Thursday, December 27, 2007

God rest ye fairy gentlemen (and ladies), and a comical question

I’m not sure what the rate of inflation has been since the late 1960s, but I’m pretty sure that the comic books for which I paid twelve cents back then would still not cost the $9.99 I just paid for Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel. But then, graphic novels have production values that the old-time DC comics could only dream of.

The newer printing processes can produce deeper, much more saturated colors. I suspect that this, as much as any predisposition toward darker subject matter on the writers’ part, is responsible for the look of graphic novels. Why do graphic novelists fill their stories with deep, dark, brooding shadows? For the same a reason a dog licks its … but never mind.

Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel, adapted from Eoin Colfer’s first book about a 12-year-old criminal genius, may be particularly well-suited for such treatment, since much of the story happens underground, in the land of the Lower Elements People – fairies, elves and the like. (Fowl’s antagonists and sometimes allies are members of the Lower Elements Police Reconnaissance squad, or LEPrec– you can figure out the rest of that one, too. Colfer is, after all, Irish.)

Among this graphic novel’s attractions are the opportunities to see how the characters look and to match them against the mental images one has from the book. The artist and colorist (Giovanni Rigano and Paolo Lamanna, respectively) do a good job, rendering convincing pictures of the hirsute troll that nearly puts an end to Artemis’ butler, the hairy and endearingly amoral dwarf Mulch Diggums, and more. The butler, named Butler, is a tad more gigantic than I'd have pictured, and Butler's sister, Juliet, does not look especially Eurasian, though she is described as such in one of the later novels in the series. Still, the graphic novel looks terrific, if necessarily a bit darker than the novel on which it is based.

Artemis himself looks as one might expect of a boy of such overarching ambition: short, immaculately dressed, his eyes narrowed or shielded behind special eyewear. His eyes widen just once, at a highly appropriate moment at the story’s end.

And now, readers, the question: Artemis Fowl joins Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise as characters who enjoy parallel lives in comics/graphic novels and in crime novels of the traditional, non-graphic kind. Who else has done this?

© Peter Rozovsky 2007

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Blogger Maxine Clarke said...

Fantastic Four, Superman, Batman, X Men, St Trinians, Fruits Basket (Japanese manga).
Sometimes it happens the other way round, eg Anthony Horwitz's Alex Rider series of books was last year filmed as "Stormbreaker" and is now a manga-style comic book. The second in the series has also just been reproduced as a manga book.
Incidentally, I read somewhere that Stormbreaker is not getting a US release, which is a pity. If you have a region-neutral DVD player I recommend renting it as you like Artemis Fowl -- Alex Rider is a teenaged James Bond and the movie quite fun-- we saw it as a family at the cinema and all rather enjoyed it (on its own terms).

December 28, 2007  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Did the first group become real books, or just a kind of cheap tie-in? I've heard of novelists incorporating Superman and other such heroes in their work, but no Superman or Batman novel per se.

The Alex Rider books are on my list.

December 28, 2007  

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