Based on the series of best selling novels, Artemis Fowl is the story of a 12-year-old boy, who also just happens to be a criminal mastermind. It’s aimed at older children – a Harry Potter sort of audience (so young-at-heart grown-ups will enjoy it too) – who like a good story that has plenty of action, but is witty and charismatic to boot. I’m not qualified to make comparisons to the novel because I haven’t read it, but in short, the graphic novel is a joy to read.
Fowl lives in a huge mansion and appears to have had a privileged up-bringing. It would be easy to dismiss him early on as something of a precocious brat, but as we read on, it becomes clear that despite the brains (and he is something of a prodigy) and the mansion, all is not quite right in the Fowl household.
With his giant of a bodyguard, Fowl infiltrates the world of fairies in an attempt to find a way to steal some gold. The fairies live in a subterranean world parallel to our own and, just like us, no longer live in a pastoral, medieval world of beanstalks and enchanted castles. Instead, they’re more technologically developed than we are, melding magic and technology into a unique blend of advanced futurism. However, they’re still tied to quaint but complex cultural rules, and it’s through these that Fowl is hoping to trip them up, in order to part one with their mythical gold. He chooses a challenging target too – a hard-nosed, efficient female fairy cop, valued enough by her superiors to ensure that Fowl has the best chance of securing a ransom.
A big part of the attraction of the book is the art. Rigano’s realisation of the characters and world has a unique style to it, clearly drawing on lots of influences but beholden only to himself. And Lamanna’s digital colouring imbues the pages with atmosphere.
The book deals with some grown-up themes and climaxes with a hostage situation, so it’s for the mature end of the child scale, but this is no bad thing as it means there’s still plenty for us grown-ups to enjoy too. With the wit and intelligence of a criminal caper, the dark thrill of a hostage situation and a good collection of twists, the graphic novel version of Artemis Fowl stands up well. Let us know in the comments (you have to register – click here for information) how you think it compares to the novel.