Adventures of John Blake, The: Mystery of the Ghost Ship

The Adventures of John Blake by Philip Pullman and Fred FordhamPhilip Pullman needs no introduction and this graphic novel won’t disappoint his fans. Set in the modern world but featuring a mysterious time-travelling sailing ship, this is a classic genre-busting fantasy wrapped inside a tense thriller. Originally serialised in The Phoenix comic, it’s written to be accessible to kids but, like Pullman’s other stories, there is no compromise on the sophistication of the story, with an intense pace that keeps the action rolling while always advancing the plot.

The imagination behind the story is typical Pullman: it’s fantastical but rooted in reality, well thought-out and superbly executed. It pulls no punches in its content, with murder, greed and intrigue high up its list of themes, though naturally there’s plenty of heroism and bravery from its young protagonists, too.

The Adventures of John Blake by Philip Pullman and Fred FordhamAs with any graphic novel, the art is as important as the story, and Fred Forham has stepped up to the occasion and done a spectacular job. The characters look great, and his backdrops faultless, both of which draw you in to this world and build a solid, believable foundation around Pullman’s fantastical plot.

If ever there was a gateway book to draw a Pullman fan into comics and vice versa, then this must be it. It’s a graceful, expertly-executed slice of graphic literature that blends adventure with substance, and is bound to delight and surprise readers of all ages.

Story: 5 Art: 4 Overall: 5

Written by: Philip Pullman
Art by: Fred Fordham
Publisher: David Fickling Books (UK), Graphix (US)
First published: 2017
Originally published as: The Phoenix