Review: Tim Burton’s the Nightmare Before Christmas: Zero’s Journey

Review: Tim Burton’s the Nightmare Before Christmas: Zero’s JourneyTim Burton's the Nightmare Before Christmas: Zero's Journey
by D.J. Milky, Dan Conner, David Hutchison, Kei Ishiyama
Publisher: TokyoPop
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Genres: Graphic Novel
Pages: 112
Source: NetGalley

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

My rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

When Jack Skellington's faithful pet Zero gets lost, the ghost pup must get the help of the residents of Christmas Town to find his way back. With Halloween plans on hold while Jack mounts a search, will they be reunited in time to save both holidays?

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4 stars icon graphic-novel halloween

First off: apologies for the crappy images, but Disney apparently felt the need to heavily watermark the comic as well as adding text indicating this was a review copy to every page.  I don’t feel right reviewing a graphic novel without including some examples, though, so I’m presenting them as is.

This is a collection of the first five issues of the comic book series, so just a note that this is not a complete story, as such.  As part of the celebrations for the 25th anniversary of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Disney decided to release a children’s manga featuring a new story set after the movie.  Considering I’ve just spent the past week watching the movie once a day with my kids, I figured this would be the perfect Halloween activity with them.  The basic premise is that Jack is working on a new device that will connect all of the holiday portals.  While playing with Zero, it’s accidentally activated and Zero falls in – unbeknownst to Jack.  While Zero explores his new surroundings, Jack and the rest of Halloween Town search for Zero.

First off, it’s truly a Japanese-style manga, which means it’s read from what we’d consider the back to the front, and on each page from right to left, top to bottom.  This was a difficult for my son to grasp at first (as a beginning reader, he’s had left-to-right drilled into his head) but he adapted after the first ten pages or so.  Some pages – like Zero’s adventures in Christmas Town – have very few words and are perfect for pre-readers.  Since the movie was a musical, there are even portions that are written in rhyming verse, which was a touch that delighted my kids.

We get to see a return of many of our favorites (Oh no, Jack, are you really going to trust Oogie Boogie’s Boys AGAIN?!?!) as well as visit familiar places (gotta love a montage!), but the new characters and places are what really stood out to me.  While this portion was set in Christmas Town, I’m hoping that we’ll get to explore another holiday with Zero in a different volume!

I love the art.  It’s reminiscent of the movie without being a complete carbon copy.  I’ve chosen to highlight panels from Halloween Town, as I’m sure most people who are looking to pick this up want to see how familiar scenes were reimagined as manga, but the color choices for Christmas Town were particularly excellent.  My kids’ favorite parts were the sections from Zero’s POV, and they loved how expressive he and the other animals were.  The details on some of those scenes are just exquisite, and my son frequently had to stop me when I was ready to advance to the next page because he was still looking everything over.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this with my kids as part of our Halloween activities.  If you or your children are fans of Nightmare Before Christmas, you will love this book!  I’ll definitely be buying a hard copy for my kids, and will be looking forward to the next volume!

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