Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “Peter Gross”

llp’s #CBR IV Review 15: The Unwritten, by Mike Carey and Peter Gross, Volumes 1-3

So, I finished these back in April, and have had one sentence written until I just reviewed in a rush this morning. I have about ten reviews waiting to be written. I feel the shame, particularly because I love this series and wish I could have written a much more eloquent review, months ago. Ah well.

TheFatling’s #CBR4 Review #10 #11 #12 #13: The Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman/John Ney Reiber*


My Vertigo tarot deck recently reminded me that I’d been meaning to read The Books of Magic for quite some time (due to some BoM artwork on the cards, my tarot isn’t actually psychic or anything).  I’m only four volumes in, and apparently my local library doesn’t have the fifth book.  I’m really on the fence about continuing with the series.  It hasn’t held up anywhere near the standard of Gaiman’s Sandman series, either in story or artwork, and I’m not willing to spend money on the next book in the series.

The Books of Magic follows Tim Hunter, a bespectacled young boy who lives with his negligent father.  His mother died in a car accident years before, and the accident appears to have been caused by his father, who drinks and watches television to avoid dealing with life.  One day, Tim is visited by a mysterious foursome–John Constantine, the Stranger, Dr. Occult, and Mr. E–who tell him that he has a lot of magical potential.  They take him on a journey through time, space, and magical history, ostensibly to allow him to choose an ordinary life or a life of magic, though of course he chose a life of magic by agreeing to the tour.  The first volume’s artwork is beautiful, but the story is labyrinthine and slight when all is said and done.

The second volume, Bindings, sees John Ney Reiber taking over for Gaiman in the story department, and the difference is clear.  This is easily the worst of the series so far, involving a convoluted paternity dispute as an excuse to spend time with Death, Gaiman’s most famous creation.  It doesn’t help that in both the first and second volumes, Tim is as petulant and whiny as Order of the Phoenix-era Harry Potter–and I’m not just saying that because both boys have spectacles and pet owls.  He’s still unpleasant in the other collections, but in these two, he’s pretty unbearable.

Summonings, the third volume, is a marked improvement, with the introduction of Molly, Tim’s once and future love interest, a steampunk villain, and a charming succubus named Leah.  Things take a turn for the confusing in Reckonings, the fourth volume, wherein an adult Tim’s dealings with a cynical demon named Barbatos have consequences that reach back through space and time to affect present-day Tim and Molly.

Tim doesn’t appear to actually be going through any magical training, forced to muddle through and learn by trial and error, which is actually an interesting concept.  Unfortunately, the series’ heavy-handed moralizing and confusing timeline haven’t really paid off for me.  I’m invested just enough to be curious about how everything ultimately hangs together, but it looks like the collected volumes don’t actually include the conclusion of the story.  If I happen to find a cheap copy of the next volume, I’ll probably read on, but otherwise I’m sure I’ll manage not knowing what Tim Hunter’s future holds.

*I didn’t include all the artists in my title because it would be super-long, but here are their names:

John Bolton, Scott Hampton, Charles Vess, Paul Johnson, John Ridgeway, Peter Gross, Peter Snejbejerg, Gary Amaro, Dick Giordano.

narfna’s #CBR4 Review #31: The Unwritten, Vol. 5 “On to Genesis” by Mike Carey and Peter Gross

So, The Unwritten.

It’s really hard to describe why I love this series so much. In fact, it’s really hard to describe this series, period. It is fantastically complex, but not in a confusing way, and not in that way that “smart” things tend to be, where you just know there’s something you should be getting, but you just . . . aren’t. It’s the kind of story that has layers, and if you want to read it as a straight-up adventure, you can certainly do that, but past the surface thriller stuff, this series has meat, ya’ll.

Here, let me steal from the description:

“Tom Taylor’s life was screwed from go. His father created the Tommy Taylor fantasy series, boy-wizard novels with popularity on par with Harry Potter. The problem is Dad modeled the fictional epic so closely to Tom’s real life that fans are constantly comparing him to his counterpart, turning him into the lamest variety of Z-level celebrity. In the final novel, it’s even implied that the fictional Tommy will crossover into the real world, giving delusional fans more excuses to harass Tom.
When an enormous scandal reveals that Tom might really be a boy-wizard made flesh, Tom comes into contact with a very mysterious, very deadly group that’s secretly kept tabs on him all his life. Now, to protect his own life and discover the truth behind his origins, Tom will travel the world, eventually finding himself at locations all featured on a very special map — one kept by the deadly group that charts places throughout world history where fictions have impacted and tangibly shaped reality, those stories ranging from famous literary works to folktales to pop culture. And in the process of figuring out what it all means, Tom will find himself having to figure out a huge conspiracy mystery that spans the entirety of the history of fiction.”

But even that description doesn’t do it justice. And yes, Harry Potter is obviously the connection to make here, but I think it’s worth noting that what Mike Carey actually had in mind was the life of A.A. Milne’s son, who was the inspiration for Christopher Robin in Winnie the Pooh. In an interview with, Carey noted that:

“Milne grew up feeling that his father had stolen his childhood from him, turned a profit from it and then given it back to him in a form he couldn’t use. Our Tom is very much in that situation when we first meet him, although we take his identity crisis a fair bit further than that.”

What The Unwritten does is explore the lines between fiction and reality, and it does so in really creative ways, with absolutely gorgeous artwork to boot. Volume 5, “On to Genesis,” in particular takes that concept one step further, as we get justhismuch closer to learning how Tom Taylor came to be, through the backstory of an anonymous comic writer Wilson Taylor — Tom’s father and creator of Tommy Taylor — fell in love with back in the 20’s. He met her at the behest of the mysterious collective he was working for at the time — the same collective that would later murder him in an attempt to control his stories, which in turn control the world (it sounds complicated, but trust me, it’s awesome) —  but he fell in love with her instead of co-opting her story for the nefarioius purposes he was supposed to.

If you’re looking for a new graphic novel series to become obsessed with, check out The Unwritten first, but don’t tell me if you don’t like it because then I’ll have to go away and cry in a corner.

[Link to original review here.]

nidaros’s #CBR4 Review #2 The Unwritten series by Mike Carey & Peter Gross

The Unwritten

What if your dad wrote the world’s most popular fantasy series (ala Harry Potter) and the main character was named after you?

You spend your life caught up in the mania surrounding the book character and then as an adult, your father vanishes… and your life begins to resemble the books…

This series of graphic novels follows Tommy Taylor on the quest to find his father after Wilson Taylor disappears under mysterious circumstances.  Don’t want to go into too much more detail, as I’m afraid of wandering into spoiler territory.

Honestly, I cannot recommend this series highly enough.  The plot is clever, funny, literary and always a bit mindbend-y. Peter Gross’s artwork is amazing.

I am always anxious for the next installment, in the very best way.  Carey & Gross do not disappoint.

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