Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Plush and Blood Presents The Unstuffed

Described as a graphic novel in electronic format, The Unstuffed is an action filled Science Fiction/Fantasy populated by living stuffed animals locked in an epic battle against a Hitleresque hamster.

Yes, I do know how silly that sounds. No, it doesn't come across as silly at all in it's actual telling.

There are a number of serious subjects lurking here, from the ethics of dictatorship to the nature and value of free will. Such subjects could easily become weighted to the point of burden, but when viewed through the lens of this lighthearted fantasy format they can be pondered as hypotheticals without losing their emotional impact. So far a great deal of the story has been action based, and being an individual that isn't typically fond of extensive action sequences, I was surprised by how eagerly I followed this one along. Of course, my interest can mostly be explained by the dialogue that accompanies many battles - I love the interplay between the characters that brings out their personalities as well as a touch of humor. Now on page 86, we've only just begun to delve into the fullness of the plot but I've enjoyed the story line thus far, and have been pleased by the manner in which it has been doled out. It would have been tempting to simply info-dump the necessary information, but the creator has instead wisely used a mixture of dialogue and flashback that runs seamlessly along with the unfolding events.

The artwork is quite good - detail varies with distance and the coloring has full range without being garish. History panels are given a soft look that simply feels like memory. Action lines are given a similar treatment, widened and stretched beyond the typical black slash, they give an impression of airflow rather than simply indicating the direction of movement. While this technique wouldn't work with all artistic styles, it works beautifully here. The creator employs interesting panel layouts that add to the over all look and flow of the comic and makes excellent use of "silent" action panels; using the artistic medium to it's full extent rather than simply having the action explained.

The web design is nicely integrated with the comic, wrapping it like a frame rather than crouching behind it. Extra features include the typical FAQs, About, and Links sections as well as a complete Cast section and an assortment of gallery works. Also included is a Story section that may actually be a bit too complete if read before the comic. The archive consists of thumbnail images of each comic page along with the chapter title; a layout that is certainly quite helpful when one is looking for a specific comic they've already seen. Because the comic is story based, and in graphic novel format, I would like to see the holiday and other special strips moved to their own section rather than having them in the archive where they tend to break the flow - but that may be a petty complaint considering the ease with which one can simply navigate to the next page. The Unstuffed updates Tuesdays and Fridays, and has only just begun. I suggest hopping on board now.