Let me just start by saying that while I consider myself a huge fan of YA, I have never read a graphic novel before (Gasp!). But alas, I was required to do so for my YA library class. I had not read any of the Artemis Fowl series but had always been interested, so I figured this was a good place to start. I have no way to compare this to other graphic novels because, as I already stated (through a thin veil of shame), I have not read one before. Nor can I compare this to the novel version of the book because I have not read that either. All I can do is share my experience.
Eoin Colfer, author of the original series, did help adapt the book into graphic novel form, so I can only assume that the story remains as close to that of the novel. Here’s what I love, graphic novel or not. Artemis Fowl is a criminal mastermind. He has a huge bouncer-like henchman/sidekick/bodyguard named Butler. Artemis is actually Artemis Fowl II. His father, Artemis Fowl Senior, is widely known in the crime world, but he went missing when the ship he was on was attacked with a Russian missile and sunk. He is presumed dead, but Artemis hasn’t given up hope. His mother, on the other hand, lives locked in her room at Fowl Manor, on a continual downward mental spiral. Oh, did I mention that Artemis is only 12?
Not unlike his Greek goddess namesake, Artemis too is a hunter, but he hunts gold–fairy gold to be exact, and in order to do that, he has to capture a fairy and ask for a ransom. The only problem is that the human world and fairy world are not supposed to intertwine, but Artemis changes all that when he captures Holly Short, a fairy who comes to the surface (because they are supposed to stay underground) to perform the ritual needed to restore her powers. Time for a breath. That was a lot. And that’s really just the beginning. And that’s what’s great about the graphic novel adaptation of such a book. There is some major world building going on here between the surface world of humans (or mud people as the fairies like to call us) and the magical world that exists almost at the earth’s core that contains fairies, dwarfs, centaurs, trolls, you name it! Without the vivid art of the graphic novel, I could not have imagined any of this in a way to do it any justice.
The artwork is often dark and uses quite a bit of shadow, which suits Artemis. He keeps himself cloaked from the outside world as much as possible. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the adversaries of Artemis and Holly are depicted, in drawing, as those who look like they could be age contemporaries, but Artemis is twelve but looks more like an emo eighteen-year-old, and Holly is depicted as a sexy, grown woman of a fairy. We first see her waking up for work, having slept in a skimpy tank and short shorts; next is her in the shower and then in her form-fitting Recon uniform. For these few frames she is complaining about being the only female in Recon and having to prove herself to her sexist boss. This is the part that didn’t gel well for me.
Overall, I found the story easy to follow once I trained myself to read in what is, for me, a very foreign format. I love fantasy, fairies, magic, and all that. Artemis Fowl is a complex main character. On the one hand, it’s hard to root for someone who is a criminal. I definitely found myself identifying with Holly’s plight more than his. But on the other hand, I felt bad for this kid who really just wants to fix his mom and find his dad, and there were some definite redeeming qualities to his character at the end of this first installment in the series.
I’m definitely a novice here, not at all equipped to properly review a graphic novel, but my first experience was pretty decent. This is by far not my preferred way to read, but I could do it again…just not right now.