Stumpy And The Living Stone
By James Evans
Picture the scene; it’s a dark, moonlit night on the mean streets of urban Britain, a rat stumbles across a seriously down at heel pigeon, cradling the bloody stump of what’s left of his foot, miserable, without hope, and with a tale to tell.
That’s the set-up here in Stumpy and the Living Stone, a lovely little comic, full of fun, loads of potential, not as all-ages as it looks at first, and not without a couple of flaws as well…
How bad? There’s a pigeon there pulling his own toes out of his foot because they’re so badly diseased. How bad do you think it’s going to be?
But it certainly didn’t start like that for poor ol’ Stumpy. For a start, back then he wasn’t called Stumpy, he used to be called boss or Sir by the other pigeons, his kids called him Daddy, his wife called him darling, but one day something terrible happened, and everything changed…
It turns out that Stumpy’s misery it is all the fault of ex-Lord Mayor of London Ken Livingstone. He’s the one who outlawed Trafalgar Square pigeon feeding, so it’s Ken’s fault the birds went hungry, Ken’s fault that Stumpy got it in the neck from Mrs Stumpy and the spoilt kids and Ken’s fault that there was a Harris Hawk on the scene in the square.
Stumpy decides it was Lord Nelson’s fault (there’s your living stone connection if you hadn’t already got that), and the only way to save the birds is by making recompense. You ever see a group of pigeons try to clean their own shit off a statue? Doesn’t work. Neither does sacrificing the next born to the living stone god. Desperate times etc etc.
Before long everyone’s starving, sharp-tongued Mrs Stumpy and the ungrateful kids are gone, and that bloody Harris Hawk paints the square red with pigeon blood. And the thing is, for poor Stumpy, it actually gets WORSE from here. Has all hope vanished from this tale or will one species of urban vermin manage to rescue another?
Stumpy’s a fun-filled, promising 20-pages of a comic, a neat little done in one story, and the art is top notch. Nothing revolutionary, nothing that says Evans is the next wonder-kind or anything like that, but there’s a lot of potential here, and perhaps most importantly a well put together, entertaining comic is the result.
In terms of art, it’s really, really clean, really bright (doing that great thing of using cutesy art or animation to deliver real emotional depth) and rather cleverly expressive at its best.
The biggest problem comes from Evans’ dialogue, which is frustratingly close to doing everything he’s trying to do, but there are several places where the dialogue doesn’t come off the way I can see Evans is trying for – it could have been snappy, clever, funny, sad, a veritable gamut of emotions. In the end, it does hit all those points at some point, but not as often as it needed to, not as often as Evans meant it to – a case of nearly but not quite.
However, even with that proviso, what you have here is something interesting, something entertaining, and best of all, another name to be keeping an eye on for the future.