Vattu, by Evan Dahm
I like this page a lot and I’mma say why.
This serves as our introduction to the Surin. Immediately, we see the striking differences between them and Sahta. The blue-and-purple color scheme and their pagoda-based architecture contrast greatly with the basic shapes and spartan brown-and-red of the rest of the city. Even the color of the lights is different.
Prior to this page, the Surin had only been mentioned once, and are the last of the main Sahtan races to be introduced. Their only prior mention goes thusly:
“All kinds have something to offer Sahta. The Surin, the War-men. Even the Grish.”
“The Grish? The War-men offer their strength, and Surin their sacrament- But the Grish?”
Note: This is also serves as an introduction to the Grish, and by the beginning of the next chapter, we witness firsthand their troubled relationship with Sahta.
Anyway, from this conversation we gather that the Surin are perhaps a religious or spiritual race, and seeing the Surin compound with this in mind, in such a juxtaposition to the rest of Sahta, it seems more more like a monk’s enclave. It’s also in great contrast to the War-men and the Fluters, who seem to be at the rock-bottom of Sahtan social structure and have their respective cultures largely assimilated. The Surin, on the other hand, have a whole section of the city that seems to be- architecturally, atmospherically, and spiritually- theirs, where they are able to live in a way that seems to fly in the face of Sahta.
From just one picture and two passing lines of dialogue, we already know so much about a race that we haven’t even fully seen yet. Evan Dahm is showing us, not telling us, and that is key. It really speaks to what kind of story Vattu is in comparison to his earlier works. Rice Boy was very much quest-based, wherein the titular hero was always being sent somewhere to have things explained to him. T-O-E sends him to the Tree Keeper. The Tree Keeper sends him to Parod. Parod sends him to Seen, where he finds out where the Iron Tower is. In Order of Tales, it’s slightly different, with directions and explanations being found by the hero in the book of stories he carries with him.
They’re both very quest-based stories that play off the classic hero’s journey. I can’t possibly know what Vattu will become, it’s still in the very early stages, but it’s plain to see just how much focus Dahm is putting on worldbuilding, seamlessly weaving it into the narrative, so that we never feel like we’re being told things, we feel like we’re discovering them on our own in a way that feels natural.