By Luke Pearson
“In the first volume of the new series, Hilda finds her world turned upside down as she faces the prospect of leaving her snow-capped birthplace for the hum of the megalopolis. Her mother, an architect, has been offered a prestigious position in the bustling metropolis that she would find hard to reject. Besides, the tiny elven creatures making a daily habit of bombarding them with threats isn’t making Hilda’s case any better.
As she seeks ways to stall her mother’s decision, Hilda rushes to befriend the very source of her malady – will they help or hinder her? More importantly, who is this mysterious Midnight Giant?”
Oh my word.
At the start of 2011, Luke Pearson and Nobrow released Hildafolk, part of Nobrow’s 17×23 series; small comics for debutante artists, a testing ground, a chance to see what they’ve got.
Fast forward less than a year, and we’ve already seen Pearson’s Everything We Miss, a brilliant, bewitching, dreamlike tale of moments passed.
And now, with Hilda and the Midnight Giant we have proof (if proof were needed by now) that Pearson is one of THE major emergent talents in the UK of 2011. Everything We Miss and a series of stunning short works in major anthology comics (Nelson, Solipsistic Pop, Nobrow #6 to name but three) are all you need to see he’s very, very good.
And so is Hilda and the Midnight Giant. Better than good. Much, much better.
Obviously Pearson and Nobrow have decided that the artist and his delightful little character passed the test of the 17×23 format, and Hilda is now due to feature in a series of beautifully designed, Euro-style hardback albums, with Pearson aiming for one a year.
Hilda and the Midnight Giant is the very first in the series, and my word, it’s gorgeous. Really. No, really. I imagine most readers may well find themselves, just like me, actually enjoying the aesthetic of the book before even opening it.
Absolutely, utterly gorgeous. Like an Tintin album passed through some design/art-school filter. Nobrow’s normal matt effect printing is all over this, their subdued palette of colours makes those cover colours flat and beautifully so, and then there’s Pearson’s quirky, beautiful, expressive cover artwork delineating an image that intrigues – Hilda? Why so tall? The houses? Whose are they? And is that the midnight giant in the background?
And that’s just the cover.
Once you get inside, the love carries on, and on, and on.
The basic story is easy, but I’m going to skate around as the reveal is early, and important, and it’s not one I want to giveaway. Effectively it’s all there in the PR quote that started this review.
Hilda and her mom are being menaced by hidden little folk. If it wasn’t for the damage caused, you get the idea that mom may have been thinking it was all in Hilda’s head, and the question of imaginary friends, immaterial worlds (both literal and imagined) is touched upon many times throughout the book. It goes to establish a dual world; that of the child, full of magic and fantasy, and the adult one; of jobs, career decisions, mundane and boring stuff.
At this point I’d normally just drop in a few pages from various points in the story, but like I said, there’s a reveal very early on that I’d rather you got for yourselves, so instead, here are four pages from very near the beginning. Enjoy, delight in some beautiful cartooning, meet you after the art…..
Nice really isn’t the word is it? And that pretty much sets up the story for you, without me needing to divulge anything else of the plot here.
It’s very suitable for children, and has an all-ages appeal of something akin to Bone – with a perfect lead character appealing to boys and girls, men and women, and existing within a fantasy setting that allows storylines to go almost anywhere. Add an artist capable of beautiful work and a sense of underlying darkness and threat that pulls children in and you end up with something that, if played right, if it does continue as a regular series, could be huge.
Hilda And The Midnight Giant is truly a book that has real potential to be an incredible hit. A UK Bone? Who knows. It could be. It really could.
Looking back on that first Hildafolk comic as I was writing this, it suddenly looked slightly amateurish, almost clumsy. That’s how much Pearson’s improved in just a few short months. And he’s sickeningly, brilliantly young. Just think what he could be capable of? It’s going to be a sheer delight following his career.
I’m already looking forward, not just to seeing what the children at school make of Hilda, but of what Pearson and Nobrow deliver for Volume 2, hopefully out this time in 2012.
When we briefly chatted at this years Thought Bubble he seemed committed to continuing Hilda’s adventures, alongside developing the more adult work we’ve seen in Everything We Miss and various anthology works this year. That seems the perfect result for us all. He can sleep when he’s older after all.