I was really looking forward to this book.
Here’s Studio407’s promo blurb:
“Fantasy is serious business for the Fictionauts. From Dickens to Moby Dick, these heroes scour the vast metaphysical space between works of fiction to protect our world from the dangerous psychic anomalies that can occur when stories overlap. Set in the Golden Age of Science Fiction, their adventures take them to the edge of imagination and beyond. But the Fictionauts face the ultimate challenge when the mysterious Agent X tears down the barriers between the worlds of fiction and reality.”
As a fan of Jasper Fforde’s “Thursday Next” novels, the comic “The Unwritten” put out by Vertigo (DC) as well as a fan of retro futurism in general this book should have been a slam dunk. And indeed the art is spectacular. The kind of book that as you turn the pages you want each one as a print. Look:
So the art is gorgeous, the concept is right up my alley. So what went wrong?
Well in my opinion the writing is the problem, as I read I kept feeling like I was missing something. The book opens with an introduction of the world and the main characters (done quite smartly) and you’re all ready to jump into a rollicking adventure. An adventure that just never seems to materialize. There’s a story there to be sure and it’s not a bad one. The problem is the story meanders through about fifty pages of self referential anecdotes which are never explained and characters we meet once and never see again. This story could have been told in forty eight pages instead of eighty and would have been better for it. For all the retro future trappings most of the dialogue was trapped firmly in the current vernacular, like the scientist who says “Tolstoy’s Beard!” as an exclamation on one page then later says that a villain was “pranking us big time”. It’s inconsistencies like this that drive me nutty.
If you’ve read my site in the past you’ve probably noticed I rarely write a negative review. I find the old adage “if you don’t have something nice to say don’t say anything at all” to be words to live by. So why review this comic at all? Because there is a good story in here, somewhere, if you can put up with the parts that muddy the plot or just don’t make a lot of sense. I understand that the author was going for a classic movie serial vibe. It’s there but the gaps in the story, the plot holes, just make it less fun to read. For many of you the art alone makes this graphic novel worth buying. So instead of looking for more things to gripe about let’s check out some more of that amazing art.
Writer Mauro Mantella
Artist/Cover Artist Leandro Rizzo
What do you think? Have you read it? Do you plan on reading it? Did my review miss the mark? Let me know, leave a comment, join the conversation…