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Webcomic: Stand Still, Stay Silent

"The First Rule for survival outside of the safe areas: If you come across a Beast, a Troll or a Giant, do not run or call for help but stand still and stay silent. It might go away."

It's been 90 years since the great cataclysm that ended the old world. Most of the surviving population of the Known World live in Iceland, the largest safe area in existence. The safe settlements in the other Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland) are small and scarce. The rest of the planet is simply known as the Silent World.

Countless mysterious and unspoken dangers lurk outside the safe areas, and hunters, mages and cleansers will spend their lives defending the settlements against terrifying monsters. Because of a strong fear towards everything in the Silent World, no official attempts to explore the ruins of the old have been made, and most of the information about it has turned into ancient lore, known by few.

But now, at last, it is time to send out an research crew into the great unknown! A poorly funded and terribly unqualified crew, but a crew nonetheless.

Stand Still Stay Silent is a post-apocalyptic webcomic by the same artist who drew A Red Tails Dream. It's described as an "adventure story with some humor, some horror and lots of friendship". Updated five days a week at midnight Monday-Friday, it is currently into chapter four, with one member of the main cast remaining to be introduced.

This Webcomic provides examples of:

  • Ad Hominem: The talk-show program in the prologue discussing the outbreak quickly devolved into an exchange of personal insults.
  • After the End: Ninety years after the end, to be precise. Unlike most examples, the writer spends quite a bit of time showing the end itself, with the modern world's reaction to a scarily virulent but seemingly harmless plague. When the rash sickness turns lethal, the Nordic countries seal off their borders, enforcing their isolation violently.
  • The Alleged Car: What the team's transportation initially looks like. Subverted shortly thereafter, thank goodness. The Cat-Tank is actually pretty robust, for all it looks a little the worse for wear.
  • All Trolls Are Different: In this case, they look like the stuff of H. R. Giger's nightmares and used to be human. The main characters may call the monsters "trolls" because their cultural background prepared them to believe in trolls.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Lalli, our resident Cat Boy. Is he somewhere on the autism spectrum? It's very possible. Thankfully, he's not a case of Hollywood Autism, having his own wants and needs that aren't that broad-brushed or mistaken. Even if they are often ignored by other characters. Has patience close to that of a saint — even if he would occasionally quite like to openly strangle somebody if left to his own devices.
  • And I Must Scream: Turns out that anyone mutated by the virus is still conscious.
    Infectee: Hjälp mig...note 
  • Are You Sure You Can Drive This Thing?: Most people can't actually drive. Which is hardly a surprise when you realise that there are very few places left to drive to, let alone operational machinery for use outside the military. Sigrun, however... really shouldn't be left in charge of a steering wheel again without a few lessons from Tuuri (she may not be the world's best driver herself, but at least she has some clue as to what she's doing).
  • Apocalypse How: Class 4, death of almost all mammal and human life.
  • Artistic License – Physics: The physics of the webcomic aren't that bad, but just in case, the artist has this to say:
    You know those movies where the hero is driving a car and suddenly crashes into a bomb and the car makes a somersault in the air and then lands on a helicopter and the hero chases down the bad guys with the helicopter-car? The physics in this comic are sometimes a little like that, except no somersault (and no bomb, car or helicopter).
  • Bilingual Bonus: Most of the webcomic is written in English, but occasional snatches of dialogue or sound effects are in Finnish or Swedish.
    • Tuuri and Lalli's conversation in Finnish roughly translates to "I see some mountains... and more mountains... and a funny rock... and mountains".
    • Lalli's plea to the Moon Goddess is written in Finnish so that it'd keep Kalevala's rhythm. Minna wrote in The Rant what it's about, but only Finnish fans can admire the entire version (at least until they translated it for others).
    • Notes under the photos at the end of the prologue give some trivia bits of knowledge to people who know Icelandic, Finnish or Danish.
