By Oliver Gerlach
Whisper Wilds #1, currently funding (very successfully) on Kickstarter, is the brainchild of Brent Nelson and Emanuele Arnaldi. It’s the story of a woman and her dinosaur-like partner attempting to prevent monsters from escaping an extra-dimensional wasteland and slipping into 1940s Australia. If that sounds like a weird premise, don’t worry! It’s very well-handled, and the end result is far more delightful than the simple plot and concept summary might indicate.
This is a really fun adventure book that works on a number of levels. The plot is intriguing, and promises to go in some very interesting directions; there are some genuinely unexpected little twists scattered around the issue, and the settings and style make it an instantly intriguing read. After a brief moment of surprise as the nature of the book seems to change dramatically on page 3, I found it constantly engaging and exciting. All of the characters are well introduced in the relatively tight page count, and they’re all very likable and interesting.
It’s Arnaldi’s art that makes Whisper Wilds stand out, though. It’s cartoony, charming, and beautifully rendered. Reminiscent of the styles and colors used in the backgrounds of animated shows such as Steven Universe, Arnaldi’s delightful artwork makes even the heavier aspects of the story seem fun and pleasing. As well as charm, the art brings energy and enthusiasm; the action scenes are exciting and well rendered, filled with kinetic energy while still being instinctively readable. Arnaldi’s lettering, with borderless, oddly sketchy-looking balloons, blends in perfectly with the artwork. It’s really beautiful work, and it almost feels as though it should be an all-ages book. The language indicates that this is not the case, however; it may look like a kids’ cartoon, but this is a book for adult audiences.
Arnaldi’s character designs are also notable. The monsters are all weird, unique, and threatening, and the protagonists are instantly recognizable. Admittedly one of them is a humanoid dinosaur creature, which gives him a bit of an advantage when it comes to distinctiveness, but even the human characters have exciting designs. The protagonist is instantly endearing and likable, and beyond this also happens to be exceptionally cosplayable. I hope to see costumes begin to appear at comic cons in the near future; this is great work.
Books like Whisper Wilds are why I love reviewing indie comics. I read it completely blind, with no idea what I was getting into, and instantly fell in love. I’ve accidentally discovered a new favorite, and I’m genuinely very excited to read the rest of the series when it emerges. It’s currently funding on Kickstarter (just search for Whisper Wilds), and I highly recommend that you all go and fund it as soon as you can. I know I’m going to.
Whisper Wilds #1
Writer: Brent Nelson
Artists/Letterer: Emanuele Arnaldi