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Another one complete

Just since high school…

– Entire new Star Wars trilogy has come and gone. Been as long now SINCE the premiere of the last one as the entire time they were coming out.

– Entire Lord of the Rings trilogy has come and gone. This coming December will be 10 years since ‘Fellowship’. (And note the debate in Clerks II over the Classic Star Wars trilogy vs. Lord of the Rings trilogy)

– Entire Harry Potter film series has come and gone. Now, moving forward, anyone newly introduced to the films OR books has the entire series available. Assuming they have, want, and make the time–there’s no waiting for “the next chapter” to come out. No two year waits between books, no year and a half waits between films.

Saw the final HP film today. And frankly…I feel like I understood the ending a heckuva lot better than what I (thought I) could remember from reading the book. As a film series, I liked it. Didn’t even consciously occur to me until today that they never introduced Peeves, or went into any depth with Nearly Headless Nick. And occurred to me mid-week last week that we never got the subplot about Hermione and the House Elves at Hogwart’s, among other things.

Plenty of other thoughts, but those’ll be shared some other time.

Booking Through Thursday: Heavy

imageWhat’s the largest, thickest, heaviest book you ever read? Was it because you had to? For pleasure? For school?

05montecristoOffhand, I’m trying to think of any large/thick/heavy books I’ve read that would particularly trump any others. Probably The Count of Monte Cristo, read in high school.  Though that’s got enough years between happening and now that I don’t even recall if what I read was the unabridged version or if we read some sort of abridged version.

I imagine the Bible (NIV) might count—that’s certainly THE most significant book I’ve ever read. After years and years of it being any part of my life, several years back 04harrypotterI decided to take part in a 90-day bible-reading challenge with a local radio station…one of few such challenges I’ve ever completed.

Stephen King’s It may be a top candidate for length, read for pleasure sometime during high school. The fifth Harry Potter book—The Order of the Phoenix—also comes to mind as particularly thick.

03lesmisBack in 2004, I bought a copy of Les Miserables after developing a fascination with the Broadway musical after seeing a high school production with one of my best friends at her alma mater. Not sure I made it 50 pages in before being distracted by other stuff, and have yet to go back and finish it.

01capomnibusComic-wise, I think the first Ed Brubaker Captain America Omnibus is easily the largest, thickest, heaviest comic/graphic novel/whatever that I own. Though the Bone One-Volume Edition rivals it…but sadly, I’ve yet to get all the way through Bone.

Springboarding away from the topic at hand a bit, though….if we’d take “heavy” to mean substance and impact on a person for having read the work….I’d have to list the first 6 Left Behind novels, a number of Magic: The Gathering novels (primarily The Brothers’ War), several Dragonlance novels 02bone(primarily Dragons of Winter Night and Dragons of Summer Flame), as well as The Death of Superman, Batman: A Death in the Family, and DC’s Kingdom Come.

Of course…there’s loads I’m sure I’m not thinking of at the moment. But when you read enough….eventually one loses the ability to recall each and every thing read off the top of the head.

Photos From Home #9

Another shelf of books. These are all of my Dragonlance hardcovers, as well as the hardcovers I have of the Harry Potter series. I had a hardcover of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but gave that to my sister a few years back. It was shortly AFTER that that I actually got into the series, and book 5–Order of the Phoenix–was the first I read while only available in hardback. For lack of space on other similar shelves, my two zombie novels share space here. The Zombie Survival Guide, and the excellent World War Z.

Unwritten #2 [Review]

Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity: Chapter Two

Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Peter Gross
Colors: Chris Chuckry, Jeanne McGee
Letters: Todd Klein
Editor: Pornsak Pichetshote
Cover: Yuko Shimizu
Publisher: Vertigo / DC Comics

This issue continues to show us Tom Taylor and his quest for the truth–of himself, his dad, and what’s going on around him. He seeks out the woman his father had an affair with while he was a boy to ask her about his real mother. He’s referred to where his father was last seen, and heads there. The present-day story is interspersed with excerpts from the Tommy Taylor books, adding an extra layer to the story.

