25 December 2012

Hilda and the Midnight Giant

Santa brought me quite a few comic books (a.k.a. graphic novels) this year, which was not much of a surprise as I was there when he bought most of them.

The difficult decision was which one to read first. I went for Hilda and the Midnight Giant just because I fancied a shorter and easier read 

Hilda is ostensibly a children's book but I lot of adult reviewers have loved it as much as I do.

It has a little of Rupert the Bear about it with Hilda inhabiting a magic world of elves and giants that live unseen around her just waiting to be discovered to spark a story.

There is also a hint of Dr Seuss with some of the creatures and the general insanity of the setting.

These touch-points help to put the book in context but its strength comes from the things that are unique to it. The strong story has two main themes, one with the elves and one with the giant, that are linked through Hilda. Her character has real depth, unlike Rupert for example, especially in the way that she interacts with her mother and drives the narrative. This alone lifts the book above something just for children, though I am sure that they will love it too.

And the art is simply beautiful.

There is a touch of the Ligne claire about it but with a few more black lines to add detail and shading to the shapes.

I like the use of subtle colours too. The brashness of, say, Tin Tin, is not appropriate for an earthy story. This is fantastical but not fantasy and the art shows that beautifully.

The story has a jaunty pace that is managed through the number of panels on a page. Most have around twelve and at the two extremes one page has fifteen panels and one page has just one.

There are few words and the sample page here is fairly typical in that respect. The balance in favour of the art over the words is just right and helps the story to rattle along.

The story comes with a little surprise at the end. While nothing significant ever happens in Rupert's world here Hilda's does change as one of the story lines reaches a surprising ending.

Hilda and the Midnight Giant is a very likeable book and I liked it enough to buy the others in the series.

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