The Unstuffed is a nice length, it feels (at least to me) like the comic equivalent to an action film. It has enough substance to carry it off but it’s generally short and to the point. Not that there is anything wrong with longer, or shorter, pieces of work but I think the length is pretty close to just right for this particular story.
However the story doesn’t end with The Unstuffed, there is second piece of work called Memory’s Threads which I’m not completely up to date with but looked promising when I last checked on it. If it’s as good as The Unstuffed then I’ll look to review it at a future date.
The characters and comic concept
In a world inhabited by stuffed animals a totalitarian regime has taken complete control. Dissenters have vanished and then returned as now loyal supporters of the regime. The world has become a peaceful, highly ordered society.
The very last pocket of active resistance comes from the remnants of a brutal mercenary band, Fox, also known as the “Left Hand of the Devil” and, Grey, the “Right Hand of the Devil”. There is no place for them in this shining new world and they accept a mission to take out the leader of the regime – President Brown.
It’s a strange concept, a world of stuffed toys, but personally I found it helped if you just think of the stuffing as some sort of organic matter that the beings of this planet are made from. Of course that may make it more disturbing when they are torn open and their stuffing is sprayed across a room. And of course the blood, as they also bleed, intermingling with the fluff, that’s also a little disturbing.
Fox and Grey are developed as much as the style and length of the comic allows – which isn’t a huge amount. But you get a good feel for their personalities and characters as the story develops. A third main character is introduced fairly early and she gets a bit more attention in terms of character development.
As mentioned the pacing and length of The Unstuffed is reminiscent of an action film. Pacing is tight and there’s an excellent sense of energy and urgency about it. As mentioned above there are some subplots going on in a tangent to the main plotline and while they’re quite good in their own right they have little impact or relevance to the main story line. Still they provide some reinforcement of the story’s tone.
The plot is reasonably linear and largely deals with characters attempting to get from A to B without being killed, maimed or blown up. What plot there is is mostly delivered via the conversations between characters in between action scenes and these are done quite nicely. There are a few action film clichés mixed in, the failure of the bad guys to finish off the main characters when they have their chance being the most blatant of them, but there’s enough quality in the rest of the work to carry it off.
Speaking of clichés the back story is laid out through some blatant exposition when one of the characters explains the entire back story to another character with a conveniently lost memory. But it’s relatively brief and, though I’d be much more impressed if it had been cleverly worked into the story somehow, it’s not a major problem.
The Unstuffed is a fairly dark and uncompromisingly cynical piece of work. There’s a lot of moral ambiguity about the actions of both the main characters and their antagonist, the very Hitler like President Brown. It’s both the most interesting and perhaps most likely to offend element of the comic.
The art style is relative simple, cartoonish I suppose. It starts out a little rough and the initial style makes the characters look like literal fluffy toys. However it improves as the work progresses. Backgrounds tend to be very simple and look very similar from one scene to another.
Drawing action scenes, particularly ones as violent as depicted here, (it seems to me) is pretty hard to get right. Though I occasionally found it hard to follow what was happening in a couple of pages these scenes were otherwise done very well (which is good as they represent a significant portion of the comic).
Author, publishing and timeline
The author of The Stuffed is Corey Messer who resides in the Houston area of Texas. He holds a B.S in Animation from the Art Institute of Minneosta.
Print copies of The Unstuffed are available via a store link on the main page (or here).