You probably haven't heard of the character I'm about to introduce to you.

Actually, there's no "probably" about it -- there's an outside chance you might have known about British Dennis the Menace or Arnold before, or maybe even a young teenage communist who crudely rearranges "Red Meat" cartoons, but there's no way you know of this one. You've NEVER heard of Nemi.

And what a pity that is. I mean, look at the chick.

This is one of the most appealing designs for a character I've ever seen. I didn't know anything about Nemi either when I stumbled upon these stray drawings on a cover collection site, but once I did, I had to know more about this mysterious woman. Nemi, who are you? And where have you been all my life?

Turns out, she's been in Norway.

To understand the story of Nemi's origin, a little lesson about foreign culture is necessary. In the Norselands, comic strips are published differently. Instead of paperback book collections, they're reprinted in monthly magazines. The content is mostly translated imports of American comic strips, but the publishers will also accept local submissions. One such submission, in 1997, was from a struggling Norwegian cartoonist named Lise Myhre and was called "The Black Page." Her editor commented that what she'd created would probably only be enjoyed by 20 people, but he was willing to take a chance and print it for those 20. It began appearing monthly in Larsons Gale Verden and its star character, a pale-skinned demented outcast, would soon take over the whole strip and have the page renamed after her....and her career would grow from there.

But only in Norway and surrounding countries did it grow. Nemi is now the second most popular comic strip in the region, and she has her own magazine today that's surpassed 50 issues and sells over 600,000 copies a month (no small feat for the tiny area it circulates in). But the only attempt at an English translation has been the strip's occasional appearance in a UK newspaper. It's never broken out anywhere else, leaving the translation job up to the only American Nemi fansite, run by every single English-speaking Nemi fan that exists. Which, right now, doesn't amount to anything past double-digits.

The webmaster's last post was in 2006, where she bragged that the hit count had finally reached 1,000. That's just sad.

So what's the skinny on Nemi? Why should you suddenly care about her? Well, for one thing, her full name is Nemi Montoya. And that IS a Princess Bride reference.

Nemi is a 25-year-old outsider living in a messy apartment in Norway. Nemi loves black clothes, heavy metal, and dragons. She despises airhead blondes, popular music, and the concept of growing up.

Nemi's financial situation and employment history is as grim as her wardrobe. Every time the strip checks in on her work hours, Nemi is either unemployed or about to be fired, but it's not undeserved. In some cases, Nemi deliberately tries to get fired.

When Nemi has to talk to someone, it's usually to her friend Cyan, so named for the naturally blue color of her hair.

Nemi is a fierce lover of animals, so much so that she can't bring herself to squash a bug. She once tried to teach a laboratory rat how to wield a baseball bat. She despises hunters, fur coats, and is one of those annoying people who try to make you feel guilty for eating a burger. Nemi's contempt for human life, however, knows no boundaries.

Among Nemi's many lost jobs was one at the music store. A customer came in asking for a musical recommendation for her daughter. Nemi suggested Alice Cooper, but the customer was thinking more along the lines of Christina Aguilera. Upon hearing those words, Nemi proceeded to pounce upon her and beat her senseless.

Nemi has asked to borrow people's CDs so she can "burn them," the borrowers never realizing she usually means that literally.

Even if Batman had enough time to prepare, he still couldn't defeat Nemi.

The strip was originally very dark (hence "The Black Page") and Nemi's sometimes frightening appearance and tastes in things have led some to call Nemi a "goth strip." This is a label creator Lyse Myhre resents (besides, did any gag I showed up there seem "gothy" to you?). Lyse sees Nemi as more of a creation for misfits and those who refuse to be defined by any particular category.

The bulk of the strip still remains untranslated, and it has never been reprinted anywhere in the Western Hemisphere. Now that you know about Nemi, do you like her? Tell others. Maybe something'll happen; otherwise this is probably all the Nemi you'll ever get.

UPDATE: turns out Nemi has been regularly translated into English for the last few years after all, but into British English, meaning lots of weird words. It runs several times a week in the Metro. You can even buy a book. Normally I correct errors sooner than this, but this one negated the tone of the entire page and to properly fix it I'd have to rewrite the whole thing. Nemi would say, "Forget that." So will I.