This is one of those full disclosure things. The guys behind this graphic novel are Guild members. They might not be very active, but still. Viljami has even written for the blog once, actually about the process of writing this very comic book under the microscope here. I and Lauri also had a very small role in the process (and are both mentioned in the acknowledgement) giving our comments on a version of the work about a year ago.
With that in mind, I’ll try to be objective, but obviously there’s a chance I’m not. Okay, lets get to the meat of the subject.
So, Tietäjän kirous (that would Curse of the Sage in English, translation mine) is a Finnish self-published soft cover 100 page black and white graphic novel.
I dno’t really know how much I should tell you about the book, because this is the kind of work where setting expectations might work against it, but here’s an attempt. There’s this small boy, who’s living with his father in house on the edge of the town. The mother has been taken away by the titular Sage. They’re poor (and dad losing his job doesn’t help), but the kid seems happy enough despite the situation.
But there’s some extra spice in there. With the exception of the last few pages, its told from the perspective of the kid and that perspective has been very highly influenced by the weird things his parents have taught him. They adhere to certain pagan customs, which color the boy’s worldview quite strongly. Obviously, the boy doesn’t quite understand what’s going on, so he often interprets things in his own way and his parents aren’t really helping the situation.
It feels quite unique to me. I could see stories getting sort of similar treatment (and Viljami referenced the works of Guillermo del Toro as an influence), but this is in a much smaller scale. Admittedly I had a little trouble finding my footing when first reading this, but after I caught onto the idea behind the story, I fully bought in.
Overall, I felt this was a big step forward from the pair’s previous work, Lintu Mustasiipi. The pacing is definitely better and, knowing Viljami personally, I think he accomplished telling the kind of story he wants to tell much better here. The dialogue is also less clunky and the art feels like a better fit for the material.
I also enjoy certain details, like most of the characters aren’t named, and those that are don’t have traditional Finnish names, I like how the Sage is depicted, and I like the little creatures that live on the edge of the family’s life. But again, I wouldn’t want to set expectations, since the whole thing is pretty much outside normal genre limitations. I guess it might sort of fit into magical reality, but since I don’t read much in that genre, I can’t be quite sure.