Where’s the magic?

Where’s the magic?
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First Published: Sat, Jan 26 2008. 12 02 AM IST

Updated: Sat, Jan 26 2008. 12 02 AM IST
As a reader of comics, this columnist has had several disappointments.
Such as the Virgin comic authored by Mike Carey. Surely, the author of Lucifer and the comic book version of Neverwhere, and one of the finest miniseries within the larger Constantine series could not have had anything to do with Voodoo Child?
Or Alan Moore’s America’s Best Comics franchise that, somehow, just doesn’t do anything for your favourite columnist.
Or the subject of this week’s CF, The Books of Magic.
The Books of Magic (let’s call it T-bom shall we, a nice evocative abbreviation) has been singled out for this column simply because it began very well.
The first volume was written by Neil Gaiman whose books have featured in this column more than any other authors. It tells the story of Timothy Hunter, a young boy who is destined to be the greatest magician ever. Young Timothy doesn’t know any of this, of course, and in the first book, his education starts. His teachers are Mister E, Doctor Occult, John Constantine, and the Phantom Stranger. All four are DC (as in the publishing franchise) characters, and all four are what could be called magicians, mystics, or simply people with more knowledge of the occult than they should have. The book charts Timothy’s journey through the history of magic and those who really understand such things know that this description is right and time can sometimes be a space.
The subsequent books (there are around five, I think) never really capture the spirit of the first and one reason for this could be that they were not written by Gaiman. The way the comics world works is that writers sometimes abandon the characters they have created and the stories they have begun in other hands. Sometimes this is done voluntarily because the writers want to move on to other things. At other times the publishing company brings in a new writer because it thinks the existing one isn’t doing a good enough job. Well, Gaiman left The Books of Magic, and although I have read all the other books in the series that came out, I didn’t really think they were any good.
Gaiman created Timothy Hunter’s character in the early 1990s. Timothy comes from a broken household, wears oversized round frame glasses, and has a pet owl (and remember, he is set to be the most powerful magician in the world). Remind you of someone who came on the scene almost a decade later?
It did to me. However, Gaiman has always dismissed this coincidence as, er, a coincidence.
Write to Sukumar at cultfiction@livemint.com
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First Published: Sat, Jan 26 2008. 12 02 AM IST
More Topics: Comics | Fiction | Books | Characters | Writers |