Over a decade after the original televised mini-series and the novel it spawned, Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere has found new life in comic form — but not scripted by Gaiman himself. That honor has gone to Mike Carey, writer for the Vertigo series Lucifer and Crossing Midnight, with Glenn Fabry (Preacher, Hellblazer) providing the artwork. Gaiman did serve as consultant for the project. In his introduction, Carey remarks on the difficulty of adapting a novel to comic format, noting that some scenes have been moved around, some cut, dialogue changed to accommodate both, and the omission of a character. His hope is that fans of the original will appreciate the decisions that were made and the final result.
And by and large, they probably will. The dialogue definitely isn’t the same (a quick comparison of scenes with the novel confirms that), and yes, scenes aren’t necessarily quite in order, but Carey and Fabry still manage to capture the essence of Gaiman’s quirky fantasy, the memorable characters and his marvelous London Below, in a condensed format. There’s not much time to linger over scenes or dialogue because the plot pretty much hurtles forward at a breakneck speed from when hapless Richard Mayhew picks up wounded Door on a rainy London street to the story’s conclusion. But despite this lean format and rapid pace, Carey’s crafted a script that keeps enough of the original while reworking it to a new format to pass muster.
Fabry’s artwork is vibrant and bold, with sturdy, memorable characterization, though a couple of interpretations are a little surprising, such as Door, who is rather more a solid-seeming punker than Gaiman’s original prose suggested (she’s described as being light, and having short, dark red hair and mismatched eyes — here she has a keyhole tattooed over one eye and dark braids; and, truthfully, looks like she could kick some serious ass). And the Marquis literally has ebon skin, rather than simply being dark complected. Croup and Vandemar are suitably creepy, though, and Hunter and Islington both beautifully statuesque in their own ways. In lieu of Gaiman’s wonderful descriptions of the Floating Market or other locations in London Below, readers are treated to panels bursting at the seams with Fabry’s detail. It’s a good trade-off for the graphic novel format.
Readers new to the world of Neverwhere will easily be drawn into Carey and Fabry’s taken on Gaiman’s creation, and fans of the original will likely find enough of the humour and charm of the novel and mini-series to enjoy here.