Recently The Bullywol Visitor, A Not-For-Childrens’ Book by Cardigan Broadmoor came across my metaphorical desk. This illustrated novel introduces us to the Planet Fryng and it’s only inhabitant–an old Druid and Santa Claus-y man, with a mysterious green glow surrounding him and his billowing cloak. Tired of his icy-hoth-like-home world, he leaves by catching a ride on a shooting star, we follow his galactic travels and his eventual arrival to the Bullywol Mountains.
The picture book tackles fairy tale tropes often found in children’s books, but darkens the story with a Grimm Brother’s flare. We follow a story that explores themes such as isolation and solitude, companionship and what-happens-if-a-culture-mistakes-you-for-a-god. Boardmoor manages to build an entire world in just a few pages, complete with a full character arc. The author takes classic themes and ancient stories and twists them until the lightness and gooey-feelings are drained out. Imagine if the Welcome to Nightvale squad released a children’s book. Bullywol could be that book: A strange, eerily silent character. A story that leaves you with an uneasy, spooky feeling. Completely imaginative.
Now I must admit, I’m not necessarily one for graphic novels (I’ve only ever read the Watchman, GO HEAD JUDGE ME), but there is something so delightful about Broadmoor’s drawings, and the world he built and illustrated for us. The illustrations and story remind me of A Nightmare Before Christmas: a bizarre fable sprinkled with creative creatures and that, “I’m a little creeped out right now” feeling.
The tone is whimsical, sweeping you up into this altered version of a Santa Claus story and taking you on a journey of encountering forgotten celestial beings and curious creatures. Bullywol also delightfully toes the line of a children’s satire while also being a full-fledged picture book for adults all the same. This is the kind of writing I enjoy–cross-genre. A book that speaks to multiple audiences and age groups.
If you’re looking for a hypnotic, odd, whimsical, twisted (and illustrated!) story? The Bullywol Visitor, A Not-For-Childrens’-Book is for you.