Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Waiting for Trade? – The Unwritten Vol. 1 Tom Taylor and the Bogus Identity

Creative Team: Mike Carey (W) and Peter Gross (A) Yuko Shimizu (C)
Price: $9.99
Available now

I have so many good things to say about this series from Vertigo. It is near the top of my read pile every single month (normally only behind “Tiny Titans”). I have enjoyed it so much I am picking up the trade, even though I have all the floppies. The series has received Eisner Nominations for Best Single Issue (#5, included in this collection), Best Continuing Series, and Best New Series.

Tom Taylor doesn’t have a lot going for him. His father, who has disappeared, wrote a supremely popular book series about a young boy wizard named…Tommy Taylor (in the same way that A.A. Milne wrote about his son Christopher Robin in the Winnie-the-Pooh stories). The character very closely resembles Tom and, as his other ventures fail, he reluctantly rides the coattails of his father creation, attending book signings and making convention appearances.

During a convention panel a girl in the audience questions Tom’s actual identity, claiming that records pertaining to his birth and childhood have been falsified. The public is outraged and fraud accusations abound. Tom just wants to lie low until things die down and go back to his normal life. But if the mysterious group involved in a conspiracy spanning all of literature gets their way, Tom’s life will never be normal again.

“The Unwritten” reminds us that every story has a story. And teases us with the idea that perhaps there is a single story behind ALL of the stories. This series blurs the line between reality and fiction. It touches on how stories affect us as readers and how we in turn affect those stories. It is compelling in a way that I feel many comics today are lacking. The writing is solid and the art fits the story really well, both in the real world and in the many fictional worlds we get glimpses of. The cover art by Yuko Shimizu is beautiful too and they are included in the trade along with some sketches unseen anywhere else. The story is smart; the dialogue feels natural with some good humor. I hope that this is one comic that will keep going for a long time.

You might be thinking this is some sort of Harry Potter rip off, but I’d have to remind you that the Harry Potter idea itself wasn’t new. Magic has always been a draw for people, and the exploits of young witches or wizards has been a popular way to present magic to people. I for one loved the movie “The Worst Witch” when I was a child. I won’t say that parallels can’t be draw between Harry Potter and the Tommy Taylor story, but “The Unwritten” is about so much more than just the Tommy Taylor books. Also, this is a more mature title with cursing, violence, and death with a darker tone than Harry Potter. The fairest comparison is probably that the two are drawing from the same inspirations and working in the same ideaspace.

But, as they used to say on Reading Rainbow, you don’t have to take my word for it. You can download the complete first issue from Vertigo's website. Then you can get some extra insight on all aspects of that first issue from the writer, artist, and cover artist. There are a good number of interviews with the creators on the net as well, and every time I read one I get more excited about the future of this comic. The interviews I’ve linked here are mostly from early in the comic’s run and thus are spoiler free.

If you’ve been waiting on this one I hope that you will pick it up now and enjoy it. I envy that you won’t have to endure the wait through the many surprising cliff hanger endings as I did (although the last one is a dozy!). And as its only $10, what have you got to lose?

Volume 2 Inside Man comes out August 11th and will cost you $12.99. It includes 2 more issues than the first volume, hence the price hike. And it’s still worth every penny.


  1. I frakking LOVE this series. I picked up the dollar first issue out of curiosity because I generally like Mike Carey, and I've been blown away pretty much every month.

    Also, the, what, second or third to most recent issue (the one about the guy who is now in a kid's book) is kept on my dresser in case I need to be cheered up quickly. Which is weird, because when you really think about it, that was a crazy disturbing issue.

  2. I loved that issue too! I really didn't think I would because I will admit I didn't care for the other one shot all that much (yeah...the one nominated for an Eisner). But #12 was so awesome in so many ways. I think I've already read that one more than any other single issue. ^_^

  3. Just finished reading the first volume off your link, and I think it's worth picking up the first trade to see where it goes.

  4. Picked up the first trade and am definitely looking forward to the next! Thanks for the recommendation! =^-^=