Glister #1

By Andi Watson
64 pages, black and white
Published by Image Comics

You never really know what you’re going to get with Andi Watson. Dimensional hopping teenager and fox spirit? Unemployed factory worker with relationship problems? Big town reporter going to small-town paper? Goth girl exiled by parents to the countryside? Superheroes and hangers-on in love? I suspect Watson actually delights in regularly switching genres and styles, to keep his readership forever slightly confused yet eager to see what’s happening next. With his new series Glister, Watson is mixing things up again, with a real treat ready for those who give it a try.

Glister Butterworth lives with her father in Chilblain Hall, and seems to forever attract strange things. This time it’s a haunted teapot, with the ghost of Phillip Bulwark-Stratton trapped inside of it. It seems that Bulwark-Stratton was an author who never got to complete his final great work of literature. No longer having corporeal fingers, he convinces Glister to transcribe his words—but can she ever get him to stop before he bores her to death?

“Glister and the Haunted Teapot” is a great introduction to Glister and her bemused father; it hits the ground running almost immediately, giving you a real look into Glister’s earnest, clever, and slightly sarcastic personality. She’s a fun protagonist, because she’s a great combination of unflappable and devious; confronted with a problem, she’ll look at it calmly and then cleverly try and solve it. Her struggles to get rid of Phillip and his teapot are funny, but while Watson primarily plays the story for laughs there’s also an element of seriousness that shows up towards the end, giving you a greater insight into Phillip Bulwark-Stratton’s depressing life and writings. It’s a good balance, and it bodes really well for future issues. There’s a limitless number of possibilities on what Watson can do next in Glister, and he’s clearly setting up the chance to use both humor and drama. As an added bonus there’s a Skeleton Key back-up story (don’t worry if you’ve never read the series before, everything you need to know is in the first three panels) which invokes a nice sense of wonder as Tamsin and Kitsune go up against a very unusual form of vampire. It’s a short little piece that never overstays its welcome and has a very fun little twist (as well as resolution) that makes it memorable.

The art in Glister reminds me a bit of Watson’s work on Love Fights with its excellent usage of gray tones, but in a looser, more flowing way. The lines aren’t as tightly knit together, giving a relaxed, laid-back sort of feel to the book. On some pages where Glister isn’t the main focus, her entire body is created out of just a handful of lines, yet Watson keeps her clearly recognizable and without ever feeling like he’s dashing off the art. Whomever is the main focus is always beautifully articulated, lines draped on top of one another to meld with the gray tones and create a perfectly composed character. I love Glister’s pursed lips as the ghost tells her how he has returned despite Glister’s best efforts, or the hesitant-yet-curious look on her face as she stares into a rather unique cup of tea that’s been presented to her.

Glister is even beautifully presented, bound perfectly in a 5.5×8″ package with a nice heavy cover stock that will sit perfectly on your bookshelf. I love the idea of getting digests of Watson’s comics every other month or so, and for it to be such a fun, charming book is the icing on the proverbial cake. Glister is a wonderful new series, and it’s something that you absolutely must check out as quickly as possible. Highly recommended.

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