"Troll Bridge" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by Colleen Doran
2016, 64 Pages, $14.99
Graphic novel released on October 5th, 2016
As we grow older, the way we see the world changes. We can never recapture that innocence and awe that comes with a child's viewpoint. As a kid, everything can be an adventure. Jack spends his time exploring the countryside around his home. He walks for miles and miles, finding new paths and assorted treasures. This changes when Jack encounters a troll.
Now, I know what you're thinking. A troll? Really? I'll be the first to admit that this doesn't seem like a very fierce monster. In the scheme of things, a troll is somewhere between a witch and a unicorn in terms of levels of terror. Didn't they terrorize goats in nursery rhymes? Weren't they adorable little dolls with brightly colored hair? Yes, that is also true. This troll is only a little goofy, but squarely in the creepy category.
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Artist Colleen Doran brings this hulking beast to life. He towers over young Jack in size. Everything about him is unclean and shaggy from his yellowed, bloodshot eyes to his nose bursting with hair to his straggly beard that flows down to his groin, offering a haphazard cover of his genitals. The whole package is rather unsettling, but the most disturbing parts are either the long, ragged fingernails or the teeth. Doran has this one page with two large panels featuring close-ups of the troll's jaw. Its tongue is writhing between these monstrous fangs.
This is a great contrast to Jack, who looks up at the creature with naïve blue eyes. You can see him weighing his options here. On the one hand this is a scary thing for a kid to encounter, but on the other hand, what an adventure this will be.
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This is just the first part of the story. The book jumps ahead to two later parts of Jack's life and it's interesting to see how he's changed over time. He's always drawn back to the bridge and the troll and each time he must talk his way out of being eaten. As Jack gets older, he loses that sense of wonder that he once had. He becomes cold and jaded. It's interesting to see how he and the troll change places over time, like they're on a see-saw of emotion.
At the end of the day, Troll Bridge is written by Neil Gaiman and that should be more than enough to convince you to read it. Colleen Doran's artwork amplifies the enjoyment of the book a hundredfold. It perfectly captures the amazing world that only someone like Gaiman can create, walking a fine line between horror and fantasy. This isn't a comic that will frighten you with jump scares or bloody gore. Instead, it will cut to the bone with thoughts that will stay with you long after you put it down.