    • The Black Speech radio in chapter two. Swedish speakers can see phrases "who am (I)", "sorry", "beware" and repeating "no no no".
    • The bit of the giant's arm that attacks the Dalahästen says "help me" in Swedish, which told readers that victims of Rash Illness are still conscious.
  • Black Sheep: Most of the adventure party are, if not the blackest sheep in their various nuclear and extended families, then rather disappointingly grubby ones.
  • Black Speech: The radio in chapter three gives some really creepy speech (see Nightmare Fuel page for details). It's shown as white, scribbled, inelegant letters on on another, all on a black background.
  • Body Horror: The "trolls," or monsters are... downright hideous.
  • Body of Bodies: Giants are described as fused trolls, who are, in turn, fused together Rash Illness victims.
  • Bold Explorer: The protagonists are hired to explore what the Silent World is like, as no one has been out there in 90 years and a significant chunk of history has been lost and/or purposefully buried.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The official hiring policy for the crew, since the organizers were too short on funds to hire regular people. The assembled crew members certainly have plenty of Bunny Ears, but their competence is yet to be determined.
  • Call to Adventure: The call for everybody in our main group was a misleading job advert put out by a very cash-strapped circle of academics hoping to delve into the Silent World using more action-orientated and expendable surrogates fished from the wider circle of friends and family for not-at-all commercial reasons. At all. Pure research. Honest. For more specifics about the various calls:
    • Jumped at the Call: Tuuri happily signed up for the research mission after being cooped up in a military base with an overly protective older brother her entire life. Also, Emil needed something to prove himself both personally and militarily, as he was being hopeless at trying the usual career progression routes. Once the issue of possible additional *cough*financial incentives*cough* comes up, he gets really invested. Sigrun had had a very hard summer hunting trolls and fought for the chance at the "vacation mission" proposed by Uncle Trond.
    • Kidnapped By The Call: Lalli got dragged in by Tuuri while he was rather hazy about what was going on. Almost literally dragged.
    • Refusal of the Call: Onni refused point blank to be the mage when he was approached. It was Tuuri who pointed out they had a mage cousin that could replace him... and who she could incidentally help.
  • Consummate Professional: The crew of the Dalahästen. They're gruff towards our main cast, but when the train is under attack, they never panic.
  • Cool Train: Several, but Dalahästen is especially awesome, complete with front-mounted giant buzzsaw.
  • Cozy Catastrophe: The survivors of the plague have had ninety years to recover, but they're still surprisingly healthy, well fed, and optimistic about life.
  • Cats Are Magic: They're immune to the mysterious illness that infects all other living mammals, and can sense monsters.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Lalli, between his poor education and his nonexistent social skills due to his work as a solo night scout, certainly qualifies.
  • Crying Wolf: The lady on the talk-show program that warned the rash sickness was more dangerous than the world governments were letting on had her credibility marred by her support of less credible conspiracy theories in the past.
  • Death World: Almost entire Earth is this by Year 90, or so it seems. Trolls, beasts and giants roam the lands, hiding in the darkness and attacking everything not turned. Seas are infected by aptly named leviathans, or whales turned beasts. Contact with any of those will turn somebody not immune into troll.
  • Depopulation Bomb: The Rash Illness left very few survivors, mostly those who were lucky, paranoid or ruthless enough (and paid attention to their cats). The language diagram halfway through the chapter four illustrates this very well.
  • Destroy the Evidence: What's that, Emil? You broke a mirror off of the vehicle? No problem, just...throw it away as far as you possibly can. Which is apparently quite a good distance, at that.
  • The Ditz: Lalli somehow didn't realize that he was going on a research mission despite submitting his military resignation with Tuuri and talking about it with her for three months. He also doesn't know any languages besides his native Finnish.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Sigrun, more like "Hasn't learned to drive yet" combining with almost Suicidal Overconfidence.
  • Driving Question: What hides in the Silent World?
    • Is magic real? If so, why is it returning after thousands of years of absence?
