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Previewing a literary comic

March 13, 2009 |  4:48 pm

Unwritten_0313

I'm no comics expert. For years I used to tell people that my knowledge dated back to the Watchmen — but then the Watchmen stopped being outdated. Now I try to keep up with the help of friends who go to Comic-Con and our fellow blog Hero Complex.

That's where I learned about "The Unwritten," an upcoming series from Vertigo (part of DC Comics). Written by Mike Carey and drawn by Peter Gross, "The Unwritten" is decidedly literary, as you can doubtlessly see from the illustration above (all those words, and the man is connected to the page). I haven't read the comic, but this is why I'm telling you about it:

In "The Unwritten," which hits stores in May ... is about a somewhat mysterious author who writes a massively popular series of books about the boy wizard Tommy, a character based on the writer's own real-life son, Tom. The author disappears after writing the last installment of the series and leaves nothing to his only child except the unwanted legacy of being constantly confused with a fictional character. As he ages, Tom struggles with his printed-page namesake ... and then, eerily, the line separating fiction and reality begins to fade and bend.

The Harry Potter connection is obvious, but Hero Complex tells us that the fictional boy who must grow up as a real man references A.A. Milne's son Christopher, immortalized as Christopher Robin in the Winnie the Pooh books.

"We had this experience of — wherever we looked — the world was throwing bits of our story back to us," Carey told our reporter. Which sounds a lot like what Alan Moore wrote in the 1988 Graphitti Designs edition of "The Watchmen": "There was the weird delight of stumbling across some previously unheard quotation or fragment of obscure information that would fit with supernatural precision into what we were attempting to construct."

A preview of three pages from "The Unwritten" is available now on Hero Complex.

— Carolyn Kellogg

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