The Unwritten: Apocalypse #6

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UnwrittenApoc6

Synopsis
“The Fisher King,” part 1 of 3. As Pullman’s cold war against stories turns hot, it’s in stories that Tom must find the weapons and allies he’ll need to beat him. And the best weapon of all is one a thousand knights have quested for…

Story
With issue #6, the midpoint of the series, The Unwritten: Apocalypse begins its next story-arc: The Fisher King. ‘Sang’ returns to the main cast(s), the ‘main’ narratives and the main concern for most involved – Pullman’s plot.
In a two-page sequence, Mike Carey makes sure to show off a little more, by not only featuring some of the mechanicals from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but making sure their dialogue is ridiculously pun-riddled and crafted. Probably to counterbalance some seriously graphic language (which, at this point in the story, just easily slips into some characters’ mouths) and really serious subject matters, from Sumerian to chanson de geste to Arthurian (with some Twain and Tennyson) via Christianity, the Tommy Taylor books and the joy that is Richie Savoy.
Carey really drags us through a brief history of world literature, looking at incarnations of the same concept in multiple eras, minds and words, eventually settling on some Taylor and Tennyson (a version of his ‘The Marriage of Geraint’ idyll) for the rising finale – and giving an old device and character a new take on life. After a fashion.

Art
Peter Gross returns on full artwork duties, and does some dazzling layouts with panelwork, between using cups, trompe-l’œil, page bleeds and hovering frames – and the final page is a triumph of artistic imitation, with exquisite details worthy of Albrecht Dürer’s ‘The Knight Death And The Devil’ or ‘The Knight and the Landsknecht’ (among many others), and some influences from the Rheads’ illustrations of Tennyson’s poem and even Dean Ormston references.
What Chris Chuckry’s colours bring to the mix are some impressively, given the tone of the issue, softer hues and shading, giving way to superb light/dark contrasts as the story progresses and a key player enters the fray. As for the lettering, Todd Klein clearly loves Pullman and any sound he makes – not forgetting the title page (which, unsurprisingly, also features Pullman).
Cover artist Yuko Shimizu also channels some of her inner Dürer, giving us a gorgeous still life with flying cat and maanim/Graal/cup/Goblet of Fire, also in very soft sepia tones, image once again in sync with the story within the issue.

Thoughts (May Contain Spoilers)
More penises, foul language, Shakespearean puns, creation and destruction myths, recurring themes, cups, trumpets, grails, blood, wit, Pullman and more world literature that you can shake a wooden cross at. If that doesn’t drag you into this great set-up issue for what’s to come, maybe the spectacular cover, astounding interior art and colours, glorious last page or fabulous fontwork will. I am still incredibly impressed with how high this series holds it standard, rippling in the breeze of page turning.

The Unwritten: Apocalypse #6 is now available in shops and digitally here. There is also a new interview with Carey and Gross here.

Balls

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***BREAKING NEWS***

After our World Cup crazed news reporters discovered a community of England residents who support another team, we have heard rumours of an even smaller group of people who do not support anyone. It appears, in fact, that they do ‘not care about football, especially not the World Cup’.

Our reporters have tried infiltrating this loose, non-organised group, but have so far not been able to find any significant representative, even though they have searched in pubs, bars, clubs, city squares, town squares, cinemas, gyms, student unions, or any other place that might have a screen (in case they miss a crucial mis-call on the referees behalf, you understand). So we’re not entirely sure who we’re quoting above.

We asked members of the public to comment on the discovery, and were met, understandably, with disbelief. ‘So what do they do every Sunday’, asks Sarah McFooty, ‘and every four years, over summer?’. Andy O’Soccer expressed concern that this group might pose a threat ‘to the sanctity of our nation and our boys. Our boys are out there on the field fighting for democracy, after all’.

Experts claim that the phenomenon can be relatively widespread, but ultimately harmless – until those affected sigh, mumble, mutter or express boredom in any way. Strong reactions may increase in case of trying to justify their stance by referring to social or ethical concerns, or some other poor excuse.

More on this as it develo– OH COME ON, THAT WAS BLATANTLY A FOUL.

The Unwritten: Apocalypse #5

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UnwrittenApoc5

Synopsis
This single-issue story interlude, “When Rabbit Howls” stars reader-favorite character Pauly Bruckner. Sometimes it’s hard to be a man – especially if all your recent experience is of being a rabbit. Pauly is back, and having his wishes come true may be just the start of his problems.

