Sunday, May 06, 2007

I Love Coraline

A couple of months ago, between the madness of revisions and the madness of co-authoring a paper, I picked up and read Coraline, a young readers' book by Neil Gaiman (graphic novel/scifi/fantasy author of Sandman, MirrorMask, and Stardust). I absolutely loved it, and have been haunted by its ambiance and themes, particular moments and phrases, ever since. The book's been out for awhile (2002), and I remember it receiving quite a bit of publicity after it won a string of awards in 2003, including the Hugo Award for Best Novella, the Nebula Award for Best Novella, the Bram Stoker Award for Best Work for Young Readers.

The story is something of a scary fairy tale, or fantasy/horror for kids, and has been compared to Alice in Wonderland and Gaiman's own MirrorMask. I really appreciate it for its originality, however, and think that it might represent an emerging "girls' horror" genre within kids' culture. Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the under-12 set. Coraline reminded me quite a bit of another wonderful find from a couple of years ago, Ted Naifeh's Courtney Crumrin graphic novel series. Both feature creepy, neo-Gothic narratives with a supernatural twist, and both feature strong, smart and believable little girls as heroines.

Interestingly, both of Coraline and the first installment of the Courtney Crumrin series, Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things, are currently being adapted into feature films, both of which are set for a 2008 release. I can see a connection between these film projects and the recent entry of the "girls horror" genre onto kids' TV, like Ruby Gloom, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends (which has a large female following), Pretty Freakin Scary, Frankenstein's Cat, AOL's Scary Fairies, etc. We can also find the genre popping up in digital games, most notably in Rule of Rose. And we shouldn't forget consumer brand Emily the Strange, which was perhaps the first real effort to capitalize on girls' love of gothic horror themes.

You can read chapter one of Coraline here.


Izzy Neis said...

And don't forget the Edgar & Ellen series of books (Humorous Gothic) & cartoons on Nicktoons. :P hahaha.

Jo Bling said...

Hey Sara

Just a quick hello - not sure what you've seen of FRANKENSTEINS CAT - I'm the creator. Kicks off on TV in September in the UK. Do call by and say hi though :-)