Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Stuff of Legend, Book 1: The Dark - A Graphic Novel Review

In many ways The Stuff of Legend, Book One: Into the Dark, written my Mike Raicht and Brian Smith, Illustrated by Charles and Paul Wilson III,  reminds me of a fairy tale. Its pages are dark, dangerous and strangely pleasant. This is a story about a band of toys on a rescue mission to save “the boy,” their friend and master, from the Boogeyman, Lord of The Dark. Where the boy has been taken we do not know. We only know his toys and puppy, led by the Colonel, are desperate to save him.

The Boogeyman is scary. When I was very little I was sure there was something sinister hiding in the shadows beneath my bed. I would get a running start and leap into my bed so that there was no way I could be snatched by an arm from under my box springs. The opening pages perfectly capture that horrifying feeling I had for a split second whilst sailing through the air before hitting my pillow – that terrifying feeling that something was about to drag me under. One of my favorite frames is drawn from the boy’s perspective. We see the boy’s hands stretched out towards Maxwell, the teddy bear lying helpless in his frozen state, watching as the boy is dragged off by the Boogeyman. Can you imagine watching someone you love being abducted while you are unable to move or speak? The boy’s kidnapping is a heavy blow to Maxwell.

The sepia tone leant a serious feel to the book which worked well considering the book’s themes. Each character was vital to the story, adding something important to each other’s characterization. The “natural” representation of each toy was just what I thought they’d be like. I actually enjoyed the way book one dropped off. I don’t want to give much away but I thought it was clever.

There are many themes in this graphic novel: war, friendship and loyalty stand out the strongest. The toys’ resolve is tested as they face foes from within and without their party. Worst of all, they can’t seem to find out anything about the boy. I found this to be the most frustrating part of the story. As much as I enjoyed the toys’ adventures, I wanted to know more about why the boy was taken in the first place. Perhaps unanswered questions are customary with comic books but I felt this first installment, especially as a graphic novel, would have been stronger with more information here. However, I thoroughly enjoyed The Dark and want to read the next book.

What do you think of the cover? Doesn’t Maxwell’s face epitomize determination? I love it.
Publisher: Villard, 2010     Pages: 128     Source: Purchased on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars     Recommended Age: 12 and up (There's a few pictures very young children might find too scary.)


  1. You wrote a really great review of this book! Actually, I like it better than the one I wrote. :) I also was one of those kids who was convinced something could reach out from under the bed and grab my foot -- or my stuffed animal, if I let it fall on the floor. Even now, I don't let my feet hang off the bed. I agreed with your comment about how the toys can't seem to find out much about the boy, and I'm hoping the next book will go into this a bit more. Anyway -- nice reading what you wrote! :) My own review is:

  2. Wow...this looks so cool. I love, love the cover. You're right - the sepia tone does add something.

  3. I've never read a graphic novel, but this one sounds kinda good! I may have to check it out. Great review :)

  4. Jo - Thanks for the compliment! Actually, your review is great and is one of the reasons I broke down and purchased The Dark! I was not dissapointed!

    JessieJay89 - there are some truly fabulous graphic novels out there. Check out my lables for a showing of the ones I've reviewed. I have't read a bad one yet this year.

  5. This book sounds like a lot of fun. I'll have to keep an eye out for it to thumb through it. I enjoy graphic novels, but I have to like the artwork in order to push through, so I prefer to thumb through it first.

    Thanks for a great review. :)

  6. This book looks amazing. I'd never even heard of it until I cam here and was immediately interested by the cover. I'm obsessed with Tim Burton and illustrations that look like they're a cross between childlike and scary. I'll have to look for this.