Leah Looks at Algernon Blackwood’s The Willows
Written by Nathan Carson
Artwork by Sam Ford
I am humbled to have received a review copy of this stunning adaptation of the classic Algernon Blackwood novella, “The Willows” from its author, Nathan Carson.
My existing relationship with the willow tree of memory leads me to have first envisioned this leisurely excursion as something completely unlike Sam Ford’s visual interpretation. I now hold the belief that willows of the wild must be beasts in a category distinct from the more familiar, domesticated brethren that serve as an accent to our manicured landscapes.
I am transfixed by some of the artwork and its undulating borders. They are a shadow-play between light and dark that are quite a feast to behold. I enjoy tracing those classic lines with my eyes, especially those of opening panels that house the fateful phrase, “We entered the land of desolation.”
Despite the darker genre in which it resides, it also serves as a callback to a work by Henry David Thoreau regarding a canoe trip with his brother, “A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers.” This moment has passed and I now dwell on other works, tales of bio-terror, like the delightful movie Prophecy and another comic book inspiration, Swamp Thing. I can see a spark of what may have ignited Lovecraftian works of those infamous Deep Ones here. We are given the opportunity to envision sights of what may be mermaids and mermen as they occupy our deeply personal, secretive lens of imagination.
The current episode of this tale draws to a close, and it is man vs. nature, as over generations we have separated nature from us, always further, even at the time the original tale had been penned. Have we removed ourselves from our surrounding world to the point that it has become so fundamentally “other?” It is not so implausible to see our untamed environment for the malevolent and mysterious beauty that it is.
Some of you may have already read and are familiar with the original work upon which this graphic novel is based. I find it fitting that I have only gotten as far in listening to the audio book format of this tale* as the first episodic entry of this graphic novel. How serendipitous. Should I complete it? I know I should. Part of me wants to wait until publication of the second issue. Even with the tasteful gender swap of the main characters, I feel that this presentation of the work remains true and adds depth to the retooling of the original classic.
* I listen to audio books while I am in the shower, a habit that I thoroughly enjoy and recommend to start the day.