This week’s comic review list included, to my pleasant surprise, a lengthy comic book by Neil Gaiman, titled “Troll Bridge.” One look at the art, and I saw a unique story, lacking the usual superheros, dialog bubbles, and SMASH texts. I decided to give it a try.
At the end, I felt slightly disoriented. Perhaps the story had pulled me in more than I usually let a comic book, with an ending that was so strange, unique, and unexpected, that it left me with a whirling mind, trying to figure out whether I liked it or not.
Okay, I’ll tell you what it’s all about. You’re dying to know after all, I can tell.
This little boy loves to explore. But little does he know he will find something beyond his wildest nightmares, something worse than the haunted mansion by his house: a troll under the bridge who wants to eat his life. Three times, the boy encounters the troll. The first time, he gets away with the excuse that he’ll come back next time, bigger and juicier. The troll accepts. The second time, he arrives with his girlfriend, whom the troll freezes. The third time, he is a grown man, an adult, with no life worth living. This time, the man lets the troll eat his life. When this happens, this man becomes a troll, and the troll becomes himself and walks away. The little boy, the man, who is now a troll, sits under the bridge, and does not ever come out.
What I loved about this comic is that it was so different from all the other comics I’ve read. 1) There were no superheros, action, or violence. Yeah, try to imagine a comic without all that. Gaiman pulled it off incredibly well. Also 2) it was told in first person. FIRST PERSON. Have you ever read a comic like that? The text bubbles were following the main character around, but instead of dialog in the bubbles, it was his thoughts. In fact, the whole comic was basically a short story, but with more illustration than text. I thought it was genius. 3) The art was beautiful. The artist, Colleen Doran, put a lot of time and skill into making the comic a beautiful story. 4) An actual novelist wrote this comic. Neil Gaiman, people. He’s an amazing writer and he’s written so many different stuff, including well known fantasy and science fiction novels, short stories, screenplays, scripts, and even some Doctor Who episodes. He also gave a speech called “Make Good Art,” an inspirational and motivating message to all creators of art, which I loved. Not only is he a writer, but he’s a GOOD writer, which made all the difference with this comic, Troll Bridge. 5) I liked how the story was unique, but that it also had nods to the fairy tale Three Goats Gruff, but it is the same person that comes each time, and each time he gets older and bigger, with more life experience. At the end, instead of getting eaten, he becomes the troll. Yes, that’s the disorienting part. Me no like … which brings us to our …
There were plenty of things I found in this comic that helped me decide easily enough not to read it again. 1) THIS IS NOT A CHILDREN’S COMIC. The cover and the art and the way it started out leads one to think this may be a children’s story, but no. The boy grows older, he becomes a teenager, and later a man. There are a lot of adult themes with mentions of sex, divorce, and other things that I don’t think anyone should approve of, child or adult. This really sort of ruined it for me because at first it was going swimmingly. Also 2) the art in some sections was slightly creepy, and I don’t think the artist even intended it to be in those certain areas. Of course the troll was creepy, but there was a scene where the little boy was happy and running, but the art for that panel creeped me out. No idea why. 3) The story is pretty dark. Very dark, actually. The boy, Jack, doesn’t marry his girlfriend, but marries someone else and has a kid, but the wife divorces him, so Jack decides to leave his house and walk nowhere … well, to the bridge, where the troll is waiting for him, and the troll … eats … his life … which ends up with Jack becoming the troll and the troll becoming Jack. Which is interesting in a way, but it struck me as more twisted and creepy at the time.
So, summed up, I’d give this comic a 2 star rating out of 5. If you happen to really like Neil Gaiman and his weirdness and finding out that he wrote this comic means the world to you, then go ahead, you may enjoy it. But for those of you who are like me and don’t exactly appreciate the twisted sort of weirdness that is common in Troll Bridge, consider this read carefully before diving in.
Have you read this comic or want to? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to share on the social media!