It’s been nearly six months since it ended, and yet Gravity Falls is still able to blow our minds.
How, you may ask? Well, besides the hunt for the Bill Cipher statue that just recently ended, Gravity Falls is still making its presence known through the newly-released Journal 3. This real-life version of the book seen in the show has 288 pages of mystery and adventure, including all the pages seen in the series as well as Dipper’s notes and Ford’s travels through the multiverse.
A Real Gravity Falls Experience
The journal is the perfect companion to the series as it both fills in gaps and expands beyond the extent of the show, all while giving a fresh, first-person perspective to various moments we’ve already seen. As a result, fans have come up with even more ideas and theories, and have been able to piece together more of the mystery of Gravity Falls. For instance, we learn when Stan’s birthday is, and so fans have been able to deduce during which episode his birthday happens (which has led to a lot of heartbreaking angst). And of course, there’s the big reveal that everyone was waiting for: Dipper’s real name.
One of the coolest parts about reading the journal is that the experience feels so authentic. Alex Hirsch and the book’s design team did a fantastic job of making it seem like the journal was actually found in the woods by Oregon park rangers. (There’s even a notice at the beginning from the rangers saying that it will be sold at a “Confiscated Items Sale.”) Then, in the journal itself, Ford, Dipper, and Mabel each get a very distinctive writing personality, and the pages have various drawings, cryptograms, and markings (such as an ectoplasmic sample) that make the book feel used. Altogether, it creates such an immersive experience for the reader that it feels like they are being written to directly. They are the continuation of the adventure and mystery.
The True Author of the Journal
The journal can be split into three main sections: Ford’s research from 30 years ago, Dipper’s entries after he finds the journal, and Ford’s notes once he returns from the portal. While we do see some of Ford’s writing in the show through his research pages and then meet him upon his return, Journal 3 develops a whole other side of his character. In the show, he comes off as the distant lone hero, who eventually does come to re-embrace his family. But in the journal, we get a detailed reason as to why he distances himself. Although egotistical in his younger years, we see that Ford has cared for his loved ones all along. He feels guilt and wants to redeem himself for unleashing Bill on the world.
We also learn that Ford has a soft side. In the show, it is mostly Dipper who looks up to his great-uncle Ford, the author of the journals. But in Journal 3, the feelings pour in as we get to watch Ford write about his growing admiration and pride for his nephew. We also see Ford extremely humbled by Stan’s sacrifice during Weirdmageddon. The love Ford shows for his brother alone makes the entire journal worth buying.
It is the last few pages of Journal 3, however, that really deliver an important message. After Ford decides on how to dispose of the journals, he writes to the next reader, “It’s never too late to learn that growing old doesn’t have to mean growing up.” It’s a widespread lesson to learn, and the journal delivers it in a brilliantly impactful way. And along with some other words of inspiration, Ford also tells the reader that if they have followed along with the adventures, then they are an honorary member of the Pines family.
The show may be over, but Journal 3 will help to carry on its lasting legacy. The book stays true to the characters, and to the unique humor and heart-wrenching angst only Gravity Falls can bring. Like everything else in its universe, Journal 3 is mysteriously, yet wonderfully weird.