In a dreamlike jungle, filled with strange creatures and stranger magic, a young woman discovers a spirit trapped in her leg. Grim Wilkins’ MIRENDA Vol. 1 is a fantasy journey unlike any other. First published in ISLAND Magazine, the comic quickly caught the eyes of Image Comics, and for good reason. Wilkins’ artwork is fluid and mesmerizing. Without words, MIRENDA Vol. 1 demonstrates the power of images to convey meaning. The volume embodies the joy and uncertainty of new and bizarre adventures. ComicsVerse is very grateful that Grim took the time to speak to us about MIRENDA Vol. 1, his artistic process, and love for comics.

[Please note: portions of this interview have been lightly edited for clarity.]
MIRENDA Vol. 1 by Grim Wilkins
Image courtesy of Image Comics.

ComicsVerse (CV): To start things off, can you tell our readers a little bit about MIRENDA?

Grim Wilkins (GW): MIRENDA tells the story of a woman who gets a supernatural creature trapped in her leg during a visit with a medicine man. Her quest to find an exorcist quickly turns into adventure. She finds herself the target of bounty hunters, cult groups, and all manner of shady figures; all in a beautiful, constantly shifting fantasy world.

The story also has very few words and is told almost completely through the artwork.

CV: How did you develop the story of a woman who is cursed with a strange creature in her leg?

GW: Before MIRENDA was MIRENDA, I was trying to come up with a comic that would allow me to tell a lot of tiny stories within one big story. Maybe it was a desire to make an ongoing comic but feeling apprehension about it. Or maybe I just wanted a venue for telling little one or two page comics… I really don’t remember, haha.

I remember thinking about Hellboy and how he goes on so many adventures while building up to an inevitable climax. One way or another, my protagonist turned out to be a woman who gets a supernatural creature stuck in her leg. As she asks various people for a solution, she has lots of tiny adventures and hears all kinds of stories. Some stories are related to the problem at hand, some are not. I’ve constructed MIRENDA so that it’s as fun as possible for me to make, in hopes that my enjoyment carries onto the page for people reading it.

CV: Were you always interested in sequential art as a medium for storytelling?

GW: I’ve wanted to make comics for as long as I can remember. I remember seeing Bill Sienkiewicz covers on DAZZLER comics when I was a kid and they made comics look so magical. I liked trying to draw X-Men comics with my friend, but those DAZZLER covers felt so mysterious that I always trace my drive to make the kind of comics that I make straight back to them.

MIRENDA Vol. 1 by Grim Wilkins
Image courtesy of Image Comics.

CV: The comic is almost completely wordless. As a result, MIRENDA’s layout is very complex. I particularly like how you convey ideas within small “speech bubbles” without text. You also use a lot of layering to explore character origins. Why did you decide to limit your use of words for this story?

GW: When I was first developing MIRENDA I was thinking about accessibility a lot. Accessibility across language barriers mostly.

I have an old memory of watching the LAPUTA and NAUSICAÄ OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND anime in Japanese and feeling like I could figure out everything that was happening, despite not knowing what anyone was saying. It was a really great experience. Reminiscing on it got me interested in telling a story that could be told without saying a word so that everyone could have that same experience. Of course, I ended up putting some words into MIRENDA, but I think that you can read most of the book without them.

CV: Like your earlier publications ELLIPSES and LOVE STORY IN THE WOODS, MIRENDA’s artwork is very dreamlike. You balance whimsy with a suspenseful and ominous atmosphere. Can you tell us more about your creative process when it comes to your illustrations?

GW: I think that a lot of the whimsy in my work comes from wanting to make serious stories that are fun to read. There are totally weird, horror story aspects at the heart of MIRENDA, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be full of silly sight gags too. And since the book is mostly silent I rely on emphasizing body gestures and facial expressions to get a character’s point across.

MIRENDA Vol. 1 by Grim Wilkins
Image courtesy of Image Comics.

CV: How did you develop your character designs for your protagonist and her companions? What made you interested in exploring your own universe of strange creatures as opposed to setting MIRENDA in a more familiar environment?

GW: With MIRENDA the characters more or less make themselves while I write out the story. I wrote backstories for a few characters, but others I introduced as figures who were mysterious even to me! As the story went on, their stories unraveled in my head and I’ve gotten to know them better.

As for the world of MIRENDA, I have always liked stories that take place in their own worlds. It’s pretty liberating; if you have an idea that would work better in another world, create another world. A lot of manga and anime take place in their own little pocket universes and they inspired me to do the same.

Much of the landscape that I draw in MIRENDA is directly influenced by our own world. In a way, making the book is my own exploration into the vast beauty of planet Earth. Every time I go on a hunt for reference I find some new, unbelievable place that I’ve never seen before.

CV: Who or what are some of your creative influences?

GW: One of my biggest influences is the NAUSICAÄ OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND manga by Hayao Miyazaki. The strong, vulnerable protagonist, the shifting antagonists, the state of the environment, societies before societies, and all of them done so well.

I’ve also learned a lot from looking at Hiroshi Yoshida, Frank Frazetta, Moebius, Albert Bierstadt, Phillippe Druillet, Matt Sheean and Malachi Ward, Sergio Toppi, Taiyo Matsumoto, Jiro Taniguchi, as well as Taika Waititi and Edgar Wright films.

CV: Are you working on any other projects that you can tell us about?

GW: I’ve gotten a bit of work done on the second volume of MIRENDA. But I also have a book that I’ve been chipping away at with Damon Gentry called DORSEY’S LOCKER. It’s about a rambunctious kid who teams up with an old pirate lady, as well as a story I’ve been cooking up with Ryan Burton.

Grim Wilkins’ MIRENDA Vol. 1 will be available November 7th, 2018. 

One Comment

  1. Mirenda Journeys Beyond Words - WWAC

    November 19, 2018 at 10:01 am

    […] that Wilkins is very conscious of, which is one of the reasons why the story has so few words. In an interview with Comicverse, Wilkins says, “I have an old memory of watching the LAPUTA and NAUSICAÄ OF THE VALLEY OF […]

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