Creatures of the Night
Most visitors to this site will know Neil Gaiman as a writer of comics, but he also has a selection of prose titles under his belt. Smoke and Mirrors (Amazon.com/Amazon.co.uk) is a collection of his short stories, two of which we see republished here, adapted into comics by Michael Zulli.
Both tales feature nocturnal animals. The Price is about a stray black cat, adopted by a cat lover who can't quite understand the scrapes it gets into until, one night, he decides to stay awake and find out. The Daughter of Owls is the story of a young orphan, ostracised by society and raised by owls. But what happens when the world outside her reclusive eyrie tries to catch up with her?
The stories have a typically Gaiman-esque dark, adult fairy-tale edge to them, where animals perhaps have more to them than meets the eye, without resorting to standing on two legs and slapping their thighs. It's through this relative subtlety that Gaiman manages to ensure that his tales are as sinister as possible.
Zulli's art is gorgeous in places, particularly the larger frames that he has clearly been able to afford more time on. He's adapted the stories well, extracting the essential text while pacing and illustrating the rest admirably.
Perhaps the most disappointing thing about this book is its length - at less than 50 pages, it doesn't take long to whip through and the graphic novel is an expensive format in which to house so few pages. Perhaps if Zulli had found a couple more stories and doubled the page count it might feel more substantial but, as it stands, it's probably little more than a curiosity for the Gaiman completist.
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