21 February 2008

Coloring in Artemis Fowl

Yesterday I opined about how the story in Eoin Colfer's novel Artemis Fowl is a good match for the comics form. But the first thing you notice about a graphic novel is its art. The art in Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel actually made the story more enjoyable for me than the original prose novel.

Giovanni Rigano's line art looks somewhat influenced by Japanese comics, with the two main characters--Artemis the Irish brat and Holly the fairy police officer--both equipped with fairly big eyes and fairly small chins. Artemis's bodyguard and butler, Butler [oh, the irony!], is a manga "Hero" type, as I understand the term: nine heads high (with a neck two heads wide).

Rigano goes farther afield for the story's exotic creatures: the lizardy goblins, baboon-faced centaur, tusked troll. I'm most fond of Mulch Diggums, a munching, burrowing, thieving, farting dwarf. Rigano gives Mulch a most expressive face; his combination of desperation and deviousness improbably makes him the book's most sympathetic character.

Most of all, I think Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel is a triumph for colorist Paola Lamanna. The panels are full of shafts of light, curls of smoke, glowing monitors, bare light bulbs, fairy contrails, reflections, blurs, and other other moody details that Lamanna rendered using digital colors and effects over Rigano's line art.

Rigano also carried out, and may have conceived, the book's color scheme. Artemis's family home is always rendered in reds and browns, dark and shadowy until the last pages. In contrast, the fairies' world is largely green and blue, and always nocturnal. It takes just one glance to know which side of this war a panel is showing.

On one early page spread, Butler prepares to shoot down the unsuspecting Holly. As the panels shift with increasing tension from one character/world to the other, they create a checkerboard of red and blue.

The three panels to the left show the color scheme at work in another way. At top, Artemis is negotiating with Julius Root, a fairy commander. In the second panel Root walks out of Artemis's tan house into the blue outdoors, and at bottom he talks to his colleagues.

Finally, here's praise for Ellice M. Lee's jacket design. The front cover shows Artemis with his antagonist Holly reflected in his mirrored sunglasses, and the lenses have spot varnish to make them shiny. (The panels on the back have spot varnish as well. And I haven't even mentioned the embossed title type. Designers can do a lot with an unlimited budget.)

As a visual package, Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel is amped up like the trailer for a superhero movie. And for this adventure, that works very well.

1 comment:

Lauren said...

I can't wait to get the graphic novel... seriously. I think it's the only Artemis Fowl "book" that I don't have yet!