Digger
November 2nd, 2010

Digger

The nice thing about webcomics is that when the creator does something you want to strangle them for, you have the button right there to send them angry letters. If you feel the need, go ahead–I may start a thread over at my blog for this, since it’s hard to have a discussion in the comments here, and I think people may want to talk about this at length. All that I ask is that you try not to spoiler–this is probably the only REAL spoiler of the whole comic, so…err…use your best judgment, guys.

But,well–if you are going to do great and terrible things, you must be prepared to pay a great and terrible price. Some characters come to you carrying their deaths with them, and I’ve known for a very long time that Ed was mortal and that it was beyond my limited powers to change. (The writer is often not nearly so in charge of the story as you might thing.) So I gave him the best end I could.

And if you still need to send me angry letters, feel free. It’s cool. I understand.

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Discussion (247)¬

  1. Anonny Mouse says:

    Thank you for having the courage to let a character die whose time has come. He shall be missed.

  2. “The writer is often not nearly so in charge of the story as you might think.”

    Only if you’re doing it right.

    I say this as a novelist who has had to write the death of one of my favorite people…and who has had to answer these same questions from my readers. And when asked “Why?”, all I can say is “Because that’s what happened.”

    It’s not my story, it’s theirs. I’m just writing it down as best I can. I cried my eyes out, too, because it hurts to lose someone so close to you.

    So I’ve got your back on this one, Ursula, even though I don’t think you need it.

  3. Ajac says:

    *removes hat*

    Ai! Laurië lantar lassi súrinen,
    yéni únótimë ve rámar aldaron!
    Yéni ve lintë yuldar avánier
    mi oromardi lissë-miruvóreva
    Andúnë pella, Vardo tellumar
    nu luini yassen tintilar i eleni
    ómaryo airetári-lírinen.

    Sí man i yulma nin enquantuva?

    An sí Tintallë Varda Oiolossëo
    ve fanyar máryat Elentári ortanë
    ar ilyë tier undulávë lumbulë
    ar sindanóriello caita mornië
    i falmalinnar imbë met,
    ar hísië untúpa Calaciryo míri oialë.
    Sí vanwa ná, Rómello vanwa, Valimar!
    Namárië! Nai hiruvalyë Valimar!
    Nai elyë hiruva! Namárië!

    May you find your way to the halls of Mandos, Ed, and to that Realm Beyond the Circles of the World.

  4. reapicheep says:

    By the way, when I said “Don’t pull a Gandalf,” I meant “Don’t resurrect him.” I would be fine with a brief cameo from Ed’s ghost, though, just for some resolution. You know, Ed appears to Digger, Grim Eyes, and Boneclaw Mother (who can’t actually see him, never mind), smiles, says “Ed is in better place! And still named Ed! No skin painting of ghosts but Ed is painting sky!” After all, if Felix can manifest and make wisecracks, Ed might be able to say goodbye and THEN move on.

  5. Yubi Shines says:

    Oh, Ed.

    No hate mail, no tears, just… jaw on floor.

    Oh dear.

  6. reapicheep says:

    @ Ajac — Could you please translate that? It looks like Tolkien Elven, with a reference to “Heaven” (Valimar). I’m sure its very poetic and apt, a fitting tribute to a noble soul.

  7. Hawk says:

    Going to have to set the poetry in these comments to music.
    If I can stop crying long enough.

    Oh…Ed…

  8. Rags says:

    Oh, Ed indeed.
    Rest in peace, hero.

  9. Kayru says:

    …. no… ;_;

  10. Nimras says:

    Oh, poor Ed. Always getting punished for doing the right thing. I can only hope that She Is (or whoever is in charge of that for Hyenas) has got some sweet digs set up for him.

    I’m going to go wander off an cry now. :'(

  11. Blaise says:

    Oh man.

    Oh man oh man oh man no no no no no no no.

