Fuzz is a socially awkward teddy bear whose once soft fur has long since been worn down. He is insecure and feeds off the praise of those he sees as superior. Pluck is a sometimes irascible, defeathered chicken who finds himself lashing out in physical ways.
They are just the kind of hapless creatures readers would expect to find having misadventures together on the Sunday funny pages. And that’s why Ted Stearn’s second collection of Fuzz & Pluck comic books works so well. It is a wonderful throwback to some of the best traits of newspaper comic strips, but fully fleshed out into a five-issue arc.
Splitsville, as its name suggests, finds the series’ protagonists on separate paths. Pluck loses his job at Lardy’s, a fast-food establishment, after he runs a few punk customers through the proverbial ringer after being ridiculed. Fuzz is riding high at Lardy’s, as the apparent employee of the week/month/year, but he runs into trouble when a dog prevents him from making an important delivery.
Pluck’s beat-down of the teens, however, garners the attention of a woman who manages a team of animal gladiators against Sourpuss, a grapefruit --- yes, a grapefruit --- villain. Pluck decides he will use the arena to make a name for himself. Meanwhile, Fuzz is taken captive by a strange young girl who adds him to her menagerie of bickering toys, of which there is already a surplus of bears. Fuzz eventually gets out of her grasp, but only to find himself faced with the impossible task of promoting a ferry service where a more convenient bridge has already been built.
Stearn uses the comics medium to its fullest, letting his art do much of the work. He has a brilliant sense of absurd visual humor, with scenes such as an arena of living fruit organisms slicing one another to bits with kitchen knives wielded like samurai swords.
Fuzz & Pluck: Splitsville succeeds primarily because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It is pure, unabashed fun with an oftentimes twisted spin at the expense of its funny animals. Stearn offers fantastically silly, imaginative scenes that remind of Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy at their best. And though it all wraps up with a focus on friendship and a question of fate, it is the lighthearted creativity that makes Fuzz & Pluck a joy to read.
Reviewed by William Jones on November 15, 2008
Fuzz & Pluck: Splitsville