Title: The Stuff of Legend, Book 1: The Dark
Related Series: The Stuff of Legend
Authors: Mike Raicht and Brian Smith, illustrated by Charles Paul Wilson III
Publisher: Villard Books
Studio Website: www.th3rdworld.com
Rating: 5/5 star
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Graphic novel category)
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 the 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 Stuff of Legend is a haunting and ultimately redemptive tale of loyalty, camaraderie, and perseverance.
What a fantastic find this was! Sarah, Brad and I were out having our usual Friday night, and we stopped at one of our local bookstores, and there, sitting on the shelf in the graphic novel section, was The Stuff of Legend, and one look at the cover told me this was something I needed to take home, and I'm not sorry at all that I bought it.
The writers waste no time in getting into the story, as the boy (who I think remained nameless throughout the book) is kidnapped by the Boogeyman within the first 4 pages of the story. Eight of his toys decide to rescue him, as they feel this is their duty to him. The boy's dog, Scout, accompanies them into the Dark, where the toys undergo an amazing transformation, becoming the real, "living" counterparts to their toy selves (for instance, the boy's teddy bear Max because a fierce grizzly bear). The toys are victorious against the Boogeyman's army in their first battle, but suffer a grave loss afterward in the form of a possible traitor in their midst.
The story does move along a little quickly, but it doesn't detract from the actual storytelling at all. There is real emotion in this book. It is a dark tale, but ultimately one that has a redemptive value that I think is rarely seen in this type of story. The only unfortunate aspect of the story is that it is being published in periodical form (this is a collected edition of the first two issues of the comic books), so there is going to be some wait until the next edition is released.
The art is beautiful as well, rendered in duotone pencil illustrations and presented to look like the pages of an old scrapbook or photo album. the transformation of the toys into their new selves is impressive, and I loved how the Boogeyman is drawn. He's both beautiful and horrible, all at the same time. It is simply an overall gorgeous presentation, and I am quite delighted that I stumbled on this in the bookstore. Now, just to wait for the next volume to be released so we can find out what happens next!