    I want to go back to Thursday, when Ed was still alive…

  12. BunnyRock says:

    Thank you Ursula. I feel privileged to have been, even in a spectators dim, distant and imperfect role, part of Ed’s story. Some things witnessed change the witnesses, and although saddened I needed to see this. Thank you.

    There’s only really one thing I can add to this.

    My heart has joined the thousand, for my friend stopped running today.

  13. Tosscobble says:

    No hate mail. Part of the reason that this comic is so amazing is because it has the ability to move a person. My only complaint is that I’m the only person I know who reads this, and I’m crying like a fool in my living room, and no one will get it…

  14. Bwee says:

    @Bunny – Ah, I was hoping someone would post that one. I’d forgotten how it went (although, technically, Ed’s one of the nicer elil)

    Tissues?

  15. Otookee says:

    In a weird way, “outrage mail” can be seen as a kind of backhanded tribute. It means you made the character so real that your readers respond to his death as they would to the death of an actual person…
    I am grieved that Ed never got to hear the grown-up Grim Eyes say “I love you Dad”.
    I haven’t been able yet to come up with a song for Ed. Somehow I think that

    May be dead,
    But name still ED!

    doesn’t quite cut it, though it’s been bouncing around my head all day. I have, though, been listening to Connie Dover’s song Last Night by the River, and I find it appropriate…

  16. werepixi says:

    No hate mail. How could I dishonour Ed’s life life like that.

  17. Bwee says:

    On a random note, I think Ed would like the fact that despite the fact none of us can eat his liver, a fair number are singing our people’s songs* over him.

    * And by our people’s songs I mean ‘poems and quotes and things we have taken from things we love and know that resonate with us’

  18. Rhio2k says:

    Aw, dammit. He did not die unloved, or un-named. He was not a trash-person. He was Ed, painter of skins, and friend of earth-rats.

  19. Cookiemonster says:

    :(

    For we are all mortal,
    and once our time shall come,
    For every flame that is given life,
    one will snuff out,
    maybe softly,
    maybe loudly,
    But such are the ways things happen,

    I will mourn your flame, Ed.

    _-
    @ Reapie: That is indeed Tolkien’s elvish, it looks…Quenya, I think. My language skills are too rusty to recognise if it is Quenya or Sindarin. Though Sindarin was used more in songs, if I remember correctly.
    It looks and reads beautifully, it’s a shame that my mind can not call back all the words and their meanings. For that would make it better.

    R.I.P. Ed

  20. Ben says:

    Seems to me that Ed’s a bit of a Christ figure. If you consider him as an analogue for He-Is, which I am choosing to do.

  21. Attic Rat says:

    Digger’s going to have to eat more hyena liver?

  22. Emma says:

    Of all the people to be killed, it had to be Ed. Well…

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

    D:

  23. Gramina says:

    Ketira — if anything, Ed’s heart is surely *lighter* than the Feather of Ma’at. If Truth has a face, today, it’s Ed’s.

  24. Musashi says:


    Well, that was necessary, I mean, that had to happen, and I had to expect that sort of fate from him since we met him, but…
    … still. ;___;
    I’m not angry with you, but ED, DAMMIT. Wait, in fact, I will be angry with you, but only if you pull a convenient resurrection/whatever, because that would cheapen his death.

  25. Tyr says:

    Ed is dead.
    :(

  26. skies says:

    I might cry o-o

  27. Sarafina says:

    “The time has come
    It’s for the best, I know it
    Who could have guessed that you and I…
    Somehow, some way
    We’d have to say goodbye…

    Somehow today…
    …we have to say goodbye” (The Time Has Come (Pikachu’s Goodbye) – John Loeffler)

    “How will I start tomorrow without you here?
    Whose heart will guide me while all the answers disappear?
    Is it too late? Are you too far gone to stay?
    Best friends forever, should never have to go away!

    What will I do? You know I’m only half without you!
    How will I make it through?

