An entertaining, mischievous, and foxy collection of short adventure stories.
The short stories that make up the canon of Vulperra are quite accessible and feature acts of derring-do and heroism, reminiscent of serialized newspaper adventure comics like Prince Valiant but without the sheer length that can alienate some prospective readers.
Many of the comics featured in Webcomic of the Week, since the column’s inception, have been longform. This is not the case with Vulperra, a fantasy adventure webcomic, hosted on Tapas and written and illustrated by Norwegian artist Anders Sekanina, otherwise known as Seetherabbit. Rather than telling a continuous story, Vulperra breaks itself up into easily digestible, bite-size chunks that often take no more than ten minutes to read. At the time of this column, the comic consists of a prologue plus six complete short stories―Flash Gauntlet, Diego, The Duel, The Gold Digger, Griff Ra Da, and Silia―with a seventh―Guardian Castle―in progress.
As you may have gleaned, Flash himself appears in the very first story, and although Sekanina promises that future tales will feature him more often, the stories often focus on his descendants, which have all managed to inherit their progenitor’s uncanny resourcefulness. In one particularly short but unforgettable story, roving gunslinger Diego manages to turn the tables on an elephant-like beast about to devour him in a manner that’s… extremely explosive.
This unique style of storytelling is one that makes Vulperra, compared to its peer comics, extremely disjointed. In a creative sphere where writers pride themselves on their works being impossible to put down, Sekanina takes the exact opposite approach with Vulperra: this is a comic that you can read―for five to ten minutes at a time―and put down. Only to pick it back up over another coffee break. And another. And another. And another. It is through its sheer variety that Vulperra hooks you, with almost every story being long enough to hold your attention but not so long that it overstays its welcome.
Vulperra‘s foxes aren’t afraid to show off their ingenuity in truly unpredictable ways. They are the stars of the show, and Sekanina is not afraid to let them shine.
This disjointedness also effectively means that Vulperra has something for everyone. Through its constantly rotating retinue of protagonists, Vulperra is capable of wearing many hats, to an extent only rarely seen from many other webcomics; one of the most startling and enjoyable example of this lies in the placement of Diego, a rough-and-tumble old Western-flavored story starring a vagabond with a six-shooter, right after Flash Gauntlet, a traditional sword-and-sorcery story with a demonic antagonist. The incessant genre-shifting gives Vulperra no end of charm, and it can’t help but keep the reader guessing as to where the story could possibly go next: A Victorian political drama? A Lackadaisy-styled Prohibition piece? A sci-fi adventure following a roguish space pirate?
If you’re a casual reader looking for something with far more variety than the average comic, something you can pick up and put down and pick up again in well… in a Flash, give Vulperra a try.
Vulperra is an anthology of short stories centered around the hero Flash Gauntlet and the inheritors of his power, each of which seems to be a blue fox. How did you decide on this format, as opposed to a more traditional longform focusing solely on the original Flash Gauntlet?
- seetherabbit: It sorta happened by accident. Originally Diego was supposed to be my animated bachelor film, and Flash Gauntlet was just a one shot I did for a magazine. The animated Diego short never went off the ground, so it became a comic story instead. Flash got more stories since I really liked the character and got more ideas for him.
Can you share some of the original ideas and drafts you had for the comic, and about this bachelor film that came before it? What did they originally look like when you were making them, and how much different are they from Vulperra in its current form?
- seetherabbit: Biggest change is the locations and genre. When everything was for the bachelor film, there was supposed to be a snowy field and it was sci-fi. However, it became too much like Star Fox, so the setting became western. As I was doing the character designs, I drew giant gloves on the foxes, which became the starting point for Flash Gauntlet. One of the original ideas I had for Flash was that he was an immortal being, but came back after being sealed away. He was supposed to get his powers from a cave which also made him immortal. I scrapped that since there would be no sense of danger if the main character can’t die.
A common trait shared among Flash Gauntlet and the heroes who inherit his power seems to be resourcefulness: Diego blowing up the giant elephant-like creature from the inside with a stick of TNT, the original Flash figuring out that the demon’s weakness is his hat, etc. Are any of Flash’s spiritual descendants not resourceful or heroic? What would theoretically happen if someone who inherited Flash’s power turned out to be a villain?
- seetherabbit: If a villain inherited Flash’s power than that would be baaad! What would exactly happen depends on the character. Some want to take over a country for power, while others would maybe just kill a lot of people in the name of vengeance. However some idiot might also inherit the power. Anything can happen.
Vulperra appears to have a solid background in fantasy adventure comics (Flash Gauntlet’s name seemingly being a thinly-veiled reference to Flash Gordon, for instance) what other genres or works would you say have served as inspiration for Vulperra and its world?
- seetherabbit: A lot of things inspire me, but the biggest inspirations are a French comic called De cape et de crocs (Capes and Claws) and Final Fantasy IX. Both have this perfect adventure feel that I hope I can replicate with Vulperra in the future. I would also say that seventies prog music had some effect on the comic.
Can you tell us about your creative process? From start to finish, how do you conceptualize and envision a story in Vulperra? What about the page-by-page working process?
- seetherabbit: The way I work changes from story to story. Generally, I start by writing down ideas, then synopsis. Sometimes I write from start to finish, other times I write random scenes from different places in the story. Normally I edit the story in the synopsis stage, but sometimes it happens in the later stages. I do the scripting and thumbnails in one process, since I think in pictures, while the dialogue tends to change as I write it down in the storyboard. Once the story feels good, I’ll start drawing the pages. I draw and ink traditionally and do the colors and lettering in the computer.
The last arc, Silia, was the longest story featured in Vulperra to date, and we’ve just seen a new page of a completely new story called Guardian Castle. What can you tell us about this new story, and what would you say new readers can expect in general from Vulperra?
- seetherabbit: Guardian Castle is even longer than Silia! I don’t want to say anything about the plot, but it was made before Silia. I gave it a “remake” since I wasn’t happy with the conclusion the first version had. So expect some varied quality in the drawings. I’m still nervous about it, so I hope you’ll like it! What new readers in general can expect from Vulperra is short, fun stories about different characters. However, I will be focusing more on Flash Gauntlet in the future. Still, I won’t abandon the anthology format entirely.
Check out more Vulperra at the links below: