Suzanne Buchholz, Senior Reporter
Fans of the popular Disney XD show Gravity Falls were shocked and devastated when series creator Alex Hirsch announced in November 2015 that it would be ending after only two seasons.
They cried during the last emotional moments of the finale on Feb. 15 as they bid farewell to the characters they had become attached to. But this wouldn’t be the last fans saw of the series, as Gravity Falls Journal 3 released in July to answer their lingering questions and provide some additional backstory to the show.
For those who are unfamiliar with the series, Gravity Falls is a cartoon that chronicles twins Dipper and Mabel Pines during the summer they spend with their great uncle Stan in Gravity Falls, Ore. What could have been the most boring summer of their lives turns into a thrilling adventure when they discover a mysterious journal in the woods, filled with entries on the crazy creatures that inhabit the supposedly sleepy town. This sets off a series of events as they encounter various oddities and face threatening enemies, all while seeking out the elusive author of the journal.
Journal 3 is a canon version of the journal from the series, featuring every page ever seen on the show as well as many more that were never mentioned. Each page brims with written descriptions of odd fictional creatures from the Plaidypus to the Invisible Wizard, paired with detailed and whimsical illustrations. Many pages also feature codes that fans must decipher themselves in order to find out all of the book’s mysteries, an aspect devoted fans will remember and appreciate from the show.
The majority of the book is new material that serves to explain some of the unsolved mysteries from the show as well as provide some much-needed backstory to some of the characters, including the author himself. A later portion of the book relates events directly from the show, but far from being a mere retelling, these pages give insight and additional content that the show didn’t have time to address.
Fans can rest assured that many of their questions will be answered in the book.
All of this is in alignment with the style and humor fans have come to love from the show, making the book feel like a true extension of the series. The various writing styles, spanning from multiple characters such as Dipper, Mabel and the author, represent the characters so believably that one should be able to hear these entries in their respective voices if they’ve seen the show.
While the book is fantastic in most respects, there are a couple of drawbacks. A few events from the show that would have benefitted from some more depth were only mentioned fleetingly or not at all in the book. This complaint is more based on what each individual fan would hope to see in the book and shouldn’t stop anyone from buying it, but certain storylines needing expansion aren’t as detailed as they could be.
Another flaw lies in the presentation of the book. Fans might be disappointed to see that the cover sports numerous Disney logos instead of the actual design from the show, although this is easily corrected by removing the dust jacket to reveal the authentic cover beneath (and bonus, the dust jacket doubles as a poster). The binding of the book isn’t as durable as it should be, either. Pages tend to come loose and fall out frequently, which poses a frustrating problem to people who like to keep their collectibles in pristine condition.
A few of these problems may be corrected in the future. During a panel at New York Comic Con 2016, Hirsch announced a new version of Journal 3 will be available to fans who want a deeper experience. This new edition will feature invisible messages that can only be read using a blacklight and will reveal additional secrets, as well as textured pages and an attached monocle to give it an appearance more authentic to that of the show. This edition won’t be released until sometime in 2017 and will be in limited quantities, however, so fans who don’t want to wait or risk missing out on the opportunity to buy it may want to purchase the original copy (at $20, it’s cheaper than the limited edition’s estimated $50 price tag as well).
Overall, Journal 3 is a perfect collectible item for GF fans to add to their shelves, among their other show memorabilia. It feels like taking one last road trip to the mysterious and memorable town of Gravity Falls.
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