All that glisters here really is golden: The triumphant return of Andi Watson’s Glister
by Andi Watson
Glister was a comic series that came out in 2007 from Image Comics; 3 issues of the series made it out before the plug was pulled. But in many ways the book was doomed from the start; after all, Image are hardly the ideal company to market a comic book story specifically designed for a readership they have no idea even exists, a readership that rarely ventures inside comic shops anyway?
Because with Glister Andi Watson has designed a beautiful and magical comic experience for young girls. It’s a brave and possibly foolhardy thing to do. However, the fact I’m sitting here, smiling from ear to ear after reading it proves it’s not only girls who will enjoy this. And the fact that Molly (age 9) has been reading her copy for days now and she’s desperate for more means the target market seems to love it as well.
First things first, Glister’s not with Image anymore. It’s now being published by Walker Books as part of it’s fledgling graphic novel line. Walker Books knows an awful lot about children’s books regardless of gender. If they’ve decided Glister is worth publishing, if Molly’s decided it’s fantastic and if I’m telling you it’s brilliant don’t you think it’s worth a look for yourselves?
(Strange things happen around Glister Butterworth. Indeed they do. Wonderfully, brilliantly strange things. From Glister: The Haunted Teapot. Published by Walker Books. (c) Andi Watson)
Glister Butterworth is a strange magnet. Like it says right there: wherever she goes, strange things happen around her. In fact Glister’s life is pretty strange without anything happening to her. She lives with her dad, Mr Butterworth, in a dilapidated, draughty, ramshackle old home called Chilblain Hall that really does have a mind of it’s own, complete with rooms that come and go as they please, Trolls in the wishing wells, String Quartets in the salon and Questing Elves and Dwarves renting the dungeons at 10 gold pieces an hour. (But you shouldn’t ever let it hear you calling it ramshackle – it may leave – but more on that in the second volume of Glister; The House Hunt).
It’s a very English story, concerning itself as it does with teapots, stately homes, village sensibilities and ghostly victorian writers of particularly dull prose. When Glister finds a teapot on the doorstep it seems a lovely gift, since Dad does like a cuppa and the old one’s a wretched pourer:
(The mysterious teapot arrives. From Glister: The Haunted Teapot. Published by Walker Books. (c) Andi Watson)
Except this teapot’s haunted, not by a genie (that would be a lamp after all) but fittingly for this most English of things, a disgruntled old English ghost; Phillip Bulwark-Stratton who, when he lived was a determined but not very good author whose works are long out of print. He has one fervent wish, something he’s determined to see complete; one last, great masterpiece of a book; “Albert Buckle”. Which is where Glister, most unwillingly, comes in.
Trapped into transcribing the ghost’s words, whatever time of the day or night old Bulwark-Stratton feels inspiration strike. Poor Glister finds herself at the beck and call of her ghostly teapot dwelling visitor. But Glister’s no doormat and she takes it upon herself to solve this particular problem. When selling it to the second hand store backfires she finds the only way to get rid of this ghost is to finally let him take over and get the damn book finished. And this is when glister finds out the most unusual secret behind Mr Bullwark-Stratton and in the process gains another strange resident of Chilblain Hall.
(Glister’s dad knows what’s important in life. From Glister: The Haunted Teapot. Published by Walker Books. (c) Andi Watson)
There’s a freshness, an innocence and a sheer joy in Watson’s work here. All the better served by a slightly more relaxed and open style to his artwork that not only touches on Manga stylings but also the very traditionally English stylings of illustrated children’s books. Likewise Andi’s writing takes on a lightness of tone and touch very appropriate for both the subject matter and the readership. It’s perfect for it’s intended market of young girls. But it’s also something boys and girls of all ages will really enjoy. Even us old folks. And even the formatting of this new Walker Books edition works wonderfully well. The Image Comics edition seemed somehow throwaway, a thin black and white volume. But Walker Books have given it beautiful colour covers, with a matching pink colour shade on the internal pages. It all seems far more substantial and beautifully complete this time around.
If there’s any justice in the world, this will be a huge success. But it may be up to us to help it along. I’m going to be doing my bit and everyone with a child of a suitable age will be getting one this Christmas. Better than a crappy piece of plastic tat or the latest Hannah Montana cd; Glister will be something they’ll love for years and may kick-start a love of comics. As opposed to the Hannah Montana cd, which will probably put the little darlings off music for a long time.
Glister: The Haunted Teapot is available wherever you can get hold of Walker Books. From what I can gather this doesn’t yet apply to comic shops, but hopefully Walker Books will rectify that situation soon. I’ve said it often in the past; Andi Watson really is one of the brightest stars in the UK comics world. With Glister he’s given us something wonderfully English, a heroine who sits alongside the best in children’s literature and who should delight young and old alike.
The good news is that Glister: The Haunted Teapot is but the first in four (so far) Glister books from Walker Books. I’ll be here for as many as Andi and Walker decide to give us. I hope you will be as well.