The Graveyard Book volume 2 by Neil Gaiman, P. Craig Russell, and a team of fantastic artists will land in bookstores on October 7. I loved the first volume, both for the art and for how faithfully it tells the story, and I hoped the second book wouldn’t lose momentum.
No worries there. If anything, I liked this book better than the first.
Just like the first volume, P. Craig Russell only illustrates one story, but he did the panel layout for the entire book, and all the artists have very similar styles of illustration. The transition between artists was even smoother in this book than in the first. It helps that Lovern Kindziersky does such a great job with the coloring, and gave a consistent feel to everything.
David Lafuente drew the first chapter, and I’d call his style the most cartoon-like, if that didn’t sound so dismissive. It’s a lovely cartoon style, all clean lines and sharp edges, and the eyes are very expressive.
Scott Hampton had the art for the longest chapter in the book, and his art is about as different as you can get from Lafuente’s (well, as different as you can get and still be similar to Russell’s style) and beautiful too. His art has much more shading and gradients, it’s a more realistic style, and very intricate. He drew almost two thirds of the book, and the quality never fell off, it was beautiful from beginning to end.
But I’ll always love P. Craig Russell’s work best. He collaborated with Kevin Nowland and Galen Showman for the final chapter, and it’s definitely my favorite part of the book. The style ends up in between Lafuente’s cartoon lines and Hampton’s shading: a very happy medium. In a lot of the close-ups Russell’s faces look almost Victorian; very detailed and beautiful in an almost antique way. It was a perfect match for Neil Gaiman’s writing.
Speaking of which, it’s a Gaiman book, so I probably don’t need to go on and on (and on and on) about how good the story is. We follow Nobody Owens, the living boy who has the Freedom of the Graveyard, as he grows up and learns more about the man who murdered his family.
While the first book feels like a collection of short stories, this book is more of a single, more serious, story. We learn about the Jacks of All Trades, and how they’ve managed to stay in power, and why no one ever came looking for the little boy who wandered out of a crime scene and into a cemetery.
Along the way we hear tidbits of people’s stories; it could be a long rambling description from a former poet, or a single line from someone’s headstone. Gaiman can make any character into a living (or not) breathing (or not that either) person in just a few words.
And Gaiman may not be as bad as some authors when it comes to killing off characters you thought were safe, but he has his moments.
It’s an extremely faithful retelling of the story, which I loved the first time I read it, even without all the gorgeous artwork. We’re going to start hearing very soon about all the awards this book is going to win, just you wait.