‘Stuff of Legend’ puts army of toys in gruesome war story

“The Stuff of Legend” series is childhood on acid. So far, the series of graphic novels, written by Mike Raicht and Brian Smith, consists of three books, “The Dark,”  “The Jungle” and “A Jester’s Tale.”

The graphic novels are not for children and definitely not for the faint of heart. The cover might depict a wholesome fairy tale, but the pages of the novel actually contain a gruesome war story.

Set during World War II, a small platoon of toys set off into the Dark, a mysterious land controlled by the Boogeyman, to rescue their owner, a young boy, from the grasps of the Boogeyman and his army.

In the safety of the young boy’s room, the toys are simply stuffed animals, wooden toys and plastic figures, but once hurled into the Dark, they become life-sized vicious animals, throat-cutting warriors and sharp-shooting soldiers.

The army of toys, led by a ferocious teddy bear named Max, must travel through a foreign and hostile land and are faced with death, violence and betrayal, much like the real-life solders of World War II.

The concept of toys and the Boogeyman might sound childish and innocent at first glance, but the violence of war wipes away all innocence in the souls of the child’s toys. Raicht and Smith’s Boogeyman isn’t just a shadow in the night to frighten small children. Rather, he is a fearsome tyrant who leads his massive army into bloody conflicts and a villain who even Adolf Hitler would have to submit to.

“The Stuff of Legend” is beautifully illustrated by Charles Paul Wilson III, who along with Raicht and Smith, brings an entirely new level of creativity and intelligence to the world of graphic novels.

The series is three books in and thankfully not over yet.

“The Stuff of Legend’s third volume starts off with a bang and trails off with a great to be continued in the end,” wrote an author from Multiversity Comics. “The book has slowly and steadily been growing in quality (that started from a high point anyway) since the first volume, and has grown into a wonderful comic series that perhaps defines ‘hidden gem’ in the indie world right now.”

The series has a special quality that makes the story dwell in the reader’s mind long after setting the book down because, even though the writers use a child’s toys as main characters, the story can be broken down into a simple story of good in a war against evil.

“The Stuff of Legend” is a classic war story uniquely crafted into a twisted tale of adventure that will make the reader look twice at their favorite teddy bear.

Paige Jurgensen

Staff writer

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