Quality UK publisher Nobrow publishes the third album of creative powerhouse Luke Pearson’s Hildafolk series which mixes humour, mystery and fantasy into another superb piece of escapism for young and old alike.
The all-ages Hildafolk series reads like Luke Pearson’s personal love letter to European comics, Tove Jansson’s Moomin figures and the mystery and enthusiasm of childhood as only Miyazaki has been able to catch on paper and the screen. Luke Pearson, however, rivals Miyazaki for sheer exuberant enthusiasm. His Hilda is cocky, buoyant, intelligent and naturally inquisitive, as all good leads should be.
Still resident in the city of Trolberg, Hilda discovers a new fantastic species she has never known before: the Nisse, a mischievous but charismatic bunch of misfits who occupy a world beside – but, also somehow within – our own where the rules of physics don’t quite match up. She tries to befriend a Nisse driven out of his home but gets sucked into a deeper mystery involving a mysterious – and rather large – black hound which is haunting and eating the inhabitants of Trolberg.
It’s clear that with every subsequent album, Luke Pearson is relishing more and more the prospect of playing with the panels and rhythm of the large canvas the European album format provides. Hilda & The Black Hound has a tighter rhythm and more panels per page than The Bird Parade or The Midnight Giant but it makes the impact of larger panels even bigger and makes sure that emotional beats get all the spotlight they deserve. Even with the high panel count, Pearson manages to make this graphic novel a breezy read.
There’s a lot of playfulness at work in this album and not only in character designs like the fun visual of the Nisse, whose heads are all hair with a big nose sticking out. On the storytelling the climactic scene at the end stands out especially as a shining example of what makes comics so much fun. Having the Black Hound chase Hilda and the Nisse through all the discarded spaces in multiple homes connected by a shared dimension, gives Pearson a chance to shine exceptionally with inventive panel layouts, slice-ups and storytelling.
With the Hildafolk series, Luke Pearson has carved himself a unique niche in the UK comics scene: a successful all-ages graphic novel series and it is much deserved. It is clearly the vision of one man and Hilda and the Black Hound is another thrilling and alluring instalment to Pearson’s signature series. Here’s a toast to many more!