THE UNWRITTEN is about the stories behind stories, so how’s this for appropriate?
Issue 5 is a one-off focusing on Rudyard Kipling, and while most people think The Jungle Book when you mention him, Mike and Peter thought Just-So Stories.
In that anthology of children’s tales, there’s a story called “How the Alphabet was Made.” It’s a whimsical tale about how a girl and her father invented the alphabet to be used as a secret code between them. But check out the poem at the end of the story:
OF all the Tribe of Tegumai
Who cut that figure, none remain,--
On Merrow Down the cuckoos cry
The silence and the sun remain.
But as the faithful years return
And hearts unwounded sing again,
Comes Taffy dancing through the fern
To lead the Surrey spring again.
Her brows are bound with bracken-fronds,
And golden elf-locks fly above;
Her eyes are bright as diamonds
And bluer than the skies above.
In mocassins and deer-skin cloak,
Unfearing, free and fair she flits,
And lights her little damp-wood smoke
To show her Daddy where she flits.
For far--oh, very far behind,
So far she cannot call to him,
Comes Tegumai alone to find
The daughter that was all to him.
The first time Mike Carey read it – I believe as a kid – he had no idea what it meant, but he knew it was about a helluva lot more than the alphabet.
It was. Kipling’s daughter died at some point before he wrote the book. Read it again with that in mind.
It’s amazing what you find in these little kid stories.
And that’s only the tip of how fascinating Kipling’s life is. THE UNWRITTEN 5 – “How the Whale Became” – gets into all of that and the mysterious unwritten conspiracy that’s got its eyes on Tom Taylor. It features cameos by Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde and might cause you to take rethink some of the things you saw in the first 4 issues – or things you’ll see in the next storyline – which maybe we should have titled “The Song of Roland.” Everyone on board took extra time on this one. Don’t believe me? You can check out Peter’s extra care on the black and white art in this issue.