Comic Collection Review: Sunnyville Stories Vol. 3 by Max West


I finally got the book format of Sunnyville Stories Vol. 3 by Max West. You can get it here:

In this collection Max really expands on the Sunnyville world.  We get to see more of the character development of many of the old characters as well as the introduction of some new friends.

In Episode 8:  Make the Grade, we see Rusty’s mother take center stage.  Max shows us the range and depth of his characters in this volume.  This story is not really about the cheerful melancholy atmosphere that we are used to seeing in Sunnyville, we get to see behind closed doors and see the character flaws of Rusty’s mother and how she takes Rusty’s actions as a personal affront to her own social standings.

We ultimately find out about Rusty’s mother’s history with academics as well as her own childhood and while this chapter seems wrapped up in a little bow of sitcom reality with some sage words from Rusty’s father at the end, Max takes the story line and continues it in chapter 9.

The trauma of having one’s self worth as only seen as your standing in public is not an issue that could be resolved in a single 33 page comic, that would never work in real life and it doesn’t work that way in Sunnyville.  Max shows us the microcosm of the world in Sunnyville and that means warts and all.

In chapter 9 Rusty’s mom is once again flying off the handle in an emotional spin.  In this story we are introduced to the Japanese family in Sunnyville who run the Banzai Grill.  The story focus’s more on Goro TaNuki and his family.  Goro is an immigrant who learned to cook at his mother’s knee and worked hard to come to Sunnyville and open his restaurant.  His nephew Goemon, who recently graduated from culinary school comes to stay with them and work at the grill.

It is the age old story of the new competing with the old, and ultimately overtaking the master, the student becomes the old master for the next generation.  This is a story about transition,  the transition of time and tradition to progress.  The world changes and we must all adapt to it or wallow in self pity about a world that has passed us by.  In this case there is a positive resolution as Goro learns to accept his nephew and his new style and learns that he was the inspiration for Goemon all along.

In episode 10 Max introduces us to the Talbot of Frieda and Matthew.  In this tale we see a couple which has sort of let life get in the way of living and a little misunderstanding brings their focus in life back to clarity.  There are a lot of cameos and inside jokes in this adventure, so keep your eyes peeled for special appearances.

In the final chapter Episode 11;  The Artful Dodger we come full circle and once again go into the relationship between Rusty and his mother.  When Rusty takes and interest in art and announces that he would like to attend art school, his mother once again goes off about her standing in public and what this will mean to her.  I think Max is trying to show a mixture of a woman who sees in her child all the missed opportunities that she herself never pursued as well as having the neurosis of having been brought up that way herself.   Rusty’s mother has developed into one of the most complex characters in Sunnyville Stories and her relationship with Rusty will continue to be explored in further episodes as she comes to terms with herself and letting go as a parent.

This volume of Sunnyville Stories has really raised the bar for Max as his art as well as his storytelling abilities has improved dramatically while still keeping the simple humor of puns and gags to tackle serious issues.  His style is more of an artful storyteller rather than preaching morality.  His characters develop their own sense of moral continuity rather than just being typical stereotypes. His established characters are used to bring this whole world together rather than just focusing on them to exclusion of everything else, and in that Max West is in the process of creating a world inhabited by many characters not just the two lead characters in the series.  If you want a graphic novel that goes above and beyond the standard superhero or gag a day fare then check out Sunnyville Stories and as always True believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

You can keep up to date with Sunnyville stories and all of Max’s latest works here:


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