Introducing 'The Stuff of Legend'- First Look

THe Stuff of Legend, FCBD edition

On Free Comic Book Day, readers will get a preview of a new comic from Th3rd World Studio called The Stuff of Legend.

Set during World War II, The Stuff of Legend is about a group of toys who venture off from the security of the toy chest to save their kidnapped young master from the Boogeyman. In a story by Mike Raicht and Brian Smith with artwork by Charles Paul Wilson III, the comic follows the toys as they venture into The Dark, an evil land populated by bitter, lost and discarded toys who have taken on the Boogeyman's mysterious cause.

"Our Free Comic Book Day offering will contain over 20 pages of story from our first issue, which is over 50 pages long and will be hitting the stands in July," Raicht said. "We're releasing the actual issue in July in order to give those that check out the book out on Free Comic Book Day a chance to let their retailers know if they would like to purchase the series. We're really hoping retailers will give the book a chance on Free Comic Book Day and spread the word by having the books in their stores in order to gauge interest in the series."

There's a lot of buzz about the small publisher's 20-page preview being offered free on FCBD, and one glance at the artwork explains why. As comics writer and Lost scribe Brian K. Vaughan said, "This is some of the loveliest artwork I've seen in a comic book in a long, long time, and a darkly beautiful story to boot." The art was called "fantastic" and "luxurious" by writer Joe Kelly, who

added, "what looks at first blush to be a simple story quickly reveals itself to be layered, emotional, and complex."

The artist was discovered by Th3rd World publisher Michael DeVito. "[He] knows a lot of the up-and-coming artists around the 'net right now and he hooked us up with Charles," Raicht said. "Charles is a genius. He really brings so much to what we're doing and adds a completely classic feel to the story I'm not sure we would get from anyone else."

Raicht said the idea for the story came to him after his son was born. "I saw him surrounded by his toys, most prominently a large, slumped-over Teddy Bear, almost as if they were all standing guard over him," the writer said. "I started talking over some ideas with Brian Smith, a writer and artist I frequently collaborate with, and things just started to click.

"For the most part though, I wanted to create a fantasy world to tell stories in and for my son to enjoy," he said. "Like most things I work on, the book took a bit of a dark, twisted turn towards an evil Boogeyman character and a shadow world called The Dark, but my mind was originally in the right place. Maybe we should all feel a bit sorry for my son, right?"

Raicht pointed out that the comic isn't just a light-hearted kiddie-book, as it explores more complex, darker elements of growing up, like The Boogeyman and war. Raicht called the comic "PG," adding that, "I think all kids want the adult themes in their books, and what makes a book age appropriate is how those themes are presented."

The creators are hoping the first two 50-page issues of The Stuff of Legend are just the beginning, with a complete introductory storyline in those 100 pages, but a tale that paves the way for more. "It is an opening arc meant to introduce the fans to all of the boy's toys: His dog Scout, The Boogeyman, The Dark, and a place called Boardland," he said.

"If things go well sales-wise, we are hoping to explore The Dark and these characters for a long time to come," Raicht said. "We've always looked at this as an epic, dark fantasy with twists and turns, with new characters coming and going, and with tragedies and triumphs that will take these characters on an adventure they, and hopefully the reader, will never forget."

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