Brody's Ghost, Volume 1


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Brody's Ghost, Volume 1


  • Words: Mark Crilley
  • Art: Mark Crilley
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
  • Price: $6.99
  • Release Date: Jul 14, 2010

Brody’s Ghost is, above all else, the journey of a reluctant hero. The protagonist of this volume is the title’s namesake, Brody, and there isn’t anyone in the world more reluctant than he. He’s been moping through life for months ever since his girlfriend dumped him. He shaves sporadically, he won’t cut his hair, and his overall style choices leave much to be desired.

So do his various careers—and there are many. Some days he sadly peddles with his strumming guitar on street corners, while other days he’s stocking shelves or ringing cash registers. He cares about nothing. His best buddy Gabriel, one of the good cops (are there really so many bad ones out there in the world?) tells Brody over and over again that he needs to just get over his ex. But he won’t. Moping appears to be his destiny.

Until, of course, he sees a ghost float out of a van one day while he’s playing his guitar for loose change. Her name is Talia, and she claims she’s been looking for someone just like him. Not because of his looks—he’s far too scruffy for her. No, she’s been searching for someone who can see and communicate with spirits. It’s a rare gift, and Brody has it. And so, the call to adventure is sounded.

Throughout the story up until this point, creator Mark Crilley has smartly used a lot of silent panels to pull his story along. I admire this; of late, I’ve been reading a lot of books that over-explain themselves. Oftentimes, a well-tuned image is all that is needed in order to keep a narrative fluid. I suspect at times that writers are compelled to fill their books with narration boxes because they need to prove to their readers that they’re actually doing something, and their prose on the page is the proof. But read any script from a skilled writer, and he or she is clearly calling all of the shots of everything that is seen on the page.

Crilley doesn’t have this problem since he’s both the writer and the artist. He’s been at work for a while now; having both written and illustrated books like Akiko and Miki Falls, but this is the first time I’ve read anything by him. His style is obviously influenced by the arts-and-entertainment scene of Japan, which I sometimes find to be a lame marketing stunt on the part of American creators in order to cash in on the success of manga and anime in this country.

But not so with Crilley: he truly loves this style. The features and builds of his characters resemble Japanese-influenced characters, but his strict, geometrical panels (for the most part) are clearly of American and British inspiration. His lines are also heavier, where a lot of manga has finer strokes, adding a different dimension of detail than what Crilley is trying to do.

The story of Brody’s Ghost is a simple one, but it’s engaging, and that’s all that ultimately matters. It’s very much character-driven, and I’m interested in the figures of the story and what their purposes are. Brody doesn’t just meet a ghost—she needs his help. For unknown reasons, Talia wasn’t permitted into Heaven after dying of leukemia; her ticket into the pearly gates is to solve a murder mystery. But she can’t interact with the physical world, and she’ll need Brody’s help if the task will succeed.

Brody’s Ghost is a small “graphic novel” just under hundred pages, but it’s the first in a series of six. Books like this have a single acid test that determines their success or failure: Do I care enough to read the next installment? In the case of this comic, the answer is definitely yes. I await the second volume with excitement.

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