Thursday, May 2, 2013

Down The Mysterly River, by Bill Willingham (Author) & Mark Buckingham (Illustrator)

 I've been a fan of Bill Willingham's since his aborted masterpiece COVENTRY. His Vertigo series FABLES is consistently brilliant and never less than entertaining, and he continues his streak with his new Young Adult book, DOWN THE MYSTERLY RIVER. The book follows the adventures of a young Boy Scout named Max (Nicknamed "Max The Wolf") who wakes one day to find himself alone in the woods. Not just any woods, but woods inhabited by talking animals. Max befriends three of these animals, Walden the Bear, McTavish The Monster (A grizzled barn cat), and Banderbrock the Badger, and the quartet discovers that they are being pursued by "The Blue Cutters", a brotherhood of men and women who wield powerful blue swords capable of inflicting cuts that can mold the victim's body and personality into whatever the Cutter wishes them to be. Max and company follow the course of the Mysterly River, hoping to find sanctuary at the Castle of the Wizard Swift, encountering new friends and enemies along the way.

Willingham's story serves as a great adventure for young adult readers, and as a scathing indictment of censorship for adults. He brilliantly presents the struggle of creative people against Editors, which is especially relevant for a Writer like Willingham, who has been at the mercy of Comic-Book Editors and suits, who constantly tinker with character and continuity to suit their own untalented vision. DOWN THE MYSTERLY RIVER is a brilliant, heartbreaking book....I'm going to be saving my copy for my kids to read when they get a little bit older. Highly recommended.