Book: Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl: The Graphic NovelArtemis Fowl
Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin
illustrated by Giovanni Figano and Paolo Lamanna
2007 (Hyperion)

If you’ve read the first “Artemis Fowl” novel, you know the plot of this book already. I hadn’t read it, so this graphic novel version was new to me. Artemis is a twelve-year-old boy, the youngest of the Fowl family which is a centuries-old Irish family known for being not so honorable. He lives on his family’s amazing estate with his mother, his bodyguard and his bodyguard’s sister. He’s also a genius. Through much digging and correlating of stories he has discovered that fairies are, in fact, very real and each one carries a book with the key to their undoing (among other things, because why would you carry a book that just says how to disable you?). Artemis tracks down a fairy and manages to procure a copy of the book (photographs of all the pages, anyway), which he then carefully translates using his aforementioned genius. Then he sets out to capture an actual fairy. Once this is done, he demands a ransom for her. Understandably, she and her superiors in the elite fairy police force she works for are not at all pleased.

The art in this book was, for the most part, fantastic. I was especially impressed with the characters themselves. Each one was completely distinct. It is so common for art with fairies to fall into the pattern where all fairies look essentially interchangeable, but that was definitely on the case here. Every member of the fairy world was just as detailed and distinct as each of the humans. The character designs themselves were also well done. You could tell a lot about each person just by how they looked (which is important for a book like this where a lot of that information is almost certainly given in the novel, but would be out of place if expostulated on in the book). The one quibble I had with the art was Fowl Manor itself. The text describes how it was built hundreds of years ago as a castle and has been remodeled over and over through the years by the family until it became more of a manor house and less of a castle. What we see in the art, however, is a meticulously planned manor house that shows no trace of castle or, really, even character. It could be the manor house in any Hollywood movie. Even the interior is an unremarkable stereotypical British manor. With this medium they could have gone all-out and shown us an amazing house, but instead we got a fairly boring Victorian-looking one. It was a little disappointing, especially considering the obvious talent of the artists.

The story was well suited to the medium. I can’t speak to the adaption from the original, though. There was a good balance of action, conversation and introspection. It was never weighed down and it clipped along at a good pace. I really liked how much personality was allowed to show through in just the text alone. The bureaucracy of the fairy police forces and the strange plot with Artemis’ mother were both really nice touches to the story. The position and treatment of most of the female characters in the story bothered me a bit, though. And I couldn’t help wondering why fairy society, which is supposedly considerably older and more advanced than ours, is so incredibly far behind in terms of gender equity. Even one strong female character who didn’t spend most of the book locked up by the male ones would have been nice, but it wasn’t there. That was really my one major squabble with the plot.

Overall I thought this book was extremely well done. The art was, by and large, wonderful. The writing was smooth and interesting and the plot well-suited to the format. I would recommend this to people who are already fans of the series and those who like interesting new graphic novels.

This book has been nominated for a Cybil in the graphic novel category.

- Publisher’s Description
- The Official Artemis Fowl Website
- Eoin Colfer’s Website
- Andrew Donkin’s Website
- Giovanni Rigano’s Blog
- Buy it from Amazon

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