forlorn, grave-digging skeleton stars in this macabre adventure, originally published in Green's webcomic, Gunshow. Life in the graveyard isn't great for the gravedigger: it's lonely, for one thing, and his father's angry ghost is still hanging around to criticize his work and his habit of talking to his mother's bones, which he keeps in a living-room cabinet. When he wakes to find the bones missing one day, he is certain his father is to blame, so the gravedigger embarks on a journey to hell (with the help of a charming mole) to find them. While this all might sound grim and gory, Green keeps it light with silly jokes, cartoonish figures, and some great slapstick comedy, particularly when the gravedigger inadvertently mucks up just about every situation he steps in. For all its comedy, however, the gravedigger's quest, which is ultimately about reconciliation, is a heartening one. While the madcap antics, mild violence, and grim laughs mark this for older teens, some of the more mature emotional turns might give it some adult appeal as well.
Originally published as part of Green's Gunshow
webcomic, this story follows a tormented gravedigger's journey toward letting go of the past and finding reasons to keep living-and digging. Green's ghoulish gravedigger has the sickly pallor, hollow eyes, and nasal cavity of a skeleton,
and he's being haunted by the ghost of his father, who offers helpful advice like, "Graves could hold more bones if you dug less like an asshole." The gravedigger's anger toward his father only intensifies when the ghost makes off with his late wife's bones, which the gravedigger had been keeping in his house.
What follows is a strange, painful subterranean trip to hell and back involving gelatinous bandits, a mole companion with sage advice, a town of worms, and the exorcising of literal and figurative demons. Green injects plenty of dark humor and cartoon violence into the story (corpses pile up in the gravedigger's absence, along with pleading notes from the police), but simmering emotional anguish is never far from the surface. Green seems keenly aware of the unresolved resentments that many teenagers (and adults) have toward their parents.
Gr 9 Up—Sons dealing with the ghosts of their demanding fathers is not new—think Hamlet. Where this graphic novel differs is the simplicity of the tale—the gravedigger (he has no other name) must travel to hell to retrieve the bones of his mother, stolen by that demanding ghost of a father. As with any quest, the gravedigger has a guide, the mole, and faces his share of roadblocks, from hijacking slime to government plots. In the end, will the gravedigger gain the independence he so greatly desires? The artwork is colorful and utterly gross, which will appeal to fans of the "Cthulhu Tales" (Boom Studios) graphic novels. Green, known for his "Gunshow" webcomics, creates an absurd, though not unfamiliar, quest story. Frequent profanity makes this more appropriate for older readers. The work has lots of humor along with a ghoulish vibe. VERDICT A fun supplemental purchase.—Sarah Knutson, American Canyon Middle School, CA