Friday, January 28, 2011

Graphic Friday: The Stuff of Legend Book 1: The Dark

Author:  Mike Raicht and Brian Smith
Illustrator:  Charles Paul Wilson III

Summary:  The year is 1944.  As Allied forces fight the enemy on Europe's war-torn beaches, another battle begins in a child's bedroom in Brooklyn.  When the nightmarish Boogeyman snatches a boy and takes him to the realm of hte Dark, the child's playthings, led by the toy soldier known as the Colonel, band together to stage a daring rescue.  On their perilous mission they will confront the boy's bitter and forgotten toys, as well as betrayal in their own ranks.  Can they save the boy from the forces of evil, or will they all perish in the process?

The Dish: When I first saw the cover, I was curious by what a walking teddy bear would be doing in an adult graphic novel.  Like most people who enjoy graphic novels, I would believe a teddy bear (especially one that can move about) would be in a juvenile or children's graphic novel.  So automatically, I wanted to know more about the storyline.  Max, the teddy bear, is one of many toys owned by a boy in 1944 Brooklyn.  It is at night that dark tendrils come out of the boy's closet, snatching and pulling him inside.  We later learn that the tendrils belong to none other than the Boogeyman himself.  Why he wanted this particular boy is not explained, but I'm confident there will be much more to that story when Book 2 comes out.  

It is when a group of eight toys and the boy's dog, Scout, led by the boy's current favorite toy only known as the Colonel enter the Dark that readers see the transformation of the toys into more realistic forms.  Max becomes the size of a grizzly bear, the Colonel, the Indian Princess, the Jester within the Jack-in-the-box, and the dancing doll Harmony all appear human-sized with human bodies, Percy the piggy bank is changed into a real pig wearing pants, and Quakers a wooden duck becomes a real duck.  It is my guess that this is either a show of the Boogeyman's power or the power of the realm of Dark itself.

Also, I thought it interesting that Wilson chose to keep all of the pages in sepia tones rather than full color.  Perhaps it is reminiscent of wartime in which so many things were considered too precious to be used so freely, or maybe it establishes the time period in a sense that most printed material was only available in these tones.  No matter what the means, I believe it does show the grave situation that the small group of toys are in and reflects the seriousness of what is transcribed in the story.  

This kind of story is definitely not an average children's tale even though it involves a child's toys and possessions.  It makes me remember when I and my friends would play out whole stories with our toys, even battles and fights just as this Brooklyn boy did.  The Stuff of Legend will make you think again about those stories and battles involving children's toys and imagination.  I eagerly await the release of The Stuff of Legend: Book 2.

What toys or books do you remember as being your favorites to play with or read as a child?


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