Okay, I admit it – Halloween is one of my very least favorite holidays in the year! Ghosts and goblins and such just don’t interest me very often. I mean, I enjoy Supernatural on The CW, but when it comes to comics, I usually am not all that drawn into spooky stuff. (Doesn’t mean I don’t like well-told horror/suspense when I find it, though!)
This week, I’ve been intrigued to watch an original animated series on Cartoon Network called Over the Garden Wall. It’s spooky and yet sweet in the way things out of the ordinary are told. It’s been airing on that cable channel each night at 8:30, with the final 15-minute segments coming Friday, October 30! But there’s a comic based on the show you can read right now!
It’s important to know that this is a re-airing of the show. It first was seen from November 3 through 7 in 2014. The show had some well-known voices in it, including Elijah Wood, Christopher Lloyd and Jack Jones.
Previously in OVER THE GARDEN WALL: “What’s to Love: Airing last November, Pat McHale’s Over the Garden Wall was Cartoon Network’s first-ever original animated miniseries. We loved the eerily sweet story of two half-brothers trying to find their way home so much we published a companion one-shot that was quickly snapped up by folks who just wanted more of this world to experience. Now, we’re expanding the world of Over the Garden Wall with McHale and returning artist Jim Campbell with a full-length story.
“What It Is: A new Over the Garden Wall story set between episodes 5-6, andGreg and Wirt follow a band of musical forest animals who are parading around the woods.”
KIDS SCARE ME
I guess this is a review full of admissions from me! Having been a child myself, I still find other kids difficult to understand. Their ability to reason in ways I don’t get sometimes makes me uncertain just what’s going on in their heads, and that sometimes frightens me. There, I said it!
Don’t get me wrong – I like kids! It’s just that their unique sense of logic is something I stopped understanding a long time ago. (I don’t have any kids of my own, you see!) And that’s what we see in this show and related comics – Children and those around them who don’t think like adults. Instead, the kids and the grown-ups have all developed their own rationales for how to do things and how they should behave. If I want to read a creepy story, this is it! And just in time for Halloween, too!
McHale has noted that the character Greg was based on his son, and other elements also drew from his life and experiences.
I think it’s important to point out that this is NOT a “coming of age” story. Wirt and his half-brother are NOT going to become adults when this miniseries concludes. As much as I love that kind of story, to see something that’s very different really is a great change of pace.
It’s also critical to know that you MUST have seen the series to get the full impact of the story. I suppose you could read it without the show, but you won’t understand just who Beatrice is as well as the frog Greg takes with him.
In this issue, there’s a great surprise near the end. Beatrice (who is NOT the bluebird of happiness) leaves the boys for a few minutes, and when she returns, she sees a bear dancing while wearing Wirt’s clothes and a duck dressed in Greg’s outfit, including a teapot on its head. Given that other animals are wearing clothes, Beatrice apologizes to both, certain that the pears they have in their hands have transformed them into animals. To know what’s happening, you’ve got to read the comic! Well done!
What’s great is that the artist is giving the comic a consistent look and feel to it that resembles the show. The children’s big, wide-open eyes spook me, and their odd clothing choices are on display here as well. Who wears a teapot on their head but a kid?
Both characterization and action are told with the pacing and mystery that the show had as well, so it’s mysterious while being childlike in its perspective. Interesting color choices, too! The cover is a little deceptive in that it looks like an issue for the very young. That’s NOT the case, as I’ll talk more about very shortly!
The only thing that made it a little tough to read was the handwriting-like lettering. It looks as if a child had written in the words, and sometimes it’s not easy to understand what’s being said. Of course, there are voices telling the story on the television, but it looks like the creators wanted that same sense of childlikeness to be seen in the way things are said. It takes a little getting used to, but I think I have the hang of it now!
THE BOTTOM LINE: ‘Kid’ Horror
I’ve mentioned previously that I’ve been working with a friend on Stabbity Bunny, a comic about a 7 year-old girl and her plush rabbit. It’s a story that’s focused on a kid, but is not really appropriate reading for a child that age. (A boy or girl should be at least 12 years old for that one.)
I get some of the same vibe from Over the Garden Wall. The main characters are two children, but I’m not at all certain kids their age should be reading these comics or watching the show. Cartoon Network was smart to run it each evening at 8:30 p.m., when many youngsters are already in bed.
On the other hand, I think adults will find all this franchise oddly disturbing and creepy, so it’s just in time for the scariest season of the year! It’s weird, it’s dark, it’s mysterious and it’s different. I like it, and if you’re someone looking for another kind of Halloween story, I highly recommend you catch the show and read this comic miniseries!
My only concern is that the fourth issue will not come out until late November or so, which will make it arrive after Halloween. But with Krampus becoming a popular Christmas-related horror story, hey, I’ll be ready for it when it arrives!
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