Tag Archives: fiction

NaPoWriMo Day 2 – Variant


Comics are the supreme fiction, madame.
Take the literature and make a frame of it
and from the frame build a page. Thus,
our reading is converted into seeing
like bleeding brushes, sighing for sequence.
Do we agree, in principle? Is it clear? But take
the visual art and make a blank gutter
and from the gutter project a reading
beyond the pages. Thus, our knowing
unbound by words, indulged at last
is equally converted into seeing
girning like growlixes. And seeing for seeing
reading for reading, madame,
our origin story unfolds.

(After Wallace Stevens)

The Unwritten: Apocalypse #3



Tom discovers just how quickly the world is dissolving into chaos – and why. But where in all this fractured, insane landscape will he find an ally, and what price will he have to pay? The answer lies in the Divadlo Trinka puppet theatre of Prague, and in the old cliché: “My enemy’s enemy is my friend.“

Two issues down, third one up. The Unwritten continues in its exploration of what happens when the collective body of fiction dies, and crashes slap bang into reality — all the fictions, in the whole of reality. The Unwritten: Apocalypse #3 marks the second part of ‘War Stories’, and plays around stories in a nice twist. (NOTE: The synopsis makes no sense, actually. The second part is probably what the next issue will focus on, and that would seem appropriate to further solicits. In fact, the covers seem switched, too.)
The crux of the story is the creation (or destruction) of something linked to Leviathan, and Leviathan itself. And yet how the story gets to it, recalling elements seeded in very early issues of the series, playing with literary tropes, myths, genres and fictions is really quite impressive. The use of French for Cosi and Leon was smile-inducing, as it’s nice to see their linguistic ground come through when faced with immediate reactions to happenings around them.
Carey does like to show his literature and music knowledge in the section titles, picking titles of Wilfred Owen poems, a good number of which included in Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem. Just because apparently we did not have enough going on with just sci-fi fighting-machines, Elizabethan armies, zombie nazis and fantasy knights.

Peter Gross really shows some of those skills flaunted in issue one of this run, with finishes by Ryan Kelly for most pages. Especially from the point of ‘The Next War’ section, the splash pages and double spreads are really something to behold. Both him and Carey have written so much in these scenes that it’s impressive he can keep everything under control, but check with previous pages and you can see some of the same characters crop up. And all of that is going on while Danny fights with his own mazed dream-state in the woods, with some dazzling panelwork.
Colours go back to Chris Chuckry alone, and is brilliantly paired with the tone of the particular scene at hand in the story. A prevalence of earthy, red hues in the war scenes, darker tones for the forest, and some seriously creepy colours for the more supernatural (if we can say so) elements/characters. Todd Klein pleasantly delivers some excellent lettering for soundwords with different genre elements, from ray guns to tanks, arrows and fisticufss. And there’s a particularly excellent ‘blaaam’.
Yuko Shimizu’s cover, as it aligns with the synopsis, does not do its usual story capsule in an image – but is still a gorgeous piece of artwork, featuring Madame Rausch. Limbs, branches, skin and bark all echoing each other, as snakes rise from the base of the tree, on a blood-red background.

Thoughts (May Contain Spoilers)
Imagine a war just outside your window. Imagine that everyone around you is imagining their own version of that assignment. Now take all of those, and make them happen at the same time, in the space. That is the premise of War Stories. And the reason? We find out in ‘Strange Meeting’. War poetry can be executed fairly badly in popular culture, but the section titles actually work, and show their influence on the text and the reality of The Unwritten; the framework set up last month still holds really well, too, with fictional armies clashing, and the purpose is finally revealed. I continue to be impressed by the work going into this book, and so far (synopsis excluded) it has not disappointed.

The Unwritten: Apocalypse #3 is now available in shops and digitally here.

The Unwritten: Apocalypse #2



In the ruins of a post-literary world, Richie and Lizzie go in search of their lost friend Tom Taylor. But to find him, they’ll have to venture into the most dangerous place on Earth: London.

If in the previous issue, the first of this ‘second volume’ of The Unwritten, the story was focused on Tom Taylor’s resurrection and return to the so-called, apparently-so real world, The Unwritten: Apocalypse #2 is about what happened to that world in Tom’s absence. And so we return to the rest of the cast, now comprising vampire/journalist Richie Savoy, word-made-flesh Lizzie Hexam, true Tommy fans Cosi and Leon Chadron, an aside on Mr. Armitage, stuck in a limbo of his own, and devious demiurge Wilson Taylor himself.
The latter, and the initial sequence he is a part of, is the section that stands out the most in terms of re-setting the whole story: Mike Carey (and Peter Gross) drop the readers into a ‘post-literary world’  – possibly my new favourite concept – giving very little clue as to what has actually happened, other than “all worlds are now this one”. All of them. Reality and fiction(s) are all one and the same, and navigating through it takes more than just a map.
Carey shows some great knowledge, research and humour in deploying the secondary literary characters in the issue, and carefully re-establishes and shows off Lizzie’s true nature and powers, along with the children’s unwavering faith and strength deriving from it. Never forgetting Taylor’s meddling, tentacled words.

Peter Gross shows off his storytelling, too, through some truly excellent panel work and composition throughout the whole issue. From the Prologue’s twisting borders, to the full page scenes with panels contained and scattered within them, the story Carey’s words tell is captured and ordered (if at all possible). Horrors and references to other artwork are abundant in the panels, creating the shattered scenery of the ‘post-literary’ reality
Colouring duties are split between regular Chris Chuckry and Lee Loughridge (whose work I believe is in the Prologue, splendidly dark with one candle as the sole source of light), and is impressively executed: shifting from the greyness of London to the muted warmth of parchment fire and the character’s clothes, we get a constant dusty feeling about the new reality. Todd Klein had a busy time with the lettering, with a handful of soundwords taking place in later sequences, but mostly flipping between chapter headings, Taylor’s typing, and the odd flying cat meowr.
The cover is, as always, Yuko Shimizu’s creation. And it’s stunning, with its lack of background and triumphant, powerful Lizzie standing among the seeds and thoughts of fiction, ejected from the Book – the cause of the end of the world, and the only thing that can keep it alive.

Thoughts (May Contain Spoilers)
The issue does not feel as mind-bendingly and blindingly complex or powerful as the first one, but rather is used to set the scene, and the world in which the series might (unless even more things happen in the first page of #3) take place, in a very careful and twisted way. It can be a slow burner, but by the third read I appreciated all the nuances I could get out of both the artwork and the literary references in the writing. It’s nice to see 17th century literature in a contemporary piece of work, and the conceptual framework is extremely intriguing. A world – all the worlds have just ended and conflated into one; there is bound to be chaos. And there is, indeed, and with it ink and bleeding borders, a seemingly unrelated prologue, and shattered words on the page. Proceed with caution.

The Unwritten: Apocalypse #2 is now available in shops and digitally here.