    If only tears could bring you back to me,
    If only love could find a way…
    What I would do, what I would give if you
    Return to me, someday, somehow, someway…
    If my tears could bring you back to me…” (f Only Tears Could Bring You Back – Midnight Sons)

  28. Only in silence the word
    Only in dark the light
    Only in dying, life
    Bright the hawk’s flight
    On the empty sky
    -Ursula LeGuin

    Oh, Ed. I’d really hoped for an acknowledgment moment with Grim Eyes, for your sake, but such was not to be. First comic that’s actually gotten me to CRY, dammit.

  29. WafflesToo says:

    Sad though it is, I thought it was how it was going to end.

    It can actually get rough as a writer when you KNOW things aren’t going to turn out well… and every dodge and rewrite you attempt comes off as false, forcing you to that horrible ending.

  30. Philosophycookie says:

    There are no words,
    only silence.

    This is a sad, sad day.
    Let us shed tears for a fallen hero
    and mourn.

  31. Allie Lewis says:

    …no…. nonononono no….
    Oh, poor Ed… Heh, if I remember correctly, he was just something Ursula needed to attack Digger, and became a hyena because she couldn’t draw a bear. And now he’s a bloody hero. I salute you, Ed who is not a bear.
    Maybe the hyenas have a way of restoring honour, after this. Reinstating a name. Some sort of remembrance something.

  32. griffinguy24 says:

    I do not mourn Ed’s death, for there is a chance that he will not die.

    This is a story of mythic proportions. An outcast, an eaten, who sacrificed his name to save his child from the madness of a warrior, was given a new name by the Mother of Earthquakes. He braved the cold servants of the demon Sweetgrass Voice, ending the torturous living death of the Eaten God and killing the architect of the first evil.

    If there is any justice, Ed shall become a hero to the hyenas. He may even become a hyena god.

    While some may not want that, I doubt many would mourn that.

  33. Allie Lewis says:

    …Kingfisher.
    Ed has his ghost. He just led Digger to his body.

  34. Paul says:

    Ah phooey – this *is* a comic after all. Gods, Wombats, and all. Can’t we have just a small miracle or two? Please?

  35. Bwee says:

    @griffinguy

    “Gather round, young cubs, warriors, and remember that not all warriors are warrior-born. It was not long ago. Not for gods, not for people. But in that time the Little-Mother-of-Earthquakes dug a deep, deep den. Straight up….”

  36. AltarBoy says:

    Ed is gone. He died well, destroying an enemy greater than himself. I will take him into my tribe, pass the liver, I’ll cook it myself.

  37. IonOtter says:

    Boneclaw Mother and Owlcaller are now free to tell Grim Eyes about her father.

    Tradition be damned.

  38. V~Sama says:

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
    :'(
    BRING HIM BACK! GET THE BIRD TO DO IT! HE’S RIGHT THERE! T.T ahhhh-haha it isn’t right.

  39. Jeremyhfht says:

    Okay. Wow. No. You know what? No. I am tired of webcomics doing stupid shit, like killing off their only really likable characters just to be “Darker and edgier”. I’m no longer going to be reading this comic. Good day.

  40. If it were up to me to be the agent of justice in Digger’s world, here’s what we are seeing:

    We see that Ed fell on the broken link of chain as he hit the ground, and is thereby linked in death to He-Is.
    The kingfisher is Ed’s heart, because it is shining brightly. It can’t be that of He-Is, because He-Is cannot erase his crime of weakness; he can only gain the final rest he has been denied for so long.
    Yet gods cannot die until they are no longer worshipped…
    …or until they are replaced by another god. And now He-Is can truly die, because Ed has taken his place.
    The past cannot be changed: She is still fiercer. But now hyena males have a god of strength, triumph, and redemption, not a god of weakness, failure, and exile. And perhaps the madness of female hyena hunters and warriors will subside somewhat now that SGV is dead.

    I hope this is true, anyway, or something like it — so that Ed’s second sacrifice has meaning beyond just fixing someone else’s problem. The Eds of our own world never get what they deserve…and I dare to hope that in Digger’s magical world, maybe there’s a little bit of justice left over for a scruffy, long-suffering little skin-painter.

