Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, by Mike Carey and artwork by Glenn Fabry
A lot of you have probably read the novel or seen the television mini-series of Neverwhere. This story is one of my very, very favorites from Gaiman and I hold it dear to my heart. So, when it came out as a graphic novel, I was excited initially. However, upon actually reading it, this became one of my least favorite adaptations of all time.
Why? Well, it is not the story. Mike Carey gets that right for the most part. He makes some decisions about where to shorten things, yes, but that is standard for this sort of creation. The important thing is to stay true to the basic story, and capture the excitement, magic, and the feel of the original tale. I feel like that went pretty well here. The artwork is where it all goes wrong.
First, there's Door. It is clear that the comic uses the television series as inspiration for the look of the character, but the execution is baffling. Door has a tattoo? Birthmark? And her hair is a mess of what might be dreadlocks or maybe just tangles. In any event, it does not translate well and often looks like snakes, giving the sweet, vulnerable, mysterious Door a Medusa-like quality. Then, if you look at her body throughout the comic, she often appears buff and muscular- not really a look that portrays a young girl well. The overall character profile makes this Door feel older than she should be, grittier than she should be and uglier than she should be.
And then there are the hands...oh lord, the hands. Look at all of the hands in this book. They all have a gnarled, wrinkled, claw-like appearance. I honestly think the artist just doesn't do hands well. Period. If you look at an image of Door, or Islington or anyone and just inspect the hands, you would think that you were looking at an evil character. Surely, such witch talons don't belong to the main female character?? Oh, wait, yes they do. What, is she part demon? Yikes!
I'll get you my pretty...and your little dog, too!!
And then there is the Marquis de Carabas. In Black-face??? No face?? What is that?
I don't even know. Maybe they wanted to make him appear to always be in shadow- making him more mysterious. I have no clue, but it doesn't work. It is just dreadful and feels sort of racist.
As for the other characters- some of them seem ok- Mayhew, Hunter, Croup and Vandemar- their portrayals don't feel particularly exciting, but they don't seem wildly inaccurate either.
In the end, the only character that I truly enjoyed in this comic was the Beast. It looked monstrous and scary and it was actually supposed to.
So this is mostly disappointing. The story is there, but I can read the novel for a better version of that anyway, and if I want to see the characters, the mini-series is still better than this, so I feel like this adaptation doesn't add anything positive to the Neverwhere world. Instead, it just irritates me. I give it two stars.