What: The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity


Who: Mike Carey (words) and Peter Gross (pictures)

When: Originally published as single issues in 2009 by Vertigo for DC Comics.

Where: Anywhere comic collections are sold, with new issues every month.

Why: This is a fun one. Tommy Taylor isn’t much more than an analog for Harry Potter. He’s the star of 13 books about young wizard battling his arch-nemesis Count Ambrosio the vampire, written by now missing author, Wilson Taylor. But that’s not the fun part. Tom Taylor, the author’s son, and inspiration for Tommy, is loved the world over. (Not that he likes being nothing more than a comparison to a fictional character.) Things start getting weird when a young woman named Lizzie Hexam starts investigating his past and possible origins as a Serbian child hired from his parents to pose as Taylor’s son. This still isn’t the fun part. His life gets hectic as the allegations spread and Tom (Tommy?) starts finding himself in some odd circumstances. This is the fun part.

It’s hard to describe this book, or at least the events in the first volume. We find the hero in his former Swiss home, the mansion where Shelley conceived Frankenstein, where Milton likely found inspiration for Paradise Lost and Wilson Taylor invented Tommy Taylor. But which came first? Tommy, the story character, or Tom, the person? And where does one begin and the other stop? Things get even better when Pullman, an assassin with a hand that can reduce things to the words that make them. (I think?)

Worth noting is Tom’s gift of literary geography, or as he defines it “where stories came from. Where they touch the world.” Possibly the coolest super power ever. This comic is a book nerds dream. Blending the line between stories and reality, it’s the first part in what I expect to be, one hell of a world where Tom Sawyer exists in more than Mark Twain’s imagination. Or at least, show us that Twain’s imagination isn’t limited to Twain’s head.

Again, this is a hard comic to explain without confusing or giving things away. Let me just say that my favorite part of the book is the fifth, standalone chapter at the end. It’s a story about Rudyard Kipling. How he became the author that wrote the stories that helped build an empire. But we already know that. What would you think if you were told that the reason his voice rose above the din was because someone wanted it to? What if there were people who knew when the right time was for the right story, and knew of the power it could bring forth. What if Kipling helped build that empire, because that’s precisely how someone wanted the story to go…

I really like this comic.