When there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who’re you gonna call?
How about three kids with a fascination for ghost stories.
The Ghosts of Pineville, by Sarah L. Turner.
Pineville has its ghost stories. The strange disappearance of local boy Simon Stillwater has become one of them. It is said he was abducted by the ghost Emily VanWart to be part of her collection of souls, but what if there’s more to the story? What if it’s not a story at all? Follow Chopper, Hank, and Glory, three children from the small town of Pineville, as they discover the truth about their hometown.
Chopper Sweeney is just like any boy growing up in 1950’s Kentucky, but, after the loss of his father, being the only man of the household has shouldered him with a sense of stern responsibility that most 12 year-olds don’t have to live with. While he’s initially skeptical about things like ghosts and hauntings, the sudden appearance of Simon Stillwater’s ghost in his room quickly has him wondering what the truth really is… and just who else can come back from the other side.
Hank Goode is Chopper’s tried-and-true best friend. Although he may be more frightened of ghosts (and girls) than he’d like to let on, he’s generally cheery and doesn’t shy away from ghost-hunting with Chopper. However, Chopper’s growing obsession with Simon’s disappearance threatens to drive a wedge between him and Hank, who may actually be hiding an inner turmoil of his own. Despite his fear and anxiety, Hank is the kind of person who sticks by his friends no matter what, especially when they need him to.
Having been raised by her father and older brother, Glory Roberts is the neighborhood tomboy. Even though she’s into zombies, fishing, and all the other things Chopper and Hank are into, she’s never really talked with them before they enlist her help in investigating the Vanwarren house. Despite some initial friction, she and Chopper manage to bond over their shared loss of a parent, which resonates deeply between them. Self-assured yet sensitive, Glory isn’t the kind of girl to keep up with the boys – they keep up with her.
The art for TGoP is wonderful; simple, stylish, satisfyingly detailed, yet fluid enough to obviously be a kid-friendly series. Turner makes nice use of shadows and silhouettes when the scene calls for it and as this is a story about investigating ghosts, it’s called for quite often. The character designs are appealing and distinct; I like Chopper’s body-spanning freckles, Hank’s worried, round eyes, and Glory’s puffy sleeves, tomboyish overalls, and self-sure expression.
The writing is just as expressive and natural as the art. The main characters speak and act like kids their age; they have fun and joke around, but they also feel things just as deeply as any adult – y’know, like real kids do. The pacing and progression is smooth. It manages to hit all the right notes for a Goonies style story of young kids investigating a haunted house without feeling tiring – spooky ghost scenes are interspersed with equally engaging character moments.The characters are emotionally deep, likable, and (perhaps most importantly) relatable, so that when the tension mounts and danger closes in, we are genuinely happy to see them come out of it OK.
Thoughtful, emotionally engaging characters, exemplary plot development, appealing artwork, and an all-ages-friendly story makes The Ghosts of Pineville one of the most enjoyable series I have the pleasure of recommending to those of you still haunting this blog. Head towards the link at the top and give it a read.
The Ghosts of Pineville is written and drawn by Sarah L. Turner. This comic, including all images used here, belongs to her. Both Book 1 and Book 2 are available in print editions along with other works by the same creator. Book 3 is scheduled to come out in 2014.