I prefer my comics to be driven by superheroes. That, to me, is what the comic book was invented for: a platform for the imagination and fantasy to fly unimpeded. I’ve been reading comics for as long as I can remember. Sometimes I’d just look at the drawings and make up my own stories, sure, but who among us hasn’t? It’s a natural extension of our imagination. Give us some pictures to look at and the natural gestalt-seeking human mind finishes the story.
Take it a step further now. You’ve just finished part two of a three-issue story, where does your mind go? Do you mentally try to predict what’s going to happen? How often does that ring true?
“The Stuff of Legend” doesn’t fall into that trap. This book is unpredictable from page to page. Turning the page you might just as easily see clay constructs molded by the hands of children stomping on toy soldiers or a stuffed bear conversing with a piggy bank. The great thing is that all of the characters in this story are fueled by imagination. This is the adventure of one child’s imagination springing an entire world forth. That child has disappeared and his toys are on a quest to find and rescue him.
Sure, it may seem like a story we’ve seen before, but any comparisons to “Toy Story,” or “Bump in the Night,” or the Island of Misfit Toys characters from the Rudolph holiday shows need to be put aside. So much of this book, like the plots of those other stories, is universal truth. We’ve all lost toys, people (temporarily in a department store or permanently through any number of other means), or valuables. We’ve all made stories of their journey or covered their disappearance. We’ve all, at some point, held onto an irrational fear of the dark: the darkness of men’s souls, the darkness in the closet, or the darkness under the bad. This story is about finding the strength and the courage to press on despite that darkness. This story continues to surprise me with its deceptive simplicity. It seems like an easily drawn-up story, but I feel nothing could be further from the truth. Raicht and Smith write to the reader’s heart and soul.
Without word, but by image alone, this story would soar. Charles Paul Wilson III’s art, purposefully limited to nostalgic earthtones and shadows, is wonderfully compelling. As I mentioned before, we all make up stories to image sets that we encounter, but Wilson’s images tell the story that Raicht and Smith intend cleanly and elegantly. The clay constructs are magnificently malformed, stomping across the landscape of imagination while the Boogeyman oozes out of the dark and threatens to overwhelm all with the pitch black that emanates from him.
This book invigorates me with each new issue. This story is compelling enough to stick with me over the two month (scheduled) gaps between issues. It all comes flooding back when I open the cover of the newest issue. If your shop doesn’t have “The Stuff of Legend,” ask them about it. You owe it to yourself to take a divergent path with some of your comics. This comic’s path is going through “The Jungle” and it has more than enough room for you to join the journey.