Coraline: The Graphic Novel – Neil Gaiman & P. Craig Russell

I do love the library for the fact that you can try something different. I used to love comics as a kid, particularly ‘The Beano’ and anything to do with Batman. The latter led me onto a real phase of loving graphic novels in my early teens and then when my reading stopped ages about 15 so did my love for graphic novels. In fact I have sort of looked upon them with a mix of ‘well it’s not a real book’ and ‘aren’t I a bit too old?’ So, when I saw it at the library, I thought that a graphic novel version of Neil Gaiman’s ‘Coraline’ might be the way forward, especially as I loved ‘The Graveyard Book’ earlier in the year.

When Coraline moves into a new apartment block, in a rather spooky old building, with her Mum and Dad she starts to get to know the rather unusual inhabitants of the flats surrounding them. You have your stereotypical ‘crazy old man upstairs’ Mr Bobo a retired circus performer who believes that he is training mice/rats to perform in a very special circus all of their own. There are also the delightful retired actresses Mrs Spink and Mrs Forcible who read Coraline’s tea leaves and feel she might be in grave danger, and they could just be right.

In their new apartment during a rainy day Coraline and her mother find a door that opens onto a brick wall, however one night Coraline discovers the door open and a long passage leading into an almost identical apartment in another world. Here she finds she has ‘other’ parents who initially seem to be the parents that Coraline wishes she had, her parents have been very busy since moving and have been spending less time with her, only as she gets to know them she realises that her ‘other’ parents aren’t what they seem, and they don’t ever want her to leave.

I really hoped I would find ‘Coraline’ a wonderfully escapist read regardless of the way it was delivered (be it images and words, as opposed to just words and descriptions normally) and it was just that. I was taken into a weird and magical world or second dimensions, evil monsters disguised in human form, talking cats, crazy old ladies and men and a rather creepy circus. I really enjoyed it; the more I am reading of Gaiman’s work the more I think he is a great writer. I still want to read the book though interestingly. It was a great experience reading the graphic novel, I just think I would have had an even fuller one (maybe a ten our of ten)  if I could have let the images build in my own head rather than on the pages in front of me giving me no option. I don’t think the Coraline in this would be the same as the one I would create myself through my imagination.

A book that will: be perfect if you are dipping a tentative toe into graphic novels, or for anyone who loves any Gaiman they have read already. 8/10

It’s interesting as I think if I hadn’t known there was a book version (which of course I now really want to read – have any of you read the book version of ‘Coraline and Other Stories’?) I think I would have felt completely sated by this; I just now want to read it and see if it has the same effect or a greater one? Batman is different (looking back at my previous graphic novel experience) as I guess I have him engraved on my head from the movies etc from early on. Where would you suggest I head next for a great graphic novel? What other Gaiman novels can you recommend?

17 Comments

Filed under Bloomsbury Publishing, Graphic Novels, Neil Gaiman, Review

17 responses to “Coraline: The Graphic Novel – Neil Gaiman & P. Craig Russell

  1. I’ve read Coraline but then I’ve read all Gaiman’s novels (not the graphic novels yet); the film is also very good.

    As for where to go next with Gaiman: Stardust, Good Omens (written with Terry Pratchett), Neverwhere and American Gods (the latter two are exceptionally good).

    • I have read Stardust back in those dark pre-blogging days and loved that. I dont know why its taken me all this time to have a new love fest with his work. I definitely want to read this in print form.

  2. The movie version of Coraline is delightful, as you can imagine. The story totally lends itself to the vivid imagery, and is a total treat for the eyes. They also offer it in 3D.

  3. I have the book which Im hoping to read next month as I also happen to have the film on Sky+ so Im hoping to do a read the book/watch the film.

  4. Matt Cresswell

    The problem with comparing the mediums of novel and comic here is that by definition the graphic novel is going to pale in comparison because it’s adapted from the original novel. If you really want to find out what the medium is capable of, there’s practically the same list that any comics fan reels out, but in this case I would sincerely recommend Gaiman’s Sandman series on the fantastical end of things, or to see graphic novels exploring the kind of areas where only literary fiction usually dares to venture, Alison Bechdel’s Funhome, Craig Thompson’s Blankets or David Small’s Stitches. Or for a dose of Lynch-esque suburban horror there’s Charles Burns’ Black Hole.

    • I second both Fun Home and Blankets; both are brilliant and exemplify that graphic novels can still have the same emotional depth and impact as novels do.

    • I can’t really compare the two until I have read them… or even the three mediums once I have seen the film aswell. I think because I knew there was a book I felt like I was missing out on something. That probably sounds a bit weird but makes sense in my strange bonce.

      I will have to check out the Sandman graphic novels. Thanks for your recommendations Matt.

  5. gaskella

    I’ve read the book which I loved and seen the film which was very good too. From the pic above, the Coraline in the graphic novel is not how I’d envisaged her at all (I did manage to read it before seeing the film). I’m not sure whether graphic novels adapted from other works are for me – original stories like Watchmen I can cope with.

  6. Having read the book of Coraline and then seen the movie, I lean towards preferring the book, and I think I’d prefer it over the graphic novel as well. It’s scary, and scarier when the monsters are images in your imagination.

    As for where to go next with Gaiman, I am awfully fond of his book Neverwhere. It’s a twist on a damsel in distress type story, featuring the London Underground. 🙂

    • Its always good to hear someone else who loves the book more than the film. Though I have heard that the film of Coraline is exceptionally good.

      Neverwhere sounds brilliant, you know how I love love anything to do with London, especially the Underground.

  7. I’ve never read any Gaiman or any graphic novels but I’d be interested in this as I loved the film! Everyone seems to wax lyrical about Gaiman and I’m not sure he’s my cup of tea, but when I am feeling in the mood to branch out, I might give him a go.

  8. Maureen D

    I loved Coraline, the novel and film. Other favourite Gaiman books are Neverwhere and Good Omens – which was the first of his books that I read. I enjoyed Fragile Things, the short story collection too. He has also written some fabulous (in all senses of the word) picture books for older children, such as The wWlves in the Walls, or Mirrormask. Worth another trip to the library?

    re graphic novels but for children, I recently enjoyed Shannon Hale’s Rapunzel’s Revenge, but was not so keen on the Alex Rider graphics by Anthony Horowitz, perhaps because Rapunzel is an original and the others I had already read the books.

    • Neverwhere seems to be getting a couple of mentions so that might be worth me giving a shot. I wonder if the library will have it?

      Rapunzels Revenge sounds great, I had a duck when I was a child I called Rapunzel. Goodness know why!!

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