Review by Woodrow Phoenix
The ‘Hildafolk’ series of books by Luke Pearson are adventures for children that feature a small blue-haired little girl called Hilda, who wanders the countryside exploring and adventuring, accompanied by her pet, Twig the ‘deerfox’ – a doglike creature who has antlers. Pearson took his inspiration for Hilda from Icelandic and Norwegian folklore, and his cartooning is charming and well-designed with echoes of the worlds of Japanese animator/director Hayao Miyazaki (My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away) and Finnish author Tove Jansson (Finn Family Moomintroll). His beautiful backdrop of trees, hills and sunlit countryside is populated by interesting, quirky creatures who represent the spirits of these places, and the resulting stories are enjoyable both for children and adults. The first two books in the Hilda graphic novel series, Hilda and the Troll and Hilda and the Midnight Giant have now been combined into a single hardcover volume called Hilda: The Wilderness Stories.
After the events in the second story Hilda and the Midnight Giant, Hilda and her mother left the countryside to live in the city of Trolberg, and the subseqeunt books mostly happen there. Hilda: The Trolberg Stories reprints books three and four, Hilda and the Bird Parade and Hilda and the Black Hound in a hardcover edition with some extra content not found in the original volumes. There are pages of drawings by Luke Pearson from his sketchbooks that show his initial rough ideas for characters and situations in these stories, with little notes on ideas and how they changed as they got to the page. There is an example of the process for creating a page of comics art, starting with a rough, which is redrawn as pencilled art, to ink being applied to the pencils and finally the digital colour going on top of the inked linework to create the beautiful finished page. There are also several extra pages of comics, including one unused page for Hilda and the Black Hound and, probably most exciting of all for readers, a new four-page story featuring the raven from Hilda and the Bird Parade.
This ‘bind-up’ edition of Hilda stories is not especially cheaper than buying the two books separately, but the addition of all the extras makes this something that fans of the series will want to own. Whether or not it’s compelling enough to make them buy it just for the interesting extras, it’s a very convenient jumping-on point for fans of the animated Hilda adventures shown on Netflix. New readers won’t need to think twice: this collection is the one to get.