Unwritten Volume 1:Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity (tpb)

by stephengervais on February 10, 2012

The Unwritten came highly recommended to me through friends and various forums. It’s been described to me as the comic book that’ll make you smarter just by reading it or the often used cliché, the comic book everyone should be reading but is not. It’s written by Mike Carey and illustrated by Peter Gross and published under the mature DC imprint, Vertigo. Volume one collects issues 1 to 5.

The first volume is an introduction to the world of the Unwritten and our hero Tom Taylor. The series revolves around a 13 book fantasy series that Tom Taylor’s father, Wilson Taylor, wrote before he disappeared. The central character in the novels is a Harry Potter type character which Wilson based on his son.  The comic book takes place years after Wilson has disappeared and Tom is an adult making a living by signing his dad’s books at various comic book conventions around the world. At one these conventions during a Q&A session Tom is questioned about his past and if he was really Wilson’s son or a fraud. This at first causes a serious backlash against Tom as fans from across the world feel betrayed and stage near riots everywhere he goes. The feelings of betrayal turn to worship as a fringe group with the help of the internet claim and promote Tom as the actual real life character from his dad’s fictional work. Now the people think of Tom as a sort of messiah sent to help and save them.

Carey has managed to create a fresh series that explores a fantasy world and a world of supposed real life and blended them together. He has masterfully intertwined the fanatical world of Harry Potter, fantasy, classic literature, and today’s information age. The pacing of this first arc is wonderfully done and at no moment does the reader become bored. He throws out many literary geography facts throughout the story and I can’t help but feel that they’ll play a major role as the series develops. The literary factoids don’t stop with geography as he drops various literary references throughout the story as well as a mini story on Kipling at the end of issue 5. I’m very interested in how all this will be developed into the story.

The artwork by Peter Gross perfectly compliments this story. He really does an exceptional job differentiating the “real world” of Tom and the excerpts from the Tommy Taylor novels. His background detailing is exceptional as usual. He can cram so much into every page but it never comes off with that busy look or takes the focus away from the central image. I have to mention the inkers as well, Chris Chuckry and Jeanne McGee. Their hue work enhances each panel and you can tell they work closely with the artist.

With so many plot turns and intriguing characters I can’t pick a single favorite moment in volume 1 but I do have say I did find myself looking forward to seeing the covers for each issue. The cover work is handled by Yuko Shimizu and they are as original as the story.

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