Disclosure: The author of this article is a member of the Comicadia webcomic collective, which sponsors Under the Ink. Participants in the Webcomic of the Week column are selected mainly on a first come first serve/volunteer basis, plus occasional direct contact with creators. Professional favoritism, quid-pro-quo transactions, and bias—political or otherwise—are not involved in selecting the creators featured in and interviewed in this column.
A poignant, colorful, and fantastical dream of the future.
Tebetha is a young lady who always remembers her dreams. But sometimes, doubtlessly, she wishes she couldn’t.
Born as one of the magic-using Spellborn, Tebetha lives a peaceful and idyllic life in a cottage overlooking a lake, where she tends the family’s garden and also studies the fundamentals of magic under her father Torrian. It’s a pleasant but busy life; when she’s not doing chores around the family chalet or hitting the spellbooks, she’s sleeping in the comfort of her own bed. But for Tebetha, sleep is no respite. It is in her dreams that she sees harrowing, prophetic snapshots of the future, with real people. She sees a king’s carriage, cracked and overturned. The fresh corpses of horses beginning to fester in the sun. Bereft of his ability to flee, the king can’t do naught but crawl away, his belly slick with his own blood. A horned male figure, with a face Tebetha can’t make out, rounds on him with a sword. The usurper.
And then she wakes up in a cold sweat. The messenger birds constantly showing up at her window, how lividly real the dreams are… point to them being more real than just a dream. And so, truly alarmed by the horrific wrongs she sees in her visions, Tebetha abandons her studies, leaves her sheltered life behind, and sets out on a journey to keep them from ever happening. She may be alone in her ability to see the truth of the future… but as her quest progresses, among the people she meets and the friendships she forges, she is hardly alone in spirit.
Silversong is permeated by a quiet yet adventurous aesthetic, evident in the panels and the way said panels are arranged.
Silversong—a fantasy outing by author and illustrator Sam Chapman, also known as SugarFiend—is an entertaining romp through a mystical and beautiful world. In a sharp contrast with fellow Comicadian fantasy comic My Hero!—the subject of last week’s column and a comic that took a far more bombastic approach—Silversong tells its own story with a kind of gentle wistfulness that is dreamy, soothing, and yes, songlike. Chapman’s page layouts are very flowing, softly guiding the reader’s eyes from panel to panel, while the panels themselves often have lusciously painted backgrounds framed by blurry and indistinct edges, making the whole story read almost like a huge dream sequence. Silversong is a slow and relaxing read, for sure.
But slow and relaxing as it may be, Silversong never quite becomes a lullaby. Those gently twisting, meandering panel layouts also do a great job of keeping your eyes entertained and focused, if not outright pulled from panel to panel. And the story may seem fairly open and shut with a simplistic premise, but by the middle of chapter 2, the plot promises to unfold in ways that not even Tebetha—or anyone, for that matter—can even dream about.
Tebetha may be the only one plagued by visions of the future, but she is hardly alone in her journey. Here she sits down with Garfric, a member of a dwarf-like race known as the Eren.
Silversong is one of the finest entries in the Comicadia collective, and it stands as a worthy read for almost everyone. It’s hardly as over-the-top or transparently fun-loving as My Hero!—as a matter of fact, it verges much closer in tone to Nattosoup’s 7″ Kara than its fellow Comicadia comic—but readers who are looking for a more measured and “delicate” outing will find Silversong especially enjoyable. The comic is very artsy with its composition, typesetting, and swirling backgrounds, but never at the expense of accessibility. It’s likely not suitable for very small children (yet have no fear, M9 Girls or Karasu the Crow this isn’t) but if you enjoy a great fantasy story, Silversong sings to you.
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview! Firstly, can you pitch the characters and basic plot of Silversong to any first-time readers? Tell us what drives your characters and what they’re all about!
- SugarFiend: Silversong is a tale about a girl called Tebetha who has the gift of foresight who naïvely stumbles into danger and misadventures as she tries to prevent the dark things she sees in her visions. Tebetha has a strong sense of compassion to heal the misdeeds she sees, and for her, doing nothing feels as guilty as committing the hideous crimes she sees. Garfric has a much more grounded view, the honour and wellbeing of those around him are the things he prizes above all else. Bowen is driven by a sense of justice and a need to lend his strength to those who don’t have a lot of their own.
Tell us about the characters’ names! Silversong depicts fantasy languages and magical script in a very organic manner, do the names of these characters mean anything special in these languages or generally in-universe? How did you decide on these names from a creative standpoint?
- SugarFiend: Oh yes, the names! Well, there are some interesting connections to names I chose, such as Tebetha, which is a variant of Tabatha, a Greek name that means “gazelle” to symbolise her innocence and vulnerability. Also the Greek connection to tales of oracles that would be a part of a lord’s or lady’s court to offer advice for the future of their estates. Bowen (Celtic name) means “noble-born” and has links to mystical powers and Celtic mythology. Garfric is a distorted variation of Gareth, a Welsh name from the word “gwaredd” which means gentleness. Though Garfric is rough around the edges, he’s a big softy. It also has connections to a Knight of the Round Table in Arthurian folklore.
Why did you decide on the title “Silversong?” Does it have any particular significance to the story that you can reveal right now?
- SugarFiend: Well, yes, it does, a small part and it been present since near the very beginning! Some readers have spotted and and got an accurate theory on it!
Speaking of names and titles, tell us a little about what Silversong looked like during development!
- SugarFiend: Ooooh, there were a few different design changes. Tebetha’s designs changed a fair bit. The first draft had her much younger, around 8. In one version her family were traveling magicians! Bowen was a palace guard and not a prince! Garfric I think was the only one that changed very little!
From initial idea to completed page, can you tell us a little about your work process? What advice would you have for someone who reads your comic and becomes inspired to make their own?
- SugarFiend: I tend to have a very cinematic view for when I do my comic layouts and I try to play with the dynamics of each panel. I try to avoid talking heads at all costs by using a variety of different shots, from wide ones to closeups and using items or hands instead of faces. One self-imposed rule I try to follow is to never make the reader go over the same gutter twice, and I try to use this when structuring the composition of each page.
As the creator, what would you say sets Silversong apart from its peers, and what would you say were your main influences when making the comic?
- SugarFiend: I think the watercolor aesthetic is one of Silversong’s key focuses. Also, its whimsical storytelling of the classic fantasy genre that mixes fairytales with epic adventure. My main influences are easy to spot, like Lord of the Rings, DnD, definitely Disney. Along with other big adventure and fantasy movies from the 80s and 90s. And I’d say a healthy dose of fantasy video games like Zelda, Final Fantasy and other JRPGs.
Let’s close the interview with a fun thought experiment! Something goes horrifically awry and Tebetha is teleported to our world with no way of returning. What are her next moves? How distraught is she over the loss of her purpose? How would she adjust to modern-day society? What kind of job would she get? What would be her favorite bands!?
- SugarFiend: Oh wow! I think she’d have a weird adjustment period for sure. She would definitely feel strongly remorseful over never seeing her family and friends again. I don’t think that would go away, but I could see her filling that void with community work. She loves learning too, so a combination of these… I’d say a librarian! I can’t imagine she’d integrate or be big on “city living” she’d would stick more to the countryside that’s for sure! As for bands, it would be folky stuff, so Of Monsters and Men, Florence and the Machine, and things of that ilk.
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