Review by Ian Keogh
In Stig and Tilde’s homeland there’s an ancient coming of age tradition known as the Kulku that’s been somewhat downgraded over the years. At fourteen children had to make their way by boat to one of many small islands and survive on their own for a year before returning as adults. In modern times that’s been reduced to a specific month on the biggest of the islands without adult supervision, but with well stocked fridges and internet connections. Unfortunately for twins Stig and Tilde they have boat problems and end up on a different island. Reversing their relationship at home, where Tilde considers her brother a bit of a drag, when it comes to survival techniques he’s resourceful, contrasting her own carelessness. However, it’s Tilde who makes a substantial discovery.
Stig and Tilde is a love letter from Max de Radiguès to the glorious European tradition of adventure comics for children. His art is a little looser than the traditional ligne claire, but the deceptive simplicity and detail is present, and the flat colour reflects that simplicity, being an enjoyable throwback to before the days of digital manipulation. Using only three prominent characters, de Radiguès creates danger and threats, with some mystical realism thrown in for additional tension, yet it’s appropriately pitched in order not to upset all but the most impressionable of youngsters. Where de Radiguès departs from the old traditions is in using a symbolic cover rather than selecting a random story scene to inflate. He includes all the important elements of what’s within. It’s an odd decision for the English language market, as European editions instead feature a more traditional cover illustration.
Nobrow’s design is worth mentioning, those figures on the cover and title lettering slightly raised in gloss, while everything else has a matt finish. The slightly off white paper stock allows a nice matt finish throughout, bringing out the vibrant colour.
This is a complete adventure, but Leader of the Pack continues Stig and Tilde’s story in 2020.