Saturday, 2 June 2012

So I Read The Unwritten

Art by Yuko Shimizu
A 250 word (or less) review of Trade Paperback collections 1-5 of The Unwritten
By Mike Carey and Peter Gross, Vertigo Comics

The Unwritten, created by Mike Carey and Peter Gross, is a work of fiction that manages to provide both a compelling story and a meaningful meditation about a broader cultural concept. The protagonist of The Unwritten is Tom Taylor, a man who, as a boy, provided the namesake and inspiration for a series of young adult novels about a child wizard (who bears a remarkable similarity to Harry Potter).  The story follows Tom as he learns he may in fact be the novel’s title character made flesh and centers on a conflict against a secretive cabal that has clandestinely manipulated society for centuries by controlling literature. This engrossing mystery/suspense plot is used as a vehicle to explore how literature affects society by informing the worldview of the collective cultural unconsciousness and how we construct stories to define ourselves.  Suffice it to say Mike Carey’s writing is very smart. Peter Gross’ pencils are pretty great as well, providing a clean and expressive style that is a perfect match for the script. The issue covers by Yuko Shimizu are pretty amazing: easily some of the best covers in comics and are well worth a look. The Unwritten is also a feat of compressed storytelling as there is a truly remarkable amount of content per page (at one point that the creative teams makes a choose-you-own-adventure style comic that simultaneously tells multiple storylines). There is also a subplot about a rabbit who says horrendously vulgar things while trapped in a children’s’ storybook. 

Word count: 249


  1. I don't really understand how Mr. Bun the rabbit relates to the main plot, but he's my favorite character anyway. The Unwritten is amazing, and yeah, i do agree with you, the art is different to what I'm usually used to, but I couldn't imagine it drawn differently.

    1. I would read an entire series of comics focused on Mr. Bun's adventures, but I have no clue how his subplot is going to payoff with the main plot. Here's hoping it's amazing though.

      I think "I couldn't imagine it drawn differently" is pretty much the highest compliment you can give an artist and the hallmark of the best creative teams. I also totally agree. Before I started trade-waiting on this series I managed to read some of the issues when they were shipping twice a month where other artists would step in for "finishes"... and it really showed. Things were just subtly off and felt Un-Unwritten-ish.