I’ve been thinking a lot about myths, and proto-stories recently. We have all these common plots, common, character types, even common monsters in our literary heritage. Why are there so many stories about zombies? Werewolves? Centaurs? Gods?
I really enjoyed classical mythology as a kid, leaning more towards Greek when I was younger, leaning more towards Norse as I got older. This may be why I enjoy Neil Gaiman’s work so much - quite a lot of what he writes deals with myths, especially the edges where old myths collide with current reality.
So when a work comes along that stares down traditional mythology and tries to wrestle new life into it, I normally have a fantastic time reading along. Take this week’s Webcomic O’ the Week, Thunderbird. This ‘Western Fairy Tale’ follows a wagonload of pioneers as they try to come to grips with the fact that a Native American God of Thunder has fallen from the sky. Let’s be honest, here. Allison and I create a comic about birds. Space birds, yes, but still birds. A comic about mythical birds with the power to command the forces of nature and still look cute is hitting us pretty close to where we live. And, as I think has been seen by the other comics we’ve featured, we’ve obviously got a thing for Westerns. Thunderbird is a comic set in the West that features birds, centaurs, and an actually diverse cast of human characters. They had us dead to rights without realizing.
All that being said, I don’t think our biases lessen this review. Thunderbird is a really great work, worth adding to your reading list. The art is fantastic, and really evokes the setting while reinforcing the story-telling style. The story concept is one that I wish more works would imitate. And the characters feel like real people, from their inferred backstories if nothing else. (If I had one passing thought against Thunderbird, it would be that dialogue could use a little work, but, you know, those in glass houses…) We hope the story continues, and that you enjoy reading it as we have.