Friday, July 18, 2008

Coraline (Graphic Novel) & Extra Bits

Another one bites the dust! While I was enjoying Sharp Teeth for a good while it is the second book to fall prey to my finicky moods. I'm afraid all urge to pick it up has left me, and last night I found myself picking over the review shelf in an effort to find something quick for a jump start.

I had the graphic novel adaptation if Neil Gaiman's Coraline in mind (adapted and illustrated by P. Craig Russell), and it turned out to be just the thing I needed for a reading jolt. I read the original novel a couple of years ago and really loved it, so I was excited to see how it would work in graphic novel form.

Coraline is a lonely girl who lives wither parents in a flat in a multiple-family home. Coraline gets far more attention from the odd women next door--Miss Spink and Miss Forcible--along with the upstairs neighbor, Mr. Bobo, than she does from her own parents. She loves to explore but finds herself thoroughly bored over summer vacation. She discovers a walled up door in the corner of the family drawing room, and one night when she hears noises, she discovers a gateway to another world. She meets her "Other" mother and father, and they are distinctly creepy with their black button eyes and wonky dispositions. Soon Coraline finds that her real parents have disappeared, and the other mother is out to keep her.

The story is as charming as it was the first time I read it, but I was slightly disappointed in P. Craig Russell's illustrations. They lack the quirkiness of Dave McKean's illustrations in the original novel. I found them flat, lacking originality--generally boring. However, I must say, I got just as wrapped up in this version as I did the original novel, simply for Gaiman's wonderfully spooky plot. Russell's illustrations are a bit gruesome when it comes to some of the scarier moments in the book, so this one might be best suited to juvenile readers as opposed to the young young'uns. Unless they're sort of morbid and like horror as much as I did when I was growing up.

Now that I've finished Coraline I'm eyeing Quiet Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian, by Scott Douglas. It's a memoir from DaCapo Press, and they're one of my favorite non-fiction publishers; I loooved Louis Theroux's The Call of the Weird. And what a fitting read given my upcoming graduate studies! I hope the book doesn't talk me out of it.

The first line:

"You catch a guy on a computer jacking off, just get a librarian--don't try and handle it yourself."

Good times!

Our air conditioner is on the blind, so I'm off to have a social life where it's cool. I'm getting together with two of my best girlfriends from undergrad and T. from grad school for lunch (Mexican food!) and tonight is a family gathering for a great aunt's birthday. Tomorrow: girl's night with Susan! Watch out!
Y'all behave, and I'll be back soon.


  1. I have 'Quiet Please,' too. I started it and abandoned it after having requested a review copy. I need to get back to it. Thanks for reminding me!

  2. One of these days I'm going to read Gaiman. I already have two of his books. Sorry about the air conditioning!

  3. I must try the graphic version of 'Coraline' because I had real problems with the original. Gaiman is an author I find I'm very ambivalent towards. Some of his work I love and other stuff just leaves me cold. It may be that 'Coraline' is just a boo I'm never going to warm to, but I'm definitely game to give it a second chance.

  4. I'm looking forward to reading the novel version this year. I do keep seeing the graphic novel around, picking it up, sighing and putting it back on the shelf. Maybe I will get it at some point depending on how I like the novel form of the tale. Sorry you weren't as keen on the illustrations as McKean's (although I do know what you mean about missing his quirky art work).

  5. It's a fun one so far, Lisa. I hope to knock off a big chunk today since I'm done with my errands and plan to be lazy.

    Kristy, I have a hit or miss relationship with Gaiman, but I looooved Coraline. It's my favorite so far.

    Ann, just out of curiosity, what gave you problems with the original novel? I usually have problems with Gaiman's stuff, so I'm definitely curious. :)

    Rhinoa, McKean is hard to beat, so I have to give Russell a break in that regard. lol I hope you enjoy the novel when you get around to it.

  6. Of all Gaiman's novels, I suspect that Coraline is the one that is best suited to the graphic novel treatment. I dread to think what a mess Anansi Boys would be in that format.

    The line from Quiet Please reminds me of a friend who worked part time in his local library, and who spent a surprisingly large portion of his time throwing out people using the more isolated corners of the victorian building for illicit sex.

  7. Stu, of what I've read, I would agree with you. Although I might be able to see making an American Gods graphic novel. It's been a while since I've read it, but it seems like it could be fun.

    And I hope whatever library I work in once all this degree business is over is short on illicit sex.

  8. I just finished Quiet, Please and I found it kind of depressing, actually. Not an encouraging look at the life of a public librarian, although it is a bit more thoughtful than other similar books I've read. Side note: most of these kind of books seem to be written by men. Significant?? Don't know. Maybe it was just that I'd had a week of the kind of things he was discussing and was at my limit.

  9. It's too bad the art of Coraline was a bit disappointing, but then again it really is hard to live up to Dave McKean. It still sounds like a good adaptation, though.

  10. I just bought Coraline (but not in the graphic novel format) for Carl's RIP this fall. I seem to have issues with Graphic Novels and have a hard time reading them - it's just too comic strippy for me.

  11. Have you tried the graphic novel version of Stardust? Gorgeous. And I have recently discovered that I like Gaiman a lot more in short story form - his collection called Fragile Things was amazing.

  12. Have you seen the Coraline movie trailer? The figures look a bit too cutesy for me.

  13. Oh, I sorry you gave up on "Sharp Teeth"! I know all about finicky moods, I myself wrote a post about how sometimes if we can't finish a book it's not the book's fault but rather the mood we're in when we try to read it. That happened to me with Benjamin Black's "Christine Falls". I almost gave up on it, until a few months later I picked it back up and couldn't put it back down.

    Anyways, I hope you decide to come back to "Sharp Teeth" one day. I'm almost finished with my own copy and I've been loving every minute of it.

  14. I really enjoy P. Craig Russell's artwork generally but this is one I didn't buy for much the same reasons you mentioned...I equate Coraline too much with McKean's art and didn't really want to see a treatment of it in graphic novel format. I am glad it works and am thrilled at any method to get people to read Gaiman's work, but I'd much rather read the story.

    I am looking forward to the film treatment of it!


Thanks for taking the time to comment! Blogger has been a beast lately, so I hope you do not have any troubles leaving your thoughts.

Images by Freepik