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This review is from: Coraline (Hardcover)
The lettering is the only saving grace in this so-called 'adaptation'. Dave McKean's original illustration work in Coraline the book seemed organic and dark, twisting form and shape to liven the imagination of the reader and express the dark emotion at the character's hearts - an effect picked up by Henry Selick in his film.
P. Craig Russell, however, takes the opposite approach, squeezing the book into a by-the-numbers selection of tight boxes that don't fit the narrative. Many of the original descriptions provided by Gaiman are translated into unrealistic-sounding dialogue - again, a problem better solved by Selick, who created a character for the protagonist to talk to - and quite often the art doesn't quite gel with the text. Panels are choked with dialogue; it would be all too simple to simply stretch a scene out over a few more pages, or simply reduce the dialogue in a way that would construe the same meaning.
The art taken by itself is embarrassing, woefully minimalist, lacking any real shadow or darkness and in many cases simply the same image copied and pasted multiple times - a lazy attempt of many modern comic artists to try and suggest the passage of time. Additionally, for an adaptation of a book so rich in description, the book has surprisingly little in the way of backgrounds, replacing most empty space with photoshopped patterns or solid colours rather than just, y'know, drawing something to fill in the panel. At one point, Coraline walks into a bedroom with no floor, ceiling or walls, merely a blue-grey haze with a bed in its midst; at another, a scene intended to provoke tension is ruined because the characters seem to be painted onto some tasteless green wallpaper.
In the text, this adaptation hasn't strayed enough from its source material; in its art, it strays too much. As with the adaptation of Neverwhere, this presents a clear case for not graphically adapting any of Neil Gaiman's works unless Neil himself is directly involved - and, in many cases, not unless Dave McKean is there as well.