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Comic Book / Ghostopolis

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I don't think we're in Turlock anymore, Skinny.

Ghostopolis is a graphic novel written and illustrated by Doug TenNapel. Clocking in at 272 pages, it ties with Earthboy Jacobus for being his longest book. Unlike most of his comics, this one is published by Scholastic's Graphix imprint rather than by Image. Along with Gear and Solomon Fix, it's one of his few comics that's been printed in color and the first one that was not initially published in black and white.

Basically, it tells the story of a young, terminally-ill boy named Garth Hale, a cynical paranormal investigator named Frank Gallows, and the fateful day their lives intertwined... and the madcap adventure that resulted.

Apparently, Hugh Jackman is either a fan of TenNapel's or got an advanced copy because, before the book was even released, it was reported that he'll be producing and starring in a feature-length adaptation. If this is true, he'll almost certainly be playing Garth.

Despite the similar title, it should not — in any way — be confused with Ghost World, nor should it be confused with the tropes Ghost Town or Ghost City.

This work contains examples of:

  • Always Chaotic Evil: Vaugner's anthropomorphic insects, which he summoned from the underworld to be his minions.
  • The Antichrist: Vaugner, the charismatic and sinister leader who promised the ghost world unity under his rule and also serves as the Big Bad of the story.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Claire becomes the new ruler of the afterlife (or rather, the interim version of the afterlife that comes between Earth and Heaven).
  • Big Bad: Vaugner, the corrupt leader of Ghostopolis who manipulated his way to the top and now seeks to capture Garth.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Vaugner has an army of anthropomorphic, human-sized insects. He also has an enormous firefly which provides electric power for Ghostopolis.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In his gigantic form and with the help of Frank, Garth defeats the giant Vaugner, but at the cost of Frank's own life, making him a ghost. However, now Frank can stick around with his ghost girlfriend, Claire, who takes over the late Bone King's role as the new Lord of the Afterlife. Also, it turns out Garth will be cured of his incurable disease, according to his future son, which means that he will be reunited with his mother back home.
  • Black Market: A very unique one is mentioned that trades information on the living world
  • Break Her Heart to Save Her: According to her uncle, this is why Frank left Claire; he was afraid his bosses would find out and banish her back to Ghostopolis.
  • Creator Thumbprint: Like many TenNapel yarns, this one's got monsters, Christian undertones, a speechless, heavily silhouetted final page and the obligatory scene with a cat.
  • Creepy Cockroach: Lockjaw, The Dragon, is an anthropomorphic, human-sized cockroach.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: Joe, a mysterious Tuskagee pilot rumored to have built Ghostopolis. He constructed everything, including the apparent natural features like mountains and forests along with the city, has stigmata wounds, can heal the sick and is also about twelve feet tall.
  • Dead All Along: Inverted. Vaugner appear to have died but he was alive all along.
  • Deader than Dead: It's possible for a ghost to be disintegrated by immense energy or the rayguns Vaunger's forces use. This is treated like a second death.
  • Demoted to Extra: Skinny starts out as Garth's sole companion, but then gets pushed to the sidelines until the end of the story
  • The Dragon: Lockjaw is Vaugner's top enforcer, and seemingly the most intelligent of Vaugner's bug minions.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: It turns out that Garth will be cured of his incurable disease and will raise a son in the future.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Any still-living person who winds up in Ghostopolis has the potential to be this, not that they all do, though.
  • Freudian Excuse: Vaugner accidentally ended up a living person in the afterlife as a child, away from all his family. After mastering his powers, he set himself up as sole ruler of Ghostopolis, never really growing up in the process.
  • Gentle Giant: Joe, the Tuskagee Airman who built Ghostopolis, is much larger than any person and is said to be twelve feet tall.
  • Healthy in Heaven: Ghosts can retain their physical impairments in the afterlife, but before being shepherded to what's heavily implied to be Heaven, all travelers are healed before entering.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Benedict Arnold first appears as an antagonistic ghost that Frank must catch. He later helps the heroes by pretending to lead Vaugner and his army to Garth, only to lead them away. But Benedict later comes back and betrays the heroes' location to Vaugner for real. Benedict claims it's "in his nature" to be a traitor.
  • Humongous Mecha: Garth transforms into a giant robot during the final battle.
  • I Choose to Stay: Happens to Frank Grimes, as he is now a ghost after his Heroic Sacrifice, so that he can be forever with his ghost girlfriend Claire.
  • Kid Hero: Garth looks to be around 10 or 11.
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: Garth is a young boy who is dying of an unspecified terminal illness. Fortunately it turns out that a cure will be discovered before it kills him, and he'll go on to start a family.
  • Meaningful Name: Frank Gallows is a ghost hunter. He later dies and becomes a ghost himself.
  • Messianic Archetype: The architect of Ghostopolis, Joe, is implied to be Jesus Christ, what with his carpentry skills to construct the entirety of Ghostopolis, his stigmata wounds and healing infirmed souls before shepherding them into what's implied to be Heaven.
  • Disappeared Dad: Garth's dad ran away. He started another family in Florida, but Garth believes he left them as well.
  • Monochromatic Eyes: Vaugner and Joe both have pupil-less white eyes.
  • Older Than They Look: Cecil looks approximately 10 years old, despite being the ghost of a 60-to-70-year old man. He gradually realizes his true age over the course of the story.
  • One-Winged Angel: In the climax, Vaugner assimilates the buildings of Ghostopolis into the form of a giant version of himself. Garth does the same to fight back.
  • One-Word Title: "Ghostopolis"
  • The Place: The book is named after the titular city.
  • The Power of Hate: The source of Vaugner's immense strength during his fight against Garth.
  • Residual Self-Image: Ghosts can appear whatever age they want, literally only as old as they feel. Garth meets his grandfather who initially takes the form of a child, but after meeting him undergoes Rapid Aging until realizing his true age in the end.
  • The Reveal
    • It starts as if Vaugner is dead. He isn't dead
    • A minor one occurs near the beginning. When she first appears, it isn't immediately clear that Claire is actually a ghost...until she suddenly starts floating.
  • Revenge: Vaugner wants to kill Garth, regardless of whether-or-not he's an actual threat, because that's the best way he knows of to hurt Claire.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Not much is ever revealed about Claire's personality other than that she has conflicting feelings for Frank.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Aside from the government having the technology to make round-trip expeditions into the afterlife, Garth and Frank's world really isn't anymore different or advanced than our own.