Ghostopolis Paperback – 1 Jul 2010
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About the Author
Doug TenNapel was raised in the town of Denair, California. In 1994, he created the immensely popular Earthworm Jim. Doug's first graphic novel for Scholastic, GHOSTOPOLIS, was a 2011 ALA Top Ten Great Graphic Novel for Teens, and his follow-up, BAD ISLAND, is a 2012 ALA Great Graphic Novels for Teens as well as one of School Library Journal's Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2011. His most recent graphic novel from Scholastic, CARDBOARD, has been published to critical acclaim. Doug lives in Glendale, California.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book opens with a young boy named Garth who has a mystery illness which is killing him and he only has months to live. And also introduces a character Frank Gallows who can only be described as a ghost detective who is making sure no ghosts escape to the human world. One issue is he is very bad at it and in a pursuit of one of the escapee ghosts he prematurely sends Garth to Ghostopolis a city between world for spirits. He has now no choice but to rescue the boy and find out what mystery's this ghost city holds for the both of them.
I think its an enchanting read for young and old and is a good introduction to the other Novels or one to pick up if your already a fan of Dougs writing.
However, Frank isn't exactly the best guy for the task - he's lazy and messy and usually eats food in people's fridges after a successful catch. Nevertheless, he still gets the job done. That is, until he accidentally transports his ghost horse AND a human boy named Garth to Ghostopolis.
Now, it's up to Frank and his mysterious ex-fiance, Claire, to go back and return Garth to Earth.
There's one small problem: Master Vaugner controls Ghostopolis and won't let Garth - a boy who seems to have as much power as himself - go. So, not only does Garth have to get through mummies, zombies, and skeletons alongside his loyal bone-horse, Skinny, but he also has to fight a powerful dark master in order to return to his mother.
Doug TenNapel writes an intriguing story about the afterlife and where ghosts come from. His graphic novel is full of eye-catching illustrations and witty jokes that pull the reader in from the first line. GHOSTOPOLIS is recommended for anyone who's up for a quick and fun read; this book won't disappoint.
Reviewed by: Steph
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In the interest of fairness, I must admit that I have, on occasion, been put off by some of the more blunt and humorless manifestations of political or religious messaging in some of his work. Most notably, "Earthboy Jacobus" - an otherwise rollicking and bombastic adventure - was ruined for me by the overt and mean-spirited political commentary that is shoehorned into the beginning of the book. It's the only one of Mr. TenNapel's books that I won't loan out. Thankfully, such lapses are rare.
"Ghostopolis" is a great read. It's filled with the kind of humor and heart and action that Mr. TenNapel is so adept at delivering. The story is a lot of fun and is certainly safe for young adult readers without pandering to them either. The initial set-up and establishment of the Ghostopolis as a setting are wonderful. The cast of characters is diverse and distinct and the reader will be hard-pressed not to feel invested in their adventures. That being said, after the rather luxurious trip through the first 3/4 of the book, the VERY end of the story winds up feeling a little rushed by comparison. A lot of loose ends get tied up in the final pages and it sometimes feels like things are being glossed over.
When the story gets "spiritual", it does so with an obviously Christian tone, but in a way that's quite moving - even for a reader like myself who doesn't share the author's beliefs. Mr. TenNapel delivers a Christ analog that only makes a couple of brief appearances, but in the process presents a clear and powerful portrait of what (I assume) the author finds attractive and compelling about his own faith. It's not a wishy-washy "Jesus-as-hippy" presentation, either. It has a macho kindness that really stood out and impressed me. If I HAD to believe in a God, I think I'd probably want it to be Mr. TenNapel's.
Artistically, it is (as expected) gorgeous. My only complaint is that the coloring detracts from Mr. TenNapel's fantastic illustration. It's a minor complaint, to be sure, but I strongly prefer to absorb great line-work directly - without having it muddled by post-production coloring and effects.
In order to get the boy back, he enlists the help of his ex girlfriend, also a ghost. Meanwhile, the boy befriends a skeleton stallion, and another young boy, who turns out to be his grandfather.
It's a mixture of poignant, sad, funny, and action filled moments. I will say the toilet humor isn't really my cup of tea, but it's a small complaint amidst the fun characters and imaginative artwork. Those paying attention will catch TenNapel's Christian symbolism, a common theme in his books.
This is probably the best from TenNapel in awhile. Sadly, the youth of the boy may cause some older teens to lose interest, I'd say 6-9 graders and the young at heart, will be most receptive.
That being said -- I greatly enjoyed "Ghostopolis," and dearly wish there was a sequel. The world Doug Tennapel has woven drew me in that much.
Garth is a 12-year-old boy who has resigned himself to a hard fate -- he has an incurable disease. But he faces death, in a way, much sooner than he anticipated when Frank Gallows, a washed-up and cynical ghost wrangler, accidentally transports him to the afterlife, a grim yet fantastic land inhabited by the dead. There, Garth meets his grandfather, befriends a literal "night mare," and discovers that as a living human among the dead, he has amazing powers... powers that mark him for capture/death by the evil ruler of Ghostopolis and his horde of insectoid henchmen. Now Garth, with the aid of his new friends, grandfather, and a mysterious being only known as Joe, must find his way back home, even as Frank Gallows and his ghostly ex-girlfriend Claire venture into the afterlife to find him.
As this was the first work I'd read of Tennapel's, the art style took some getting used to -- the lines are scratchy rather than clean, and his humans have a stylized yet "real" look to them, rather than the generic/supermodel looks that you tend to find in most comic books. But once I got used to the art style, I found myself greatly enjoying it. Tennapel's afterlife has a quirky yet down-to-earth feel to it, and like I stated earlier I wouldn't mind visiting it again sometime.
The story, too, is more complex than one expects from a graphic novel, with several intertwining plots, unique and memorable characters, and underlying themes of forgiveness and kindness that don't feel forced in. I would have liked a bit more explanation of Garth's powers and why he has them in such quantity (all living people in the ghost world have powers, but Garth's are exceptional even for a live person), but hopefully if there is ever a sequel this point gets addressed.
I got "Ghostopolis" from our local library, but I will have to see if I can hunt down others of his works. If they're all of this caliber, then this is a graphic novel artist/author that I'll have to follow.
As for this getting a movie... I'm cautiously optimistic, as I've seen good books ruined in the transition to the big screen. But the art style would make a fun and visually interesting animated film, and I believe the story would translate well to the big screen in the hands of the right director. Tim Burton, is this for you?