Following on from last week I’m reviewing Evan Dahm’s current work Vattu.
It’s a much more ambitious piece, even 637 pages in I’m still not sure where exactly it is going and despite having covered a lot of ground it feels like it still has a long way to go.
While I don’t love it as much as Riceboy or Order of Tales (both of which I’m enormously impressed by) I ’d still rate Vattu very highly and I’m looking forward to seeing where it takes us.
The characters and comic concept
The lead character of Vattu is a young girl by the same name born to the nomadic tribe of wanderers known as “Those Marked In White” deep out in the grasslands. Her people have eked out an existence in this harsh and dangerous environment for generations but when the superiorly armed emissaries from the Empire Of Sahta arrive it heralds an end to the life they have known.
Vattu herself is one of life’s contrarians; never accepting and always challenging. Not content to accept the “way it is” as being “the way it should be” and destined to suffer for it as most who take this position are.
Vattu’s future, her tribes future, and indeed even that of the Empire of Sahta and those who are dominion to it, seem to be intertwined far more deeply than any of the them would suspect.
Vattu is very much the story of a clash of cultures, a story of nations and fates of entire peoples. It’s extremely ambitious in this sense but so far it’s pulling it off remarkably well.
Where there were heavily surreal, fantastical elements to the previous works Vattu feels much more like a historical period piece – one clearly borrowing heavily from elements of real world European and African history. It still includes some fantasy elements but they are very much in the minority, this is more a world ruled by those with the most advanced weaponry and tactics not eldritch powers.
The story itself intertwines not just Vattu’s story but those of an increasing number of secondary characters whom she encounters. As mentioned above it’s not just a story about Vattu but about a pivotal moment in history for all concerned.
Pacing is generally very good and the story develops rapidly. If anything it’s almost too rapid, so much has happened in the comic already I almost want it to settle in for a bit. We seem to keep moving past characters but that’s the nature of the story.
The art is emotive and complex, vibrantly coloured but still in the deceptively simple style somewhere between his two previous works but different to both. Again there is sometimes an awkwardness to the occasional scene and it’s certainly not traditional comic art but it undeniably effective.
Author, publishing and timeline
Vattu is created by Evan Dahm who lives in Brooklyn, New York and is a graduate of the Appalachian State University of North Carolina where he studied Spanish and Studio Art.
He works full time creating comic books both online and in print and has been published in the The Sleep Of Reason horror anthology.
His self-published efforts are available via an online store accessible from the comic site or here.
Vattu won the SPX Ignatz award for Outstanding Online Comic in 2014.
The timeline for this is likely to be longer term I feel. Three pages a week is a formidable update rate but still the story only feels about a third, maybe half at most, of the way through. I’d predict another 6-8 years to complete.