A younger me might have thought my toys coming to life was creepy but…who am I kidding, I still fear that happening. Luckily, The Stuff of Legend from Th3rd World Studios mixes a good amount of magic and whimsy into their tales to keep things from going into Child’s Play territory. So far at least.
If you missed it’s debut last year, now’s the time to jump on board. The first volume, The Stuff of Legend: The Dark, debuted at #2 on the New York Times best-selling paperback graphic novels list and Volume II, The Stuff of Legend: The Jungle, Part 1 is in stores today.
Set in 1944, the story follows a group of toys that set out on a mission into their owner’s closet after he’d been kidnapped by the Boogeyman. What they weren’t expecting was to come out on the other side in a land called the Dark, where there was no sign of “the Boy” and their appearances were decidedly altered. Flesh and blood altered.
For humanoid characters like the Colonel, the Indian Princess, or Harmony the ballerina, the change is less subtle but for our beastly companions it’s quite the transformation. Max the adorable teddy bear is suddenly a ferocious grizzly, Percy the piggy bank finds himself unbreakable (At least in the usual piggy bank manner, though now he’s vulnerable to the slaughterhouse) and Quackers the wooden duck, well, he’s a normal duck but if you’ve ever strayed too close to a few ducklings in the park you know just how vicious their parents can be. And I can’t forget about my favorite character, Jester the Jack in the Box, who now gets to have legs. It may not sound like it but he’s one of the most badass characters I’ve ever read.
The imagination of this book knows no bounds and that’s thanks to the minds of it’s creative team. Writers Mike Raicht and Brian Smith have built a spectacular world with the help of artist Charles Paul Wilson III. With design and color by John Conkling and Michael DeVito the overall look of the issues is that of an old storybook. The Stuff of Legend is entirely too easy to get lost in and way too hard to let go of. Each time I read an issue it was never enough which is why I was happy to hear this volume will consist of four issues instead of two like the first. And absolutely no momentum has been lost between the two.
Volume II, The Stuff of Legend: The Jungle, hits like a hatchet to the face. The Boy’s perspective is briefly shown (something we’ve been wondering about) before we’re tossed into the middle of a battle where our rag-tag group is fighting for their lives. They come to realize they aren’t as alone in the Dark as they thought. Some bitter ex-toyboxmates may be there as well. But the Boogeyman will stop at nothing to destroy them before they can find the Boy and that means using every resource at his disposal.
Several new mysteries and lots of plot threads are opened this issue and I’m more than a little excited to see where they all lead. The best part is, the surface of all these characters have barely been scratched. Raicht and Smith give surprising depth to toys, even pre-transformation. You’ll be surprised by how much humanity they have. And we’ve certainly only seen the very least of what the Boogeyman is capable of.
Yet again, Wilson’s art is phenomenal. Of course we see less of the real-world versions of the toys (something I dare you to not call adorable) this time around but his work is strong in either setting. He has a big job on his shoulders for this book and it seems he’s a case of “love what you do” because it shows. One quick look at a character’s eyes and you’ll understand what I mean.
While this is listed as horror (and I’m a wimp who’s wary of forgotten toys coming after her), The Stuff of Legend really is a book that kids can handle. I’d say ten and up probably but read it first and use your best judgment. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed it doesn’t get much scarier. And my closet doors will remain firmly shut.Want to check out Stuff of Legend for yourself? How does "free" sound as an entrance price? Click here for 2009's Free Comic Book Day issue, and click here for 2010's Free Comic Book Day Issue, then go find the other books in stores!