Webcomic Review: Stand Still, Stay Silent

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Stand Still, Stay SilentStand Still, Stay Silent by Minna Sundberg, 2014

Minna Sundberg
Updates every weekday

The scenario is a post-apocalyptic Northern Europe. A disease spread some ninety years ago, killing many people, destroying whole cities and creating a fear of the unknown. All that is left of civilization (as far as they know) is the Nordic Alliance, composed of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland, and led by the powerful Iceland, the most populous and fortunate country, who was spared from the illness. The Icelanders were able to keep most of the technologies of the so-called “old world,” but have forgotten all about its history and culture, and honestly aren’t much curious about it. This creates an interesting dichotomy: this civilization has modern technology, but at the same time is too fearful to care for science, preferring to explain the world through myth and close their eyes to anything out of their reach.

The unsafe areas — that is, all places outside of Iceland and some very tiny continental areas — are sometimes cleansed through fire by the military, but still the growth of the known world area is ridiculously small. And that’s where our heroes come in: exploring those unsafe areas. Except they are not as heroic as one might hope for. Actually, they are the cheapest employees available, desperate enough to join this mission. You see, the Nordic Alliance does not really believe in their success, so their funds are as low as possible. Also, their goals are not so noble: their bosses are more interested in hunting treasures than in scientific discovery.

Still, our heroes are full of heart. There are six of them, but one has yet to appear in the comic. It is a very diversified crew. There is Tuuri, a curious smart young girl, and I have to mention it, small and fat (it does not matter to the story, but a fat heroine is such a relief). Her cousin Lalli apparently lives in another world and maybe can do some kind of magic. The spoiled but sweet Emil has perfect hair. Captain Sigrun is experienced and competent but maybe too optimistic. And the oldest and most sensible of all, is Mikkel, whom I suspect, despite all his maturity, still yearns for some nonsensical adventure.

The characters are designed in an androgynous style. From what I gather from the comments, many readers think Lalli is female or Tuuri is male. I adore that. Maybe it would be even better if the author did not explicitly state their gender, or if they even have one, but still, if you read it with a “death of the author” mentality, you can have it your way.

Stand Still, Stay Silent by Minna Sundberg, 2014

Stand Still, Stay Silent by Minna Sundberg, 2014

The overall style is a Nordic references anddigital watercolours. The comic flows easily from serious scenes to a funnier mood, mostly due to facial expressions and linework. The locations are breathtaking. Every panel has such a high level of detail it is hard to believe the comic updates every weekday!

The chapters include world info pages and there are highly detailed maps and amusing insights into the “new world” culture. I have seen the beautiful language tree drawn for the comic circulating widely on the web even on science Tumblrs and sites. This highlights the huge world-building Minna has done, featuring a level of complexity I am only used seeing in prose, not in comics it is easier to condense information. This, of course, makes the page count go up: 227 pages for now and we still haven’t met one of the protagonists! That is very high for a webcomic.

Stand Still, Stay Silent by Minna Sundberg, 2014

With all that in mind, it is not a light read, so it might disappoint you if that’s what you were looking for. The story starts slow and at first you might not care for most of the things being explained. But if you are into deep backgrounds, more characters than you can count on your hand, and a lot of ground for speculation, this is your webcomic. Stand Still, Stay Silent has gathered a dedicated fan base who always provide interesting commentary. There is even a fan forum. I believe part of its success can be credited to its complexity, because there is never a lack of topics for fans to discuss.

The first book, which includes the prologue and chapters 1 to 4, was crowdfunded in October and reached 496% of its initial goal. The second is yet to come.

 

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About Author

Staff writer and mythology nerd. @visaenya

2 Comments

  1. What I love about SSSS so far is that in this future, dire though it is, there seems to be just about zero sexism in the realms we’ve seen! All professions depicted including the military appear open to any gender and without glass ceilings. There is no pressure mentioned at all for those with wombs to dedicate their lives to raising children to replenish the population. There are many more examples of littler things, that give me joy.
    No indication so far how any trans* or genderqueer folk fare, or how queer or same-sex relationships are viewed. But there seems to be little or no list of rules as to what a sex or gender should do or be or look like, so I am optimistic.

  2. SSSS is a great comic. One of my favorites, especially since it’s in my same genre 🙂

    I’m most impressed (beyond the story and art being excellent and engaging) in her ability to produce content fast enough to update every day! That and her extensive work into worldbuilding for her story.

    Great choice for a review 🙂