Monday, November 16, 2015

Graveyard Book Graphic Novel

The Graveyard Book
Volume I and II
Author: Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by: P Craig Russell and Kevin Nowlan, Tony Harris, Scott Hampton, Galen Showman, Jill Thompson, Stephen B. Scott,  David Lafuente.

There is fantasy and then there is magic realism. Are they really different? Writings of authors Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Salman Rushdie are considered as magic realism, whereas ones by Tolkien are considered fantasy. The difference is subtle. In magic realism, the magic seems to exist along with the realistic world and hardly any one bats an eye at the magic. One of the loveliest exponents of this magic realism in children's books, in my opinion, is Neil Gaiman.  There is something about the words he employs, the art of his word building that makes one believe the reality of the magic in our every day life. If only, we know where to look for. It is out there, just out of grasps, waiting for the inquisitive to leap into it and gather it. Neil Gaiman seems to have gathered heaps of this magic and helps us mere mortals, devoid of the realism associated with the magic, a glimpse into this wonderful world with his books. The graphic novel adaption of his famous Graveyard Book extends the magic. The illustrators work on his wonderful words to depict a world that is eerie, ghoulish and mundane at the same time. 

Bod, a short form for Nobody Owens, is an orphan who escapes from the killer of his parents to a near by Graveyard, only to be rescued and given freedom of graveyard till comes to the age of 15. He is adopted by the ghosts and brought up like any other child - but, only within the confines of the graveyard. One might think that ghosts without the trappings of the life would live without any rules and concerns. But, they tend to follow almost human like emotions. The dead are not dead to the human bondage even when they are dead!

There is always a suspicion when a rather well-known and highly regarded book like Graveyard Book gets converted to a graphic novel or a movie. Will it be as good as the original? Will it be better than the original? Will the illustrations match the imaginary world that one might have built based on the reading of the book. I can assure you that this graphic novel almost made me feel that it had snatched the images from my mind and transformed it into the illustrations. There are some pictures that are eerie-ly similar to how I imagined the grave yard to be. 

Neil Gaiman, while telling a rather mesmerizing story, loves to insert some very interesting philosophical asides. There is a discussion between between Bod and Silas where they discuss about people who take their own life and whether they find happiness after they end their life. The reply by Silas can be as philosophical as it gets - "Wherever you go, you take yourself with you". 

I struggled on how to review this graphic novel -  Do I write about the craft and beguiling nature of Gaiman's words or write about the illustrations that give some extraordinary vitality to the story. But, please do not ask me which I like better - the novel or the graphic novel adaption. I will not answer that question.

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