Neil Gaiman’s Troll Bridge – Advanced Review
Story by Neil Gaiman
Art by Colleen Doran
Published by Dark Horse Books
I was not mentally prepared to read this graphic novel. I am familiar with Neil Gaiman’s work having and just recently read American Gods. I wandered into this story with open eyes and Neil Gaiman’s story and Colleen Doran’s art still manage to both surprise and disconcert me.
The story is about a boy who has a chance encounter with a Troll under a bridge on a sunny summer day. The Troll wants to eat the young boy’s life but the clever boy convinces the Troll that he hasn’t lived enough life for him to be much of a meal. He hasn’t even learned to whistle, not really. The Troll lets him leave but you probably guessed that this isn’t their last encounter. I won’t tell you anymore details of the plot. I wouldn’t want to diminish the experience for you.
Rarely have I read a comic book or any book for that matter that left me stunned. After reading the final page I immediately turned back to the first page intent on reading it again and found that I couldn’t. I sat there staring at the page, the beautiful watercolor artwork of Colleen Doran for a long moment and then closed the book. I wasn’t ready to go through that again. What started out as a beautiful fantasy tale of a young boy exploring the woods and fields during his summer break from school left me feeling solemn and emotionally drained.
Colleen Doran’s artwork in this book is the perfect complement to Gaiman’s writing. Her use of more vibrant watercolors to represent youth that slowly drain from the book as the main characters ages is subtle and effective. The layouts avoid the use of breaks and sharp lines and often blend into one another adding to the fantastical qualities of the story and seem to make a statement about the passage of time. Gaiman’s writing at times is intimate, verging on sexual and Doran artwork reinforces this subtly but unquestionably.
I highly recommend this graphic novel but please, when you read it, take your time. Explore each beautiful page that Colleen Doran has created, especially while the main character is young and the world is full of hope and fancy. His youth may seem whimsical but like everyone’s it is gone too soon. And trust me, that feeling of solemn self-reflection afterword, it’s perfectly normal.