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Ghostopolis Paperback – July 1, 2010
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From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 7 Up When readers first meet Garth Hale, he is about to receive the fifth diagnosis that his disease is incurable. How fitting, then, that a boy who thinks about death more than other kids his age should be accidentally zapped into the afterlife. When washed-up ghost wrangler Frank Gallows realizes that he accidentally sent Garth through to the other side, he does everything in his power to rescue him. Meanwhile, Garth explores the spirit world with a skeleton horse, a variety of terrifying and fantastic creatures, and some family members whom he never expected to meet. TenNapel mixes emotional epiphanies with humor in a way that will appeal to a broad audience. Characters experience personal growth and learn lessons about themselves throughout the course of this book, but these lessons feel integral to the plot rather than forced down readers' throats. TenNapel's colorful illustrations are filled with energy and life, and they use shade and silhouettes to great advantage. The planned film adaptation made by Disney and starring Hugh Jackman means that this book is bound to have an extra surge in popularity, so it's probably a good idea to buy it now and get in on the ground floor. Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Frank Gallows, a weary officer from the Supernatural Immigration Task Force, and Garth Hale, a young boy with an unspecified incurable disease, are the dual heroes in this ghost-driven graphic novel. When Frank sends a troublesome horse skeleton back over to the afterlife, he accidentally zaps the boy along as well. The sinister ruler of Ghostopolis feels threatened by the boy (who, naturally, has all sorts of off-the-charts latent powers) and sends his buggy minions after him. Frank enlists the help of an ex-flame (who’s also a ghost) to cross over to the other side and rescue the boy. Sure, there’s a lot of characters with not a lot of characterization and a few too many good-for-you messages poking out from all the madcap antics, juvenile jokes, and overblown dramatics, but all in all, the story is a good blend of creepy, grotesque, and wacky. He’s got a few lumps to work out as a storyteller, but TenNapel—best known as the creator of the cross-platform character, Earthworm Jim—is a terrific cartoonist and in fine form here. Grades 5-8. --Ian Chipman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
If I had to describe Ghostopolis in a few words, I would say fun and adventure cinematic story This is a novel for young teens and adults young at heart. This an old-style comic book, one of those I grew up reading, that has all the elements to make it a winner with kids: It is entertaining, imaginative, has good graphics, is in full colour, has battles, lots of adventure, there are heroes and baddies, it is fun, lots of fun!, and what is not. This is one of those books you cannot put down until you finish reading it, probably in a seating.The book targets children, so the narrative has the common clichés of the genre and, of course, is predictable, but that doesn't rest interest or fun to the reading. As the adventures happen mostly in the afterlife, one would expect macabre and very dark images, but the contrary is true. There are skulls, skeletons, mummies and disgusting creatures, but they are quirky, funny, naughty and mostly not scary. There is a bit of Christian symbolism in the book, but it is very subtle, not straightforward, and not preachy at all. The creator is called Joe the builder, a Tuskegee airman, an Afro-American pilot of the WW2.
One of the things I love the most about the book is how cinematic it feels, and how funny is. The character of Frank Gallows is really a cracker, very cheeky and likeable. Some of the names are also very funny, like Claire Voyant, or Boogie Boogie Avenue. Vaughner, the bad-man, looks very much like a punk-rock Billy Idol, although his mouth is very much Marilyn Maso'sn, and he is wearing skinny jeans! Some of the dialogues are also light-hearted and full of pun. Two examples:
"Assemble my fastest team of night mares, a company of royal skeleton guards, and a carriage for thet wo lovebirds" [the skeleton king says when ordering to prepare his horses] (p. 183)
"Well show them that you don't have to have organs to have guts!" [the skeleton says] (p. 194)
The novel immediately reminds one of Ghostbusters and of some of Tim Burton's early movies (where the extraordinary and the ordinary live in a dysfunctional harmony). However, to be fair, we cannot reduce the plot or the history to Burton-like because darkness seems always more natural than the normal world or normal people in Burton's Universe. Unlike Ghostbusters, the ghosts in this novel aren't on earth to scare anybody, they are there to enjoy the peaceful surroundings as the afterlife is a bit messy. In that regard, Man in black seems more in tune with this story, especially the story having a group of police officers devoted to capture intruder ghosts and bring them back to their own world.
