Eoin Colfer’s creative take on the world of fairies, dwarves, goblins, trolls, child geniuses, and crime lords (Russian, Irish, Chicagoan, or otherwise) remains one of my favorite modern series of children’s fantasy. I’ve read it in book form, listened to Nathaniel Parker’s masterful audiobook adaptation, am currently re-listening to it, and just read the first book in its graphic novel version.
Book one of the graphic novel series, adapted by Andrew Donkin and illustrated by Giovanni Rigano, turned out to be a fun new format of the story. The plot and dialogue remain true to Colfer’s work and even creatively work in some backstory by including “files” on each of the characters that tell about their background, family members, criminal record, and more. This saves the book from lengthy textboxes of narrative explaining who people are and also suits the novel’s frame story, which claims that the book is part of research fairies are doing as they monitor Artemis as a potential threat.
For readers unfamiliar with the story, I think the graphic novel adaptation would be easy to pick up. I wasn’t blown away by the artwork, but it worked for the story and flowed smoothly during action sequences. My only disappointment is that none of the characters look the way I pictured them. They are all too exaggerated and cartoony (imagine that!), and the fairy people are rather ugly, which I don’t think should be the case for all of them based on the book. However, graphic novel depictions of characters rarely satisfy me when I’ve read and loved the original book, so this isn’t a deal-breaker. I’ve just learned to live with it.
I think the regular book form of the Artemis Fowl series is engaging enough to captivate young readers, but the graphic novel is a decent alternative for those who might not want to read a full novel. My first taste of the graphic novel Artemis Fowl books was pleasant enough I might even give the next installment a try when I’m looking for a graphic novel to read in the future.
P.S. With all the formats, you would probably think I have already watched the movie too, but I have not and probably won’t anytime soon because it doesn’t look like it remains true to the series—but that’s a thought for another day.