Cartoonist Eric Orchard, creator of the all-ages graphic novel Maddy Kettle from Top Shelf and the webcomic Fox and Duck, is launching his next project through First Second in 2016, Bera the One-Headed Troll, and we have an exclusive first look at the book's cover.

"Bera is a simple and shy troll and gardener who grows pumpkins for the distant Troll King," Orchard told ComicsAlliance. "But when she rescues a human baby from sharp toothed, nasty mermaids her whole life turns upside down and she goes on a great adventure. Being humble, Bera feels she can't possibly return the baby herself, and so she goes looking for the right hero to return the baby for her. Along the way she comes across monsters and challenges that will leave her changed."

As for what makes having just one head so notable among trolls, Orchard explains; "One head is more humble than two or three! In Bera The One Headed Troll many of the most powerful trolls have two or three heads and poor Bera has to make do with one. I think Bera is special because of her big heart, she's willing to go to great lengths to do the right thing."

The inspiration for this tale of a humble troll caring for a baby came from Orchard's personal experiences. "Living with mental illness, my mother went to heroic lengths to make sure I was safe and looked after."

 

Eric Orchard

 

The other major inspiration for the project was landscape painting. "The idea came to me in my last year of art school as I was writing an essay on landscape painting. I was doing more pacing than writing and was looking out the back window into the snowy woods and ... an image of a hunched creature in furs and skirts wading through the snow came into my head. I immediately sketched the character and she's been with me ever since. I initially wrote a book about her, a short prose novel, but decided it was better as a comic. As most things are."

Here's the official description of the book, courtesy of First Second:

 

Bera doesn't ask for much in life. She's a solitary, humble troll, tending her island pumpkin patch in cheerful isolation. She isn't looking for any trouble.

But when trouble comes to find her, it comes in spades. A human baby has arrived in the realm of the trolls, and nobody knows where it came from, but Bera seems to be the only person who doesn't want it dead. There's nothing to it but to return the adorable little thing to its parents.

Like it or not, Bera's gone and found herself a quest.

From noted picture book illustrator and graphic novelist (Maddy Kettle) Eric Orchard comes a delightful new fantasy adventure with all the sweetness, spookiness, and satisfaction of your favorite childhood bedtime story.

Eric Orchard is the author and illustrator of the Maddy Kettle books and a number of picture books. He has won a Spectrum Award for his illustrations and has been included in the Society of Illustrators annual exhibition. On his own time, Eric has studied folklore as well as comic books. Bera the One-Headed Troll is inspired by Norse fairy tales and illustrations by Arthur Rackham and Maurice Sendak. Eric currently lives in Toronto with his wife, two young sons, and studio companion: Albert Pineapple the parrot.

 

Bera the One-Headed Troll debuts in 2016 from First Second.