Doug TenNapel’s illustrations have a pretty distinctive style, and he’s particularly fond of drawing monsters and weird creatures. I picked his book Creature Tech as one of my Seven Comics Off the Beaten Path last fall, but I’ve enjoyed most of his comics that I’ve read. His latest, Ghostopolis, is no exception.
Just released this month, Ghostopolis is set in the underworld. Frank Gallows, a lousy ghost-wrangler, accidentally sends a young boy named Garth Hale to Ghostopolis, and then attempts to retrieve him. Garth finds that, as a living boy, he has some interesting powers in the ghost world—much the same way that physics don’t apply to ghosts in the real world. However, the nefarious ruler of Ghostopolis has plans for Garth and his powers, which eventually leads to a showdown.
There are subplots involving Frank and his lady love Claire Voyant (who happens to be dead), as well as some back story about Garth’s mom and his grandpa, whose ghost he meets on his adventures. And besides people ghosts, the underworld is populated with mummies, goblins, skeletons, zombies and various otherworldly creatures. TenNapel does a fine job of mixing humor, action and even some genuine emotion without getting too schmaltzy. (Though I should warn you that the ending is a bit sentimental, in an “I’ve learned some important lessons about myself” sort of way.)
Ghostopolis is TenNapel’s first book to be published through Scholastic’s Graphix imprint. I think it’ll be a good fit; it’s marketed for ages 10-13 but I think slightly younger kids would also enjoy it, and adult readers will still appreciate it as well. You may have heard the news last spring that a Ghostopolis movie is in the works, with Hugh Jackman attached to play Frank Gallows. Now that the book is finally out, it’s a great opportunity to check it out and see what it’s actually about. And as always, it’ll be interesting to see how closely the movie follows the book, too.
Wired: The Supernatural Immigration Task Force is like “Men in Black” for ghosts; TenNapel’s illustrations bring the underworld to life, so to speak.
Tired: Some readers might be put off by the morality-play aspect of the book, but it’s not as preachy as some of TenNapel’s other comics.
Disclosure: Scholastic provided an advance review copy of Ghostopolis.