Here’s another teen book I picked up on cover alone and read in a couple of hours at work (don’t tell my managers or they might give me something to do!). It’s by Doug TenNapel, who I thought I’d never heard of before but turns out is also the creator of Earthworm Jim, that vaguely unsettling but genius cartoon of my youth! This comic book, about a terminally-ill boy being accidentally sent to the Underworld and unlocking his True Potential(R), is equally funny, slightly disturbing, and poignant in its exploration of death, love, and family.
Honestly, I thought the book could’ve been much longer – it’s even a rich enough world that if I were an executive at Nickolodeon or Cartoon Network, I’d want to option it for a series a la Gravity Falls or Over the Garden Wall. Many of the plot elements that are only sketched here – the main character Garth’s terminal disease, for example, or the Supernatural Immigration Task Force agent’s relationship with Claire Voyant, or the Task Force’s history itself – could stand to be greatly expanded, and I think the author’s thought them through enough that they’d make great additions to the story. The politics of the Underworld are complex, as well: it seems like the kind of place where all dead from all time go, so dinosaurs and mummies coexist with people who aren’t even technically alive yet, in the linear timeline of the mortal world. Also, the mortal characters have ghost-like powers in the Underworld (it turns out that it’s different physics in the Under- and Overworlds that enable ghosts to fly and walk through walls), and I think that’d be great to further explore.
I guess what I’m saying is that this book is great, I really enjoyed it, but I would’ve loved to have been reading it for much longer. Maybe I’ll write Mr. TenNapel and see if anything is in the works for this story!