Tom Hammock and Megan Hutchison’s “An Aurora Grimeon Story: Will O’ The Wisp” #1 is a strange little book that has some inconsistencies in execution, but also some bold style choices and intriguing contradictions.
The story meanders a bit and could use some editing – especially as it introduces Aurora to basically everyone on the island in some slow scenes that made the book easy to put down. However, other scenes (like Aurora and her grandfather taking a tour of his odd house, her visit to Mama Noonie and meeting the only other kid her age on the island) are much better and suggest a more interesting book. Most notable of all are some of the mysteries that Hammock is already setting up. The biggest strength in Hammock’s story lies in the contradictions. Aurora’s grandfather, Silver, is a man of science (who keeps a pet raccoon among other eccentricities) and yet he indulges in the “hoodoo” beliefs of the island where he lives even though he proclaims several times to not believe any of it. Tidbits like this add nicely to the other more overt visual mysteries on the island.
Hutchison’s visuals are highly stylized and for the most part they work well for this odd little story. Aurora’s design for example — painfully thin, and gothic, with a huge shock of white hair — are interesting. She’s cute but not sexy, which is entirely appropriate for her age and for the story. Similarly, her grandfather, Silver, casts a sharp lean silhouette that’s appealing and well-fits both his personality and the tone of the tale. The aforementioned pet raccoon (Missy) is an excellent addition, especially as a fun visual. The style itself is consistent throughout, with Hutchison clearly committing to the extreme harshness of the visuals, however, there are places where the style doesn’t best benefit the book and leaves it feeling thin, and occasionally, amateurish. The way text is integrated into an image when Aurora holds a letter in her hand for example looks clunky. Sometimes expressions or body language feel awkward, and the colors by Adam Gozowski, while clearly a deliberate choice, sometimes feel too flat. The entire book has a dark stark look to it that feels right for the tone and setting, but sometimes just doesn’t work as well as it should.
While “An Aurora Grimeon Story: Will O’ The Wisp” #1 has some execution problems, it is committed to a strong visual style, and almost revels in the knowledge that it is a strange little book. It clearly wants to be that strange little book, and that may not be a bad thing. Certainly there’s enough of interest to warrant a look at the second issue.