Skip to main content

Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel, 272pp, RL: 4




When I first encountered Doug TenNapel's Ghostopolis last year it struck me as a creepy-kind-of-boy-book. However, I did take note of how well it was selling and one day while on break I began reading it and couldn't put it down. I was immediately drawn in to main character Garth Hale's story line as a kid with a terminal illness and his single mom, not your typical graphic novel hero. The plot of Ghostopolis can get a bit darker than most and is different from any other graphic novel I have read to date. Garth's storyline is quickly and almost inextricably linked with that of Frank Gallows, a once great now down on his luck investigator charged with sending wayward ghosts back to Ghostopolis, a kind of  limbo/way station setting. When the skeletal ghost horse Frank is hunting down escapes through the wall of a neighboring house just as Frank is clapping the transporting ghost-cuffs on his fetlocks, the nightmare jumps over Garth in his bed, sending him back to Ghostopolis along with the horse.
The horse, named Skinny by Garth, does his best to lead Garth away from danger and toward the city when he runs into a kid named Cecil who turns out to be the ghost of his grandfather. While all this is going on, Frank heads to the desert to find his ghost ex-girlfriend and beg her to help him get into Ghostopolis and rescue Garth since he has been denied a place on the official team heading to the underworld. 
In Ghostopolis the two groups meet up only to be chased down and split up by the various territorial lords meeting in the capitol to celebrate with Vaugner, their leader. The scenes in Ghostopolis are amazing, both colorful and dark and imposing, and the pages are rich with a multitude of creatures and creations populating the pages. 
Ghostopolis is very fast paced and definitely calls for more than one reading to take in all the intricacies that abound in the artwork. TenNapel's characters and world building are what take this mostly standard story to the next level. Once in Ghostopolis, it becomes evident that Garth seems to possess some special powers that make it possible for him, along with a little help from Frank, to take on Vaugner for the final, very cool climactic battle scene. TenNapel brings a satisfyingly happy ending to his story as well as some nice closure for his mother and Cecil, her father. 



Although less menacing in tone, readers who liked Ghostopolis might also enjoy:

Amulet series by Kazo Kibuishi




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!

Be…

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…