David Stehman ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Neil Gaiman has proven time and time again that he is a master of dark fantasy, especially in graphic novels. His masterpiece, The Sandman series, combines his masterful storytelling with the work of diverse, fantastic artists to create an ephemeral collection of tones and imagery which enhance his words. Gaiman collaborates again in his newest graphic novel, Troll Bridge, in which the pairing of writer and artist (Colleen Doran) has never felt so seamless.
Troll Bridge is a dark fairy tale featuring the troll-under-the-bridge trope, newly adapted for adults—not necessarily because of content, but because of the inclusion of themes only those who have grown up understand. The story follows a young boy in London who stumbles upon a hideous troll one day and narrowly escapes getting his soul eaten. As the story progresses and the boy grows up, the troll becomes less of an enemy but rather more of an understandable, relatable creature.
The story is reminiscent of The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, but there is one main distinction: artist Colleen Doran’s dreamlike, surreal art style. Her work perfectly matches the tone of the story, particularly in the shift in art style as the protagonist grows older. The colorful, bright panels of youth turn to whisky, woodland adolescent dreams, to the dark, almost black-and-white panels of grim, mournful adulthood. Troll Bridge’s panels defy boundaries in astonishing ways. Each page is its own collage of moments that fit the fairy-tale–style structure of the comic.
Gaiman’s writing is fantastic—dramatic without being laughable and hard-hitting without being overly-ambitious. The story, told mostly through narration, feels like a bedtime story we would hear in our forties.
Troll Bridge is a powerful comic, told wonderfully by Gaiman and drawn to perfection by Doran. The graphic novel once again proves that a fairy tale does not necessarily depict childish fun; in this take, everyone grows up. It deserves nothing less than ten out of ten stars.