Sunnyville Stories follows the day-to-day life of the anthropomorphized inhabitants of Sunnyville. When his father is laid off, Max and his family relocate to Sunnyville, a quaint town far from the city. Max is not excited about the move to begin with, and is even less excited to relocate to a “hillbilly town.” Sunnyville is home to a diverse population—which Max is quick to notice—such as the Tanukis from Japan and a family of Danish mice. As expected, Max adapts to the move and is able to make friends easily.
Similar to newspaper or web comics, Sunnyville Stories is comprised of multiple short stories. With every chapter there is a new adventure or conflict that needs to be solved. In volume one, Max meets Sam, a spunky, outgoing cat and the two form an instant sibling-like relationship. It is through Sam that Max begins to find his niche in town. In the second chapter, Max enters a high-stakes pinball competition against Rose, an arrogant, outspoken dog who comes across tough but befriends Max and Sam by the end of the chapter. The final story follows Max and his friends as they take on the criminal Weasel brothers.
In volume two, Max and his friends try to reconnect a family caught up in a feud, attend a school dance, practice for the school play, and get mixed up in the classic “Who’s on First” joke when three siblings named Who, Why, and What cause confusion throughout the town.
The structure of Sunnyville Stories is reminiscent of Richard Scarry’s Busy Town and Max West cites Maple Town, an anime from the 1980s that follows the lives of animals in a small town, as a major influence. Sunnyville Stories has minimal character development with not enough movement in the plot, making it difficult for readers to become truly invested. Additionally, the dialogue feels forced at times and the humor sometimes falls flat. West’s basic black-and-white cartoon-style art complements the light, humorous tone. While the book seems to be targeted towards children, it may find more value with adults who will better appreciate the subtle humor and nostalgic feel of the stories.
Sunnyville Stories is published by a small press created by Max West and this is reflected in the paper quality and overall packaging of the graphic novels. Each volume contains bonus content, including early character and background sketches.Overall, Sunnyville Stories is a cute series but not a necessary purchase for libraries.
Editor’s note: Comments have been made below involving accusations of plagiarism against Mr. West. As we have no ability to prove or disprove these accusations, we suggest readers consider the comments and leave them to make their own decisions. We will not be posting any further comments on this subject.
Sunnyville Stories, vol.1
by Max West
Different Mousetrap Press, 2012
Sunnyville Stories, vol. 2
by Max West
Different Mousetrap Press, 2014