Saturday, 22 November 2014

Ghostopolis: A Delightful Romp Through the Afterlife

A Review By: Amelia
I love thrift store shopping for books. Sure, a lot of what’s there are book-club copies of Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (great book), and dog-earred copies of the Twilight series (not so great of books), but sometimes, I find something that I didn’t expect to find in a million years, and that’s always the best feeling. Ghostopolis was one of those books. One normally doesn’t find good graphic novels–or even bad graphic novels for that matter–at a thrift store, so it felt like winning the used book lottery when I stumbled upon a only slightly beat up copy of (what was to become) one of my favourite graphic novels!

Ghostopolis is a story that revolves around two main characters: Garth Hale, a dying teenage boy, and Frank Gallows, a government (quote, unquote) ghostbuster. Garth and Frank’s lives are forcibly mashed together when Frank accidently sends Garth into the afterlife: aka Ghostopolis. 

The author of Ghostopolis is Doug TenNapel. He’s an American animator, writer, illustrator, and musician whose work has spanned animated television, video games, and comic books. His best known work is as the creator of Earthworm Jim that was a videogame, toy line, and cartoon series.

The characters of the piece are Garth Hale, a young teenage boy with an incurable disease, and Frank Gallows, a middle-aged agent of the Supernatural Immigration Task Force, a government partition dedicated to locating ghosts amiss in the physical world and transporting them back to the afterlife, there known as Ghostopolis and separated into different kingdoms: mummies, skeletons, ghosts, etc. Garth, considering he’s dying, is a pretty mellow character. He’s come to term with his illness and is just riding things out and that makes him a pretty interesting character in my books. I found myself constantly thinking about what he might be thinking about. Or how is he feeling inside while he puts on his brave face on the outside? Whether or not the author intended for me to be thinking these things, I was, and it made his character a lot deeper. Frank was also an interesting character. He loves his job, but at the same time, he wants more. He wants to prove himself a hero–to his boss and the women he loves. Who just happens to be a ghost. Yeah. A (quote, unquote) ghostbuster is in love with a ghost. I can’t say much more, but it’s a fascinating (if not slightly predictable) turn of events for ol’ Frank.

The art style in Ghostopolis is a very loose and casual style. That being said, it’s not messy or ugly in any way. It’s as if the artist holds his pens very lightly and lets them go where they please and it is an enchanting effect. The colours are bold and beautiful and the character designs sleek. The landscapes are stunningly detailed and filled with so much to look at. The panels that lack landscape details are shadowed perfectly and, since they’re usually close-ups of characters, the characters are drawn with amazing emotion and detail.

Ghostopolis is a real gem of a graphic novel. It’s got an amazing story filled with complex and well-rounded characters. The art is beautiful, the colours superb. It’s short–maybe only forty-five minutes to read the whole thing–but what’s there is, without a doubt, fantastic.

My final thoughts on Ghostopolis are that you should read it. If you like quirky graphic novels, you’ll like this. Probably even love it. It’s a delightful romp through the afterlife–who could resist that?

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