Murder Mysteries by Neil Gaiman

I love to see stories told in two different mediums – a book turned into a movie, to use the most common example. It excites me to see how the story is changed to fit the new medium. I do have to have a period of separation from the old medium before experiencing the new, but as long as I have that, I can (generally) appreciate the new wholeheartedly. As long as it’s good, of course.

t3702Murder Mysteries by Neil Gaiman is one of the more unusual examples. Gaiman wrote it originally as an audio play and P. Craig Russell adapted it as a graphic novel. It is the tale of a man stuck in LA, revisiting a strange part of his past, who meets another man, who begins to tell him a story. It is the story of the angel Raguel, the Vengeance of the Lord, who is summoned for his first mission after another angel dies. Gaiman creates a breathtaking place, before the world was created, a silver city that exists and the darkness outside of it.

It is a wonderful story both in the graphic novel and audio play, but this review is not as much about the story (though you should definitely read/hear it) as it is about the different experiences the mediums produce.  I heard the audio play first, and as is so often the case, I think I prefer my original experience. Because it is an audio play, and not an audio book, there are different actors, sound effects, etc. This is wonderfully effective. I am a visual person, so one might think that the graphic novel would inspire me more, but the audip play actually enabled me to imagine the visuals while filling in all the blanks that I am less able to imagine. That is my own bias, but I also think the audio play might fit the story and setting better. It is set, as I said, in a silver city surrounded by darkness. I wasn’t terribly impressed with the portrayal of the city or how it fades into darkness. I imagined a much more classical architecture in the city whereas the drawings depicted it as much more futuristic or modern. I also, when listening to the play, only imagined the Darkness from the perspective of the city. The graphic novel pulls out to give a wide view of the city and the darkness beyond and it was less than inspiring for me. The only other objection I have for the graphic novel is that the angels are so human and so male. The voices, of course, are also male in the play, but because they are described as sexless and because I had no objecting visuals, I allowed myself to think of them as much more androgynous or at least had the ability to populate the silver city with more female looking angels. I lacked that when reading the book and it frustrated me.


With those caveats, I wholeheartedly loved both versions of this story. I have the audio play on my computer and would be happy to share it if anybody wants it. I can make CDs for those of you in my area or I could just share it online.


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