The Unwritten was introduced last month by the DC Comics’ imprint, Vertigo. Vertigo has had an illustrious history as the publisher of books such as Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, The Book of Magic, Hellblazer or Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s Y The Last Man. Although not sales behemoth, in many cases, Vertigo comic book series provide critical fodder to DC Comics and help the publisher reach credibility and earn the respect of a part of the comic book industry that is more critical of so-called mainstream publishers.
The Unwritten is the story of Tom Taylor, the son of prolific author Wilson Taylor who created a character much like his son Tom in a series of books about a young wizard. But Wilson Senior disappeared years ago and all that is left to Tom is to ride on the coattail of his father’s most famous character which shares his name and appearance. When a graduate student in literature confront Tom about his fake legal documents, putting in doubt the veracity of his story as Wilson Taylor’s son , the fans of the books grow angry and call Tom a poseur and stalk him. One of Tom stalker, however, pretending to be the fictitious Tommy Taylor’s arch nemesis, Count Ambrosio decides that he wants to end Tom’s life. Will the evil count succeed?
There is more to this story but spoiling it for readers here would not be a good thing. This series, is entertaining and the price that suggested by Vertigo Comics – one dollar should not make anyone regret picking up the first issue of this book. For the amount of pages in this story, this issue is a steal. Of course Vertigo’s intent is to convince as many readers as possible to purchase this book, because the publisher believes that it is its next success. I agree with them. What is interesting about The Unwritten, is that it stays close to a formula that could be easily explained in an elevator pitch and could sustain a variety of storylines for years, should the creators and their publisher wanted to. And this is why Vertigo is promoting this book so well.
I am not an expert on this but it could be argued that Y The Last Man, which also followed a simple premise with an abundant amount of possible stories, was Vertigo’s last hit. The publisher has ran into ever diminishing numbers of readers more interested in collecting compiled editions of Vertigo comic book series, than supporting monthly series. However, series like Y The Last Man fund the trade paperback that some comic book readers swear by. A series like The Unwritten offers Vertigo an opportunity to put out a well noted product monthly that can shed some light over other ignored Vertigo titles.
Veteran artist Peter Gross lends a hand with the series casing the story in a realistic but clear style that forces the reader to focus on the story and no other artefacts that would deter attention from the story. His loose inks are a good match for the narrative and do not give a noirish or any other slant to the story. For those familiar with the premise of the series, such a neutral art style is necessary and I hope will be adapted for particular tales.
I believe that for Vertigo and many readers and pundits, The Unwritten is the next hit from the publisher and it will continue to make it a relevant player in the North American comic book industry. Let’s just hope that the buzz machine picks up on this series quicker than it did other good series from Vertigo such as David Lapham’s Young Liars.