I have to imagine a large percentage of readers and listeners of this piece will be fans of Willingham's Fables comic series. I've been following that series for a couple of years now and have never been disappointed by the high quality of storytelling and Willingham's ability to surprise me. Having finished listening to Peter & Max, I can tell you this story holds up quite nicely to the high mark set by Fables. That said, I think it's also clear that Mr. Willingham hasn't found his prose voice yet, despite the strength of his writing voice in comics. There were times I felt he tried too hard to describe a character or a character's feelings, when really I'd already formed the picture in my mind a couple of sentences earlier. There were also times where the writing was so wonderfully vivid that the scenes were quite evocative. The scene where Max attacks his father leaps to mind, where any doubt of Max's insanity and capacity for brutality were completely removed.
Wil Wheaton's reading I found to be quite pleasant. Only once or twice did I feel like he'd made a goofy choice of voice for a character, but in retrospect I think he did that quite on purpose to match the given scene. Some of his work was stunningly good, like his work as Frau Totenkinder. Also his timing as a reader, thanks to what I know are good sketch comedy chops, I find to be impeccable. If I have any complaints it would be that on several occasions he finished sentences with such a drop in volume that I often lost the last word of the sentence if I was listening in the car. Never a problem in headphones, only if there was ambient noise to deal with. (A side note: I highly recommend Wheaton's autobiographical book and audiobook, 'Just a Geek.')
It's clear that Willingham has tapped into a rich and fascinating world that can support stories in many mediums; I look forward to more prose and more comics!
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