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Graphic Novel Twofer: Doug TenNapel – Cardboard / Ghostopolis

December 18, 2013

It’s a graphic novel twofer today! This post has mini-reviews for Cardboard AND Ghostopolis, both by Doug TenNapel! Two reviews for the price of one! Lucky you!

92. Cardboard by Doug TenNapel (2012)

Length: 288 pages
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Young Adult

Started/Finished: 02 December 2013

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? Random browsing.

Summary: Mike’s having a hard time finding work, and the only thing he can afford for his son Cam’s birthday is a large cardboard box. But it turns out that it’s a magic cardboard box, and that things made from the cardboard come to life. That’s crazy enough, but then the neighborhood bully, Markus, steals their means of making more cardboard… but in Markus’s hands, things go desperately awry.

Review: Very imaginative, and very fun. The central thematic story – about bullies, and bullying, etc. – felt kind of simplistic and not particularly complicated (probably based on the intended age range for the book). But there were some touches that were a little more subtle – particularly involving Cam’s dead mother, and Mike’s difficulty connecting with other women – that were really nicely handled. (I also loved Bill the Boxer, Cam and Mike’s first cardboard creation.) The plot itself was definitely action-adventure, kept moving by TenNapel’s vivid artwork. But there were some pieces that didn’t quite hang together; for example, a lot of fuss is made about the magical Rules of Cardboard, and how Mike is breaking them, but it’s never quite clear whether or how the bad things that start happening are meant as punishment for breaking the rules. But that may be overanalyzing what is clearly meant to be a crazy trip through the imagination made real. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Good fun for graphic novel fans of all ages, particularly those who like designing and building things, and/or those who ever got a refrigerator box to play with as kids.

(For what it’s worth, my neighbors re-did their kitchen when I was ~10, so we had a refrigerator, a stove, AND a dishwasher box to play with. Best fort ever!)

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: In Bed With Books, Waking Brain Cells
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

95. Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel (2010)

Length: 272 pages
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Young Adult

Started/Finished: 12 December 2013

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? Random browsing.

Summary: Frank Gallows works sending wayward ghosts back to the afterlife. But one day he makes a mistake and accidentally sends back a living boy – although Garth, the boy in question, isn’t too worried, as he’s dying of a terminal illness anyways. As Garth finds his way around the afterlife, and learns to navigate the various factions of creatures that inhabit it, Frank has to enlist the help of old allies – and a few old enemies – in order to bring Garth back to the land of the living.

Review: Again, imaginative and fun, with a solid emotional core. Some parts I really liked: Garth’s relationship with his long-deceased grandfather was touching, the metaphysics of the way the world of the dead interacted with that of the living were neat, and Benedict Arnold made me laugh. Some other parts were maybe not so great: I thought the ending of Frank’s story was pretty predictable, and I could have done without the Christian allegory, although at least it’s subtle and not particularly in-your-face as it could have been. But overall, it was a creative, entertaining story, with bright, vivid artwork. Plus, what’s not to love about a story that has a skeleton horse who becomes one of the most sympathetic characters? 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: This one read a little older than Cardboard, but I’d still recommend it to fans of graphic novels of pretty much all ages, particularly if they like ghost stories or afterlife-y type adventures.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Lost in Books, Nerfreader, One Literature Nut and more at the Book Blogs Search Engine.
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

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