Thursday, February 2, 2012

IN DEPTH BOOK REVIEW: Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol

Today I'm doing an in depth review of a graphic novel that won many praise by industry veteran. Its Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol! I actually tried to contact the author/artist awhile ago to do an interview but she declined it (she didn't email me back, she simply wrote it in her blog that too many people are trying to interview her) and decided to put up what I would call a "self-interview" HERE. (Its very insightful) You can also see her drawing process HERE where she talk about toning and inking. Great Stuff. Now let's move on to the in depth review followed by my usual awesome video preview.

     Anya's Ghost is written and drawn by Vera Brosgol. The book is publish by First Second in June 7th 2011. This is a single volume graphic novel about Anya, a teenage girl desperately trying to look “cool” and fit into school. One day on her way home after school, she fell into an old abandoned well and met a ghost, Emily. With Emily's help in school, Anya starts to treat her differently and they became friends. Or so we thought.

     Even though Anya's Ghost is the first graphic novel that Vera Brosgol created, the story is captivating and effective partly because of the nature of her job: a storyboard artist in Laika studio, (the company that created the stop-motion feature, Coraline) If you're still not convince by this first timer, the book is highly praised by industry veteran like Neil Gaiman and Scott McCloud. So what is so special about the story of a teenage girl who meets a ghost and finally learns about self-image, friendship and finding a place in the world? It is the great drawing style, the great color scheme and the well written plot.  (*on a side note, She  previously did short comics on anthologies before Anya's Ghost)

Fig 1a (sample page taken from Amazon)

     In Anya's Ghost, Vera Brosgol uses a cartoony art style to convey her story. Both the character designs and environments are fun and lively with the same cohesive art style seen in Fig 1a.. The choice of this particular style not only makes the characters cute and simple, it allows for great exaggeration of expression and movements in the comic. This flexibility in the drawing sets up for a great climax and twist as the drawings changes from cute to creepy yet maintaining that unique cartoony look as seen in Fig 1b.

Fig 1b (sample image taken from 

     But what really sells Anya's Ghost is the STORY itself. Despite the fact that there isn't much action within the story, the narration, dialog and plot keeps the story fun and exciting. For example, in Fig 1c, Anya is trapped in the well and for the first time, she discover Emily the ghost. This short sequence can be drawn using two panels, 1) Anya sees ghost and 2) Anya freaks out. But instead, the author builds up the emotion by slowing down the pacing of the story from moment to moment and finally revealing Emily in the last panel, leaving the reader with a cliff hanger. The best part of this book is the fact that all of the 224 pages is a page turner in similar style. The other reason why the story and plot is well written is the fact that there is more show than tell in Anya's Ghost. When Anya discovers the back story of Emily, no expositions were used.

Fig 1c (sample page taken from Amazon)

     Anya's Ghost is a great graphic novel that speaks to the heart, addressing our insecurities in life. The story works perfectly in terms of artistic style, color choice and plot. It is a resolve, fun and emotional book that is suitable for teens and adults. Highly recommended.

Click here for Best Price

1 comment: