Book Review: Digger Unearthed by Ursula Vernon
Originally posted on 19 Mar 2023
- Title: Digger Unearthed: The Complete Tenth Anniversary Collection, Limited Edition
- Author: Ursula Vernon
- Year: 2023
Back in the very early 2000s I came across the art of someone named Ursula Vernon. I instantly fell in love with the style and subject matter. Those being pre-RSS days, I added her website to my bookmarks and checked in regularly. Once in a while, she’d reference the web comic she published, but for whatever reason I never sought it out. I think at that point I’d already been burned by trying to follow webcomics that either disappeared or had such a long back catalog that it was frustrating to get up to speed (lookin’ at you, Sluggy Freelance).
After a while, I fell out of the bookmark-checking habit so I lost touch with what Ursula was up to. Later, Twitter came on the scene. I joined up in 2009. Eventually, I remembered that great artist I used to follow and looked her up. Not only was she on Twitter, but she was On Twitter, posting prolifically and regularly composing some of the only long threads I ever went out of my way to read on that social network. By following her there, I learned she’d become a much lauded author, which was wonderful news. You go, girl.
At some point in 2021 or 2022, before Twitter developed a strongly unpleasant musky odour, Ursula Vernon and Patrick Rothfuss announced a Kickstarter to bring the entirety of the Digger web comic back into print. I hadn’t thought of Digger for at least 10 years and was grateful to have the opportunity to read it offline. If nothing else, backing the Kickstarter would get me a book with a forward that’s the first new Rothfuss writing I’ve seen in a Very Long Time (I kid…mostly; but I know firsthand that Writing Is HARD so I can’t give the guy too hard of a time). The Kickstarter pulled in over $400000 more than its goal. Again: you go, girl.
A bit over a week ago, my copy of the Kickstarted book arrived. I got the numbered, signed, limited edition version, because I could and I wanted to give back to an artist whose work I’ve enjoyed for so long. It’s a lovely book, but with more than 800 pages it’s also a hefty one. (if you want something that still tastes great but is less filling, it’s also available in softcover)
The story itself is an absolute treat. The characters are well-formed and relateable, especially the main and eponymous protagonist. The world-building was engaging. The art is, as expected, detailed and skillfully executed, with charming details hidden in the background of many panels. I needed to limit myself to reading only one chapter a night, lest I stay up way too late consuming the entire book in large bites. Even with the rationing, I enjoyed every single nibble of this work and was sad when it was finally over.