Hello there!

First, an introduction for myself; then, one for the “The Unwritten.” My name is John Sines, and I have maintained an affectionate relationship with the comic book / graphic novel medium for some time now. I grew up with the X-Men (especially Gambit and Cyclops), Spiderman, Superman, Batman, Thor, Swamp Thing, Fantastic Four, and the list goes on – super heroes were a large part of my childhood. I won’t deny that, for a little while, comic books were fantasy fulfillment – I loved seeing super awesome powerful dudes fighting other super awesome powerful dudes. It’s was cool. Then, as I entered into adulthood (which I continue to do, against my strongest of urgings), I kept comics around. Their merits, I recognized and knew, run deeper than sci-fi/fantasy gimmicks. In fact, I find it surprising that this medium of storytelling is so often subjected to that stigma. Popular culture can find art in plays, novels, novellas, and vignettes. It can also find art in drawings, paintings, pastels, and watercolors. So, why is it that a blending of the two mediums is met with dismay? The comic book / graphic novel medium is a unique method of storytelling and expression. They often boil a story down to it’s essentials. I don’t mean this in the negative way, as there is no loss of meaning. In fact, I find it similar to poetry – which is widely known and appreciated for loading meaning into few words. As noted by Elizabeth earlier in this blog, Spiderman is poetic – practically a series of alliterative picturebook poems. The latest comic I’ve read is titled, “The Unwritten” by Mike Carey, creator of the Eisner Award nominated comic “Lucifer.” Now to put my point bluntly, “The Unwritten” fulfills every requirement of being literary, well. At it’s base, “The Unwritten” is a discourse on the creative power of an author. The story revolves around Tom Taylor, a man who was made famous by the novels written by his father. The novels are akin to the Harry Potter series, and enlist the authors son as the protagonist (similar to how Christopher Robin of Winnie-the Pooh was based on Christopher Robin Milne). This became a great source of discontent for Tom. When it comes to light that there is no proof of Tom Taylor being his father’s biological son, many (eventually including Tom himself) begin to question if he is in fact the Tommy Taylor of the novels brought to life. From this, the cultural and ideological power of stories is explored. The comic makes use of literary allusion and reference, using Shelly’s “Frankenstein,” Melville’s “Moby Dick,” the French epic, “Song of Roland,” and many more. More importantly, these stories are not randomly pulled out of the literary hat, but chosen to interact with the story in interesting and meaningful ways. Frankenstein’s monster often appears to Tommy as a friend, which plays on the idea of Tommy being created rather than birthed naturally. I’ll add a Character, Setting, Plot, Style, Theme explanation soon, but I wanted to offer up a quick introduction first.

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3 Responses to Hello there!

  1. mapagliaro says:

    An excellent start, John! I really like how you explore the larger meta-literary aspects of the text (the interaction of the “story” of the book and Tom’s reality, etc.) For your next post, maybe try something a little more systematic, to facilitate the comparison and evaluation we do in the upcoming weeks? Just a thought.

  2. eabookhultz says:

    Awesome. John Sines is awesome.

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