    • What exactly happened during the last days of the Old World?
    • Why does the Rash Illness turn people and animals into monsters, and how?
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: The last of the crew members yet to be introduced (affectionately called Braidy, for now) is apparently male. Try telling that to the fans, though.
    Minna: I swear every time I draw Braidy he ends up looking even more like a girl. At this rate he'll have developed boobs by the time he joins the main cast of the comic.
  • Encyclopedia Exposita: Inbetween and halfway through every chapter Minna puts some in-universe documents, such as writings on various nationalities, Cleansers' recruitment poster, maps or leaflets. As she rarely gives readers any Info Dump, it's rather helpful.
  • Evil Detecting Cat: All cats can sense evil. The ones that have military training are even better at it. The degree, direction and speed of incoming danger is easy to read, if you know feline body language and pay attention. On your own head be it if you pull a Not Now, Kiddo. It's strongly suggested that all the groups of humans who managed to survive outside Iceland in the early stages did so because they were both lucky enough to have cats and actually listen to them.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: Tuuri about Emil, though she doesn't say it to his face.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Victims of the Rash Illness have been... technically alive, and turned into trolls for the last ninety years. And they're still aware of it.
  • Forbidden Zone: Silent World, infested with beast, giant and trolls. You'd have to be Too Dumb to Live to wander there on your own. Of course, wandering there is exactly what main characters were hired to do...
  • Functional Magic: Some time in the past ninety years, magic returned to the world. It's still unclear if it's some odd combination of mutations and forgotten technology, or if the Great Illness was merely the first sign of it all. Even the possibility that there is no Functional Magic and that it's all superstition hasn't been ruled out yet.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: The dominant Icelandic religion explains The Plague as the gods deciding that Ludd Was Right. They might be right.
  • Generation Xerox: The main cast look suspiciously like their great-great-grandparents from the prologue. They occasionally share some other characteristics. Like sea sickness and getting fired a lot.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Keeping out the plague is a major concern for the surviving pockets of civilization. If their coast guards spot a boat that is unable to provide the proper signal, they will shoot them out of the water even if the boat is full of refugees.
  • Good Old Ways: Since the apocalypse, the Norwegian people have been getting their Viking on. Justified since that lifestyle is well suited to defending one's village from monsters.
  • Government Conspiracy: It is implied that the world governments downplayed the severity of the plague to avoid causing mass panics.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier:
    • Five languages are spoken in this world and each of the main characters speaks a different subset of those five, so this happens all the time. The artist puts little Nordic flags on the word balloons when it's important for us to know who can understand what.
    • Unfortunately for Emil, Danes can understand Swedish.
  • Hit So Hard the Calendar Felt It: Known World counts time starting from the day Iceland decided to close its borders against the plague - this is Year Zero, and New Year is in autumn. Story proper starts in late year 90.
  • The Immune: Every character's title card notes whether or not they are immune to the Illness. The Known World has an immunity rate of 11%, but that's counting Iceland, which has both the largest population and the lowest immunity rate. Ignoring Iceland, the immunity rate is at 48%.
  • Just Before the End: The prologue takes place just as the rash illness begins to break out.
  • Kill It with Fire: Cleansers are depicted as wielding flamethrowers and burning down large areas of forest and ruins around railroads and settlements, and probably use them to kill the monsters of the Silent World living in those areas when the Cleansers arrived.
  • Language Barrier: Oh, boy, yes. Since all of the group are from different countries, each of them speaks different languages — which admittedly isn't too bad when it comes to Norwegian and Swedish, as they are quite similar. But it starts breaking down from there, although only Lalli is going to be a real problem at the moment. To summarize:
    • Tuuri is the omniglot of the group, speaking Finnish, Icelandic and Swedish — so she can muddle through with Norwegian, but spoken Danish is just a bit too much (written, however, is fine),
    • Lalli only speaks Finnish,
    • Emil only speaks Swedish and has a tin ear for other languages that deviate over-much, like Danish,
    • Sigrun only speaks Norwegian,
    • Mikkel speaks Danish and Icelandic. When he talks at all, that is.