Story
After the end of its first arc, The Unwritten: Apocalypse pauses for an issue to look at the character that wasn’t intended to be: Pauly Bruckner, ex-regent of hell, ex-murderer, ex-rabbit – currently in the middle of a severe identity crisis, and adjusting to his new, uncomfortable reality.
An uncomfortableness that he realises is not due to the post-literary world outside, where a murderer can thrive, and in fact, does, very easily at that. But there is something bigger, something triggered by the outside that brings up what is simmering inside of him. And he speaks to may-or-may-not-be-there Dr Wise Old Owl, sometimes quite uncomfortably moving for the reader.
Writer Mike Carey gives us a fascinating look at Pauly’s character, in a very different vein from what we’ve seen before from him as Mr Bun in Willowbank, on the Staircase or even in Hell. And he gets his voice perfectly, really revelling in the non-filtered language, attitude and colourful turns of phrase of this bad bunny.

Art
The artwork, taking a leaf from The Unwritten OGN, Tommy Taylor and The Ship That Sank Twice, is taken care of by both Peter Gross and Al Davison, respectively on the layouts for the full book, the ‘narrator’ perspective that opens and closes the issue (and one of the most unsettling brown owls I have seen in a while), and on Pauly’s tale in between. And believe me, if Carey got the voice right, Davison does wonders with the looks. Between some truly creative panelwork to finish Gross’ layouts in the narrated flashback and some gruesome sequences, Pauly’s murderous nature finds a fitting outlook on the page. And Gross’ sections does not shy away either, with an excellent rabbit-to-human tranformation early on.
The transition between the two sections is made almost seamless by Chris Chuckry’s excellent soft hues of colour, keeping the grainy, gritty, worn-out look on most of the characters, Pauly and Wilson Taylor in particular. Only a couple of effects for Todd Klein’s lettering work to really shine trough, but the jagged title and coda fonts really capture the tone of the book.
In addition, the hauntigly beautiful cover by Yuko Shimizu is.. well, haunting, and beautiful. There are echoes of the first one of the Apocalypse run, but with Pauly’s trying to painfully emerge from the rabbit shell, trapped and tied to a tree by a thin, blue ribbon. Read in it what you will, before and after the story inside.

Thoughts (May Contain Spoilers)
As far as interludes go, I’m not sure this was really an interlude. The issue does pause and look at Pauly’s troubled mind, wishes and identity, but, much like the Mme Rausch appearances in #4, he is being set up for something promisingly very big, and stunningly so with Al Davison’s visual work. I have the distinct feeling that Carey and Gross are playing with their characters (and readers), some of whom in particular are playing with all the others, as the messed-up chessboard is slowly but steadily being laid out. Bruckner is going to return even less in control of what he thinks he is and wants, and Dr W.O.O. is.. you’ll have to find out, won’t you?

(Meanwhile Leviathan, quietly, watches.)

The Unwritten: Apocalypse #5 is now available in shops and digitally here.

UEA140Story – The marking edition

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It’s marking season at UEA, and as tutors, we’re all losing our minds a bit. So here’s a story based on real life events,* courtesy of the microfiction account UEA140story and co-authored in marking delusions with fellow marker Kim Sherwood. Marking.

*Not based on real life events.

NaPoWriMo Day 29 – Captions

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You are not our readers
but you need
to know this.
We need more stories
we need different stories
a healthy and vital evolution.

If we can change perceptions
relate to and see each other
when we draw pictures,
sometimes teach others
the community it represents.
Keep our pencils moving
trying to be an ally.

You are not our readers.
The true faces, true fans
“I would not–
I didn’t just–
had no idea–”,
have become obscure
now in the minority.

You’ve probably met
the Pretty Deadly
voracious reader
you’ve probably met
people that
recognize that
conversations like this
have finally started to build
people that
reject fandom gatekeeping.

It does not matter
where we’re reading it from
that doesn’t matter much
to comics as a whole
to many who work
to stand in solidarity
make the world a better place.

You are not our readers
but we
we are comics.

NaPoWriMo Day 27 – Trails

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vyacheslavmishchenko-23-934x You say that home is where the heart is
but we would disagree,
to an extent. We’ll get back to you on that.

You say all roads lead to Rome
eventually. We’ll see about that too,
just be patient, give us time.

You say that time flies or crawls,
but we prefer to see it slide
trying to keep pace with us.

You say pride goes before a fall,
then call us lazy and inefficient
but we’re actually pretty grounded.

So do your best to bring us down,
we’ll just keep on going. Slowly.

NaPoWriMo Day 26 – Just Sayin’

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I have neglected
the poem
that was meant
for yesterday

and which
you were probably
expecting
to be better

than this
but it isn’t
so yeah
deal with it

I am actually fairly annoyed at myself for not getting one done on the 26th. Have a themed pun.

dillpun