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Move over Harry Potter

Cover

Sometimes it takes me awhile to catch up, but I've just gotten hooked onto The Unwritten by Mike Carey and Peter Gross, published by DC Comics' Vertigo line.

Meet Tom Taylor. His father wrote the most popular series of books in the world, similar to Harry Potter, but its popularity outstrips Rowling’s opus. The main character, Tommy Taylor, is supposedly based upon Tom.

Tom is an adult now. His father disappeared when he was still a kid, and all Tom has from him is the "literary geography" that was drilled into him—the ability to pinpoint places with literary events. (We are told, for example, that Pianosa off the Tuscan coast is the setting for Catch 22.) But the world still clamors for more Tommy Taylor stories and has latched onto Tom as the embodiment of their favorite hero. Then mysterious people start going after him. And we discover that literature somehow has something to do with the present.

Cover for issue 9

I've reached issue 9 (that's the cover art, above) and there's still a lot of mystery. I’m enjoying the literary elements, the bizarreness, and the surprises—the writing is good. This isn’t a story where magic comes in and saves the day. Innocents do die. And like many comics, there are a fair number of casualties—readers are warned that the content is “suggested for mature readers.”

There are things that bother me about the series. I find the Harry Potter parallels annoying, but since they are incidental to the main plot (at least for the moment), I’m willing to forgive them. More annoying is that, except for one page, all the characters are white. Note to the creators: Europe has as many hues as the U.S. And when you set a portion of your story in India, it’s a cheap trick to use sepia tones to color everyone the same, even in a clever bit of literary historical fantasy.

But yeah. I’ll be picking up issue #10. I really am curious about which piece of literary geography we’ll be visiting next. And do I want to know what will happen to Tom. That's what being hooked is all about.

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