Saturday, March 10, 2012


Garth Hale is a young boy with an incurable condition, but he ends up in the afterlife much earlier than expected after a goof by ghost hunter Frank Gallows. While in the ghost-world, Garth meets his grandfather, finds out he has special powers, and also becomes a target for the realm's malevolent ruler. Accompanied by a skeletal horse, Garth and his grandfather seek to avoid capture and also find him a way to get home. Meanwhile, Gallows is trying to assemble his own rescue team despite the fact that the last such venture led to the loss of the entire team.

What is truly wonderful about this story is the detail afforded to Ghostopolis. With its unique inhabitants, seven distinct districts, and set of rules, the afterlife has its own logic and mythology that makes it ripe for storytelling.

Doug TenNapel is famous as the creator of Earthworm Jim, a character who has starred in a number of video games as well as appeared in cartoons and a line of toys. In addition to his work on EWJ, he also has worked in animation, music, and graphic novels, including Creature Tech, Bad Island, and Tommysaurus Rex. He also won an Eisner Award for Best Humor Publication for his contribution to the Bart Simpson's Treehouse of Horror anthology in 2000. TenNapel speaks extensively about creating Ghostopolis in this interview at CBR.

Ghostopolis was nominated for two 2011 Eisner Awards for Best Publication for Teens and Best Lettering. Most reviews I have seem reflect a positive opinion about the book. Jonathan Liu wrote that "TenNapel does a fine job of mixing humor, action and even some genuine emotion without getting too schmaltzy." John Hogan called it "a highly enjoyable read from start to finish" that would appeal to readers young and old. Teen reader Stacy Church offered this opinion: "the artwork is great, there’s romance, suspense, lots of gory fights and killing…what more could you ask for in a graphic novel?"

Some discussion questions and review quotes can be found here from the book's publisher Scholastic Graphix.

For those interested, a movie version starring Hugh Jackman is also in the works.

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