November 30th, 2010

Review: Unwritten Vol. 1 by Mike Carey and Peter Gross

Unwritten Vol. 1: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity

by Mike Carey and Peter Gross

Wilson Taylor, author of the phenomenally popular Tommy Taylor series, disappeared several years ago without a trace. He left behind his son, Tom, the inspiration for the hero of his magical wizard stories, who now spends most of his days at conventions and events answering questions about his father’s books. Again and again, Tom has tried to put aside the persona of Tommy Taylor, but the world refuses to let him shake his father’s legacy…until allegations that Tom isn’t really his father’s son are picked up by the media. Tom is accused of being an imposter milking the Taylor estate for money. He sets out to learn more about his father’s disappearance as his life takes on a new reality, one in which there is power in words and magic in storytelling. This volume collects the first five issues of the Unwritten series.

The Tommy Taylor series – which we get glimpses of in short vignettes - is very similar to Harry Potter, with the same massive fan base, marketing empire and cultural sway.  Only in this version, there’s a living, breathing boy named Tommy Taylor who inspired the books. It’s a typecasting fare worse than anything Daniel Radcliffe will ever face. You can’t help feel sorry for Tom, an adult man forever trapped as a child character. Just look at this exchange between Tom and a fan at a convention called ‘London Tommy Con’:

Fan: Obviously the character of Tommy is based directly on you. So how does that make you feel?

Tom: How does that make me feel?

Fan: Yeah. To have everyone in the world know you so well?

Tom: Well, they don’t know me because I’m not Tommy. It’s more like -- I’m the test tube where my Dad did his experiments, and Tommy is – Tommy is…kind of…

I mean, it makes me proud, obviously. It makes me very proud.

That’s right, Mr. Taylor. Stick to your script.

Unwritten is a story about stories, and blurring the line between fiction and reality. It’s implied that there are multiple worlds, and that the boundaries between them can be crossed. That said, most of the comic is devoted to setting the tone and introducing key concepts. Only introducing, though…very little is fully explained in this graphic novel. Someone’s pursuing Tom and murdering tons of people in the chase, but it’s not explained how or why. Tom’s father drilled his son with the famous literary locations – Tom describes his brain as a ‘literary GPS’ – but again, we don’t know why. It annoyed me a little bit, because I like to know things now but mostly it just makes me really hungry to continue the series.

5 out of 5 stars

To read more about Unwritten Vol. 1, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.