By The Saints
By The Saints is an anthropomorphic war webcomic by Chris Kozloski. The comic is drawn almost entirely in pencil with computer lettering, in full-page format. It has appeared on a more-or-less weekly basis since August 23 2004. Each page is accompanied by a brief note from the author, and there is a character bio page and forum.
The story takes place in a setting that resembles North America in the mid-19th Century, except that its 'human' inhabitants are anthropomorphic foxes. (A later strip establishes that there are also anthropomorphic felines inhabiting other parts of the world.) The title refers to the Saints of the foxes' religion, whose collective name is frequently taken in vain. The main characters are members of Company B, 54th foot, Eastland Army.
- The story's narrator is Thaddeus Firepelt, who has been raised in Chembria but considers himself an Ayreman and joins the Eastland Army of Ayre for idealistic reasons. His "Urbane" accent and inexperience cause some tension between him and the other men, but the more experienced Benjamin does his best to keep him out of trouble.
- Benjamin Tann is a seasoned militiaman whose experience and wisdom make him a father figure to the men. The Tanns are a large and widespread family, providing Benjamin with a readymade source of help and information.
- Another unlikely ally is the bad-tempered and scurrilous marksman Tannet Burl, who has good reason to hate Urbanes because their laws banning hunting are creating a famine in his homeland, The Barrens, where poor soil makes agriculture impossible. He is also quick to ridicule Thaddeus's accent, but will nevertheless stick up for him in a fight.
- Tannet's friend and partner Sharl Rickett is a former quarryman with an almost incomprehensible dialect and a talent for shooting. His size and strength mean he is often called upon to perform physical labor. On one occasion he attempted to singlehandedly restrain a team of runaway horses after the rest of the company had failed, though he ruined a good pair of boots in the process. He and Tannet enjoy a good deal of bickering but never come to blows.
- Company Sergeant Sturm Bonnor is a fairly typical example of his breed, issuing orders and commands with a fine grasp of profanity, but is not above giving the occasional grudging compliment where it is due.
- Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
A civil war, comparable to the American Civil War or the Napoleonic Wars, is raging between the forces of Ayre and Chembria. The Chembrians have occupied Ayre territory and imposed what the Ayres consider draconian laws. Most of the Ayres are of peasant stock, and consider the Chembrians to be arrogant Urbanes.
During the course of the story Thaddeus witnesses some of the terror and savagery of warfare first-hand. In one strip his company is ordered to shoot and bayonet rioting civilians; in another, a soldier's head is blown off by a cannonball.
Response to violence
Responding to complaints about the latter scene's violence, Kozloski wrote: "Renaissance warfare was brutal. Low velocity lead bullets that mushroom on impact. Cannonballs running down the length of files of men. Cannister fired at point blank range. Cavalry running down broken men with sabers. I don't plan on being overly gratuitious, but there will be more graphic realistic scenes like the last frame in the future. So I give you all warning in advance."
In addition to the story strips, Kozloski has also posted several "fillers". These include a map, an Ayre recruitment poster, and a number of production sketches demonstrating the depth of his research into uniforms, weaponry and architecture, most of which is based on 18th and 19th Century designs.