The Adventures of Wiglaf and Mordred

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It’s been said that good webcomics are comprised of one part inspiration and nine parts perspiration. While this is true (and there is much to be said of the hard work that goes into creating a good webcomic), it is that element of inspiration that is so essential to the truly good comics. Without that inspiration, the cartoonist often fails to put enough effort into a comic to let it build into a success. With The Adventures of Wiglaf & Mordred, the element of inspiration lies with the main characters, Mordred and Wiglaf, which cartoonist Liliy loosely based off of the mythical characters (with Mordred being obviously from the Arthurian mythos, and Wiglaf from the Beowulf myths) and mixed together to create a whimsical and fascinating comic.

Needless to say, both Mordred and Wiglaf bear little resemblance to their literary counterparts. Mordred is a moody and apathetic would-be villain, while Wiglaf is a hero who is perfect at everything he does (except for keeping friends). Of the two, I find Wiglaf to be far more interesting because of the dichotomy of the character. Here we have a character that could easily be considered a “Mary Sue” style character. He’s extremely handsome (to the point that women swoon over him). He’s very strong. He’s able to do amazing feats, up to and including learning how to play the piano on the fly and in a matter of minutes outplay a professional pianist. And yet Liliy manages to keep Wiglaf interesting by giving him one significant character flaw: he can’t keep friends.

If you think of it, this makes perfect sense. The one aspect of the classical Mary Sue character that readers can’t stand is their very perfection (and how they outshine even long-established characters and yet win the respect and admiration of others while doing so). But outside of girls swooning over Wiglaf, he lacks this trait. People grow to dislike him rather quickly because few people enjoy being second-best, and Wiglaf can’t help but be better than other people. It’s in his very nature. The very friendship between Wiglaf and Mordred began when the latest bunch of Wiglaf’s “friends” dumped him while Wiglaf was talking to Mordred. As for his and Mordred’s friendship, it’s… complex. It started out as desperation by Wiglaf and Mordred’s manipulations and evolved from there.

The funny thing is, of the two characters, I like Wiglaf far more than Mordred. Perhaps part of this is due to the apathy of Mordred, which lessens his appeal to me, or the fact I’ve not seen much character growth in Mordred. Ironically enough, the apparent Mary Sue has shown considerable growth over the more flawed of the duo. Maybe that’s because Mordred doesn’t try and yet not only has a deep relationship with Wiglaf, as well as the affections of a childhood friend who’s head-over-heels for him for no reason I can identify, along with being the focus of a sibling rivalry by two of his older siblings (both of whom dote on him to the point he has restraining orders against them during family events).

As time passed, the cast for WaM has likewise grown. We’ve met pretty much all of Mordred’s family by now (with nearly all of them villains as well), and much of the extended cast tends to work for them. However, there is one character who has proven an enigma and is described by Liliy as a “running gag that got out of control,” with that being Security, a tall blonde chap with an armband with “Security” on it who can appear anywhere at any moment. In many ways Security reminds me of Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation, with the exception that where Q was often judgmental, Security is mostly whimsical and oddly helpful. I’ve long said the best stories write themselves; likewise, the best characters write themselves… and Security took the pen out of Liliy’s hands soon after he first appeared, and has become its most delightful element. It is aspects such as this, and the artful creation of an enjoyable perfect character (who is still very flawed when you look closely) that makes WaM well worth adding to your reading list.


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One Response to “The Adventures of Wiglaf and Mordred”
  1. Bo Lindbergh says:

    Also, Wiglaf is not to be confused with Oglaf.