Arora: A Brand New World

Creative visionary, Zach Karpsten, leaps out of his mind and into the clouds of his fantasy world Arora. Image by Studio Frabjous

Arora: A Brand New World

Alana Hall

1 October 2013

When envisioning the fantastical world of Arora, webcomic creator Zach Karpsten found the greatest source of inspiration in Planet Earth – with its variation and harmonious logic it was a perfect starting point for creating a new terrain of make-believe.

imagining a new world, one must observe the environment and I’ve found that it’s essential to investigate the workings of nature and how man-made objects interact with it”. These are the words of animator, graphic illustrator and online designer Zach Karpsten (Z.A.K.) – the creator of Arora – a webcomic and world in which the people live on flat islands floating in the air.

Each slab of land in Arora has its own centre of gravity with inhabitants living on each side. With this simple premise, a lot of things about the world become apparently different from our own planet – like how the water flows, how the sun interacts with the land, how people travel and such.

Zach explains, “It’s good to design the nature before the civilisation, because the civilisation will always be defined by its environment. One appealing quality of an imaginary realm is that any issues you notice in our world, you can find a solution for in the fictional world and use it as a role model.”

Following a principle of yin-yang and contrasting elements, Zach designed the land of Arora to incorporate both angled and curved lines. Zach says, “Buildings decorate the landscape surrounded by lush vegetation, creating a complementing design of rough shrubbery and geometric architecture; the most prominent visuals revolve around colour. I love creating different lighting environments and, in particular, I’m exploring the inclusion of ‘God rays’. They really show the impact that light has on the atmosphere, and I find it adds so much depth.”

The five elements in Arora are Earth, Water, Light, Nature and Air which (in this world) is the lack of any element. The significant feature of an element is that it is infused with life – which means all of the elements are strongly integrated. For example, the water in this realm has the ability to absorb light, so that when night falls and the air thins, small particles of glowing water float up, illuminating the dark landscape.

The people don’t have advanced technology, but instead rely on the elements to aid their lifestyle. “The principles I’m incorporating focus on integrating with, rather than dominating, the environment, for example, they use the naturally occurring multi-directional gravity to generate power,” says Zach.

“My main character is called ‘Axa’. Just like the other people of this world, she was born fully grown and fully aware, with the ability to speak and explore. Unlike her kin, she was born in the centre of an island as a child of the land. Everyone is born with their own direction of gravity, living on one of the two sides of each floating island. However, Axa was born with the ability to switch her direction of gravity, allowing her to explore every corner of the realm – which satisfies her exceptional curiosity.”

eARTh emag asks Zach the deeper questions about life on Arora:

You mention the people are awakened, what possibilities or implications does this present?
Each person is born with the capability to speak, observe and process things intelligently, so the audience gets to see what it might be like to hear the thoughts of a child witnessing a thunderstorm for the first time, or any exceptional activity, such as swimming. This is something we all take for granted by the time we can confidently communicate.

How is the civilization governed?
Much like the various regions in our world, each island is appointed a single mayor, who takes care of their people based on any new issues that may arise. Since the islands are separate, there is no king or overlord of multiple islands.

Does Arora face any ecological challenges and will any of these mirror or point to Earth’s ecological challenges?
Nature doesn’t really do anything wrong; it’s only when people become heavily reliant on it or try to manipulate without foreseeing the consequences that issues arise. The people of Arora work in tune with nature, so there is no real danger of depletion or pollution (as we’ve seen repeatedly on Planet Earth). The only real challenge becomes one of defying the dichotomised gravity to transport and deliver resources.

Is there conflict? Are there forces at work threatening the balance?
Apart from rare bridges connecting some of the islands, they are geographically disconnected, so the risk of war is absent, resulting in a very peaceful world. However, a certain fellow has a master plan which would result in the islands merging thus creating havoc as they collide and bringing the threat of confrontation between the different kingdoms. Axa’s innate and extraordinary ability to learn gives her the opportunity to outsmart the antagonist. Being able to traverse either side of the land allows her to accumulate information and skills like no other.

ZACH KARPSTEN is a multimedia artist, musician and composer and holds a Diploma in Fashion Design. He is currently filming a documentary titled ‘1001 reasons to be happy’. Later this year, Zach’s ‘Avarice’ themed contribution will be published in a graphic novel series based on the Seven Deadly Sins. Zach takes commissions on request, to enquire email

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