My first exposure to Mike Carey was the other really good graphic novel series he did a few years ago called Lucifer. Shortly after being exposed to Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, it was very easy to consume the spin-off series. When one think of spin-offs, there is this concept that it’s not as good as the source material. Carey proved this notion wrong. Many, including myself, felt that Carey could not do better than his work on Lucifer, the plot of the Morningstar would be the magnum opus for any other author. Thus, I was very skeptical about how good his new series would be. Naturally, I picked up the first issue at the comic book store because 1) it was a dollar, and 2) the name Mike Carey was on it. The synopsis of “what if Harry Potter was real” was not really a drawing point, but instead only increased my skepticism. However, I believe in loyalty, so Unwritten would be the first comic book series where I would collect the individual issues. (this was only successful during the summer. Since I’ve been in college, going to the comic store on a weekly basis just didn’t happen). Initially, when I read the individual issues, the story didn’t attach to me as readily as Lucifer did. However, I was very glad when I bought the first volume at Half-Price book for 4 bucks later on for this class. Reading Bill Willingham’s introduction put the concept into a enlightening context. Being a fan of Fables and Sandman, adding literary elements into comic books is one of the most refreshing use of transmedia. Carey puts in extra attention at creating an more realistic and encompassing world. The panels showing webpages, and online forums truly reflects modern era communication, but more importantly illustrates scope. Similar to McGonigal’s insight on ARGs, the online community is prolific. Truth/reality becomes jurisdiction of the online community more so than the panels depicting a news report(in the first issue).
Before I go on to analyzing the dense plot of Unwritten, I must first need to address my position on Pullman. As a villain, I despise him. In the first volume, Pull puts a gun to Tommy’s head and talks about how easy it would be to just pull the trigger. In the end he doesn’t. This bothers me on a narrative level. Obviously Ambrosio is the main villain, and thus should be the more feared. Pullman plays the henchmen. In a sense he reminds me of a evil Jayne Cobb…In any case, I never liked the tactic to have a nearly unbearable foe who probably ends up dying in the most lame way possible. (i.e. Boba Fett).
Back to the comic…The last issue in the first volume is the highlight in my reading. The alternative storyline to Kipling, Twain, and Wilde is amazingly done. It highlights the core of Unwritten in my opinion. This storyline also touches on the concept of fan fiction. Part of the allure of fan fiction is generate different story lines that are realistic. I think Carey’s creativity is at its best in this off-shot issue. How the Whale Became is so far the best issue.