Sunnyville Stories is an independent comics series of the slice-of-life genre. Sunnyville is a small, remote village surrounded by vast wilderness. Inhabited by anthropomorphic animals, they go about their daily business dressed in traditional clothing; males wear suits and farm clothes while females wear skirts and dresses.
In this inaugural volume, a wisecracking city boy moves to Sunnyville with his family. This young silver tabby cat, Robert "Rusty" Duncan, quickly meets a local country girl, a buttercream cat named Samantha "Sam" Macgregor. Together, they have all kinds of adventures in Sunnyville from meeting the other townspeople, playing in a private video arcade, and even facing local bandits.
Praise for Sunnyville Stories
"The anthropomorphic characters combine with an engaging storyline that will delight readers and hold their interest from beginning to end and leave them looking eagerly toward volume three in the on-going saga of Rusty and Sam." - Midwest Book Review
"The writing is infused with a touch of humor while dealing with an array of very real issues that many families face each and every day, which is all part of the charm of Max's flagship creative work." - Great Stories
"This book is best for...readers who are looking for a graphic novel with clean artwork and an idyllic story line. - The Library Journal
Max West was born and raised in New York City. He spent much of his youth making visits to his local library (starting a lifelong love of books) and watching much television - both cartoons of the 1980s on broadcast TV and a variety of movies and specials on cable TV.
Earning a degree in creative writing from Baruch College in 2003 and taking night classes in art at the nearby School of Visual Arts, he created Sunnyville Stories in 2009 and completed his first adventure with Rusty Duncan and Samantha Macgregor in spring of 2010.
Mr. West and his work have been featured in the Midwest Book Review, Self Publisher, Library Journal, the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and many others.
He currently lives and works in Fargo, North Dakota.
What has been missing from the field of graphic novel storytelling for some time is the innocence and journey of American discovery that has been embodied in the work of Charles Schulz and in a different medium, Norman Rockwell. As newspaper circulation slowly declines with the advent of 24 hour TV news stations and the world wide web, where massive amounts of information are at one's fingertips, one of the victims is the comic strip. I remember waking every morning, grabbing the newspaper and reading Garfield, The Far Side, Peanuts, and The Wizard of Id to name a few. Those three panel comics were the source of many smiles to start off the day before school, but fast forward many years and I now don't even get the newspaper delivered. Regular visitations to the comic store produce plenty of Marvel and DC superhero stories and no shortage of creator-owned mystery and action stories of the non-spandex variety, but lacking is the more innocent comic fare that served as my true introduction to the art.
Enter Max West's Sunnyville Stories. The tale centers around a young feline named Rusty and his parent who move to a rural community from the big city. For Rusty's parents, the move is one of opportunity, but is only a source of stress and unwanted change for their son. Moving away from everything he knows (community and friends), Rusty must develop new relationships and adjust to life in an environment that is completely foreign to him. Rusty may be a cat, but he is more like a fish out of the water on his first adventure to meet a new friend. The writing is infused with a touch of humor while dealing with an array of very real issues that many families face each and every day, which is all part of the charm of Max's flagship creative work.
Rusty gets a little more than what he expects when he meets Samantha MacGregor who takes him under her wing and introduces him to life in Sunnyville, starting with her family as well as the Tanuki's (a family of racoons from Japan). New adventures are just around the corner for the two, however, and Rusty comes face to face with a female canine (Rose) who is pretty unhappy with all of the attention Rusty Duncan has been receiving by the town. The two decide to settle their differences over an overly competitive game of pinball. Next, Rusty and Samantha get caught up in a criminal plot by some train robbers who steal a shipment of laundry detergent from the local launderers (a family of Greek ferrets). Will the kids help Officer Carl (a dutiful bulldog) apprehend the weasel thieves?
To complete the first volume, there is a small bonus story which was actually a treatment made for art school featuring the two main characters of Sunnyville stories.
There are many more stories Max is going to tell that will continue to flesh out the world of Sunnyville. Volume 2 is due to land (as of this writing) in March of 2014, which will contain four episodes and bonus vignettes and sketches, which we are looking forward to seeing. Further, Max is releasing Von Herling, Vampire Hunter sometime in the next calendar year which will serve as his first commercial departure from the Sunnyville brand.
Max West is offering the comic world something that is decidedly different and something that is sorely lacking in the industry from our perspective. As the art of graphic novels has decreased in circulation (much like most print media), companies seem to be serving a more mature audience. The themes and content of a majority of works on bookshelves and comic racks are a reflection of this aging audience, leaving not as much room for newer and much younger fans with more discerning parents to identify appropriate material to enjoy. And most of the age-appropriate material to be found is of the costumed super hero variety. Sunnyville Stories is a perfect book through which to introduce children to the comic world and reading as a whole. Kids will relate to some very real themes that will resonate with them and have the opportunity to learn some important life lessons along the way (just as Rusty has through the first three episodes of Max's work).
You won’t find any superheroes, or femme fatales. Sunnyville Stories will remind you more of Steamboat Willy, the precursor to Mickey Mouse (if you’re old enough to remember, or have any sense of comic history). Or perhaps the old Little Rascals serials that played out on televisions in the afternoons when it was raining and our parents wouldn’t let us go outside and play. (Yes, I write from a generation when we didn’t want to sit inside in front of the TV unless Tarzan was on and then it was back outside to jump off fences.)
West doesn’t draw slick characters, he draws in the primitive black and white style of the thirties Merrie Melodies and Fleischer Studios animations, and the stories feature a lot of slapstick comedy. His characters are animals, mostly cats, but also bears, turtles and dogs living in rural America with jobs as cops, grocers, and even petty thieves.
The stories focus on the teen cat Rusty, whose family moves from the city to Sunnyville, which has no theater, no video arcade, department store or even fast food restaurant. It does have families who resettled from all over the world, and Rusty must find a place for himself in this multi-cultural mix. Fortunately, his neighbor Samantha takes an immediate liking to him, perhaps because he’s the only available tomcat her age in Sunnyville.
Expect subtle, not boisterous; chuckles, not belly laughs; to enjoy, not be overwhelmed. But that’s the point of a good cherry. You sip it; you don’t gulp it down. It’s rough in places, but that happens with indie comics. You can’t expect the same smooth product every time. It’s why I like wines from small vineyards, and established vineyards; espresso from Starbucks, which I can count on to deliver the same flavor I enjoy, and espresso from the local shops which will always be different each time I sit down to new a cup.
I just received (in a very timely manner I might add) Sunnyville Stories by Max West in the mail, went to the local park to have lunch and a read. It was delightful and quirky. I won this in the give away and it was a nice change from from the dark comics and graphic novels I usually read. Liked the art a great deal. Reminds one of comics from a bygone era. All in all a good summer afternoon read. Would def recommend it. Kudos to Sunnyville Stories. I am also looking forward to reading Sunnyville II as well as Von Herling, Vampire Hunter due out according to back cover info in early 2014.
I really thought Sunnyville Stories: Volume 1 was cute. I liked the country cat Sam, and I have to admit that I like that the main characters were cats. I really like the The Train Robbers episode, and thought the shading of that one was done well. I really liked the bonus feature, the expressions of Sam and Rusty are a little more exaggerated, I liked this. I think children and adults could both like this.
Sunnyville Stories is a cute comic about some small town anthropomorphic animals. The stories aren't too deep and the characters aren't developed very strongly. This would be a great book for beginning readers and the comic element along with the animals and the simplicity of the stories would make this book appeal more strongly to them. All in all this was a quick fun read with some cool artwork. --I received this book as part of Goodreads.com's first reads program.--