  • Lightmare Fuel: Interwoven tightly with Nightmare Fuel by the way of Mood Whiplash.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
    • Magic in this world works like a religion that helps the practitioners feel spiritually closer to the gods. Readers are left wondering whether magic can do anything more ... explosive. It's also not clear whether the trolls and beasts are supernatural or just forest animals with some horrible disease.
    • Lalli appears to have altered the weather. He also seems to have some form of premonition or clairvoyance; he can't sleep for visions of trolls, and he knew exactly where the giant was going to breach the train.
    • He also appears to have some form of dream-walking or Astral Projection abilities, as well, starting here.
  • Meat Moss: Generally speaking, when this turns up, it is bad news. Very, very bad news. It also explains the preferential use of flame-throwers and other incendiary devices when it comes to cleansing. Best get it before it can turn into something that isn't just moss.
  • Mildly Military: After the apocalypse, the armies of the five Nordic nations will have stylin' uniforms and haircuts. The officers are surprisingly friendly, too.
  • Mood Whiplash: This is a lighthearted tale set in a world where most people have been killed or turned into globs of animated body parts. The comedy and horror take turns, sometimes within the same comic page.
  • Nature Spirit: Finnish gods are apparently those. So far, we've heard of water goddess Vellamo and moon goddess Kuutar.
  • Never Mess with Granny: During the ending of the prologue, there's a photo of Berit Eide showing her grandson Aksel the proper way to hold a rifle.
  • No Bikes In The Apocalypse: Bikes seem strangely absent in this new world. Sure, riding through mountainous, troll-infested Scandinavia comes under a Very Bad Idea, but while horse-drawn carriages and trains are seen (and cars get a mention), people in Rejkyavik and Mora seem to only get around on foot.
  • No Indoor Voice: Question not the quality of Danish Ham when it comes with the megaphone that is Admiral Olsen.
    • A flashback shows that when Sigrun wants something, there's nothing like an indoor voice for her.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: Standard procedure for cleansing an area involves MASSIVE FLAMETHROWERS to clear the forest, destroying anything left standing with high explosives, letting the bitter Scandinavian winter kill anything that can't take shelter, then coming back in the spring with MORE FLAMETHROWERS and high powered rifles in a systematic hunt of anything that might have survived. Repeat as needed. All signs point to this being Properly Paranoid.
  • Not So Stoic: In Chapter 4, observe Mikkel's reaction when Sigrun considers going to Copenhagen at night. Doubles as Funny Background Event.
  • The Old Gods: Most of the Nordic countries have returned to worship of the Norse pantheon. Or in the case of Finns, the Finnish pantheon.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: Emil describes the sound of the Danish language. With a pair of Danish soldiers right behind him.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: Giants, trolls and who knows what else haunt the Silent World, but the artist took her time about letting us see them. The names evoke the mythological imagery, but do not appear to have much to do with the actual creatures.
  • The Plague: "The Great Illness," initially referred to as the rash sickness which affects all mammals except cats. It spread quickly enough to worry world governments, but it was initially seen as merely an economic problem—countries were expected to have up to half their populations bedridden for a couple weeks, which would horrifically affect productivity—until people started dying. The monsters of the Silent World are very strongly implied to be various mammal species (including humans) mutated by the disease. The "economic problem" may have been the official explanation, but there are strong hints the government knew better from the start, they just tried to prevent a panic.
  • Point of No Return: Non-video game example, obviously. A section of the Øresund bridge gives out behind the Cat-Tank just as it's crossing, preventing the crew from returning for likely some time.
  • Precision Crash: What are the chances that a side-view mirror thrown in panic would fly so far AND manage to hit somebody in the head?
