Andi Watson’s Glister (Image) is set in one of those places I kind of want to live. Chilblain Hall is a big old wreck of a country house filled with oddities, yet it’s strangely inviting. Weird things happen there, but the worst of them never come close to being menacing. Irritating, maybe, but they’re nothing the titular heroine can’t handle, and life would be dull without them.
So when a haunted teapot arrives and dictates the most tedious novel imaginable to poor Glister Butterworth, she rolls up her sleeves and works towards a solution, one that hopefully won’t hurt anyone’s feelings. When a stuck-up neighbor makes disparaging remarks about Chilblain Hall and it wanders off in a huff, Glister’s imaginative coping skills kick in again.
Charming without being sickly, witty without any bite, these are really delightful comics. This isn’t really a surprise, given Watson’s track record for tremendously appealing work. His heroine sets the tone for everything – sensible but not completely without sentiment, quick-witted, and ready to roll with whatever her strange home and life present.
For all of the weirdness, the comedy is very low-key. It’s almost observational, except Glister deals with pushy bridge trolls and tourists renting the dungeon for war games instead of the line at the DMV or bad cell phone connections. What’s the opposite of magical realism? Because that’s what Glister is.
(I haven’t even tried to describe Watson’s illustrations, mostly because Tom Spurgeon described them so well and anything I wrote would seem kind of pitifully derivative.)
(Oh, and I have to admit that when I looked at the back cover and saw that this had been published by Image, my first thought was, “No, really? Image? Not Oni? Do I even have a category for Image?” My second was, “Good for them.”)