In previous books, like the strange and cinematic Big Questions, Anders Nilsen has used his gorgeous pen and ink, stipple, and hatch technique, amidst generous white space, to create surprisingly dense and dreamy worlds. In A Walk in Eden, he builds a wonderful narrative backdrop, an abandoned Eden, and invites us in to finish it with “magic markers” and our undivided attention. But this isn’t any Eden you’ve imagined or heard of, this is a tripped-out surrealist dream-Eden if drawn by Dali, Ernst Haeckel, and kiddie-show cartoonists (maybe after a little bump of ether). Over the pages, the scale of what you’re looking at, from the seemingly diatomic to full-size flora and fauna, changes until you feel as though you’re really examining this world in a unique and thorough way. The book is really engaging and wants to tell you its stories, as-is, but I can only image how much richer it becomes after coloring it in yourself.
The adult coloring book is all of the rage these days and I, for one, am a fan of this perhaps shortlived, gimmicky genre. A Walk in Eden takes the genre for a stroll in a very fun and promising direction. And like any coloring book worth its bold outlines, it was hard to get through this without wanting to grab my Crayolas, stick my tongue out like a five year old, and start coloring.