  • Properly Paranoid: Most of the main characters' ancestors escaped the rash illness and the beginning of the Silent World by dint of the fact that they a) had cats and b) retreated to a safe location the instant they got wind of the potential danger of the disease. (Aaaand then there's Michael Madsen, who got stuck on a boat when the ports were closed...)
    • Also, Iceland came through more or less intact by closing and fiercely guarding its borders... demonstrated - rather harshly - by the Icelandic coast guard, who will not hesitate to fire on a boat of refugees if they can't give the correct signal.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: What the main characters are shaping up to be. The mission was underfunded from the start, so the group in charge of the expedition purposefully hired people who would be bored, stupid, desperate, or some combination thereof. Most of the team had never even met each other before the expedition. To make matters worse, they're all from different countries and only two members of the party can speak more than one language, meaning all the complications and difficulties of actually understanding each other should make communication in the field... ''interesting.'' And, to cap it all off, the medic has already been fired numerous times and the captain can't actually drive.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Mikkel tries to be this, but just keeps on being overridden by Sigrun.
    • Sigrun herself seemed like an inversion in the beginning, right now she seems to be more of a straight example than one would expect from her apparently-reckless behavior.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • Emil and Lalli. They get along remarkably well, for all that.
    • Sigrun and Mikkel as well.
  • Red Shirt: The research team is viewed as this. After all, their employers refused to do it themselves- they wanted to live.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: The only way to kill a troll, beast or giant.
  • Rule of Cool: Is a train with pressure-sensitive buzzsaws on top practical? Would these people have enough of an industrial base to make one? How do you train a cat? It doesn't matter because it's way cool.
  • Rich Jerk: Emil sometimes act like this, especially when he's telling Tuuri about his past and how teacher tried to "sabotage and hamper" him. It's more likely that private tutors his parents employed earlier earlier were bunch of Yes-Man.
  • Rule Number One: It's given in one of the info pages:
    "The First Rule for survival outside of the safe areas: If you come across a Beast, a Troll or a Giant, do not run or call for help but stand still and stay silent. It might go away."
  • Running Gag: Mikkel just can't suggest anything without Sigrun interrupting him.
  • Sea Monster: According to Word of God, whales have turned into these, thanks to the mysterious rash illness. After all, whales are mammals, and all mammals were affected by the illness (except for cats, of course).
  • Scenery Porn/ Scenery Gorn: These are two of the artist's specialities. Even the abandoned ruins with utterly tragic stories to tell are hauntingly beautiful.
  • Schizo Tech: Not surprisingly for a group of technologically-oriented societies that lost the benefit of global trade. Now the Scandinavians use every technology they can get their hands on, whether it's high or low. They have a high percentage of farmers in the population, horse-drawn carriages, geothermal energy, battery technology that's more advanced than our world's, some sort of genetic engineering, and Viking villages atop re-purposed oil platforms. Technology is unevenly distributed within the world because some areas lost more infrastructure to the Rash than others. The military personnel who fight the monsters get cooler toys than the general population.
  • Take It to the Bridge: The Øresund bridge marks the end of the Known World. Made almost symbolic by how it's shrouded in mist - nobody knows what's behind the borders.
  • Tank Goodness: The tanks Danish military owns are not huge by standards of this trope, but definitely bigger than what we have now. Justified, as they are made to fight trolls and giants, who were shown to be able to pierce through few centimeters of steel.
  • Team Mom: Mikkel seems geared to be a Rare Male Example of this.
  • The Dead Have Names: The gate at the end of the Oresund Bridge tunnel is carved with the names of everyone who died when the area just outside it fell to the monsters.
  • The Undead: Victims of Rash Illness first die, and then... come back. As trolls.
  • Viral Transformation: Rash Illness turns its victims into hideous, Body Horror evoking trolls.
  • Was Once a Man: Trolls are made out of human body parts attached to each other in ways that they shouldn't be. One of the comic's info pages says that the human souls are still trapped inside.
  • Wimp Fight: The talk-show program guests engage in this after one insult too many.

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