The Dead Boy Detectives
Jill Thompson brings together Sandman characters and shôjo manga in The Dead Boy Detectives. Charles Rowland and Edwin Paine are two British schoolboys who happen to be ghosts and who love investigating mysteries. They’re asked for help by Annika, a student at a prestigious Chicago boarding school, when her roommate goes missing.
There’s a ton of entertainment in this packed original graphic novel, with jokes, character work, clues, and atmospheric illustration. Thompson does a terrific job capturing elements of the genre, from beautiful men to cartoonish exaggeration. Although ghosts, the boys are still young enough in attitude to naturally have a wide-eyed sense of discovery, especially when it comes to the many young women they wind up hanging around with.
The boys visit the girls’ school, leading to moments of farce, fashion, flashback, danger (every school has bullies), soul-sharing, and even investigation. The solution to the mystery explains everything, although it relies on a previously non-introduced element to tie it all together, but it’s a wonderful book and thrilling read with lots of crossover potential. I can just see an older Sandman reader and her younger manga-loving sister enjoying it together.