“If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him”.
Many things can be said about the latest Vertigo work to emerge from the team
of Mike Carey and Peter Gross. It can be said that The Unwritten is an examination of the human need to escape into a fictional world during troubled times. Or The Unwritten is metaphorical look at just how powerful the creative process truly is. Or a profound meditation on individuality, identity and the all-too-common theft thereof. Or a warning to pay attention to our own history so that we don’t repeat the mistakes of our ancestors. Even an outward strike at J. K. Rowling seemingly “borrowing” concepts from Gross’ Books of Magic for her records-breaking Harry Potter cycle.
In all honesty, The Unwritten is all these things and more.
It’s remarkably difficult to pin down The Unwritten in any brief way. A fact which, according to Shakespearean scholars, must mean that either the critic or the work itself is devoid of wit. Not so; The Unwritten’s first nine issues prove that it is still possible to create transcendent tales of pure originality in a world of endless prequels, sequels and reboots.
With its intricate, complex conceit of Tom Taylor — who may or may not be Tommy Taylor, the star of his father’s novels — Carey and Gross are very obviously not limiting themselves to discussing or analyzing any of the aforementioned ideas or concepts. Instead, they are screaming at other storytellers, crying out for trailblazing tales again. Because in a time of constant change and struggle, where humankind, our ideals and our morals are forced to evolve or die, so too must the stories we tell.
In essence, they are effectively blowing Roland’s horn (which, of course, appears in their story) to wash away the seas of mediocrity; let us hope their temples do not burst in the process.
This week’s Iconographies feature focuses on the groundbreaking new Vertigo book, The Unwritten and attempts a mapping out of the role of fiction in modern life, and the power of the comics medium.