To be fair, the only things I’ve read by Mike Carey are The Unwritten and a few issues of Suicide Risk. But that doesn’t mean he’s not On the Shelf permanently.
How I Found Him
I was gawking at the weird and wonderful things in the aisles of Richard’s Variety Store when I stumbled upon a table of trade paperbacks. There, among other titles and volumes I’d already enjoyed, I plucked the volume 4 trade Leviathan from the table. There was no previous or later volume. Just this one. It intrigued me. I flipped through it.
“Every issue is someone’s first” is one of those things people repeat about comics so often it’s hard to Google the original speaker. So, for me, Volume 4 of the trades of Unwritten was my first. It was… not the best place to start. It was confusing and strange.
I bought everything else I could find in the series, and I reread volume 4 in order, and it made so very much more sense.
Why I Love Reading His Work
As I’ve mentioned before when writing about this series, every word matters. The attention to detail – of the writer and of the reader – is absolutely essential. More than that, though, Carey demands that you’ve read other things outside of his work as well.
You don’t have to be a student of mythology to appreciate the allusions in Gaiman’s Sandman series, but familiarity makes the experience so much richer. The same goes for Carey. You don’t have to have read Dickens, Kipling, Hobbes, or Melville. You don’t have to understand the Harry Potter series backwards and forward. But if you have read those things, if you do understand the fullness of the literary milieu, then you have a far better grasp of what’s really going on in the series.
There’s a part of me that feels smart and well-read when I read The Unwritten, and that strokes my ego. It doesn’t talk down to me as a reader, and expects quite a lot of me, in fact. I appreciate that.
What I’ve Learned About Writing From Him
I think, when my comic book project finally makes it into the world, people will feel Mike Carey’s influence on my work. The nuance of how they intertwine the magic and the image and word – I think that will certainly be part of it.
I’ve always been told that I ask a lot of my readers. I wonder if Mike Carey is proof that sometimes, that’s okay to do.