Nothing Special: Through the Elder Woods (Vol. 1) | Review

Author/artist Katie Cook’s first ever graphic novel brings together the first volume of her beloved WebToon comic series that’s great for long-time fans and newcomers alike.

Katie Cook has long been one of my favorite artists around in the online realm and someone I’ve been following for a number of years. As such, I was thrilled to see her original comic series, Nothing Special, was getting the graphic novel treatment. Volume 1 (of a planned four) has arrived to help bring the all-ages, whimsical story to a new audience, while offering something fun for fans who’ve kept up with the story online.

Nothing Special: Through the Elder Woods (Volume One)
Written & Illustrated By: Katie Cook
Published By: Ten Speed Graphic
Release Date: March 5, 2024
Purchase [Affiliate]: https://amzn.to/430f85t

Originating as a serialized webcomic available on WebToon, Nothing Special puts the focus on a teenage Callie, whose father runs a magical antique shop. Having grown up in the ‘human world’ alongside her friend Declan, the pair believe they are “nothing special” until they’re forced to enter the magical realm in order to find her missing father. With the “help” of a radish’s ghost, the pair must navigate a world they’ve never known and discover they might having something special to offer after all.

By and large, Nothing Special is a fairly straightforward fantasy tale, that also happens to be a coming-of-age story. Filled with heart, whimsy, and on point humor, the comic manages to take all the familiar fantasy story elements and make them feel fresh/engaging. Combine that with impressive artwork and characters its hard not to love, and there’s a reason it’s been among WebToon’s biggest hits.

Through the Elder Woods is a bit on the bigger size than your typical graphic novel; veering closer to coffee table book territory. That’s perfectly fine for me, however, as the larger format is more in line with how it was originally published online. Plus, it gives the art plenty of room to shine and highlight all the fun details Cook sprinkles in there.

What I like most about getting this in graphic novel form (beyond the high-res art), is that it makes jumping into the story much easier. Getting into any serialized webcomic that’s been around for a few years can feel like a daunting task. That’s a lot of scrolling and page shuffling to do online. Heavens help you if you accidentally close the tab and have to locate where you left off. Of course, that may just be my age showing, but getting it all together in book form makes jumping in feel less of a hassle.

So if you’ve heard about Nothing Special, but felt overwhelmed at seeing its three “seasons” spread out since 2017…this is exactly what you need. Even for fans who’ve been there from the beginning, there’s plenty to enjoy here. On top of being able to easily revisit the story from its inception, Through the Elder Woods features some behind the scenes info, including unseen sketches and notes about the process/story. All of which is conveyed in the same quirky style, as if the Radish is telling it, as the story itself.

Nothing Special: Through the Elder Woods Volume One is a fun fantasy story that not only touches on genre tropes, but filled with plenty of modern pop/geek culture references everyone can enjoy. With endearing characters, great art, and tons of heart, this is a great graphic novel to pick up and enjoy for yourself and with your kiddos as well.

Now, the wait for Volume 2 begins…

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Jordan Maison
Jordan Maison
Lover of all things nerdy, Jordan's passion for books began at an early age and simply never stopped.