Today I have a review of the first volume of the multi-time Hugo Award nominated graphic novel series – and one about literature itself.
Title: The Unwritten Volume 1 – Tommy Taylor & The Stolen Identity.
Writer & Artist: Mike Carey & Peter Gross
Published by DC Comics under their Vertigo label.
Compilation published in 2010.
Tommy Taylor is the son of the writer of a series of smash hit fantasy novels, which are as much a part of the zeitgeist of the setting of the series as the Harry Potter series is in our world. Tommy Taylor is also the name of the protagonist of this series of books. When the fictional and real Tommy’s lives start to overlap, only knowledge of narrative and storytelling can save him.
Each issue starts with an excerpt from a different Tommy Taylor story (or from another work of fiction), which does an excellent job of setting up some of the forces that are (crossing over).
Tommy Taylor, for several chunks of the series, feels less “genre blind” and more “wilfully genre ignorant” – as if he’s deliberately avoided a lot of fiction – not just prose either, but film and television as well.
Originality: This isn’t the first story to use narrative devices as power (the Thursday Next novels are the first that come to mind), but this series does present the concept differently. 4/6.
Artwork: The art has a great mix of simplicity for mundane characters, and complexity when the fictional elements start to intrude. 5/6.
Story: This is the first volume of an ongoing, so it’s going to pose a lot of questions, without necessarily giving a lot of answers. however, a good first volume, when asking questions – also gives some clues to possible answers – as this volume does. 5/6.
Characterization: The supporting cast is fairly well written, and Tommy (while a jerk), is understandable in his reasons why. On the other hand, I wasn’t a fan of the horror historians in issue 5. They characters felt like straw-men, made up of all the traits of horror enthusiasts that the writer didn’t like – including people who “analyze horror too much”, which seems odd considering that this is a story set in a world where it turns out that literary analysis is a survival trait.4/6
Emotional Response: Long story short, I will be reading volume 2. 6/6.
In total, The Unwritten – Volume 1 gets 36/42.
Next week, J.D. tags in with a review of the Hugo Award nominated novel Leviathan Awakes.