Mirenda Volume 1
Grim Wilkins (writer and artist)
Printed by Image Comics
October 24, 2018 (Comic Stores)
November 6, 2018 (Book Stores)
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Comics are intended to be the melding of words and art, but sometimes a book recognizes that there is so much more that can be told when the images alone are allowed to take flight.
Mirenda is the story of a jungle woman who mysteriously ends up with a demon trapped in her upper thigh. What purpose the demon serves is for us to determine as the woman ventures off to find a way to remove it. All the while, she is being pursued by a hunter with his own purposes, and she meets many other folks along the way who would help or hinder her cause.
By their nature, comics are a unique form of literature that demand critical thinking of their reader to construct meaning from panel to panel based, colour, details, and more. Wilkins pushes the boundaries of the medium with exquisitely detailed imagery and variations in use of colour—and very little text.
The pacing of the story is well-delivered, with crucial and climactic events sweeping in to balance the quiet moments, all leading to an ending that is truly delightfully unexpected. With very few words in each chapter— most often limited to the name “Mirenda”—it’s up to the reader to fill in the blanks as Wilkins’ art guides the story along. How did she come to have a demon in her leg? What does it want? What is the nature of the friendship she forms with the woman in the forest? Who are the party on the sea? Why is the hunter after her?
I appreciate the variety of body shapes presented in this story, particularly the main character’s very natural body as she nimbly maneuvers many different environments. There are other characters of varying shapes and sizes, as well as abilities. Nothing serves as a hindrance to each person, having learned how to adjust to their situation, and no one questions their abilities. Accessibility is a theme that Wilkins is very conscious of, which is one of the reasons why the story has so few words. In an interview with Comicverse, Wilkins says, “I have an old memory of watching the LAPUTA and NAUSICAÄ OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND anime in Japanese and feeling like I could figure out everything that was happening, despite not knowing what anyone was saying. It was a really great experience. Reminiscing on it got me interested in telling a story that could be told without saying a word so that everyone could have that same experience.”
Each character is distinct in appearance, motivation, identity, and more. Though it’s up to the reader to determine how they relate to the main character, the silent story makes it’s easy to slip into tangents about who each person might be and what purpose they serve in this world.
I did find myself frustrated by the constant need to cover her nipples. While this may have been a requirement for the publisher, I found it terribly distracting, despite Wilkins’ obvious artistic efforts to make sweeps of hair, branches, and what not maintain the main character’s modesty. This is my only nitpick with Mirenda, and I managed to get over it in my second reading—which is a necessity for this book, along with a second and a third. There are so many details in what seem to be simple lines and colours and textures, that subsequent readings serve to add even more to an already epic tale.
A truly masterful work, this is the kind of story that defines the art of sequential story telling.