Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Glister by Andi Watson

The fields of Young Adult have been calling to comics-makers for the past decade or so: a seductive song of a market with a large, appreciative audience, a deep love for comics, a tropism for evergreen books rather than ephemeral pamphlets, and the chance to actually make some money telling stories pretty close to (or, sometimes, exactly like) the ones those cartoonists are already doing. All of that is hugely positive for a creative person, so it's easy to see why so many have fled the Wednesday Crowd for the Scholastic Book Fair Mob.

But it does mean those of us who aren't as plugged into the YA/kid-comics world often don't even see those works, which is a shame.

Luckily, sometimes comics-world publishers will realize this and repackage YA comics in a way that makes them pop up on our radar.

Case in point: Andi Watson's Glister, a series of four small books from Walker, clearly aimed at that Scholastic Book Fair audience (its bullseye would be smart, thoughtful girls in late elementary school, but those of us who fit the profile less well -- meaning not at all -- can enjoy them just as much) that came out in 2010 and 2011. Dark Horse collected those four books into one comics-shop-friendly trade paperback, called simply Glister, in July of this year. (I think it's actually more complicated than that: the first Glister book was a slightly reworked version of Watson's first Glister story, which came out as three small comics from Image in 2007. So everything goes around in circles if you wait long enough.)

Glister Butterworth is a smart young girl living with her father in the family's deeply eccentric ancestral hall, somewhere in the kind of rural England that only exists in books for young people. She's a magnet for the weird and peculiar, according to the blurb, but I'd say it's more that she lives in a world stuffed full with the weird and peculiar -- it's not attracted to her in particular, but is just lying about the countryside in vast heaps, ready to fall over and cause trouble at any moment.

Again, Glister collects four separate stories (plus activity pages and other sidebar stuff). Glister deals with a haunted teapot, the unexpected (and extended) absence of her family home on a world tour, the search for her mother in the land of Faerie, and her attempt to grow an extended family tree (this is both a metaphor and the absolute truth) to have more family members to spend time with. None of those things turn out as she expects, or as the reader entirely anticipates, but they do all turn out for the best, in the end. It's that kind of book: the one about how much fun it would be to grow up weird, somewhere unique with unusual things happening all around all the time.

If you were a bookish kid, you probably had at least one favorite book like that. And Glister will be that for at least several thousand newer readers, which is a good thing. And even if you're no longer a kid, as long as you remember that kid you once were, you can enjoy the stories of Glister Butterworth just as much now.

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