Monday, March 14, 2011

The Good Neighbors, by Holly Black and Ted Naifeh

First, I am not a regular reader of graphic novels. As a kid I read comic books, but Manga and graphic novels have not been something I'm picking up. When I saw this graphic novel by Holly Black I checked it out. I've greatly appreciated Ms. Black's writing in the past. A few years ago I had the great joy of seeing Black and Linda Sue Park speaking together at a NCTE national conference. [It was a very strange pairing of authors--but they did a wonderful job of talking about the creative process of writing.] I really enjoyed getting a personal impression of Holly Black, she's a very interesting and thoughtful person.

This graphic novel made me a bit uneasy. I was able to follow the plot line but felt there was a lot missing. Duh--look at the pictures. I really felt I was trespassing in teen world! I believe that I understand a bit more how the graphic novels capture such a large fan base. The story of how Rue comes to understand her connections to the world of faerie is well done. Readers do have to really use the graphics to follow all of the plot. I think it was also extremely useful to me to have read Black's books Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside. Without such a background in fantasy I would have probably been more than a little perplexed.

Concurrently I found the images very helpful in coming to understand both Black's previous work and Cassandra Clare's novels. The two authors are friends and seem to be creating a fantasy universe of their own. I doubt that they are planning this together, but being aware of each others works certainly creates some layerings of fantasy that make for interesting connections between the writings of the two authors.

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