The art continues to work very well for the story, taking on the appropriate visual style for showing the ‘real world’ or the world within the Tommy Taylor books. No complaints from me there.

The story also continues to impress–there’s definite development of Tom, and forward movement to the story; between the pages showing excerpts from the books as well as “web activity” related to “current events” in the present-day part of the story, there’s a lot going on within these pages that help to make it feel like a longer read than it is–one cannot simply flip through the pages skimming the words as one can with some comics these days.

I’m not as blown away with this issue as I was with the first, having extremely high expectations after enjoying the premiere issue so thoroughly (plus, this issue managed to sneak out two weeks ago and I didn’t even notice it the week it was released).

While certainly not a done-in-one story, I do feel like I’m getting a decent value following this as single issues (for all two issues out so far)–I hope it continues that way, making the collected volume feel like less of a necessity for enjoyment of the story at hand.

If you can find that first issue still, I highly recommend snagging both issues–especially if you’re a fan of Harry Potter or have any interest (even academically) in the nature of the “phenomenon” surrounding the Harry Potter books.

Story: 8.5/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8/10

The Unwritten #1 [Review]

Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity

Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Peter Gross
Colors: Chris Chuckry
Letters: Todd Klein
Editor: Pornsak Pichetshote
Cover: Yuko Shimizu
Publisher: Vertigo / DC Comics

This issue opens with essentially a graphic novel representation of a popular kids’ book, one that I immediately compared to Harry Potter. The scene unfolds in a way that reminded me of the ending of Harry Potter, book 7…and at the conclusion of this scene, we move into a “real life” scene years after the Tommy Taylor book had seen print, and meet Tom Taylor. As the now-adult model for the fictional character, Tom has made a living cashing in on the fame thrust upon him–all the more as his father disappeared years earlier–some suspect murdered, but Tom just knows his father left him. At a TommyCon panel, Tom is asked by an audience member about his true past, revealing documents casting his identity into suspicion. As the suspicion makes the national news, Tom finds himself hated and hounded by the public.

I don’t have much to say about the art on this issue–it very much sets a certain tone, and conveys both a fantasy setting and “real world” settings very well. A number of small details capture the feel of the settings, while never making me feel like I was reading something trying to be anything other than a comic book. As a co-creator of the book, and this being the debut issue, there’s nothing prior to make much of a comparison to, but Gross’ work certainly sets a nice standard for a high level of visual quality on this.

The story, though, is what makes this issue. I found myself drawn in from the first page; familiarity with Harry Potter brought to mind, and curious what would set this apart from that. (Further reflection also has me reminded strongly of Abadazad.) We’re introduced to several in-story fictional characters, and then several characters meant to reflect the “real world” within this series. We’re not given a whole lot on any individual character, but we’re given enough to be interested in Tom and his life–who he really is, where he’s come from…what happened to his father, what inspired the Tommy Taylor stories, and a number of other questions. We have a realistic world built around the character–complete with news excerpts, web news articles, blog/chat excerpts, and even snippets of notes from the “author” of the Tommy Taylor books.

There is a lot at play here–I know just enough about writing that I can tell there’s loads of metatextual stuff to be found–that appeals on a number of levels. Wrap the multiple layers with the engaging story and believable characters that are familiar yet unknown enough to engage the reader.

This is one of the best reads I’ve found in comics in a long time…and certainly one of the best values in contemporary comics. We have an oversized issue with few ads priced at only $1; the story is very much a “pilot episode” of sorts, where there’s a story to be found just in this issue, while setting up plenty for the rest of the series to come. As a Vertigo book, I wouldn’t recommend this for the youngest readers, but with that in mind, I highly recommend this issue!

Story: 9/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 9/10

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