Warning: Contains Spoilers!
‘What the heck you scared for?’ he cried. ‘Yer ten times bigger’n me!’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: I once described Dancing Jax as ‘Wyrd Museum for a modern audience’. What I meant was ‘Wyrd Museum was riffing on Hollywood whimsy and British children’s classics first’, and this is where we start to see it.
Ted is a fascinating character. In Mr Jarvis’s handling of that cuddly ball of bile and sarcasm, there is an outright (and, in the mid-90s, not yet tired) rejection of the twee, vaguely Victorian portrayal of talking toys which Robin, and his readers, would have grown up with.
As Ted says to Neil, ‘this ain’t no kindergarten story’. Toys do not wake up on the stroke of midnight, there is no Santa Claus, and sometimes the ghosts of WWII GIs insult your dad to your face and then expect you to bust them out of glass cases. The whole feel of this chapter is more The Magic Toyshop than Winnie the Pooh, and it works extremely well. We kind of hate Ted a little for trampling on our happy childhood dreams, but equally, the possibilities of what might be really going on with him are too intriguing to resist.
Matt’s Thoughts: I’m thinking now that if we were to film Wyrd Museum, we’d run into rights issues nowadays given that Ted became the name of the famous Mark Wahlberg talking bear comedy.
But this Ted was around first, and I love the way his smart-talking American sass offsets the spookiness. (After all, if everyone sounded like the Webster sisters, it would run the risk of being a very grandiose book.) It’s pretty clear that our Ted is the soldier from the prologue, but really, the questions this raises are just more tantalising, even if we know that much. Like how did he become a teddy bear? How did he end up in the museum? What will he do if he gets out?
And, on a more sinister note, I’m starting to feel as if there is a villain of this piece, but we don’t know much about them. (It might be the giant cockroach thing on the cover, or it might be something else.) With previous Jarvis novels, we’ve known what the threat was early on, but the vagueness of this one is compelling.