Friday, August 17, 2007

Death: The High Cost of Living

Death: The High Cost of Living, by Neil Gaiman
$10.39 at Amazon.com
ISBN: 1563891336
Death: The High Cost is a comic book, or "graphic novel" as it's called when it costs more than five bucks. It's worth every penny, though, in this outrageous tale in which a sixteen-year-old boy gets to spend a day with Death. Who, as it turns out, resembles a sixteen-year-old girl.
Renowned for his Sandman comic book series and for the popular British tv show Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman is the "author" I cite here. His writing is enriched by the artwork of Chris Bachalo, Mike Buckingham, Dave McKean, and a host of other talented people necessary to create a comic book this awesome.
The hero of our st
ory is a young man named Sexton. Like most adolescents, he's depressed all the time and thinking about killing himself. While wandering through one of New York City's many trash piles, he's nearly crushed by a discarded refrigerator, and rescued by a girl who calls herself Didi. She offers him some antiseptic for his wounds in her nearby apartment, and Sexton gratefully accepts. So our peculiar tale begins.
Didi claims she's the living incarnation of
Death, or something to that effect. Naturally Sexton thinks she's a nut-job, but grateful to her for rescuing him and tending his wounds, so the two spend the day together.
What's surprising is that Gaiman's created a story that's all about
death, but it's never depressing. Didi is sweet and friendly, but has a lot of strange things happening around her. This makes Sexton suspicious that there may be more to her story than simple lunacy. For example, local vendors keep giving her their services for free. She has acquaintances in the neighborhood, but apparently no family. Weird.
There's also a creepy old blind man living in a basement, and an obviously insane old hag named "Mad Hettie", who kills doves and reads tea leaves for prophetic powers.
In short, this is a really fascinating story full of exciting characters.
The illustration is amazing, and for once Death gets depicted as the nice guy. Fans of the Sandman series realize Didi's story is no bull: she really is the Grim Reaper herself. If you enjoy this graphic novel, you may find you also like the rest of the series.
This is the perfect storytelling: there's excitement, terror, lots of fun characters, and you'll become more curious with each page until the satisfying conclusion. Check it out!

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