"The Graveyard Book: Volume 2" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Harper Collins
Written by Neil Gaiman
Adapted by P. Craig Russell
Illustrated by David Lafuente, Scott Hampton, P. Craig Russell, Kevin Nowlan, and Galen Showman
2014, 176 Pages
Graphic Novel released on October 7th, 2014
The story of Nobody "Bod" Owens continues in the second and final volume of the graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book. When we last left our young hero, he had finally stepped foot outside of the cemetery that he's been living in since he was an infant. This caught the attention of the man Jack, who had murdered Bod's family and was looking to finish the job with the boy. This volume includes the last three chapters of Gaiman's book and shows Bod growing from a child to a teenager and then a man, finally confronting his past head on.
The first chapter, illustrated by David Lafuente, follows Bod as he attends public school and encounters local bullies. His talents learned from the ghosts in the graveyard allow him to stay mostly unnoticed, but they don't prepare him for actually interacting with real people. Lafuente's style is slightly cartoonish, which goes hand in hand with the playful moments in this chapter. This is perhaps the last time that Bod is really a child before the truth of his family's murder is revealed to him. For a moment you're able to forget that this poor boy has been living in a cemetery for most of his life and he has a chance to be a somewhat normal kid.
Gaiman's story ties up every loose end that was left dangling from the first volume, even bringing back characters that had a satisfying conclusion to link them to the overall arc. It's not all that surprising that the plot is great considering that Gaiman is a master storyteller. What really comes through in P. Craig Russell's adaptation is Bod's emotional journey. Everything that he's been through for his life has led him to this showdown with his past and the men that want him dead. He has to put all of his graveyard abilities to the test and decide which side of the spirit world he belongs. Does he stay with the dead in the cemetery? Or is he a real boy?
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The artwork for the last chapter is split up amongst three different artists, including Russell. I couldn't tell you who did which pages, but the styles are similar enough that it never feels like a drastic change between scenes. Aside from Lafuente's story, the artwork comes through in a more serious tone, which matches up to the plot. These chapters are also a lot longer than those in the first volume and feel like there's just more to them.
The Graveyard Book is a fantastic coming of age tale. It shows that it's okay to grow up. In Bod's case he literally conquered his past and came out a changed man, but his experiences in the graveyard have shaped him into the person that he's become. There are still some questions about the overall story that I would love to see explored, but this stands pretty perfectly on its own with a satisfying beginning, middle, and end to the character and this world.
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