Just Outside of Trolberg: Should Your Kids Be Reading ‘Hilda’? [Kids’ Comics]
It’s Kids’ Week at ComicsAlliance! As the summer draws to a close and young comics fans get ready to go back to school, we’re presenting a week of articles focused on great kids’ comics, including comics recommendations for younger readers. Hey! Kids’ comics!
Imagine you're a kid, and you and your mom live on the edge of a forest by a mountain. Your mom works from home, so you've got lots to do outside of schoolwork. So what do you do? Well, if you're the curious, blue-haired Hilda, you tromp around nature, drawing and running into trolls, invisible elves, house spirits and all sorts of things. All accompanied by your faithful companion, the reindeer-dog Twig.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Hilda is a small, independent girl who loves exploring and drawing the crazy, literally magical world around her. She and Twig encounter all sorts of creatures in the forest, and later on in the town of Trolberg that Hilda and her mom move to over the course of the series. There are long-nosed trolls, giants as tall as mountains --- or who are mountains, and giant ravens, among other things.
Each of the original graphic novels is relatively stand-alone, though there's a subtle continuity tying them together. But really, no matter what order one reads them in, children are sure to be entertained.
WHO'S IT BY?
British-born cartoonist Luke Pearson writes and draws the series. Also an illustrator and animator, he has an extensive resume that includes storyboarding episodes of Adventure Time, covers for The New Yorker, and adult-targeted comics like Everything We Miss through Nobrow, whose children's imprint, Flying Eye Books, publishes the Hilda books.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
These books are a delight to look at. Not only are they laid out so clearly yet inventively that even the littlest reader can follow them, they're also bursting with imagination and detail.
Pearson is giving readers his own versions of classical Norse monsters, but he's also clearly influenced by mythological art from that period and the Middle Ages. Bright and complementing colors abound, as do a diverse blend of characters in all sizes. It's classical, but could only have come about from a modern mind.
Tying it all together is Hilda herself. In the tradition of Nancy Drew, Ingrid Levin-Hill, and Ramona Quimby before her, Hilda is unapologetically herself and perfectly imperfect. She's tons of fun and would probably fit right in with the Lumberjanes. Small wonder, then, that Netflix has commissioned a 12-episode animated series based on the books, set to premiere in 2018.
WHO SHOULD READ IT?
Fans of Lumberjanes, or of any of the characters listed above. Kids who love exploring outside with or without the aid of Pokemon Go. Kids who want to know about mythology without digging into decades-old books.
WHERE CAN I READ IT?
There are four books in the Hilda series as of this writing --- Hilda and the Troll, Hilda and the Midnight Giant, Hilda and the Bird Parade and Hilda and the Black Hound. A fifth, Hilda and the Stone Forest, is set for release this fall.
Hilda and the Troll was originally published in a smaller size as Hildafolk, published as part of Nobrow's 17X23 series.
All Hilda books are available on Nobrow Press' official website, digitally on the official Nobrow app on the Apple store for iPad, in print from a variety of retailers, and from your local library.