Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Unwritten #17

Written by Mike Carey
Art by Peter Gross and Ryan Kelly

I'm sure that a lot is going to get written about this issue of The Unwritten, as Carey has borrowed a page from the old 'Choose Your Own Adventure' comics, and presented 'The Many Lives of Lizzie Hexam' as a labyrinthine example of that much-maligned and often horrible genre of children's book.

Lizzie Hexam is a supporting member of the Unwritten cast, and she is either a living character from a Dickens novel, or is a real person who believes that's who she is.  This comic clears up the mystery, but it depends entirely on which storyline you choose to follow, as Carey presents both as viable options, and links them together so that the main plot elements of this comic - Tom and Savoy bringing her out of her coma and escaping the hospital with her - take place no matter which path you choose.

And in that way, the illusion of choice in the story is really just a gimmick, but an interesting one nonetheless.  To tell this story, Carey increased the page count and had the book drawn in a landscape orientation, effectively splitting each sideways page into two, so that there can be more options and paths to follow.  However, most of the story progresses linearly, with the only option presented to the reader to be to 'Turn to Page X'.

Regardless, this is an interesting issue of The Unwritten, although I don't think it will do too much to retain any new readers that the format attracts.  The story is just too confusing at this point to draw anyone new in.  Also, I don't think this will look too good once it's collected in trade - the sideways orientation never works.

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