Written by Mike Carey
Art by Glenn Fabry
Available now from Islington Libraries
You can reserve this item for free here:
Glenn Fabry I know and love from Garth Ennis' Preacher. He didn't do the inside art (that's Steve Dillon) but he did do the lovely lovely covers (I'm gonna admit now that I actually own a copy of Preacher: Dead or Alive a collected edition of the covers for every issue - with commentary! woop). He's a member of the British 2000AD Old School (see also: Simon Bisley) who does lavish fully painted stuff that's big on small little details not to mention lots of gnarly attitude. Back in the day he used to illustrate Sláine (see also: Simon Bisley) which was a real good match for his over-the-top wild meaty figures: but since then he's been kinda quiet. I'm guessing that a big part of that is due to the fact that seeing how in-depth he tends to go and how much care and attention to detail he lavishes on every small part of every panel and so my face lit all the way up the first time I laid eyes on this book and saw his name on the bottom right hand corner. I guess I must have assumed that he had quit doing comics work on the inside and had migrated to just working on covers: but obviously something must have happened to lure him back.
That something is Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere.
First presented to the world as 6-part BBC television series way back in 1996 Neverwhere was a orginally a joint venture between Neil Gaiman (who was just coming off the tail-end of The Sandman) and Lenny Henry (!?). I was one of the lucky few who watched it when it first aired and my blurred memories of slightly shoddy looking wobbley sets and lots of RADA-type over-acting (this was all back before when television was something that you had to watch because you didn't have any other choice - rather than stuff that was actually - you know - good). I've never really been that tempted to rewatch it (altho I'm a bit more tempted now I've just realised that The Marquis de Carabas was played by Alan Johnson (!) from Peep Show). The only bit that managed to stick in my head all these years is where a pigeon gets the Ozzy Osbourne treatment: Crunchy! 
Since that relativily inconspicuous first foray Neverwhere has mutated and reached out into several other forms. It's better known in it's novelised form where Neil Gaiman took the opporunity to expand on things that didn't quite fit into the narrow confines of the smaller screen and (gotta love the irony) move The Floating Market from Battersea Power Station to Harrods. Also: there's a stage verison and talk of the always inevitable big-budget Hollywood-type film - but the reason we're here now is to talk about the comic book adapation so here goes:
With Neil Gaiman's comic booky roots this book isn't as unexpected or as strange as perhaps it would be if it came from someone else (altho my mind goes blank when I try to think of other "urban fantasy" television shows made into successful novels). Plus - with this, Coraline and The Sandman: The Dream-Hunters it seems that there's now a whole mini-sub-genre of comic books of Neil Gaiman stories not actually written by Neil Gaiman. And it's very fitting that it's Mike Carey who's in charge of things - as he's the one responsible for Lucifer which was a spin-off from The Sandman - so he's already had a pretty strong handle on how Gaiman's universe tends to work.
I've always liked Neverwhere and I'm pretty sure that at some point I've even read the novel version (I remember it as the sort of thing that's perfect for a little light lunch time reading). For those of you that haven't yet fallen down the gaps into London Below: this comic has lots going for it. Obviously it doesn't suffer from the budget limitations of the television show. And like I said up there: it's got Glenn Fabry on the artwork who is - frankly - amazing (altho - sad face - it's not fully painted: but I guess you can't have everything: and also: without the paints his stuff really reminds me of Chris Weston - which if you don't know: is a very good thing).
For those who want to know what it's like: well. It's a modern fairy-tale with trace-elements of The Wizard of Oz and Alice In Wonderland. There's lots of cool plot mechanics-things that swing and cut in lots of fun ways with every small part contributing to the whole (in the introduction Mike Carey talks about how adapting the book for the comic gave him a chance to 'look under the hood' of how a Neil Gaiman story works and I think it's something that stayed in my mind as I worked my way through and gave me reason to notice and appreciate the way seeming off the cuff comments managed to contain both a character's motivation and their hidden secrets: which is kinda cool).
Also - gotta say: Bonus points for "The Fop With No Name." (and the new fore-runner for the prize marked: random on panel character who deserves their own series).
 Think I'd be remiss at this point if I didn't mention that Islington has a copy on DVD for the brave and the curious.
Links: Blog Critics Review, Tearoom of Despair Article: Neverwhen.
Further reading: The Unwritten, The Sandman, The Sandman: Death: The High Cost of Living, The Sandman: The Dream-Hunters, Sláine: The Horned God, The Batman/Judge Dredd Files, Lucifer, Neil Gaiman's Midnight Days, Coraline, Stardust.
Profiles: Neil Gaiman.
All comments welcome.