Possessions, Book One: Unclean Getaway
written by Ray Fawkes
Gurgazon the Unclean might look like a little five-year-old girl, but The Gurgazon is actually a pit demon: evil, foul, and unholy. When she is sent to the Llewellyn-Vane House for Captured Spirits and Ghostly Curiosities, her thoughts are focused only on escape. Well, that and killing and eating the souls of all the other beings trapped in the house with her. But the other spirits seem to have accepted their fate and resigned themselves to captivity. Is Gurgazon doomed to an eternity of croquet and ice cream?
Fawkes’ graphic novel walks the line between horror and humor, with just the right touch of action and gross-out moments to appeal to younger readers. None of the ghouls are particularly terrifying. There’s a haunted jukebox, a headless maiden, a poltergeist who can only be seen as she manipulates the objects around her or writes on the walls and the Ice Field Lights, who is a glowing ball of light. Manning the place is Mr. Thorne, the butler who has an almost supernatural ability to be around any time an inmate might be attempting a breakout. Readers meet this cast of oddballs as Gurgazon explodes into their lives. As she tries again and again for freedom, we learn more about the spirits she now lives with. Though adult readers might find the idea of accepting imprisonment to be a bit disturbing, kids reading this series will simple enjoy watching Gurgazon try—and fail—to escape again and again. Along the way, Fawkes’ writing is sharp and funny for readers of all ages, with lines like: “Gurgazon appreciates your sarcasm and will remember it fondly when Gurgazon eats your head.”
The art is presented in a black, white, and green palette which will be familiar to readers of children’s comics like Babymouse or Kit Feeny. Fawkes’ drawing style is loose and rather chaotic, which fits with Gurgazon’s chaotic personality. Occasionally it can be difficult to keep the action straight, especially when trying to differentiate between the two spirits who lack bodies, the poltergeist and the Ice Field Lights. But Fawkes nails it where it matters, especially towards the end when Gurgazon puts a master escape plan into effect. There his timing is impeccable and the whole story is brought neatly to a humorous close. There is a good deal of comedic and cartoon violence, as well as some not-too-graphic projectile vomiting on the part of Gurgazon. But nothing is inappropriate for an older elementary school audience, as long as horror humor is acceptable in your library’s collection.-- Snow Wildsmith