Of course, loss of innocence has one side benefit for the crew. Now, instead of Digger and co. having to celebrate the crew’s probable return to civilization by watching a “family film”, they can go out to see the antromorthpic animal equivalent of either a good spaghetti western or The French Liuetenant’s Woman.
    … What, do you mean we’re not supposed to enjoy corrupting youth?

  35. TekServer says:

    Continuing my trawl through the archives, I found another interesting tidbit that might have been foreshadowing for these current events:



  36. Elena says:

    I am SO looking forward to the dead tree version of this! I’ve got volumes 1-4 already. Wonderful! And your technique seems to be improving. The story, of course, is lots of awesome and win.

  37. Kayru says:

    I think part of SC’s sadness is that it was curious to understand these things for so long, and now that it knows them, it didn’t bring any satisfaction at all. I mean, think about it – the knowledge of good and evil and the prevalence of the latter in what goes on in the world and the struggle that it makes in decision-making isn’t exactly uplifting.

  38. Kayru says:

    The link TekServer posted kinda supports that idea. Now he’s somewhat bird-like, and it’s nothing like he was hoping for.

  39. Digger-Not-The-Wombat says:

    In which Shadowchild learns that biology isn’t destiny?

  40. Stryde says:

    Where did Sweetgrass come from originally? I can’t recall, anyone have a pagelink?

  41. Gramina says:

    TekServer — and from the same sequence, this may also prove to be important: https://diggercomic.com/?p=473

  42. Gramina says:

    The “oh.” in the second panel sounds in my head like the “oh.” of when someone unexpectedly-to-me takes it for granted that they value me and that they will do something for me when it’s not easy for them. It’s got joy in it (“they like me!”) and sad in it (“why is it so hard for me to know that…?”) and an indescribably kind of “oh look, there’s grace again!’ in it.

    I can’t know that’s what Shadow’s feeling, but it’s how I hear it in my head, reading.

  43. Quakey says:

    Shadowchild, who should maybe be called just Shadow now since there seems to have been a lot of growing up going on in the last few pages, is looking like a cross between a bird and the Loch Ness monster. XD

    “I have learned a great deal.” And apparently forgotten how to use contractions.

    I love this comic so much. :D

  44. Timotheus says:

    I’m still of the opinion there will be a connection between Shadowchild and She-Is and He-is’s lost child. But we must wait to see.

  45. TekServer says:

    @Gramina: I didn’t think about that one, but you’re probably right; that’s probably got some foreshadowing (I just love that word when it relates to SC!) in it …

    @Timotheus: I suspect you’re right …


  46. Andrew says:

    Shadowchild is more mature now, or at least more eloquent.

  47. Naler says:

    Ah no… Now Shadowchild is no longer a child. I’m gonna miss that cute little innocence.

  48. Kisame says:

    He knows what sweetgrass voice has done in his life. No more innocent shadowchild. Poor shadowchild

  49. JET73L says:

    @rista-lihena: Wistful, maybe?

    To me, the “Oh” seems more like “I wasn’t expecting that, which doesn’t give me an answer as clear as I had hoped for, and don’t have an agonizingly-prepared reaction for it, so… *acknowledge*”

    But now we know that what of Sweetgrass Voice was there has been eaten, and that it had everything of Sweetgrass Voice but the control and most of the power. I wonder if Sweetgrass Voice could have removed vital information from its shadow before sending it, just in case it got eaten.