At work we just got in a stack of new titles from a company called Nobrow Press. I hadn’t heard of them before, because I am mostly wandering around in a forest of book-related information feeling lost and overwhelmed, but let me tell you internets, they make a damn attractive book. We made a display just for the collection, because they are visually appealing, and we all kept wandering over to sniff the glorious, fresh-and-well-bound-book smell and discreetly flick through them and then eventually just buy. Seriously, I don’t know why we even bothered to make a display, it’s half-empty already just from employees with no self-restraint.
Anyway, the title I couldn’t resist was Hildafolk, by Luke Pearson. Nobrow has a graphic short story project called 17x23 and Hildafolk is one of the titles. It’s beautiful, and not very long, which is appealing to someone like me who has a short attention span. So I picked it up and took it home and read it and fell completely in love.
It’s hard to summarise something that has less words in it than the review I’ll end up writing (probably), but a young girl called Hilda lives with her mother, reads books on trolls, has an antlered-fox-type-companion-animal called Twig, and loves to draw and sleep in a tent when it rains. One morning, she goes out drawing, and, well, as she says at the end, “What a noteworthy day.” She learned a lesson about tolerance, made me do these alarming short barks of laughter, and then I sniffed the pages some more in a vaguely creepy manner and sighed at the end. It really is a perfect little story.
Luke Pearson’s big-eyed, stick-legged people and gorgeously coloured mountainous landscape are just the right level of cute and immersive. The snow and wind and Hilda’s fear of trolls are equally as clear and vibrant on the page, Pearson’s lines drawn as clear and smooth with the changing weather as they are with Hilda’s big, happy face. The terrain is familiar, but the critters within are not, trolls and giants as normal as snow and rain. Once I’d checked out other stuff on his site, I realised that his style, with clean lines like a Chris Ware tale but with movement (not to criticise Ware, who is amazing), if maybe Ware had an artistically-inclined baby with Charley Harper, is actually just my favourite style to look at. When it rains in Hilda’s tent, the PT PT PT of the downpour is evocative, and the earth-toned colours are so well-chosen that texture was rendered completely unnecessary. I mean, look, the whole thing has made me do entire sentences comprised entirely of fawning and without any terrible jokes. Surely that is something to be celebrated.
In summary: Exceeds Expectations, and about the most perfect way to spend ten minutes. It’s great, and you should read it. The only downside is the price here in Australia; while it’s a full-colour book with sturdy pages, it’s still only about twenty-four pages long and at twenty dollars, compared to around six dollars for a typical comic single issue, it’s a bit much. Still, it’s actually completely worth it, as both an art piece and as a comic, and you should all read it anyway and agree with me that the world created for Hilda should be the default setting for life. And then you should buy it. Or at least go and visit him over here, and tell him I sent you so he can be all, “What?”