It will surprise some people that I’m very very new to the whole Dresden Files stories. I have not read the entire series, and I have not watched any of the television episodes. What I have read, however, has been truly wonderful and I want to dig in to all the books (but I’m still way behind on my ARC reading, so it’ll be a little bit). So when I saw the opportunity to read a graphic novel based on Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, I thought this would be a great chance for me to get in a little bit of everything I enjoy.
The story is fairly straight-forward for someone who deals with ghouls and vampires and werewolves on a daily basis. Harry Dresden is called to a small town by a deputy sheriff to investigate some unique deaths of family members. The sheriff doesn’t want Harry Dresden around and isn’t happy with his deputy. However, the deputy is correct … there is something supernatural going on and Harry reveals a curse on the family from a long time ago. There are battles with supernatural creatures and all sorts of the usual Harry Dresden dry commentary. All in all, a fun, visual Harry Dresden story.
One of the most difficult things about doing a comic book or graphic novel of existing literary characters is drawing what we readers have imagined in our heads. So rarely will any two people have the same idea as to how someone looks. Occasionally a visual format will appear so well that it becomes the commonly accepted representation. Look at Conan the Barbarian. He will forever look to me as Frazetta and Buscema have imagined him. The hobbits of Tolkien looked only the way the Hildebrandt’s have painted them, and now the way Peter Jackson has put them on-screen. Will Sookie Stackhouse look like anything other than Anna Paquin? Will Alice ever really look like anything other than the drawings of Sir John Tenniel?
But for every literary character that holds a common visual appearance, there are hundreds more who are constantly drawn or depicted but aren’t accepted as ‘the’ look and Harry Dresden is one of the characters for me. I haven’t seen the Harry Dresden yet who appears quite how I imagined him based on what I’ve read. The covers by Ardian Syaf are very very close, but the interior art, by Joseph Cooper don’t work for me at all.
As a story, I am very happy reading this and could have read it as just a story in a magazine or collection, without pictures, and been very content. But as it’s a graphic novel, the art is important and can’t be ignored.
There’s some technical mastery in the work, with some solid inking, but the art is generally a bit too ‘cartoony’ for me, for a story that is dark and devilish. The faces are a little too exaggerated. Harry looks like a caricature of who he should be and I have difficulty taking him seriously most of the time in the book. There are pages, or at least panels, where he looks true and serious, and I like these (page 33 of my digital edition [which may include the cover as a page] looks very good — as if it wasn’t even drawn by the same artist!). The monsters Harry fights are foppish, Scooby-Doo-like creatures rather than frightening ghouls and goblins.
It’s become commonplace for graphic novels to include ‘bonus material’ and this book is no exception. There are sketches of the characters, character descriptions, and sample pages of the script.
Looking for a good book? It’s fun to read a new Harry Dresden/Dresden Files story, but the art in this graphic novel doesn’t live up to Harry’s stature.
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Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files: Ghoul Goblin
author: Jim Butcher and Mark Powers
artist: Joseph Cooper
publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
hardcover, 152 pages