Graphic Novel Review Week
In the graphic novel Will o’ the Wisp, young Aurora Grimeon is sent to live with her estranged grandfather after her parents died from mushroom poisoning. The grandfather lives in a creepy old house in the backwater/swamps of Louisiana, where hoodoo is a natural way of life. The superstitious people of the isle fear that Aurora may have brought back luck down upon them. With the help of a hoodoo priestess (Mama Noonie) and a pet raccoon named Missy, Aurora goes to solve the mystery of strange blue lights that are appearing in the swamp, along with the disappearance/murder of some of the locals.
It’s a moody, atmospheric piece that reaches right out and pulls the reader in to a fantasy/horror/mystery story that is perfectly rooted in the mythology of the deep south.
While the story is interesting and moves along well, with characters that have just the right amount of creepiness to them, it is the art that draws me to this book the most. And above and beyond the art, I can’t tell you how appealing the color is in this book. That’s right…the color.
Megan Hutchison is the illustrator, and her work is phenomenal. I’m not quite sure how to define this art. Aurora has a slight anime style to it, but she would be the only one, which makes her stand out among the characters. The art is not über-realistic — it contains fascinating angles and shapes, while still giving the impression of realism. It is so different from anything I’ve seen in a comic/graphic novel before, and I’m completely blown away by it.
Now…take Hutchison’s art and give it a color scheme like that of Adam Guzowski’s, and this will take your breath away.
Color in graphic novels/comics is one of those things that a reader generally doesn’t pay attention to unless it doesn’t work. Fortunately this is one of those pleasant instances when it is noticed for its fabulous enhancement. Even when the scene is a drab and dreary swamp at midnight or inside and old and decrepit structure, Guzowski has found a way to pump up the colors, with shadows and highlighting (and even patterns such as on the ancient wallpaper). The attention to detail here is meticulous. The edge of a table in one small panel has no fewer than seven discernible colors or shades. This is ‘necessary’ and wouldn’t likely be this way in any other comic, but clearly these artists have a passion for what they do and are putting their all into it. And I, for one, really appreciate it. I will remember these names, Megan Hutchison, Adam Guzowski, Tom Hammock (author) and I will happily pay money for whatever they put out next.
Looking for a good book? Will o’ the Wisp is a graphic novel of Louisiana hoodoo mystery with art that will impress. Highly recommended!
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Will o’ the Wisp
author: Tom Hammock
artists: Megan Hutchison, Adam Guzowski (colors)
publisher: Archaia Entertainment
hardcover, 216 pages