All images: Flying Eye Books

For nearly 10 years, Luke Pearson’s Hilda comics have delighted readers of all ages with the whimsical stories of an adventurous young girl, her adorable little deerfox, and the mystical creatures they meet. These oversized graphic novels feature beautiful illustrations of natural, urban, and magical environments populated by eye-catching characters, all rendered with a precise yet lively line and expressive color palette. In the three years since Hilda And The Stone Forest, Hilda has experienced a massive surge in popularity as the star of a Netflix animated series, which has won three Annie Awards and an Emmy Award this year for its lush visuals and charming storytelling. The cartoon is an astoundingly faithful adaptation of the comics, and one of the most exciting things about new Hilda stories is the prospect of seeing them brought to life on TV in the future.

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The wait for new Hilda comics is finally over, with Flying Eye Press releasing Hilda And The Mountain King on September 9. We have an exclusive first look at Hilda’s latest journey, which has her trying to make her way home after waking up in a troll body. While Hilda’s mother and pet search for her, she’s learning more about troll culture on a tour of the trolls’ expansive caverns, showcasing Pearson’s talent for fantasy world-building rooted in a playful sense of humor. There are some darker moments, like a flashback to a devastating troll revolt, but in general Pearson keeps the mood light and exciting.

Because Pearson has so much room to work with on the page, he divides his layouts into different sections that move at their own pace. When Hilda sees all the different troll treasure hoards, Pearson starts with a 3x3 grid up along the top of the page to move through different spots quickly. When he wants Hilda to linger in a space, he breaks from that grid for a new sequence of panels along the bottom of the page. The final two pages of this excerpt showcase the thrill of Hilda’s new troll body with more dynamic panel compositions and brights pops of purple, green, and red, and the imagination and passion that goes into the page design sets the Hilda comic series apart from its cartoon adaptation. 

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