June 10th, 2010


ETA: *cough* The skin’s fonts changed because it was late and I was very tired. I will fix and upload a new one next week after this one is off display–I’m not entirely confident of my ability to manipulate ComicPress, and I don’t want to break the page everybody’s trying to get to.

Also, just since everybody’s asking–it’s wild false indigo. I grow it in my garden. One of my favorite plants, a real trooper. It’s not as lasting a dye as true indigo, but it’s supposed to be easier to extract.

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Discussion (43)¬

  1. Terry says:

    Awww… poor Skins, overworked at bug-catching.

    I love when we get reminders of Ed’s intelligence. Not just Yoda-ish words of wisdom, but an actual cultivated intellect underneath the years of not speaking still weighing him down. (:

  2. Bwee says:

    Red AND blue! See, and here I was thinking ‘what would give a pure purple dye, hmmm.’ Kindergarten colours fail, self.

    …So the plant…anyone more skilled with the green things want to weigh in on this? I want to say indigo but the leaves don’t look cloverish to me.

  3. Carapace says:

    …Did the font on the skins’ word balloons change?

    Also, I love how we all just assume Ursula has done the research and these are real known dye plants. I mean, I think so too. It’s just grand to have a comic with research done.

  4. Kayru says:

    A worthwhile compromise! <3

  5. inlaid says:

    The Skins are so cute…

  6. DQ says:

    Carapace, it did! It used to be that awesome old typewritter font didn’t it?

  7. Sondre says:

    I… This caught me totally off guard. I was expecting Jhalm vs. Hyena Tribe action!
    Also, vote early, and vote often. Heck, even vote from other people’s units!

  8. jaynee says:

    I’ll be very late home from work ‘cos I couldn’t resist reading just one more page… ok just *one* more… umm, this is the last time I hit the Next button… but I have to find out if …
    And whaddya know, I’ve caught up. No more Next button. How odd.

    Well spotted, Carapace (as the tiger said to the leopard).

  9. Lindale says:

    I love so many of the characters in this webcomic <3

  10. Cornbread says:

    I’m somewhat of a plant geek but can’t think of Ed’s blue dye plant off the top of my head. I’ll look into it though.

  11. Sarah says:


    I’m curious about the plant as well. It doesn’t sound like indigo or woad, and those kind of exhaust the good root-based blue dyes used in Western cultures. But I know much less about non-Western dyes.

  12. Emma says:

    Yeah, I hate having to catch bugs to make purple dye to write on the skins of dead animals too. XD

  13. Elizabeth says:

    OMG. I love that they’re dye geeking and that poor Digger is stuck listening to them. I’ve been in both roles. So cute!

  14. rylen says:

    Now if they were talking about stalactite formation, time would fly by.

  15. JewelWolf says:

    I can think of a compromise. Lapis Lazuli is a gemstone which is often ground into a fine dust to be used in paints. It makes a very deep blue, and I’m sure it could be mixed with something red to make an exceptional purple. Well, that’s not exactly a dye, but I think it’s a good idea.

  16. Hawk says:

    I want to know what the RED dye was!! Half the equation to a gorgeous purple and I am missing out?!

    (joking of course)

    Since I know nothing about the matter, I thought the plant Ed described *was* indigo. Then I read the comments! Yay for learning something new 🙂

    I also think it’s cute that the painters are being art geeks and Digger is all “sigh.”

  17. TekServer says:

    Not only has the font changed for the skins, but I believe the last panel is the first time we’ve seen either of them use a first person singular pronoun (“I hated catching bugs.”).

    I suspect that whoever said, a couple pages back, that we would be seeing increasingly frequent transitions between the different character groups as we approach the impending climax of the story was correct, as evidenced by this transition …


  18. Tengu says:

    This is really neat; so often, characters font will transition from normal-to-scary, but I can’t recall a webcomic where someone’s font went from scary-to-normal before. Nifty!

    Woad flowers, which look like leaves, are sort of clover-shaped. And woad seeds, which look like flowers, are purple when they mature.

    …but there are one hoot of a lot of plants that produce Indigo (the chemical). Hundreds of species.

    It is a Mystery, and if we want to know, we will have to find something that Ed considers a fair trade for the secrets of his art.

  19. @Sondre. I often employee your method. I call it gorilla voting.

  20. Octane says:

    SKINS learned FORAGE!

    Soon enough they’ll have an underground post-industrial city.

  21. Marilyse says:

    But… I could’ve sworn that red dye was made from bugs!

  22. Hebi R. says:

    There’s something so cute about that little “I hated catching bugs.” It is an interesting choice for the first “I” statement from the skinlizards.

