We all know the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff, walking over the bridge and facing off against the grumpy old troll using brains and a little bit of brawn, right? Well, just file that under “childhood”, and step into Neil Gaiman’s world, where trolls and bridges bring a different story entirely. His reimagining of the classic tale, now known as Troll Bridge, tells the story of a young boy who comes face to face with a troll, and manages to use the old, “wait until I get bigger and am more to eat” line. You think, once he got away, that would be that, right? NOPE. The troll and boy will cross paths several times throughout his life; each time, you learn a little more about the boy than you may want to.
What else is there to say here? It’s Neil. Colleen Doran gave life to this graphic adaptation of Neil’s short story from the brilliant Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions (2005). Neil writes in the first person, always leaving me to wonder if there’s not just a grain of truth in his storytelling – come on, you know you think it, too. It’s spooky, and yet, ultimately very sad and filled with regret. You’ll need a moment when you finish this, and that’s okay.
Colleen Doran is a great artist to adapt a story like this. Her illustrations look back to the illustrations in spooky novels I read as a kid; mine were in black and white, but here, Doran gives us twisted, gnarled branches and crumbling homes rising out of a mist all in color, perfect settings for such a tale. Treat yourself and pick up Troll Bridge, it hits stores today.
Troll Bridge, by Neil Gaiman/Illustrated by Colleen Doran, (Oct. 2016, Dark Horse Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9781506700083