Mirka Andolfo’s new Image-published dystopian furry fantasy series, pardon another pun, is an odd duck. The artwork is absolutely gorgeous, but let’s talk about STORY (everyone’s favorite part of smut, right?)
I’ve been really marinating on this one because it’s very unusual in the mainstream comics space- a world of anthropomorphic animals suffering under a totalitarian government that all but forces them to procreate through high single-status taxation and televised PSAs about the illegality of mating outside your species and/or with the same gender? What an elevator pitch. Blue-haired, sushi-loving pig girl, Leslie, is having wet dreams of a buff wolf-man. And according to the preview for the second issue, this wolf may be a real person and is dubbed a “mysterious stalker!”
I want to see where the rest of this series is going because I honestly feel like this first issue’s focus was more on the softcore furry porn than much else. There’s world-building, don’t get me wrong, the government regulations brought up and discourse at Leslie’s job at what appears to be a maid cafe owned by a sexual predator lizard, all of that does give the reader a clear idea of what this world is like. To me though, it’s a bit clunky, (hence the painful subtitle of this article!) My only real hangup is that line about a “stalker.” Any fiction that takes on that trope tends to go in a sketchy direction, which is harmful. Having had 3 stalkers in two decades, it just doesn’t sit well with me and I worry it will become a Stockholm syndrome situation since the implication there’s strong foreshadowing to a forbidden romance. But that’s just speculation and I want to reserve judgement on the smaller details, given this is just the first issue.
Erotic fiction and solid storytelling can go hand in hand beautifully. Alfie by InCase, for example, is a pretty hardcore porn fantasy webcomic, but you really get a sense for each character’s past and how the events that transpire affect them. Who they are and what leads to the sexual situations that unfold. Sunstone by Stjepan Šejić is another good example, as the leads Ally and Lisa begin their friendship as fellow BDSM enthusiasts to friends with benefits, which makes the story’s focus about how the pair develops feelings for one another and struggles to express that to the other. The way I see it, Unnatural is a blend of the narrative style in Alfie with the fade-to-black eroticism of Sunstone. And that could work!
Overall, I’m intrigued and I’ll be reading issue #2, this just feels like a bumpy start focusing more on getting your rocks off (not that there’s anything wrong with that,) but I think that may also be intentional. Draw the reader in with some spicy imagery and slowly bring in the actual plot? And I do love some subversion of expectation! The images available on Andolfo’s twitter account as well as Image Comics’ synopsis seem to suggest some big things are in store for this strange new series…