PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Comics

Mr. Stuffins #1 of 3

Jim Bush

A comic that asks what if Jack Bauer was a stuffed bear, with equal measures action and humor.


Mr. Stuffins #1 of 3

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Contributors: Artist: Lee Carter and Pablo Quiligotti
Price: $3.99
Writer: Johanna Stokes
Display Artist: Andrew Cosby and Johanna Stokes
Length: 22
Formats: Single Issue
US publication date: 2007-05
Website
cat_label_url
Amazon

Of all the various actors to play James Bond -- Connery, Moore, Dalton, Brosnan, Craig -- you will notice that none of them really resembles Smokey Bear very much. That's because they are all human males and not stuffed bears. However, if you want to say that a stuffed bear cannot be a highly-trained secret agent, well, you have clearly not met Mr. Stuffins. He is the title character of a new limited series by BOOM! Studios centering on a bear that is also a spy and trained in the use of firearms. While he may not have passed Consumer Reports list of safe toys, Mr. Stuffins does bring a great deal of wit, energy and enjoyment to the table.

Mr. Stuffins was conceived and co-written by Andrew Cosby, the co-founder of BOOM! Studios and also creator of the Sci-Fi Channel show Eureka. It's easy to see why the series has come along now in particular as the concept is a great one, riffing on the ubiquitous nature of spy agents, but supplying some much needed humor through the choice of agents. From 24 to the Jason Bourne movies, no-nonsense government agents/spies have been quite popular this decade due to a combination of deft writing, gritty details and high-stakes drama. One could even suggest that the emergence of "secret agent entertainment" is a result of 9/11, as many saw, perhaps for the first time since the Cold War, the importance of the Intelligence community.

Suddenly, espionage agents were heroes. If you amp up the action quotient (and happen to nuke a part of Los Angeles in the process), it's a hit. At the same time, the long history of the James Bond franchise, from the swinging bachelor pad era of the '60s to the gadget-wielding technology-obsessed Bond of the '80s and '90s, demonstrates that people have always liked unflappable secret agents. The twist of Mr. Stuffins is that the comic turns on the overly dramatic tone of something like 24 and knocks it down a bit by making the secret agent something so harmless that it seems ridiculous: a teddy bear.

Of course, this raises the question of why someone would make a teddy bear into a secret agent. It highlights the fact that there's a crucial difference between great concept and great story. Cosby and Stokes make it seem plausible as a hunted scientist working on a program for Artificial Intelligence plants the program in a teddy bear just as he is captured in a toy store by nefarious government agents seeking to turn his discovery into a weapon. Fate has it that young Zach is picking out the bear moments later as a bribe by his absentee father who would much rather his son pick out a sports toy or tank. Zach's parents are separating, and this is played more believable than one would expect, as we feel a bit of Zach's melancholy. The story, overall, is a nice mix of action, character moments and clever humor.

Of course, Zach's bear, who seems normal at first, boots up the AI program and suddenly starts barking out military orders. He phones the toy manufacturers phone line to find out his mission. When he reaches the recording for Tattertot Toys safety line, he says "Roger That." Mr. Stuffins is also not pleased that none of Zach's toy guns are "regulation." He becomes obsessed with securing a perimeter of Zach's room against intruders so that they can get out of their mission alive, though Stuffins seems clueless about the details of the actual missions. This is all played for excellently understated comedic value, as Mr. Stuffins appears to be simply a fish out of water -- a secret agent mind stuck in a toy world.

Consequently, all of his announcements seem silly and delusional. Or at least until the government comes looking for their AI tech, and then Mr. Stuffins starts to appear more perceptive than it had seemed. Throughout the first issue of the three-issue series, Mr. Stuffins alternates effectively between action-adventure and a story about boy and his toy. As such, it bears resemblance to films like Toy Story or this summer's Transformers. There is a balance to the tone over its various elements so that it never appears too serious or too goofy. It might not reach the frenetic highs of the Bourne movies or the nailbiting suspense of 24, but Mr. Stuffins does offer us another type of agent: the kind you take to bed not for romance, but for comfort and security.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.

Books

Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.

Music

Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.

Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.

Music

The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller
Music

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.

Music

When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.

Music

20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.

Music

The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.

Books

Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.

Music

Kimm Rogers' "Lie" Is an Unapologetically Political Tune (premiere)

San Diego's Kimm Rogers taps into frustration with truth-masking on "Lie". "What I found most frustrating was that no one would utter the word 'lie'."

Music

50 Years Ago B.B. King's 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds' Retooled R&B

B.B. King's passion for bringing the blues to a wider audience is in full flower on the landmark album, Indianola Mississippi Seeds.

Film

Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Knew That Silence = Death

In turning the camera on himself, even in his most vulnerable moments as a sick and dying man, filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs demonstrated the futility of divorcing the personal from the political. These films are available now on OVID TV.

Film

The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.

Music

Bad Wires Release a Monster of a Debut with 'Politics of Attraction'

Power trio Bad Wires' debut Politics of Attraction is a mix of punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise, and more than a dollop of metal.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.