Stitch (SLG Publishing)

stitch-header.jpgA 10th anniversary edition of Tommy Kovac’s hilarious, insightful, and sometimes scary tale of a ragdoll and his fellow misfit toys.

 

 

 

136 pgs., B&W; $10.95

(W & A: Tommy Kovac)

Tommy Kovac has one twisted imagination and it’s on full display in Stitch, first published as a four-issue comic series and recently released in a 10th-anniversary edition with some additional material by SLG. There’s no skeletons doing X-rated things in this one (check out his Skelebunnies if that’s what you’re looking for) but it’s very creepy all the same: way too much so for anyone younger than high school age in my opinion.

The cover to Stitch by Tommy Kovac. Click for a larger image.However if you have a taste for the macabre and consider yourself mature enough to handle girl dolls eager to make babies and distinctly masculine yet dress-wearing fairies who want to turn the story’s hero into a "fancy boy" do feel free to proceed because Stitch is often hilarious and insightful as well as scary. If you’re ready to have traditional gender boundaries violated at every turn (Kovac notes in his bio that he and his husband recently celebrated 18 years together) you’ll probably enjoy Stitch, while if that prospect offends your morals then you’d best seek out other reading material. There’s also some gratuitous bad language so consider your tolerance for such before proceeding further.

Narrative is not the strong point of Stitch, and the basic story seems to have been stitched (sorry!) together from a standard grab-bag of uncanny fantasy elements. The title character awakes in an attic, not sure how he got there or how long he’s been asleep, and discovers that he is a rag doll in knee pants sporting a somewhat incongruous goatee and pierced ear. His companions include a stinky talking doll, a sock monkey with an itchy butt, a big black spider, and several other dolls which sort of resemble Stitch’s cousins. Also making their appearance in the attic are two sadistic fairies (double entendre intended) who want Stitch to wear a dress (a prospect he does not greet with glee), a menacing army of spool people, and two skeletons who use z’s where other people would use s’s ("Yez, Tinybonez. That’z the one."). Granny Pairley, who bears some resemblance to Mom in the fruit cellar from Psycho, appears later in the story.

The main action involves Stitch figuring out how he came to be in his current predicament and is told in alternating sections of prose and comics. The story is enough to give anyone nightmares and I’m certainly not going to give it away here: let’s just say that Kovac uses an idea later adopted by Neil Gaiman in Coraline but Kovac makes it more personal and thus much scarier.

In this publication, at least, Kovac is no great shakes as either a prose writer or a plotter of narrative. But when it comes to imagining creepy stuff he’s a master, and his art makes up for the deficiencies of his storytelling. The characters in Stitch look like they escaped from a gothic toy chest of nightmares (twisted enough to be scary yet familiar enough to remind you of childhood) and there’s a lot of detail in his drawings as well as a nice variety of layouts and tonalities to keep things interesting.

Not having seen the original comics, I’m not sure what is new in this edition of Stitch besides the prose epilogue (identified by Kovac as new) but it also includes some preliminary sketches and a "Girl Talk" comic which seems intended as a parody of self-congratulatory publicity material. You can check out excerpts of Kovac’s work from his web site: http://www.tommykovac.com/sketch_book.htm. | Sarah Boslaugh

 

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