There is a legend about the last princess of Aberwelle. Instead of dying at the hands of the revolutionaries with the rest of her magical royal family, she was whisked away into a magic forest by the spirits. In return for 300 years of service, the spirits would safeguard Princess Tamara and her sister. Tamara was alone, but at peace in the forest until one day a boy named Harris decided to ‘save’ her. Now, Tamara finds herself in an Aberwelle much changed in her 300-year absence. She’s determined to find her way back to the forest and save her sister, but discovers Aberwelle itself might need saving even more.
Blindsprings is a webcomic written and illustrated by Kadi Fedoruk. It begins like a fairy tale, complete with the caption “Once upon a time there was a girl.” The style and designs are very storybook, with lovely pastoral landscapes, rich colors, cuddly animals, and fanciful dresses. Tamara looks akin to Ozma or Rapunzel. While the art style doesn’t change, after the prologue, when Tamara leaves her forest, there is a noticeable shift in tone. Out of the fairytale, Tamara returns to an industrial city. The trees are replaced by buildings, and the friendly animals are replaced by suspicious pedestrians. Tamara finds that this strange world is far more complicated and knotty than her idyllic limbo. This is only the first turn in the comic. Blindsprings is a fantasy comic always expanding its world.
The comic not only follows Tamara, but the now adult Harris, her new friends, Street and Ingrid, Ingrid’s family, the militant Gravers, allied secret societies etc, etc, etc. Leaving the fairy tale, Tamara finds herself in something closer to a multivolume manga series, with warring factions, morally grey villains, and a society with complicated prejudices. If I had to give an elevator pitch for Blindsprings, I would call it “What if Tsarina Anastasia lived, and she was magic.” The comic explores conflicts where both parties can be wrong. Killing the royal family was wrong, but the monarchy probably wasn’t great; the spirits are needed for balance, but they exact cruel contracts with the people. Kadi Fedoruk has mentioned Miyazaki as an influence, and that can definitely be seen in its imagery as well as its morally grey conflicts. In terms of structure though, I would compare it to a series like Fullmetal Alchemist, that strongly roots the story in its protagonist, but takes the time to develop and explore many, many factions as well as considering the society as a whole. When the reader gets a handle on the current set of players in Blindsprings, a new fold in the fabric of the world is introduced. For example, after spending many chapters with the Aberwelle, the ambassador from another nation, Khala, is introduced. Fedoruk also adds supplementary materials (called “annotations”) in between chapters, such as in universe news articles to give extra information. This creates a very rich and engaging tapestry.
What is impressive about Blindsprings, is all this expansion never tangles up the main plot. The comic never loses sight that Tamara is the main character, or become too confusing. Blindsprings is a very cohesive comic. You can see in Fedoruk’s concept art that a lot of attention was put into having the character designs working well together. There is great attention to having every element work together as well as look nice by itself. This applies to the writing as well as the art. Blindsprings is a good example of a comic that builds on itself well at the right pace and becomes more and more interesting as it goes.
Blindsprings is a beautifully illustrated fantasy comic that will appeal to readers looking for a rich world to get lost in with complicated conflicts. It updates Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.