Canadian Review of Materials Reviews Pippi: The Strongest in the World.

“Canadian Review of Materials Reviews Pippi: The Strongest in the World. ” / Canadian Review of Materials Reviews / Meredith Cleversey / March 4, 2016

To celebrate the seventieth anniversary of Pippi Longstocking, Drawn & Quarterly has compiled over one hundred pages of the classic Pippi comics first published in the Swedish magazine Humpty Dumpty in the 1950s. In Pippi: The Strongest in the World, readers will enjoy watching Pippi and her friends, Tommy and Annika, as they attend a circus, travel to a tropical island, fight a fire, and celebrate Christmas, all while Pippi leads the way with her curious manners and tremendous strength.

     Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi comics are unmatched in their imaginative storylines. Released now to a new generation of readers, the world’s strongest girl is back in action with all of her original charm and attitude. In Pippi Moves In, Tommy and Annika are introduced to a small girl with a big personality when Pippi moves into the empty house next door. In Pippi Goes Shopping, the trio visit the local shops, and Pippi buys the neighbourhood children candy and toys to keep them all from being bored. And in Pippi Goes On Board Again, Pippi and her friends set out on the high seas for an adventure alongside Pippi’s father. With dozens of comics to choose from, and plot lines ranging from the simple tricking of a school teacher, to the more outstanding feats of outsmarting burglars and saving friends from shark attacks, there is no shortage of fun to be had in this varied collection.

     The classic comic illustrations by Ingrid Vang Nyman have been restored and presented in this collection in their original vibrant style. The heavy use of primary colours draws the eye immediately, and the action in each story frame makes the images a vital component to the comics as a whole. The text of each panel is short and is often comprised of dialogue from the characters, leaving the images to further the plot and add in the missing details. One example of this is when Pippi is saving two youngsters from a burning building. While the text of one panel is simply Pippi making a joke and saying “You look so sad. Have you got a tummy ache?”, the illustration actually shows Pippi balancing on a wooden board resting between a tree and the house as she approaches the wailing children and prepares to carry them to safety. The illustrations are bright and playful, matching the character of Pippi and her fantastic adventures with her friends.

     What makes these comics so unique is that, despite Pippi’s immense strength and courage, she is still a little girl to whom young readers can relate. This connection can be seen in some of Pippi’s actions, such as when she wears a fancy dress to the fair so she can be a proper lady, but then she proceeds to do a handstand while riding the carousel, leaving her dress to fall down over her head. Pippi’s youthfulness can also be noticed in small illustrative touches, such as when Pippi writes a letter to her friends and the letter is shown to be written in a child’s writing, complete with ink splotches and spelling mistakes. It would be easy for the character of Pippi to be presented as someone older and wiser than Tommy and Annika. But Lindgren and Nyman’s ability to create a girl who is mature and knowledgeable, yet still delightfully childish, is what makes Pippi such a loveable and lasting character.

     Drawn & Quarterly previously published these comics in three separate volumes. While it is nice to see the comics compiled into a complete collection, the smaller, soft cover format of The Strongest in the World is not as nice as the first three editions’ wider, hardback format. For this reason, fans who have already acquired the three editions separately probably will not find anything new in this latest collection. However, for those unfamiliar with these earlier editions, or for those interested in having the original stories together in one book, Pippi: The Strongest in the World is a great way to experience all of Pippi’s comic adventures in a single, complete work.

Highly Recommended.

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