The Sunken Garden

trail web

The Sunken Garden is a narrative I’ve been quietly mulling over for the past few years. The end goal is still unclear – maybe it will become a written story, maybe a graphic novel? Maybe it will remain a series of paintings? Nothing is strictly finalised – I’m just writing and illustrating until I hit upon something that feels right.

When I was a kid, I read a lot of YA fantasy and played a lot of Japanese video games. The appeal of these fantastical stories to me was in worlds that seemed familiar but weren’t bound to the realities of life as we know it. I fell in love with the idea of creating a brand new world, history and folklore that is slowly unveiled through the course of a story. Where I’d always been content to enjoy the creations of others, in recent years some part of me has been itching to create a story of my own.

The Sunken Garden takes place in a city not unlike Manhattan in feel. It is constrained in growth by its natural boundaries – the sea and mountains on the outside, and the Sunken Garden in the middle. Unlike Central Park, the wilderness of the Sunken Garden is not there by man-made planning – it persists because it swallows those who enter by accident or with purpose and never again spits them out.

Somewhere in the city, an apathetic young recluse has been waking on the first of each month to a new black cat that refuses to leave his side. It is January 1st, there are now 13 black cats following his every move.

The universe called! It says welcome to the jungle.

cat web

Art and words by Irma Kniivila. See more of Irma’s work at

Originally published in Yume Magazine #4 (December 2012)