I was initially a little worried when I discovered there was going to be a graphic novel version of the Neil Gaiman insta-horror-classic, Coraline. Even though I neglected to post a review here of the original novel when it first came out (see original cover at the bottom), I absolutely loved it and still promote it like crazy to my students. Would creating a GN version enhance or destroy the black magic of the initial work? For those of you not in the know, the title character is an only child who lives on a rambling old country estate with her busy working parents. She is bored with her solitary life, wishes her parents would pay more attention to her, and longs for adventure. Then Coraline discovers a door in the old house that leads into another world that is a mirror-version of her own. The two parents in this world dote on her and hang on her every word, and the toys in her room in this world are far more interesting than the boring old toys in her real room. Except, sometimes they…move when Coraline isn’t looking, and instead of a dog or a cat to play with, there are big, black rats. Her attentive new parents are great—except they have black buttons instead of eyes, and keep wanting to sew buttons onto Coraline’s face, too. When Coraline decides she’d rather live her own world, the “other mother” gets angry and kidnaps her real mother and father. Now Coraline must return to the other side of the door and play a dangerous game with the other mother in order to save herself and her parents. My fears that the GN wouldn’t do justice to Gaiman’s work were groundless—P. Craig Russell’s illustrations were just right, and matched the creepy visions I had in my head after reading the original. Seeing the “other mother” on the page in all her black-buttoned glory was a sinister treat, and the scene when the “other father” shambles up the cellar stairs in pursuit of Coraline after she has ripped the buttons from his melting face is completely terrifying! I strongly recommend checking this one out if you loved the novel, or are just a fan of horror comics.
Coraline: the graphic novel by Neil Gaiman, adapted and illustrated by P. Craig Russell