A gravedigger goes on a bizarre quest through the underworldS

If you're not already reading KC Green's webcomic Gunshow, I recommend tuning in for his latest longform arc, Graveyard Quest. In it, a Gravedigger travels through the underworld on a hunt for his mother's stolen bones and encounters ghostly hijackers, a wise mole, a village of worms, and the constant disapproval of his long-dead father.

When I read Green's comics, I often get the impression that he is drawing from his gut, and Graveyard Quest is no exception. The Gravedigger has been at his job for hundreds of years, like his deceased father before him. His father, however, disapproves of how the Gravedigger does his job, and daily hunts him from beyond the grave. The Gravedigger's only solace is his mother's bones, which he keeps in his small home. His father, however, feels that the presence of those remains keeps the Gravedigger from growing up, and steals them one night, ordering the Gravedigger not to follow. The Gravedigger disobeys, and begins his quest through the underworld.

The journey through the underworld is a classic tale, immediately calling to mind Orpheus' attempt to recover his beloved Eurydice and Heracles' labor to retrieve the guard dog Cerberus. Graveyard Quest, however, is a more internal journey, one that uses more modern symbolic trappings. The Gravedigger's sole ally in his quest is a blind old mole who can smell things beyond the Gravedigger's comprehension and has more concern for the Gravedigger than the Gravedigger has for himself. And the Gravedigger must board a train to Hell (along with a group of outlaws plotting to get to Heaven) and seek the help of worms who feed on the decaying bodies from the cemetery. On occasion, he must defend himself, using only the shovel he brought with him.

Through it all, the Gravedigger encounters those who would have him return to his post, including his father who tries to convince him to abandon his quest. But what will the Gravedigger really gain from his journey? His mother's bones? His father's approval? Or perhaps a meaning in his life of burying bodies all day?

[Graveyard Quest]