    Wow. The only fictional death that’s hit me harder is the one I had to write in my own novel. And despite the occasional distractingly snarky comic-isms, you’ve made me care about Ed enough to shed a tear for him. That is real art, and to hell with the high-culture publishing industry that insists it isn’t because no one in New York deigned to notice or take a cut.

  41. Carapace says:

    Thank you for killing Ed.

    No, seriously. I loved Ed too, but heroics without sacrifice aren’t heroics, just tourism. Digger’s had her injuries and aggravations, Shadowchild had her childhood, and now Ed’s given up– well, being the Eaten. Ed is Ed, and Ed is awesome, and that’s how it had to be. Thank you so much for not back down from what really had to happen, or sacrificing the intergrity of the story for a Hyperhappy ending. This is a good ending, even for Ed.

    Also- love the white-shadows.

  42. Mark Antony says:

    Oh, Ed….

    We are but candles in the night,
    Beacons cold of sputtering life.
    Yet noble souls that give their light
    To break the wind, to ease our strife,
    The candle’s mortal fate defy
    And outlive those still yet to die.

    Farewell, Ed.

  43. Meteorfire says:

    Oh, Ed.

    *heartbreak*

    I can understand your reasons, but…Oh, Ed.

  44. Gramina says:

    Others have mentioned the parallels… This, from Gerard Manley Hopkins, with some perhaps-ham-handed edits:

    AS kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
    As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
    Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
    Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
    Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
    Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
    Selves—goes itself; itself it speaks and spells,
    Crying Whát I do is me: for that I came.

    Í say móre: the just one justices;
    Kéeps gráce: thát keeps all his goings graces;
    In Being’s name acts what in Being is—
    Ed — for Ed acts in ten thousand stories,
    Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
    As He-is, She-is, and we sing his glories.

  45. Coelacanth says:

    But…kingfisher should be the heart of the dead god, instead of Ed’s soul, which will be an owl…right?

  46. jr says:

    Sorry Jeremyhfht. If you think Ed died so the comic could be “Darker” or “edgier”, you didn’t understand Ed at all.

  47. Gramina says:

    Coelacanth — could be He-Is’s heart, could be Ed’s heart.

  48. Sarafina says:

    @jr I agree with you.

    Jeremyhfht, I suggest you read what Ursula wrote here and in her blog (the link is to the right of the comic). Ed didn’t die because Ursula was trying to make the comic “darker and edgier”. Ed died because that’s how it’s supposed to be, and it’s part of his character and story..
    To quote Ursula (from the note under the comic): “But, well–if you are going to do great and terrible things, you must be prepared to pay a great and terrible price. Some characters come to you carrying their deaths with them, and I’ve known for a very long time that Ed was mortal and that it was beyond my limited powers to change. (The writer is often not nearly so in charge of the story as you might thing.) So I gave him the best end I could. ”
    Also from her blog: “The odd thing is that I knew Ed was going to die since not long after we met him, and much of the last six or seven years of comic I spent wondering how it happened.

    I figured it out in the shower one day around two years ago, and a couple months later I figured out his last words, and I admit, there was some choking up in the shower when I did. (I do a lot of the plotting for Digger in the shower.)

    Then I sat on it. For TWO YEARS. I finally told Kevin, because I had to tell SOMEBODY, and at least one fan figured it out and e-mailed me a surprisingly accurate plot synopsis, and some other friends figured out much closer to the crunch, probably from my awkward silences, and my mother called and made me tell her what happened, and everybody was very good about keeping quiet about it. But I’m still glad it’d finally drawn.

    I’d like to be able to tell you that I knew it was a heroic redemption story all along. Maybe other authors know what they’re doing beforehand, I just keep going and hope that it all works out in the end.”

  49. jaynee says:

    Matchless courage paired with a heart as big as the sky. Thank you for Ed’s life, Ursula.

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