The Great North Wood Review
Written and Illustrated by: Tim Bird
Published by: Avery Hill Publishing
Review by Cory Webber
The Great North Wood tells the story of a forest that once covered the whole of Southern England. Over time, this woodland has been gradually cut back, but small patches remain amidst the suburban sprawl of South-East London. A few ancient oaks still stand in gaps between housing estates, alongside railway lines and acting as boundary markers on roundabouts.
The Great North Wood opens with a fox eating fried chicken from a box on the street. Then, it leaves the city and continues as our guide through space and time through the history of the Great North Wood. The chronicle weaves in and out of a series of short stories, all connected by the titular forest.
Now, I know nothing of the geography of any parts of England, let alone a specific region. I’ve never been there. Heck, I’ve never been across the Atlantic Ocean. However, Bird made me feel like I’ve been there and lived through the ups and downs of this area. I was fascinated by the pace of this story. Seriously, it was over before I knew it. The only thing that slowed me down was my frequent visits to Google.
Bird’s minimalistic art sets a whimsical tone as the script volleys back-and-forth between fantasy and reality. He makes great use of nine, and sometimes twelve-grid pages. Also, each panel consists of no more than four colors, which helped to maintain a consistent, visual narrative throughout.
Check it out! This book takes a subject I had no idea existed, and made me feel like an expert on it. As far as I’m concerned, Tim Bird could write a graphic novel of the phone book and I would devour every page.
The Great North Wood will be available June 23rd, when it comes out at the East London Comic Art Festival.