Wisher v1 cover detail from Cinebook
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Wisher v1: “Nigel”

I still don’t know quite what to make of “Wisher.” The story just might not be in my wheelhouse.

Maybe that’s it.

Or maybe this is another one of those first volumes that tells you a lot of stuff without ever explaining a thing.

I think this will be one of those books where I decide how I feel about it as I write about it. Let’s get to it:

Demons and Genies and Faeries, Oh My Credits!

Wisher v1 cover from Cinebook
Writers: Sebastien Latour
Artist: Giulio De Vita
Colorist: Emanuele Tenderini
Letterer: Design Amorandi
Translator: Mark Bence
Published by: Cinebook/Lombard
Number of Pages: 49
Original Publication: 2008

The “Story” So Far

A lot happens in this volume, to be fair. All of the pieces are put in place, many of them come into confrontation, and there’s obviously a bigger story happening behind the scenes that we’ll lean into in the next three books that finish this series.

I just wish we had a little more connective tissue to make sense of it. The protagonist of the series is meant to be similarly in the dark, so the story structure works to mirror his point of view. Maybe?

But, as a reader, I need more to grab onto. “Everything is confusing” is not a hook for me. “Everything has changed, and now Nigel needs to fight back and win the day” gives me something to grab onto to carry me through to volume 2.

Nigel is a British man who’s good at making things happen if you have enough money. Judging by the events of this issue, that means he can arrange for lots of forged art to sell to big money clients who don’t need to know the art’s true provenance.

Nigel is a person of interest to the investigating police.

When an artist friend of his dies suddenly and mysteriously, he becomes a person of interest to the investigating police. He needs to keep them away from his true business while they investigate his friend, who seems to be a sudden suicide. But, as we all know, it isn’t that.

And then there are the demons and the faeries and all that stuff.

Yes, it’s one of those books.

So begins the game of cat and mouse, of near misses, of friends who accidentally get caught in the crossfire, of one man lost in a new world who must make sense of things after his blindfold has been removed, etc. etc.

I’m just not a demons and faeries kind of guy, I think. It’s losing me fast as the book winds to a close with a pretty decent cliffhanger, all things considered.

The Art

The thing that drew me to this book in the first place was the art by Giulio De Vita with colors from Emanuele Tenderini. That combination is immediately eye-catching. It’s highly detailed work chock full of details.

London in the Wisher universe.  It's a very busy place.

Just take a look at this example of a crowd scene. It’s not the only one in the book. There’s a lot of busy clubs and street life in this book. Da Vita draws a lot of stuff, reminiscent of the old adage that comics have unlimited budgets and can pack everything into them. Just pity the poor artist who gets stuck drawing it.

But it gets a bit overwhelming at a certain point. Everything is filled with stuff. There’s a scene near the end of the book where characters are climbing through underground tunnels and there are chains hanging everywhere and it feels like every brick on the wall is drawn in, too.

It all starts to blend together. There’s very little difference in the ink lines between foreground and background, so everything merges. At some point, I began to crave simplicity and focus.

Da Vita can deliver in the storytelling aspect. He has a good eye for following the action. Take a look at this sequence where a character is being followed:

Da Vita draws a character being followed by men in blue suits.  It's clear, yet understated.  Very easy to follow.

Da Vita even gets away with stacking panels vertically. That’s impressive. But he moves the camera throughout this sequence in a very smart way, alternating shots over the shoulder in different directions. And that last panel is a nice twist, well laid out. You feel like you’re someone living in that house, watching something bad about to happen but just too far away to stop it.

Da Vita is a good storyteller and a good artist, but there are times when things just feel a little too busy. And some of that has to do with the colors….

The Trouble With Colors

An example of busy coloring in Wisher #1

Tenderini’s colors are bright and there are a lot of colors to choose from. Sometimes, it feels like every scene is dominated by a new color pairing, one louder than the next. If you didn’t like the bright blues and purples from this scene, wait for the bright greens and loud yellows when you flip the page.

Coloring is done with hard edges, so you also get the effect of even more lines in the book. It just all looks so busy and slightly too bold for me. What this book lacks is a sense of constraint.

I love books with detail. I love artists who draw all the backgrounds in and don’t miss a detail. That’s part of what drew me to this book in the first place, like I said. But it’s also the part that disappointed me the most. It’s just too much. There’s not enough subtlety to the work. There’s not enough differentiation between the front and the back, and the colors are a part of the problem. It’s great to be bold and colorful, but sometimes it just adds to the assault on your eyes instead of adding focus to the storytelling.

It looks good, at first, but does it help with the story? Not enough, I’m afraid.

The Lettering

Cinebook originally published this book more than five years ago. They’ve learned a lot since then. I’d like to think there’s no way they’d let this lettering go through today:

Wisher's lettering has some problems, mostly the Crossbar I

Those crossbar-I choices are atrocious, and they’re everywhere, like an amateur photocopied fanzine who just doesn’t know better.

Recommended?

Wisher v1 cover from Cinebook

If this – Anglophilia with a fresh set of demons — is your thing, have at it. The art is interesting and there are enough little creatures and mysteries to keep your attention. The whole series is available today. It runs four books in total.

I’m predisposed against this magic fantasy stuff. I can get into it if you lay down the ground rules early enough, and then let the characters and the framework run the rest of the story. I felt too lost through most of this book, and by the time it was becoming more understandable, it was almost over and more layers and surprises were coming.

It’s just too much work for too little gain.

— 2019.031 —

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3 Comments

  1. Well I’m way older than you and I enjoyed it, it wasn’t any soapier (or less so, probably) than most of the DC shows on the CW. It just concluded a couple of months ago. For some reason that escapes me, YA novels have become a genre onto itself. I’d like to see someone analyse that trend and explain it to me.