A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, Kate Beaton, the delightful webcomic artist behind Hark, A Vagrant reblogged a post recommending the webcomic Blindsprings. I thought, “huh, that looks pretty”, bookmarked the first page, and promptly forgot about it. While going through my favorites this past week, I stumbled upon it again, and I have to say that I’m sad it took me so long to check it out.
Blindsprings creator Kadi Fedoruk describes her comic as:
[A]n all ages comic, featuring magic, secret societies and hidden gateways to fantastic places. The comic should appeal to anyone who loves Ghibli or Disney animated movies!
It certainly appeals to me—find out why after the jump! (Beware minor spoilers, though!)
Blindsprings is an ongoing webcomic set in a fantasy realm. Tamaura (aka Tammy) is our protagonist: the last scion of the deposed and deceased royal family. She lives in the forest among the spirits, and is sworn to their service in exchange for their protection of her comatose older sister. Her contract is broken against her will, though, when a young mage-in-training befriends her and then tries to “save” her against her will.
Tammy is pulled out of the safe haven of the spirits’ forest and back into a world she hasn’t seen for 300 years. In this new society, Orphics, people like Tammy with inborn magical powers, have their abilities sealed, and are considered dangerous second-class citizens by the book-trained Academist mages in power.
Tammy’s backstory appears to be inspired by that of the real-life Romanov tsars: after her troubled parents took in a charismatic Academist master as an advisor, their (Orphic) dynasty was overthrown by Academist radicals who thought it wrong that only those whose bloodlines carried power should be able to learn magic. However, because the Academists didn’t fully understand the nature of the Orphics’ relationship with the spirits, the natural magical spaces of the kingdom have fallen into disrepair in the 300 years since the coup.
When she’s dragged out of the forest and back into the real world, Tammy quickly falls in with two Orphic girls, who take her under their wing. They are part of the Wayfarers, a radical Orphic group fighting to regain equal rights, and that’s just the beginning of Tammy’s adventures.
Blindsprings is a lovely story accompanied by beautiful art, but that’s not the only reason I love it. There are a diverse variety of characters on both sides of the Orphic/Academist divide, including characters of color, characters with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ characters, but I was most excited when Fedoruk revealed that Ember, the badass leader of the Wayfarers, is non-binary.
Blindsprings updates on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and alternates between comics chapters and what Fedoruk calls “Annotations”—extra information that expands on the Blindsprings universe without directly tying into the story. These can be newspaper clippings, a snippet of a letter, or pages from a storybook. It’s a very clever way to expand on her already interesting worldbuilding.