Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Written by Glenn Eichler
Art by Nick Bertozzi

First Second really are unique publishers, putting out books that are quite different from the vast majority, and most minorities, of the comics world.  Stuffed is a very good example of what I'm coming to think of as the First Second house style (including books like Life Sucks and Refresh, Refresh), which to my mind consists of a well-told story about relationships (more likely to be familial than romantic) with some sort of unique twist or novel approach to it.

In Stuffed, our protagonist is Tim Johnston, a typical suburban nice guy family man.  He learns that his cantankerous and rather unliked father has died, and has left him very little.  While managing his estate, Tim learns that his father had held on to his museum of oddities, which had not been in operation for over twenty years.

Tim begins to obsess over one item in the museum - a statue of an African 'Savage', which the father had used to terrify Tim as a child.  He feels that the statue is of actual historic merit, and attempts to donate it to a museum.  As this process begins, he learns that the statue is in fact a stuffed, or taxidermied (I don't think that's a word) African man.  Tim now feels strongly that the Savage (now called the Warrior) should be repatriated, and works with an African-American curator to achieve this.  Things are going well, when Free, his half-brother arrives on the scene.

Free is the type of guy who should be played by Bill Murray.  He is an aging hippie who has a scar on his forehead from his self-trepanation experiment.  Free (née Ollie) mucks things up, and is the cause of much of the humour in the book.

And this book is quite funny.  There were more than a few scenes that were surprisingly amusing, as the two estranged brothers come to terms with the memory of their father and their own resentments towards each other.  This would make a great movie.

Bertozzi's art works really well here, as the story is perfect for a cartoon-style approach.  His dream sequences are quite funny.

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