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Traded Up: ‘Glister’ TPB (review)

Glister
Written and Illustrated by Andi Watson
Collects The Haunted Teapot, The House
Hunt, The Faerie Host and The Family Tree
Published by Dark Horse Books
Released July 5, 2017
$14.99 / ISBN 978-1-50670-319-0

 

Irregular things regularly occur around Glister.

And they are all well worth a read.

At first glance Glister looks like a little kid’s story book and yet it is so much more.

It’s filled with magically eclectic adventures collected from previously published stories that are both charming and charmed, offering adventures that begin a bit bitter yet end satisfyingly sweet.

Each is illustrated in a monochrome style, replacing pencil gray and ink black with a mauve or green, deceptively creating an expectation of simplicity when there is so much more to discover.

A SERIES OF FORTUNATE EVENTS

The series begins with the book’s namesake, Glister Butterworth, receiving a mysterious teapot. As is true to her nature – and well set in the book’s text – she is “a magnet for the odd and peculiar,” so it’s only a surprise to us that, when the tea is to temperature, it expels a ghostly novelist, á la Aladdin. He begs her to be his hands (he is a spirit, after all) and dictates a seemingly endless sad story about an overworked orphan.

Glister eventually tires of the teapot and takes it to a collector who naturally or, more appropriately, supernaturally, tries to auction it off, only to them be tricked into buying it back. It ends up back with Glister who eventually consumes a cuppa from the pot, causing the spirit to inhabit her. She then realizes the author’s true identity, offering a lovely twist that helps set the tone for the rest of the book.

In the next story we learn that her beloved home has randomly appearing rooms, objects and people including a movie theater, masonic temple, random statues, a string quartet and a saloon. The building itself is quite a character, eventually deciding to up and leave. It’s a TARDIS of sorts with even more personality (if that is even possible) and possibly more rooms (if that is even possible).

Not to be found homeless, Glister’s father decides to – upon interesting circumstances – grow a new home. Yup, magic beans be damned. As you might imagine, a missing homestead causes quite the ruckus in the neighborhood. Suffice it to say, after quite a bit of fun, home eventually returns with a few extra, er, souvenirs.

Much like the house moving in the previous book, the town decides to change its borders, allowing Faerieland to envelop Gister’s house. Soon after, Glister begins to see another ghostly figure, this time her long lost mother in a vanity mirror. She’s soon given an odd gift – a potato peeler – that proves useful later on.

After promising to never cross into Faerieland territory, she, naturally, does, resulting in a rather magical battle. Without giving away any of the twists, I’ll just say that the story gives a new, heartfelt meaning to the phrase, “A peck on the cheek.”

In the final story Glister gets to meet many more of her family who quite literally fall from the family tree. They are certainly as eclectic as the house.

Following the four stories are twenty pages of children’s book style activities drawn in the same monochromatic style and with much the same humor.

LITTLE MISS GLISTER THE NEW A-LISTER

After each story is a quick, two-pager epilogue and each one is sublime genius. Quick and cute, some tell what happened after the happenings while other add a bit more fun, proving interesting within their own. It’s reminiscent of the old Disney books that would offer a one- or two-pager tale to help break up stories.

The monochromatic sketchbook style used throughout is one that I rather enjoy and believe works especially well here. Even if it is unintentional, it often feels like we’re being shown exactly what the artist drew as they came up with the story instead of another inker’s interpretation that’s then been touched up and colored by a third or fourth person.

A few times a frame or two will look like Watson took no longer than a couple seconds to draw, then the following frames feel far more detailed, creating an occasional contrast. Within the realm book’s eclectic nature, however, it works and may be, in fact, intentionally pushing the theme even deeper.

This is a book of truly eclectic wonderfulness. While some might incorrectly recall this a bit similar to A Series of Unfortunate Events, these events are really quite fortunate and fun. Each book is its own, encapsulated story and ends that kindly builds on – but does not rely on – the previous story and ends with a bit of sweetness.

I know I’ll be pouring through these pages a few more times to see what other gems are hidden in Glister’s world both in the art and the story text.

 

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