The story develops well, has great characters, but it has a hurried ending.
> If Garth is dying, why is his energy in the afterworld so humongous? After all, he has just a few weeks of life left. I think the fact that he was so close to dying was the reason why the accident happened; otherwise, the plasma device would have not taken him. Just saying!
> The appearance of the Garth's son is senseless and not believable. One understands that the afterlife has not time or space. Great, but for the sake of the story, please show old Cecil or anybody who makes more sense.
THE GRAPHIC ART
Dough TenNapel is not only the author of the story, is also the main illustrator, drawer and penciler/inker. He has a great talent and can do anything, from beautiful rural escapes, cityscapes to action-packed crazy scenes. The arrangement of the vignettes is very dynamic and never boring, and every few pages there is a B&W silhouetted vignette inserted between the others, a kind of wink to the reader. I think that TenNapel shines when he creates simpler images, less busy visually, which are among my favourites. I loved the graphic depiction and development of some of the characters: Claire, Frank, Vaughner, the skeleton king, and all the mummies. I didn't like as much the depiction of Garth, his mother, and I hesitate about Joe.
I found the subdued and washed out colouring very good, similar to that in old vintage comics. Not my favourite sort of colouring, but splendid nevertheless.There is a large group of colourists who have to be praised,
The author of the lettering is not mentioned in the credits, but the lettering is one of the best things in this book. I absolutely loved the lettering fonts, sizing, colouring and style, and even more the very accurate onomatopoeic wording of it. It felt like real sounds in my head, not like other times when I read the ambience noises in a comic and I don't hear anything in my head. The lettering perfectly suites the book overall look and style, and it is in harmony with it.
Mere for mid-grade children than for proper teens, I think. I would say about 8-13y.o.a. Older children would be already reading adults stuff or complex books to feed their hunger for adulthood.
Garth is dying of an incurable disease. But that turns out to be the least of his problems when a paranormal secret agent named Frank goofs up in his pursuit of a literal "night mare", and ends up accidentally teleporting Garth to the afterlife. Once there, he must tame a skeletal horse and traverse the various lands of the dead--befriending the various quirky residents, including his grandfather, all while trying to find a way home. At the same time, Frank and his ghostly girlfriend Claire are in hot pursuit to get the boy back safely (as well as save his job), while evil forces close in on Garth...for the boy now has special powers as long as he remains living in the land of the deceased.
The story is pretty engaging; always twisting and turning and leaving you in suspense as to what'll happen next. Garth starts out understandably depressed over his situation, but his adventures in the afterlife teach him to make the most of the time he has...and that there actually might be a ray of hope for him after all. Frank, oddly enough, serves as the comic relief; always bumbling with his job, and reacting to almost everything with a deadpan sense of humor. The villain seems to start off as one note, but in the final act, we get a major twist that changes everything you thought you knew about him.
As for the artwork, it takes on a rough, scratchy look that compliments the dark atmosphere very well, with highly detailed scenery and backgrounds. But don't think that everything is doom and gloom--there's plenty of uplifting and funny moments to be had as well--mostly stemming from the odd people, monsters, anthropomorphic insects, and other weird denizens of the underworld.
If you're a fan of Tim Burton, and/or macabre humor, give this graphic novel a look. I'm now interested to see what other works the artist produced.
I was a little hesitant to read TenNapel because his Amazon page says that he's a "convinced Christian." There's nothing more boring than Christian rock, Christian movies and (**shudder**) Christian hip-hop, but this is good stuff. Mr. Rogers was a Christian minister, and he never mentioned Jesus or God on his television show. Doug TenNapel is the same way. He tells stories that are fun and readable, and he's a very capable graphic artist. He's no Moebius, of course, but the artwork is appropriate and engaging. ****1/4