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Webcomic: Vattu

The outer world knew it as year 855 of the Blue Age.
But the nomads knew it unnumbered, in the midst of an age of river and grass with no beginning:
the year Vattu was born.

Set in the world of Overside, Vattu is the story of the eponymous member of a tribe of nomad hunter-gatherers whose lives are disrupted by forces of change. The story follows Vattu as she is taken to a foreign society, and gradually accumulates other characters — a struggling artist, a member of a secret society, a young apprentice in an alchemical enclave, and many more.

So far the webcomic consists of two books, with many more expected to come.

Book One develops Vattu's origins in her tribe of those marked in white, with the various struggles that can exist in that context. By the end of the chapter, she has been sold into slavery to the imperialistic Sahtans. Later, it introduces the War-Man and intersperses flashbacks to his story between segments of Vattu being taken to Sahta. Over the course of the chapter Vattu and the War Man become friends, get separated, and then are reunited.

Book Two is yet incomplete as of this writing, but has introduced a whole host of new characters. Having escaped servitude at a Sahtan house, Vattu now steals and hides to live, receiving further martial training in secret from the War Man and encountering many other residents of the city.

Vattu creator Evan Dahm has also completed the webcomics Rice Boy and Order of Tales, all of which are set in Overside.


Provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Vattu wields a sword nearly her height and don't even care! She also loots for her food and fights her way out of problems without hesitation. Played with by Dahm as she isn't physically imposing by far, but nor is her stature played up as anything special. Possibly a moot point considering Fluters have nothing to do with human cultural constraints - but since she goes from being 'it' to 'he' when a couple of guards catch her with her sword, there is at least basis for it within the empire.
    • Gradually becomes more competent with her weapon, and eventually, proficient; rumours abound of the 'Fighting Fluter', and Calirus himself (in charge of the expansion efforts) is surprised/amused/respectful enough of her to allow her nightly pilgrimages.
    • Almost exactly a year into her sparring sessions, Vattu easily disarms the War Man.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: The basis of Vattu's tribe's religion is the massive river they live by, known as Ata.
  • Badass: The War Man. It appears he's training Vattu to follow in his footsteps. Compounded by the fact that he (and his entire race, of which he was a powerful leader) is completely mute.
  • Arranged Marriage: Marria with Lord Morrian, of the political sort. As opposed to the usual trope, the marriage itself isn't paid much attention; instead, it is used to set up Marria's affliation with the Sisterhood (see below).
  • Batman Gambit: Junti's enlisting of Vattu in her secret research. "I hope you would not tell, but they would not listen if you did."
  • Berserk Button: Kadarsh can't stand the sheltered Junti, who doesn't know a thing about the impoverished underbelly of the city.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: Velas' Unweight-induced high gets a little intense.
  • Covert Group: The Sisterhood, composed of women connected to major political figures, who share information amongst each other. Although it is "not as secret as it was".
  • Crutch Character: Junti to Vattu, in a sense, regarding her mission to scavenge Unweight; she is rostered onto the Honour Guard, and Vattu has to do it alone.
  • Curiosity Is a Crapshoot: Junti. Her abundance of questions regarding the enclave, Sahta, and Unweight gain her more ire than sympathy.
  • Decompressed Comic: The first scene. Lampshaded by Evan in the accompanying news post: "Dialogue will happen very soon! And it won't all be as ridiculously decompressed as this first scene, rest assured!"
  • Don't Call Me Sir: The small band of Surin who appear to be acting independently of the enclave. Is the first inkling that the higherups are not as singlemindedly devout as they seem.
  • Catchphrase: Otti:
    "You are an idiot."
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Unweight and a Surin are first seen in one of Dahm's short stories, "The Tethered Isle".
  • Emotionless Girl: Otti, though male, comes off as eerily affectless.
  • The Exile: Seri in Book 1, after causing the events that lead to Vattu's temporary abduction by the Dead.
  • Fantastic Caste System: Conquered races are subservient to the Sahtans by default. The Fluters and Grish largely reside at the bottom. The Surin are seemingly external to this, shutting themselves off from the world where possible. (Compared to the lowest castes, though, their living quarters elicit much envy.)
  • Fantastic Drug: Unweight, the blue, paint-like fluid that forms the focus of the Surins' institute. Particularly well-off Sahtans may also get their hands on it.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Sahtan Empire, which is Roman in nature.
  • Foil:
    • Otti versus Vattu, the former assimilating into the slave system while the latter rejects it.
    • Kadarsh, upon meeting Junti, represents the interracial hostility bred by an inequal caste system; Vattu has had little time to be inoculated with it, and puts it aside.
  • Granny Classic: Jinen, the toy-maker who makes brief smalltalk with Vattu. Seemingly the first matriarchial figure in Vattu's city life, as opposed to the eat-or-be-eaten mentality of everyone else; time will tell whether this proves significant.
    • Promptly subverted when she lockpicks a sacred room.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: Though it's easy to assume the Sahtan Empire are the 'villians' as a conquering society, Dahm goes to great lengths to disspell such a clear-cut perspective - the Empire is very much as amoral as any civilisation in our own history.
  • Hot-Blooded: Vattu - subtle, but pervasively so. This starts as early in the comic as her first dialogue, and then...
  • Insistent Terminology: It's Lord Morrian, Vattu. Get it right!
  • Jump Scare: In-universe, when Kadarsh pops up to greet characters at the canal.
  • La Résistance: Between Vattu stirring up the street population and the members of the Sisterhood looking to gain political significance, the seeds for this have certainly been sowed.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Good luck remembering names if you're following serially! They're all distinct enough to be recognisable upon sight, though.
  • Made a Slave: Vattu, sold to the Sahtan Empire.
  • Mood Whiplash: Junti, causing some trouble after snooping around the Unweight greenhouse, suffers a gruesome-looking fall during her escape.
    • Vattu, also meeting trouble in the Flower Room, finds out she's learnt swordfighting a little too well.
  • Precision F-Strike: "Damn Ata."
  • Rite of Passage: Surin girls visit the Weightless One when they are of age (or maybe later) in order to join the acolyte classes.
  • Starving Artist: Velas.
    Bread costs more than it did a year ago. Six flatters now. Paintings still cost the same, though.
  • Sue Donym: "Va... nni."
  • The Hermit: Oh, Velas. Struggles through formal (or even common social) etiquette... avoids opening the door... (His 'best friend' just lets himself in, really.)
  • The Quisling: Otti scorns the Fluter way of life and reveres the Sahtan empire, considering it to be the superior civilization even though he is enslaved by it.
  • The Watson: Junti's late initiation allows lots of info on the Surin culture to be fed to the audience.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Well averted; many species only demonstrate dimorphism through their costume, and the Fluters are distinctly ambiguous from our perspective - as well as everyone else's. Played with, as Fluters easily divine each other's genders.
    • Dahm has said that male Fluters have more angular heads, and within their own culture, wear brighter colours.
  • Tribal Face Paint: Indicative of a tribesman's name. A big deal in Fluter culture; when someone is dishonored and cast out, their name is forcibly washed off.
    • Vattu clings to these standards in Sahta: when Otti berates her for repainting her mark, she claims that because he has none, he has no name - and she shouldn't even talk to him. As of Book 2, though, the mark is gone for more practical reasons.
    • As beggars and street rats, for many of the Fluters, the memory of their name is all they have left. Vattu, as seen, is highly protective of hers. As she matures and finds new purpose, she lets her obssession go.


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alternative title(s): Vattu
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