Fuzz & Pluck in Splitsville
by Ted Stearn
(Fantagraphics, 2001)

I love to imagine the proposal for Fuzz and Pluck. "It's a book about a chicken and a teddy bear. Oh, and the chicken's been plucked. They work for a fast food joint, except the chicken becomes a gladiator."

And the lovely people at Fantagraphics went for it.

Fuzz and Pluck live in a world built of non sequiturs. Talking animals of all sorts walk among unflustered humans who drive rickshaws and automobiles and eat the sort of creatures they converse with. The conversations are held in strangely unpunctuated dialogue reminiscent of old Mutt & Jeff cartoons. The artwork is only competent, but makes up for its lack of grace with enthusiasm and more "aside" jokes than a Mort Drucker story. The overhead shot of a gladiatorial arena is full of characters from other books and comics, and all the regular patrons are busy with illicit activities. The layouts are as unexpected as the story.

My favorite is the twisting dialogue that outlines Fuzz's dreams of employee fame, where the dream's dialogue forms the only panel borders. While fun and inventive, the layout never detracts from the story, and directs the reader exactly where they need to go.

Fuzz & Pluck in Splitsville is like a children's book with an attitude. I don't know where Pluck's gladiatorial ambitions will take him, or whether Fuzz will survive his last delivery, but I plan to follow the bouncing layout and see.

- Rambles
written by Sarah Meador
published 16 November 2002