Whaaa-at!!! When I first saw this profile of Luke PEarson in The New Yorker, I was pleased as punch. I called Pearson one of the best emerging cartoonists when I first saw his work four years ago and since then he’s definitely emerged are a best selling author. But then I got to the third paragraph with the huge news that Pearson’s Hilda series is being adapted as a 12-episode animated series set to debut on Netflix in 2018. The series will be based on the first four Hilda books, all published by Nobrow. The series will be produced by Silvergate Media (The Octonauts and Peter Rabbit.)
The Hilda books are a joy already:
When Pearson was still in school, in 2009, he submitted a one-page drawing to a competition run by Nobrow, now his publisher. “She’s basically wearing her outfit”—beret, scarf, red top, blue skirt, and big red boots—Pearson said, of Hilda. “She’s standing at the end of a pier, with a Scandinavian-esque city behind her and all kinds of creatures around, including a giant troll and a zeppelin in the sky.” A similar scene occurs in the third Hilda book, “Hilda and the Bird Parade,” but at the beginning Pearson didn’t have a story, just this “curious image” of a small girl with blue hair and a question: “Where is she and what does she get up to?”
What she gets up to is a string of adventures, first in the Heidi-esque hills above Trolberg, and then in the city itself—a move made (spoiler alert!) after a giant steps on the cozy ancestral cottage that she shares with her mother. That Hilda herself has long been a giant to a set of thumb-size invisible elves, living on the same patch of grass that her cabin sits on, is just another part of a life in which mythical creatures hide within mountains and behind bureau drawers. (There’s a lot of unused space in Hilda’s house, you see.)
If you’ve ever peaked inside a Hilda book, you know Pearson’s art is stunning and evocative of the great magic that fills all the great children’s books. Adapting this to animation will be no easy feat but it’s as exciting as heck.
A fifth Hilda book, Hilda and the Stone Forest comes out this September. If you'[ve experienced the magic, plenty of time to board the train.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.