Saturday, 10 October 2009

Stuff of Legend - #2

One sad thing that came out during my search for issue one of the excellent Stuff of Legend was the fact that so many shops hadn’t ordered or had under ordered the run based on the shape of the book. Those same stores were quick to order up reprints, as the initial run quickly sold out, and a combination of great word-of-mouth and internet buzz soon propelled the book into a must find series.

Beautifully chilling artwork by Charles Paul Wilson III (pencils) and Michael DeVito & Jon Conkling (colourists) – almost a filtered twist on the art from classic children’s books – combined with sinister writing from Mike Raicht and Brian Smith, give the small story an amazingly epic feel. It would be easy to play high concept and bat around phrases like “Toy Story meets Lord of the Rings”, but the book, while moving through recognisable tropes and movements, manages to feel fantastically fresh, in part due to the format. It’s a story of heroes so far removed from the comic-book world of super-folks as can be.

Issue two picks up pretty much where one left us, although the climax of one showed that in the Dark, death was a very real thing for our band of heroic toys (and puppy). Percival, the trapped-by-destiny piggy bank, has possibly been turned by the Boogeyman, and may be performing his duty in slowing the group down in their quest to find their Boy. However, his duplicity might not be necessary, as the group soon stumble upon the not-quite-right town of Hopscotch, and get roped into the Game, overseen by the town’s Mayor.

Told somewhere in tone between the Prisoner and Return to Oz, the sense of danger and bleakness is only undercut by the real sense of drive and determination of most of the group, the warmth of friendships being formed and of the slightly removed dangerous playfulness of Jester. Along with our main cast, more of the discarded toys that have been turned to the Boogeyman’s way are introduced, the scary Homer, a baseball playing toy that now serves as a messenger for the Boogeyman, and the Mayor and his “Bouncer”. Adding to the sense of danger in the world of the Dark is the fact that the captured Boy remains unseen.

Stuff of Legend is an amazingly rich book, deeper and more soulful than most sequential stories, an absolute joy to pour over, both the art and the writing. I only hope that those stores that ignored the initial run because of the shape of the book have realised the error of their ways, and that it is more readily available from here on.

Stuff of Legend is published by Th3rd World Studios.

Issue #2 is released October 21st, $4.99
Th3rd World Studios.

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