    Btw, what mood-whiplash! We go from an intense verbal battle to the opening of what might become an intense phyisical battle to…craft tips. And a very bored wombat. Though I bet Mirai would have traded in a heart-beat. Even a dead-god’s heartbeat.

  23. Maureen says:

    The beauty of this is that, since the Skins live underground, they don’t have to worry about the sun fading their dyes.

  24. Hebi R. says:

    Though that does beg the question of why underground creatures that apparently see in the dark need colorful dyes.

  25. D.G. says:

    Well, one possible source or red is crushed cochneal beetles, but that involves…bug-catching.

  26. Lucius Appaloosius says:

    Well, for red dyes, you’ve got madder (not very permanent, though), bloodroot (maybe?), rattan berries (‘dragon’s blood’), pokeweed (rather purplish itself); you could use cinnabar (vermilion) as a mineral pigment, or red ochre…. anything else? 7@=e

  27. Tindi says:

    Oh, Ursula, I love you. I actually vaguely remembered you talking about your wild indigo, and wondered if that was going to tie back in with Digger. xD
    Personally, I would have been interested in a discussion of dyes OR rock formations, but I’m weird like that.

  28. Rags says:

    How about dy(e)ing rock formations?

  29. Heph says:

    Hmm it does not match the description but “Isatis tinctoria” aka woad could work too if you prefer a eurasian plant. The plant in the comic is “Baptisia australis” which was used by north-american tribes and later by the european settlers which called it “Blue False Indigo”. The Natives used it also sometimes as medicin acording to Wikipedia.

  30. Loren says:

    Changing fonts to normal from scary actually makes sense, in that the skins were being weird and ominous and aloof, before, but now they’re huddling with Ed and geeking out over cool (to them) stuff.

  31. BunnyRock says:

    @Tengu. the Gate-keepers in “schlock mercenary” went from a scary to a normal typeface, as people complained the type was too hard to read.

    schlock mercenary being what it is, the character in question asked why the font hand changed and the narrator told him people had been finding it too hard to read. apparently in the far future world of mercenaries, the fourth wall does not exist.

  32. Edhelith says:

    Speaking of Owl Caller, Digger never did have a chance to deliver his message to Ed, did she? I hope she’ll have an opportunity to when all of this is over.

  33. Madam Atom says:

    Hey! Who let their toddler read Murai’s backstory?

    http://www.themonsterengine.com/artwork — Click Monsters on the main panel, and check out the first one–the skull-headed guy in the green sweater. And the caption …

    Okay, more likely some kid got freaked out at church, but still … I just … eek!

  34. JewelWolf says:

    Wait… what does that website do? Do they just take kindergardeners’ drawings and make them realistic?

  35. Madam Atom says:

    There’s an explanation on the site’s About page, here.


    Doesn’t say who the kids were, how the pics were chosen, etc.–but if I’m reading it right, then yeah, what you said is what happened.

  36. Firebird766 says:

    Maybe the red dye could be amaranth?


  37. JewelWolf says:

    That’s actually a pretty good idea, now that I think about it. It lets us see what the kids were trying to draw in the first place. Lets face it, they suck at art, but… that website gives us a glimpse into that infinite imagination that they have, which seems to diminish over time in most cases. I feel I need to say “in most cases” because Ursula is the greatest examples of an exception that I can think of.

  38. Pyth says:

    Actually, I just reread the archives and the skins lost their font for a page or so way back in the beginning, too. I should’ve made a note of when; I think it was near the tail end of their first appearance, but I don’t remember. Unless that one was intentional, I guess. Then it doesn’t matter much.

  39. The Occupant says:

    Skins are adorible. That’s it, I am making a Skins plushie!

  40. Bwee says:

    Aaaaand we have a plant ID! *confettithrow*

    Quick, everybody, speculate about where you can find the red! ;D (And on that topic, I wonder if you could actually inject cochineal, as a tattoo dye, into someone who wasn’t allergic to it in food. And not have it result in horrible explosions, like.)

  41. Just another fan who just caught up and wants to voice appreciation. Wonderful webcomic you’ve got here! Digger has a really beautiful mix of engaging plot and hilarious jokes.

  42. Rags says:

    I think Explosive Runes are only found in fantasy games…

  43. Hebi R. says:

    Don’t cochineal bugs live in cacti? I am not certain I saw any around Ganesh’s temple. On the other hand, Diggers tunnel to the temple is new, so maybe the tunnel that the skin lizards use to get to the surface goes to a completely different world.