Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Nowlan’

A few weeks back I went to the bookshop after a very long time – a real bookshop. I spent the whole evening there and couldn’t leave at the end of it. All the old memories of shopping in bookshops came back – the beautiful ambience, the fragrance of books, the wonderful new discoveries, the gentle music, the book-ish conversation with the bookshop assistants. I wondered why I don’t go to bookshops more often, because I love it every time I do. Though these days I discover most new books through blogs and the internet, the bookshop still holds surprises and beautiful gems. I discovered new books that day which I hadn’t seen anywhere or heard anyone recommend – they were beautiful surprises which made me very happy.

One of the books that I discovered was the two volume edition of the graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s ‘The Graveyard Book’. I have wanted to read this book for a while and I was hoping to read Gaiman’s original, but when I saw the graphic novel adaptation, I couldn’t’ resist getting it. It was adapted into graphic novel form by Craig Russell, who had done similar work on Gaiman’s ‘Coraline’. My first introduction to Gaiman’s work was Russell’s graphic adaptation of ‘Coraline’ and so I was excited. But this time things were different. The thing was this. Russell had assembled a galaxy of eight artists (including himself) and asked each artist to work on a chapter. (there is one chapter on which two artists have worked and there is another chapter on which three artists have worked). So it was nine chapters and eight artists – and the result was a stunning work of art. Words like ‘stunning’, ‘amazing’, ‘wonderful’ (my favourite) have become clichéd these days because we meet them in every page and sometimes every passage we read. But here, I am not using it just for effect. I really mean it in its best, most brilliant sense. The artwork is stunning. I didn’t realize the full effect of it till I picked the graphic novel version of ‘Coraline’ and ‘The Sandman’ – both Gaiman books known for their artwork – and checked them in comparison. The difference was stark. The galaxy of artists has done its work brilliantly in ‘The Graveyard Book’ and I think this edition on its own is a brilliant literary graphic work of art. A must read for lovers of the original book and for all Gaiman fans. Though I loved all the artists’ work, I liked some of them more. What is life, after all, if we don’t play favourites and love some people more than others? 🙂 My favourites were Kevin Nowlan (who illustrated the first chapter and part of the eighth chapter) and Scott Hampton who illustrated the hundred-page mammoth seventh chapter and part of the third chapter. My favourite chapter in the book though was the fourth one called ‘The Witch’s Headstone’ in which my favourite character in the book Liza Hempstock first makes her appearance and plays an important role. I wish I had known her and I could meet her everyday – she is such a beautiful, warm, friendly, adorable ghost. (Hempstock seems to be Gaiman’s favourite name – the Hempstocks make an appearance in ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ too, though they are a different family.)


So, yeah, I have sung enough praises about the book 🙂 Now about the story. I must be the last person to read the book and so you must already know the story. If you haven’t read it yet, here is a brief summary. A bad man called Jack murders a family – the parents and their daughter. The toddler baby son somehow escapes and enters the local graveyard. The ghosts see him and he is able to see them. The bad man Jack enters the graveyard to kill the baby. The ghosts have to make a decision on whether to save the baby boy or not. They decide to save him. Then the problem arises on what to do with the baby. Because the graveyard is no place for a living baby. The ghosts have a meeting and after a lot of heated discussion and after being mediated by someone more powerful than them, they decide to keep the baby and raise him and keep him away from trouble. The graveyard is populated by fascinating characters – ghosts most of the time, but at times we meet ghouls, a vampire, a werewolf and other strange creatures. But most of them are not what they appear to be – there is more to them than meets the eye. Sometimes humans stray into the graveyard. The boy who is now called Nobody Owens (‘Nobody’ because he doesn’t have any other name, and ‘Owens’ because his adopted parents (who are ghosts) are called the Owens), makes friends with a human girl and they play for a while. But living in the graveyard is not conducive to friendships with real people and things don’t go well with her as expected. Bod (Nobody Owens) tries going to school after a while, but that is hard too. Bod’s parents the Owenses love him but they also bring old-fashioned parental practices while bringing him up. Bod’s guardian is Silas. He is not living and he is not dead and it is never clearly stated what he actually is, but he is tall, wears a dark cloak and looks like the Count – the rest is left to our imagination. There is Miss Lupescu who comes one summer to teach Bod – she is hard and tough on him, she teaches him things which he feels will never be useful, but later he discovers otherwise, and he and we readers, see that there is more to Miss Lupescu than meets the eye.

I can tell the whole story here, but I am not going to. Go, get this gorgeous graphic novel adaptation and read it yourself.

This version of Gaiman’s book is one of my favourite graphic novels from recent times. It is vintage Gaiman in terms of the story, the characters, the dialogue, the humour and it is also a stunning work of graphic art. I would highly recommend it. Now, I want to read Gaiman’s original and see whether I missed out on something.

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Caroline (from Beauty is a Sleeping Cat)

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