The Unwritten #1-3

It’s easy to trace the literary antecedents of this new mystery/horror series with a distinctly bookish bent. A kid (Christopher Robin) whose father wrote a worldwide best-selling fantasy series about a boy wizard (Harry Potter) finds himself mistaken for his father’s creation (The Funnies).

The Unwritten #2 cover

But there’s a lot more to this story than just commentary on modern media marketing and the confusion between appearance and inspiration. Tom Taylor is a failure, reduced to signing his father’s books at conventions after dad’s disappearance. At one of his presentations, a woman points out that he might be a fake, not the author’s son at all. The resulting kerfluffle sends him on a quest to find out more about his missing father.

Writer Mike Carey and artist Peter Gross know the territory well and tell the story with admirable skill. The two previously worked together on Lucifer, although I remember Gross best from The Books of Magic, starring another boy wizard.

What tickles me most is Tom’s habit of literary geography, an ability drilled into him by his father. He identifies locations with books inspired by them, adding a new connection between stories and the real world. I also appreciate the way that Carey and Gross work in excerpts — of the Taylor books, obviously, but also of fan webpages and media coverage and the like. It feels more modern and relevant that way.

There’s also a villain, tracking Tom for yet unknown reasons, with the ability to decompose objects into their component letters, unwriting them. Issue #3 moves the story to the Swiss castle where Frankenstein was written, where a variety of horror writers are holding a workshop. That allows for heaping injections of atmosphere as well as an expanded cast for more creepiness and dark humor.

I’m fascinated by the multiple levels that this series works on, with plenty of ideas swirling around about the stories we tell ourselves and each other.

(My thanks to Greg McElhatton and Don MacPherson for pointing me toward this series.)

One Response to “The Unwritten #1-3”

  1. Don MacPherson Says:

    Who pays me my kick-back, you or Carey & Gross? :)




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