Sunday, April 22, 2012

"Ghostopolis" by Doug Tennapel

A Bone King, evil flying bugs, the ghost of Benedict Arnold, humans with supernatural powers, monster velociraptor skeletons... all in the land of the dead! Sound fascinating? It allegedly even caught the eye of actor Hugh Jackman--enough to pen a tentative deal for a Disney movie based on Ghostopolis, a fun an energetic graphic novel by Doug Tennapel. Unfortunately, it seems that the movie has been shelved since 2009--the last time anyone heard any news about the film.

Simply put, Ghostopolis is a very lively tale of a young boy, Garth Hale,  who is dying of an incurable disease. The twist is... he's part of a world that's constantly being infiltrated by ghosts! After he's accidentally pulled into netherworld by a stroke of bad luck with a spectral horse, it's up to a jaded and burnt out Supernatural Immigration Task Force Agent, Frank Gallows, to bring him back. They find that Ghostopolis is a part of a large network of "afterlife" realms--all of them lead by a single oppressive leader. Under his dictatorship, the residents of Ghostopolis try to flee to the real world and hide amongst humans.

With no one powerful enough to stop the evil overlord Vaugner, who has a particular ire for the young protagonist, how can Garth get back to his mother alive? How can the citizens of Ghostopolis get out from under the foot of their horrible ruler?

So, do you want to lose yourself in whimsical imagination? If you yearn for the days of imagining yourself a superhero or having supernatural powers, this is absolutely the graphic novel for you. Care for an extra bonus? There are some really interesting and subtle mechanics to make you think. Example: the founder of Ghostopolis is a carpenter named "Joe", who has a hole in each hand and foot. Wrap your mind around that!! It's certainly an engaging piece of work that makes you think a little. It's even peppered with some romance and comedy to even out the themes.

While I would still lean towards the works of Gene Luen Yang for a teachable graphic novel in the classroom, Ghostopolis is certainly a great companion piece. There are definite discussion points that can be harnessed in a late-middle school or early-high school such as the power of imagination, an empowering trait for young Garth.

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