Page 45 Review by Stephen
Album-sized softcover of the comic formerly known as HILDAFOLK, this is the first story in Luke Pearson's ever-expanding, award-winning HILDA graphic novel series (each one reviewed!) with a map featuring both destinations and denizens, a double-page spread showcasing Hilda's delightfully cluttered workstation which made me beam with joy and those critical notes on 'Trolls & Bells'
Oh, the difference a dash of spot-varnish makes! Adult and tiny eyes alike will shine like marbles when they see the sheen. We love attention to detail.
Here we find young Hilda following in her mother's artistic footsteps by taking her sketchbook out into the grassy, rock-strewn hillside to draw. She sketches her pet Twig perched on a tiny island in the rippling plunge pool below a cascading waterfall, she spies a lost Sea Spirit that must have drifted down the fjord; and then finally, excitedly, she discovers a true Troll Rock! She'd been reading up on trolls the previous day, but then the prospect of camping out under rain had distracted her, as did yet another visit by that strange, silent wood man who keeps walking through their front door completely uninvited (thank you very much indeed!) to lie quietly down by the fireside. What is that guy's problem?
Anyway, Hilda gives Twig a bell to perch on the Troll Rock's big, long nose to warn them in case it in transforms (as they're said to at night!) and starts moving. She then sets about sketching it from every conceivable angle: from afar, from behind and from below - even from on top of its schnozzle! Oh, but it's tiring work, and soon our pioneer and portrait artist starts to fall asleep, only to be woken up during the bright orange sunset in the middle of a blizzard... by the jingle-jangle of bells!!!
Oh so exciting and full of surprises, this will warm the cockles of the coldest of hearts: the cosiness of camping out at night, and the sound of rain on canvas; a giant lost above the tree-tops, confounded by their conformity; the mystery of the wood man, the wonder of the world Luke Pearson has created, at once familiar yet populated by exotic and fantastical new fauna. I'm not quite sure what Twig is! A blue-grey fox-cat with a bright white belly and antlers? In fact as a colourist alone Luke Pearson deserves to win every award going, and his attention to detail is right up there with Chris Ware. The inside front and back covers would make the best Christmas wrapping paper ever! Indeed Nobrow probably have some, and their paper stock is of the highest possible quality.
An awe-inspiring adventure, then, with two important lessons in hospitality and research. Because you remember that bell...?
"One should always read the whole book. They're not for dipping into."