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Writer: Patrick McHale
Artist: Jim Campbell
Over the Garden Wall is based on a television miniseries by the same name, created by Patrick McHale, which is based on his short film Tome of the Unknown. In the original story we meet Wirt and Greg. They are half-brothers trying to make their way home from the Unknown. They stumbled into the Unknown after a mishap on Halloween, which explains their appearance. Along the way they encounter a variety of adventures. They have a couple animal companions, too. There is a bluebird named Beatrice and an unnamed frog.
When researching the show I noticed that the art style does maintain continuity between the animation and illustrations. I find this important because it allows the characters to be recognizable. Especially since this particular story arc takes place between episodes 3 and 4 of the animated series. I went back and watched the episodes so I had an idea of what was taking place in the story and the characters personalities. After that I was able to reread the book and genuinely enjoy it.
McHale gave the two main characters a relationship that is common in todays society. I think the fact that they’re half-brothers adds to the dynamic of how they approach different obstacles. Their age difference could also play a part in this contrast. Wirt, being the older brother, is very obedient and always trying to please others. It’s as if he’s subconsciously focused on being a good example for Greg. It also shows that you have to be very specific when giving instructions. This causes some problems for Wirt.
Greg is still young enough that he’s held onto childhood creativity. He notices details that Wirt misses because he’s not focused following orders. It’s also possible that Wirt’s actions are based on protecting a sibling. They are in the Unknown, so they never know what to expect. Beatrice, although a little brash at first, proves to help Wirt grow as an individual. I’d equate her to that one friend your parents couldn’t stand. Parents always thought that this friend was a bad influence, when in fact that taught you how to stand up for yourself and not bow to peer pressure.
While I enjoy shows being made into comics and vice versa, there is a problem I continue to encounter. In order to understand this comic you have to be familiar with the show on some level. I find this frustrating as an adult reading these comics. The main demographic for this comic will be asking an adult questions about these characters. I’m sure most of them won’t know the answer because the comic gives us no introduction into the story. McHale is relying on us having already watched his short film or the miniseries. While that may be on purpose, in order to draw more people into the show, that shouldn’t be the purpose of a comic book. It should be a way to reach more people with a story they think is worth sharing. Those familiar with the miniseries will be able to jump right into this book with out any issues. It has the potential to introduce more kids to comics. If we simply look at the characters and the story told in this book, I did enjoy it. Once I had some background information of course. I did find myself giggling at a few lines throughout the book. As a stand alone story, I think it’s lacking important aspects of storytelling.
“Over the Garden Wall #1” earns 7/10