written by Neil Gaiman
illustrated by P. Craig Russell
Coraline is the story that keeps on giving. First presented as a novel by Neil Gaiman, then made into a fantastic film, even turned into a Broadway play, it’s also now a graphic novel. You would think a story would suffer from being reinterpreted so many times, but it doesn’t. It’s still wonderfully exotic, fun, creepy, and just a little bit subversive. Perfect for kids and adults.
Coraline has been adapted by P. Craig Russell, a fantastic comics artist who has a nice style all his own. His Coraline is older than the movie version and not as seemingly innocent, but essentially the story is the same: Young Coraline and her parents move into a gigantic old house that has an apartment above and below. Above lives an old man who claims to run a mouse circus; below, two sisters relive their glory days as actresses. In the middle, Coraline explores the house and tries to uncover its secrets while her parents busy themselves with work.
A door leads her to a mirror realm where alternate versions of everyone in the house live, including her mother, who is just as sweet, charming, and attentive as any child could ask for. The only difference is the huge button eyes they all have, a small difference that in truth marks the real danger Coraline is in.
It turns out there’s almost no version of Coraline that doesn’t win over its audience. The story works perfectly as a graphic novel, perhaps because Russell is such a broad talent.
On a side note, it’s so nice to see Coraline presented with third-person narration and actual thought bubbles. It’s been so long since I’ve seen them in a comic, I almost forgot what they were. It turns out it is possible to present a great story using these longtime comics staples.