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Nearly a century after a virulent disease spread across the globe, the remaining humans finally decide to venture outside their heavily defended borders and see what remains of the world in Minna Sundberg's webcomic Stand Still, Stay Silent. They're a mix of academics and military officers, ranging from 19 to 67; a motley crew, not ready to face the monsters and magic that await them.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Stand Still, Stay Silent takes place in a post-apocalyptic world. A mysterious “rash illness” has spread across the globe, forcing governments to shut their borders and retreat into solitude. It only got worse from there.

 

Minna Sundberg. Click to enlarge.

 

The survivors live in the Nordic countries, with the largest population in Iceland. Everywhere else is "Silent." Survivors stay in their safe settlements, protecting their homes from the terrifying trolls and giants out in the wastelands using weapons and magic. Fear of the unknown keeps them rooted and still.

However, one crew decides to venture out into the wild to see what remains of the rest of the world. After 90 years of restricted movement, the Nordic Council of History and Rediscovery approves and finances their research mission into the Silent world. It’s time to explore.

 

WHO’S IT BY?

Stand Still, Stay Silent is written and drawn by Minna Sundberg, who also created the webcomic A Redtail’s Dream, about a man and his shapeshifting dog. Based on Finnish mythology, A Redtail’s Dream ended up clocking in at 556 pages.

In 2015, Sundberg won the National Cartoonists Society’s Reuben Award in the "Online Comics: Long Form" category for her work on Stand Still, Stay Silent.

 

Minna Sundberg

 

WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?

Often zombie or outbreak narratives take place as the world starts falling apart, or immediately after. We get some of that in Stand Still, Stay Silent in the prologue, but the main storyline takes place years later. In some ways it’s almost a fantasy narrative, with brave adventurers embarking on an epic mission, but it’s still very rooted in realism. It has the maps and detailed world building you’d expect from a high fantasy, while also showing characters bickering about bureaucracy. It’s a good mix.

Sundberg uses exposition in a really interesting way. She gives us some brief information about each character when they first appear, describing the dramatis personae, and includes diagrams, maps, flashbacks, and other expository devices at times when the reader might need some more help. Apart from these devices, though, she’s very much a “show don’t tell” kind of writer.

 

Minna Sundberg

 

Stand Still, Stay Silent has beautiful colors, lots of greys, browns, and oranges, before slowly expanding its palette. It reminds me of Nordic yarn colorwork, where knitters often used gradients of the same shade, contrasting them with white or grey. It’s a wonderful detail that adds to the atmosphere.

WHO SHOULD READ IT?

Anyone who stockpiles canned food and water in case of the end of the world. Anyone who read fantasy novels and wants to get called away on a high adventure. Anyone interested in Nordic mythology. Anyone who likes slow and steady stories with gorgeous art.

 

Minna Sundberg

 

WHERE CAN I READ IT?

Stand Still, Stay Silent is available to read online. It updates four times a week, every weekday except Wednesdays. You can also purchase the first volume in print or as an ebook from Hivemill.