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Luke Pearson Eat vegetables, read lots and keep asking difficult questions

The comic book creation Hilda is a blue-haired girl with an unquenchable thirst for adventure. When her show launched on Netflix, we wanted to get into the mind of her creator, Luke Pearson.

Who better to help us out than a ten-year-old superfan who devours each new Hilda book as soon as it’s released? Sophia Elodie Bradfield is a budding actress, writer and ballerina (and the daughter of WeTransfer’s US President, Damian).

Her conversation with Luke covered storylines, slugs and everything in between...

Sophia: Luke do you have a sister?

Luke: I do, I have a younger sister called Amelia.

Sophia: Why did you decide to create a story around a young girl when you are clearly a boy?

Luke: There wasn’t a moment when I decided whether the main character would be a boy or a girl. She was just a character I was drawing a lot and she happened to be a girl and I started to think about what sort of stories she might be involved in.

Sophia: How did you decide on the name Trolberg?

Trolberg is the city Hilda and her mum move to after the first two books in the series. It does though cause a few issues with its spelling. "There’s only one 'L' in Trolberg, which most people seem to get wrong, including my publisher and people involved with the show," Luke says.

Luke: My thinking was that early settlers would have named the place after what they found there. “Berg” means mountain and the “Trol” is in reference to the trolls that live there. Plus I thought it sounded like a real place name.

The first Hilda drawing (above) and early character sketches (right). Below: The very first Hilda image Luke used to pitch to Nobrow, who publishes the series
The very first Hilda image Luke uses to pitch to Nobrow, which publishes the series

Sophia: Where do you get your inspiration?

Luke: A lot of the fantasy in Hilda comes from Scandinavian folklore. The trolls, elves and giants are all versions of creatures that feature in many old tales and folk beliefs. A lot of it is just from my imagination as well.

Once you've created a world with certain rules and boundaries, it's nice to let yourself wander in it a bit and think about what kind of things you'd find there. And of course I'm inspired by books, comics and films that I like.

Sophia: Where is Hilda’s father?

Luke: He’s somewhere, just not a part of Hilda’s life at this time.

Sophia: Will he ever appear in the story?

Luke: I do have a story in mind that would get into the whereabouts of her father, as well as other members of her family tree.

Scenes from Hilda the series on Netflix

Sophia: How old is Hilda?

Luke: I think of her as between ten and 12. I’ve never settled on an exact age for her as it hasn’t been important to.

Sophia: Will she ever grow up? Or like Tintin always remain a child?

Luke: I’m not sure I’ll ever draw comics about a grown up Hilda, but it’s interesting to think about. In her own world she will certainly grow up though. Maybe I could skip most of the adult parts and draw a comic about her as an old lady one day.

Sophia: I’d like to grow up fast – any suggestions?

Luke: Eat vegetables, read lots and keep asking difficult questions!

Sophia: Do you have pets?

Luke: I don’t. I had fish and some hamsters as a child. My parents have two dogs.

Sophia: Which animals do you like the least?

Luke: Slugs.

Hilda in the snow and character sketches for Miss Hallgrimm; Below: Early Hilda folk development

Sophia: Where did you learn to draw?

Luke: I feel like I taught myself to draw by looking at comics and cartoons when I was younger and looking at art on the internet when I was a bit older. Just getting slowly better over the years with practice.

I did an illustration course at university but that felt more about thinking what to do with my drawing than learning how to do it. Though life drawing helps!

Sophia: Do you draw by hand or computer or both?

Luke: A bit of both. I draw the Hilda comics by hand but make small changes and color it on the computer. Some illustrations and things I’ll do completely on my Cintiq.

An interactive drawing tablet created by Wacom, widely used by illustrators.

Sophia: Will you continue to create more stories?

Luke: I will. There’s another Hilda story coming and then I’ve got plenty of different ideas for stories I might write in the future.

Sophia: What’s the story you’d most like to write but haven’t yet?

Luke: There's a story about a mean owl I keep thinking about that would probably be a children's book. And a story about a Pinocchio-like wooden person that would be a comic.

There are lots of stories and ideas I think about but I don't know which ones I’ll actually get around to writing (or trying to write).

Above: Pages from Hilda comics; Below: Sketches for the title card for The Troll Rock Netflix episode

Sophia: How much control did you have over the upcoming series?

Luke: I wasn’t in control but I was part of most of the decision making and I was looking at everything and giving notes and making tweaks all along. I obviously had lots of ideas and thoughts about things and a lot of that stuff got in. If I had a real problem with anything, I generally got my way.

Sophia: Did you write it?

Luke: Stephanie Simpson was the head writer on the show, with Kenny Byerly and Ben Joseph. I wrote two of the scripts myself and oversaw the others. You’ll notice that in the episodes adapting my comics there’s quite a bit of word-for-word dialogue so I guess I wrote those bits as well.

Sophia: Did you select the voices? It must be hard to put a voice to someone you have had in your head for so long?

Luke: I did and I got to be there for most of the recording sessions. I didn’t really have a voice in my head for Hilda so it was hard to know what I was even looking for.

It was a bit worrying for a moment because all the auditions I was hearing felt wrong to me, but as soon as I heard Bella’s I knew that was the one.

Hilda is voiced by Bella Ramsey, recently seen kicking-ass as Lyanna Mormont in Game of Thrones.

Once you’ve created a world with certain rules and boundaries, it’s nice to let yourself wander in it a bit.

Sophia: Can you name your next book Sophia?

Luke: I’ll certainly bear the idea in mind. I’m not sure you want me to name the horrible owl after you though.

Sophia: Any chance you could change Hilda’s hair color?

Luke: Do you want me to? People generally seem to like her blue hair.

Sophia: Do you like lemonade? I have my own lemonade stand and make my own raspberry lemonade I sell on Saturdays if you’d like to come over?

Luke: Yeah! I’d love to!

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