As the first web-comic written by the author, and as a “practice” comic while completing a degree no less, A Red Tail’s Dream is pretty remarkable, produced to a very high level and completed in only a couple of years. There are plenty of web-comic authors out there who have been doing it for far longer and producing far worse.
For me, personally, it’s a comic that I liked (particularly the folklore elements) but didn’t love. Perhaps on a different day/mood/time I would have gotten into it more but ultimately I didn’t connect with it. However I’m sure there are a bunch of readers (and it’s a comic with plenty of fans already) out there who will love it so if you like the sound of it you should definitely give it a go.
The characters and comic concept
Set in modern day Finland A Redtail’s Dream is a fantasy adventure which incorporates elements of Finish folklore.
The titular “Redtail” is Puppy-Fox, the deity of fox puppies everywhere I guess, who has a teeny tiny accident while in charge of the Northern Lights that lands a human village trapped in a dream world. Due to a convenient McGuffin only our protagonist Hannu and his dog Ville are able to be sent into the dream world to save the day.
The main character is an interesting choice personality wise, immature and lazy and without a great deal of regard for his fellow human beings, he isn’t classic hero material. I usually like flawed characters the best but for whatever reason I didn’t make a strong connection with this character - I liked the dog better, but as always that could just be me; another reader might feel differently.
All of the secondary characters convey a good sense of personality but there’s not a lot depth here – you don’t get a sense that there is much beyond the superficial “he’s the stern business owner that works a lot” or “she’s the hyper-controlling one that everyone is afraid of". They do enough to carry the story but not much more than that.
The story of A Redtail’s Dream is pretty traditional linear, semi-serious, fantasy adventure for our heroes as they attempt to rescue the villagers from the dream world in which they find themselves trapped. The story structure is quite simple, very task orientated if that makes sense, but with some clever borrowing from folklore there’s enough depth and variety in the world through which they travel to keep things interesting.
Another reason that the whole thing works is that the pacing is very good. The story moves along without diverging off into unrequired plot fillers. The author clearly had a good plot structure and stuck to it – this is surprisingly rare and it’s a treat to be able to read something without having to worry if you’ll ever get to read an ending.
I would have like to have seen more character development though. Haanu goes through a lot but seems pretty much unchanged by it all – it would have been nice to see him grow as a person through the events of the story.
I also found that there were some surprising plot developments where characters suddenly do something really unexpected, in one case bordering on implausible, or where the story would head in a direction I really didn’t expect. Some of this might be down to cultural differences – I was happy enough to roll with it but probably contributed to a sense of disconnection with the comic.
The art starts out good and improves as the comic goes along. There are some stunning chapter covers and standalone pages. It’s a pleasure to look at and it both suits and lifts the story nicely.
Author, publishing and timeline
The author, Minna Sundberg, lives in Sweden and has a degree in Industrial Arts and a bachelor's degree in Graphic Design from the University of industrial arts in Helsinki.
There was a crowd funded printing of a book (looks amazing from the pictures) but they’re not currently on sale. The author has mentioned in the comments of her new project Stand Still – Stay Silent (review to follow) that she will be selling the remaining copies at a later date.
And there’s no timeline because it’s already finished! You can just turn up and read it now, no having to wait for years and years for someone to complete a storyline only to have them drop the whole thing 80% of the way through – always a major bonus!