Author/Illustrator: Doug TenNapel
My rating: 3.5 of 5
Living with a disease that numerous doctors have deemed “incurable,” Garth Hale is pretty sure he doesn’t have much longer in the land of the living. But he makes his entrance into the Afterlife sooner than expected when ghost hunter Frank Gallows accidentally sends him to Ghostopolis along with the stray Nightmare he was intending to catch. In Ghostopolis, Garth befriends said Nightmare as well as his own grandfather (!) Cecil–which is good because he also finds himself hunted down by the corrupt ruler of the land, Vaugner. Meanwhile, Frank teams up with his ghostly ex-girlfriend to make their own way to Ghostopolis and rescue Garth before it’s too late. Whatever that means.
I found Ghostopolis to be pretty much exactly what it claims to be–an adventurous, slightly eerie graphic novel intended for readers around middle-school. I think for that audience, it’s perfect, and although I had minor issues with it, I also found it enjoyable. For one thing, the art is distinctive and has a nice visual impact (and I think it’s pretty cool that is was done entirely in Manga Studio). I especially enjoyed the eerie color scheme and the unusual white-on-black silhouette scenes. The characters themselves were actually pretty well developed for a single-volume graphic novel–Garth himself being both classic pre-teen but also sufficiently individual for the story to be interesting. The main ideas of the plot were original and interesting, and the side-plots of Frank’s romance and Garth’s family problems were woven in nicely. The problems I have with the story: The mecha part at the end is weird (clearly this is where the graphic novel harks back to older comic books, but I don’t get the same feel here as in the earlier parts of the story). The weirdness with the space-time continuum at the end is weird (important to tie up story ends, but still weird). And the messianic dude Joe–I appreciate what he’s doing, but still. Weird. Overall though, at least for middle-school readers, I would say Ghostopolis is an above-average graphic novel, certainly worth checking out.