Two teenage boys go to a party with exchange students. One of them is confident and smooth, the other is awkward. The awkward one narrates and manages to talk to a few girls who are all unique and interesting. Being awkward around those one fancies, especially as a teenager, is a universal thing, and when those people (girls in this case) aren’t local it can lead to interesting topics of conversation. This story encapsulates it perfectly, while also getting a fantastical spin to it. It is a wonderfully written story by Neil Gaiman, and if you have never read the short story, going in knowing less will be better. If you have liked any of his other work, you will enjoy this. Somehow in the same story he has people talking in the most realistic, awkward teenage ways when there are other characters who speak in beautiful poetic, song like fashion.
The artwork is simply gorgeous. Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba are amazing artists and the story could be horrible and it would be worth reading just for their work. The colors are vibrant, the world is rich and real. Every character is unique and authentic, even those in the crowd scenes who never talk. You can ignore every single word on the pages and still feel the story perfectly. I actually keep losing myself to the pages of art as I write this, I have read this story three times since I first got it and have just taken in the art a half dozen more at least.
Typically when you adapt a prose piece there ends up being some clunkiness. In pursuit of keeping the integrity of the original work there can be a bit too much narration, sometimes describing what is pictured on the panel. At only one point did I feel the narration intruded on the comic; oddly enough, that intrusion is on the very first panel of the very first page, where in between two word balloons there is a narration of “Said Vic.” Otherwise there is none of what usually turns me off in an adaptation. I have even read the original short story, and reading this comic was more akin to reading the story with a fresh perspective instead of feeling like an old retread.
Let’s talk quick economics here, which is literally the only downside of this book. The comic is 64 pages, they are 64 gorgeous pages (excluding the two bio pages) but those 64 pages cost nearly twenty dollars. I know comics are expensive, they are a luxury item, it just feels a little too expensive. I assume there will be an edition later that is cheaper, buy that. Unless you are a huge Gaiman, Moon, or Ba fan, which I wouldn’t blame you for being any of those. In that case you probably already bought it.
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