He REALLY should have seen that coming given the nature of Ilmarinen’s previous attempts. Farewell Ilmarinen’s nameless friend. You have served us well.

Thus we come to the end of our comic meandering through a small section of the Kalevala. Though this is the end of the series of strips, it is not the end of the story. After forging the mystic Sampo (a device that is minimally described and rarely depicted as a result) Ilmarinen brings it to the hag/mistress/witch of the North and asks for her beautiful daughter’s hand in marriage. The young woman essentially just says, “No.” and poor Ilmarinen wanders off back home, dejected, alone, and Sampo-less.

What an upbeat tale!

It’s a weird bit of story that mirrors some of the things I talked about with Japanese myth. In the Kalevala are distinct sections with their own endings that come together to form a larger tapestry of tales surrounding mythic figures. However, unlike more modern western stories, the tales in the Kalevala are often confusing in their lack of a message in their endings. The point of these stories is not always to impart some moral truth with their ending, but rather, to bring the reader on an entertaining journey where truths and ideals are imparted in other fashions. For example, in this story, whilst the wise Vainamoinen is on his journey home from the North, he stumbles across the Mistress’s daughter and debates with her the finer points of marriage and love. This is one of those instances where truth and morals are imparted rather directly in a way many of us growing up with Christian or Western storytelling are not entirely used to.

There is also a great deal in the big picture when it comes to myths like this; where looking at the whole imparts ideals to us rather than a single story. It reflects, more than anything else, a unique and different way of looking at the world. It is a way of seeing that can still be helpful to us today.

Because nowadays we are much too ready to shout that a story “sucks” or is “awful” based on whether or not it fits into our perceptions of what a story should be, rather than on the merits of what it is. That’s sort of sad but it doesn’t have to be that way. Many stories are valuable and even bad or poorly structured ones can help us learn something about ourselves or at least our preferences.

That said, the Kalevala is neither of those things and deserves a read and a place in history and in fiction. It is an important work and one that I love dearly.

Regular comics resume on Friday! No more of this continuity nonsense!