COMICS: John Reviews “Coraline” by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell

Coraline: The Graphic Novel, illustrated by P. Craig Russell

Coraline: The Graphic Novel, illustrated by P. Craig Russell

Having already read and reviewed both the book and movie of Coraline, I figured I would complete the set and tackle the graphic novel adaptation illustrated by long-time Gaiman collaborator P. Craig Russell.  Since I’ve already covered the story in both prior reviews, this won’t take very long.

Russell adapts the story of Coraline much more faithfully than Henry Selick, including almost all of the original text in the comic. None of the important scenes are left out (like the run-in with a nearly decomposed Other Father in the basement, or Coraline’s clever victory at the end of the story) and there are no additions to the cast.  This version is a suitable alternative to the original novella, one that has not made any sacrifices to the gods of focus groups and cross-demographic appeal.

The most important aspect of the adaptation – where the book differentiates itself for better or worse – is Russell’s art.  Instead of following Dave McKean’s surreal, expressionistic illustrations from the original book, Russell decides to illustrate Coraline in a very realistic style.  The real world looks completely and utterly real, to an extent rarely seen in mainstream comic books.  Each page is lovingly detailed and brilliantly colored, but the fantastical elements that made McKean’s illustrations (and Selick’s designs) so memorable are noticeably absent.  Only during scenes that absolutely require fantasy elements does Russell relent slightly from his realism, but always to wonderful effect.  If I have one complaint, it is that the illustrations are fantastically drawn without being fantastic (if that makes any sense.)  Still, it is the artists’ prerogative to interpret the story this way, and those who find the film version to be too “out there” may find this to be more suitable.  But never mind my yammering; a picture is worth a thousand words:

Coraline in the real world

Coraline in the real world

interior artwork from Coraline, adapted by P. Craig Russell

Coraline in the other world, where Russell's talent for fantasy shines.

While I personally found Russell’s Coraline to be too grounded in reality for such a fantasy-filled story, it may fit others’ expectations far better.  Regardless, the artwork is impressively crafted and beautifully colored, and the story is just as entertaining as it is in any of its other forms.  Young children might find it easier to comprehend than the purely textual version, though those who have seen the film may be confused by the very different artistic interpretation.  My preferred versions of the story are as follows:

1) Coraline by Neil Gaiman, audiobook (read by the author.)

2) Coraline by Neil Gaiman with illustrations by Dave McKean.

3) Coraline 3-D, directed by Henry Selick

4) Coraline: The Graphic Novel by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell


One Response

  1. […] John (screen name). (2009, Feb. 22). Comics: John reviews “Coraline” by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell (Review of the book Coraline). Wit War. Retrieved from… […]

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