An integral part of the Sandman Universe line-up and the revitalization of DC's Vertigo imprint, boy magician Timothy Hunter returns to comics this week in Books of Magic #1 by novelist Kat Howard, artist Tom Fowler, colorist Jordan Boyd and letterer Todd Klein. Created by Neil Gaiman and John Bolton in 1990, the young magician learned from a conclave of DC's most powerful magic-wielders that he was destined to become either the greatest or most lethal magician the world has ever known -- that is, unless he chose to leave the mystical world behind in favor of an everyday life in the "mundane" world.
By the end of that initial series, which featured a different artist painting each issue, Tim couldn't have chosen the ordinary world if he tried. While later series saw Tim's life take a number of divergent paths as he grew to adulthood -- the most recent series being 2004's Books of Magick: Life During Wartime -- this new series turns back the clock to an early point in Tim's magical training, during his school days.
Ahead of the series' debut, CBR spoke with Kat Howard and Tom Fowler about where the new series picks up, reinventing familiar characters, and the significance of the mundane to the magical universe.
CBR: Kat, there have been a few different takes on Books of Magic and Tim Hunter since the original series by Neil Gaiman in 1990. Where do we meet up with Tim in the new series? Is this a fresh start, or does it build from some of the earlier stories?
Kat Howard: It's not a completely fresh start -- fans of the original series will definitely recognize some characters and plot elements. That said, this is also meant to be a place where new readers can come in and pick things up without knowing anything about the previous series. It was a bit of a balancing act, but I hope the story will be entertaining for both groups of people.
Tom, the opening pages recount the events of the original Books of Magic miniseries, or at least a version of that story, using a number of visual styles -- I see tarot, illuminated manuscript designs, Greek vases and tiles, hieroglyphs, Silver Age comics, and more. How does this serve to establish Tim Hunter's world of magic?
Tom Fowler: The script originally called for the opening dream sequence to look like a medieval illuminated manuscript, but I thought it would be fun in a comic with "books" in the title to trace through the history of visual storytelling around the world instead. So along with the heraldry of medieval Europe, I attempted (hopefully more successfully than not) to show Assyrian clay tablets, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Chinese illuminated manuscripts, the Bayeaux Tapestry, woodcuts, Gustave Dore, Arthur Rackham, and up through Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby. I wanted to show the importance of written language in relation to Tim’s new world and, since this is comics, I wanted to do that with visual language.