Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol is a charming book that fans of ghost stories and graphic novels will find refreshing. Not all graphic novels have to look like they came out of How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way. It’s nice to see alternative styles flourish in the post-comic shop world. I picked this book up when it was first released. I found it delightful from cover to cover. It well deserves the Eisner Award it received.
Frustrated Anya finds herself at the bottom of a hole and in the presence of a ghost. When Anya is rescued, somehow the ghost’s little finger hitches a ride. This allows the ghost to leave the hole for the first time in 90 years. At first Anya is outraged and irritated, but soon she sees the benefits of having a ghost around.
Cheating on tests was never so easy. Soon the ghost gets to work making Anya’s life perfect. The only problem is that the ghost isn’t too interested in what Anya actually wants. Then one day Anya learns the ghost’s secret, but not before the ghost becomes a deadly poltergeist.
Anya felt real to me. She was immensely relatable despite the fact we don’t share smoking in common, and that I’m not a teenage girl. This was due to Brosgol’s wonderful facial expressions. The faces were so emotive and dramatic—easy to read. All of the characters in the book felt real to me because of this.
Anya’s story arc took her from a selfish rebel ashamed of her heritage to a caring person who began to see that the world she was ashamed of had more value than the superficial world she wanted to belong to. This didn’t come easy. Anya was a real stinker in the beginning. There wasn’t much she liked, but I believe Brosgol’s art style gave the story, and especially Anya, a light touch, and prevented it from being too dark and angry. Meanwhile, Emily the ghost didn’t change so much as peel the veneer away bit by bit.
The art style is cartoony because Brosgol makes her living as a story board artist. I was impressed how consistent her art remained over the four year period it took her to illustrate this story. Many panels were wordless and yet still communicated pain, suspense, and emotion on many levels. The points of view were varied and her pacing was perfect. Anya’s Ghost is an impressive display of sequential art with a solid story to go along with it. I highly recommend it.
Release Date: June 7, 2011 (USA)
ISBNs: 1596437138 (1596437135)
Publisher: First Second
Alcohol/Drugs: 3 (underage smoking, underage drinking)
Language: 1 (mild, deity)
Sexuality: 1 (implied underage sex)
Violence: 2 (menace, threats of death, murder)