Review: The Unwritten, Vol. 1, Mike Carey and Peter Goss

For the Graphic Novel Challenge!

The Unwritten is about a guy called Tom whose father – long since disappeared without a trace – wrote an incredibly popular series of books about a character with Tom’s same name: Tommy Taylor.  However, it turns out that all the paperwork proving Tom is his father’s son has been forged.  At first it is theorized that he is a fraud, the son of Romanian peasants; then people begin to believe that he is, in fact, Tommy Taylor, brought into existence by the stories themselves.  The word made flesh.

The Unwritten is set in London, a place with whose literary history Tom is very familiar.  His father was always telling him stories about the places in England and how they connect to books and authors – this plays into the unfolding of the plot and will, I expect, do so more and more as the series goes on.  There is one scene that is set at the Globe, the Globe that I love, you don’t even know and words cannot express how much I love the Globe Theatre.  It is like Mike Carey wants to say, “I love literature and I know that you do too!”  If fiction is going to be meta, it should be meta exactly like this.

The final issue included in this first volume of the graphic novel is all about Rudyard Kipling and Oscar Wilde.  While not closely connected to the main plotline, it does give us a glimpse into the means and methods employed by the villains and how it relates to stories and literature.  Also?  It has Oscar Wilde in it.  Oscar Wilde!  I love him so!  He was such a dear darling when he wasn’t being awful!

Two things that I like a lot are Oscar Wilde and London.  And metafiction – three things.  The three things that I like a lot are Oscar Wilde, and London and metafiction, and fictional characters coming to life.  Four – no.  Amongst the things that I like are such elements as Oscar Wilde, London – I’ll come in again.  (Sorry, XKCD.  I know you don’t like it when people do that.)

I have given in to temptation and subscribed to this comic on HeavyInk.  I know I shouldn’t be spending money on single issue comics, given that I will probably end up buying the collected volumes as proper books when they are released, but I cannot resist the alluring notion of getting comics each month, all wrapped up in crinkly brown paper.  Oh, HeavyInk, you seduce me with your sexy packaging.

Other reviews:

things mean a lot
The Literary Omnivore
Adventures with Words
Bibliofreak

Tell me if I missed yours!

  • Oooh – the idea of getting a comic a month wrapped up in brown paper IS very appealing. Let me know if the story continues to be this good – though I have faith it will 😀

    • Will do! I actually started my subscription at the fifth issue – the one with Oscar Wilde – just because I want it in single issue. 🙂

  • parisreader

    Oh dear, I can see I am going to have to seek this out after all.

    • YUP. HeavyInk delivers! I don’t know where you are living right now, but HeavyInk definitely ships all over the US, and if you’re still in France, I bet you could get The Unwritten at the Book Depository. With free shipping!

      • parisreader

        Jenny, you are going to be very bad for my bank account.

        Um, I ordered it…

        • Oh Lord, I hope you like it! I will feel guilty if you get it and think it’s terrible.

          • parisreader

            Don’t worry – I liked it 🙂

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  • anna

    wait, really? It comes wrapped in crinkly brown paper? Last time I subscribed to a comic it came wrapped in ugly plasticy stuff with adds that was really hard to open!

    • Yours did? Not nice packaging? I’m actually going to be hardcore disappointed if that turns out to be the case.

  • Katy

    A story about Rudyard Kipling and Oscar Wilde? That sounds fascinating. Can you tell me a little more about it? Or will that spoiler the whole thing?

    • I’m not the best person to ask about spoilers, because I spoil everything for myself by reading the end. The story’s about Rudyard Kipling actually, with Oscar Wilde sort of in the periphery. The idea is that there are these sinister people who want all sorts of writers to write FOR THEM. Rudyard Kipling is reluctant. Oscar Wilde doesn’t go for it so much. (If I am recalling it correctly, which I easily might not be.)

      • Katy

        I just looked it up, and the Rudyard Kipling story sounds so potentially awesome that I spent yesterday checking one bookstore after another for The Unwritten – they were all sold out – and have just reserved a copy at my nearest Barnes & Noble. Which unfortunately is not actually that close, and New York is still in the grip of a massive snowstorm, so I may not get the book for several days.

      • Katy

        Just read it! It’s difficult, being such a Rudyard Kipling person as I am, not to nitpick and say, “Rudyard Kipling would have DIED before he used the word ‘trope’, or “Kipling came up with the Just So Stories BEFORE his daughter died,” or “Kipling’s postwar stories are AMAZING, so why do you have his talent fizzling out with the death of his son?” Or even just, “This doesn’t sound like Kipling’s voice.” But on the other hand, it gets some things very right – most importantly, the depth of Kipling’s love for his children, and the absolute tragedy of his later life. And I love the idea of making How the Whale Got his Throat into a declaration of war. It’s brilliant and totally out of left field, and I would never have thought of it.

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