Features

INTERVIEW: Brett Uren, Creator of Torsobear Volume 2: All Stitched Up

Written by Fred McNamara

Last year, AP2HYC fell down a candy-coloured rabbit-hole and ended up in the wonderfully and weirdly subversive world of Toyburg, a city not for the faint of fluff. We described our adventures in Toyburg here, and the creator of that world, Brett Uren, is currently piecing together a new anthology of adventures for Detective Ruxby Bear called Torsobear Volume 2: All Stitched Up.

We managed to grab Brett in the midst of Torsobear Volume 2: All Stitched Up‘s Kickstarter campaign and were given a glimpse at a dark and scintillating future for Ruxby and his Toyburg neighbours.

AP2HYC: First off, can you tell us what exactly IS this Kickstarter?

Brett: Torsobear: All Stitched Up takes the reader back to the world of Detective Ruxby Bear, a toy cop in the sweet city of Toyburg. Our campaign has been set up to fund the production, printing and distribution of Torsobear Volume 2 to pledgers and retailers.

We take pride in the fact that all our writers and artists will get a decent rate of pay and retain the rights to the characters they create while working with us.

AP2HYC: What made you want to do a second volume?

Brett: We’d already started discussing more stories before Volume 1 went to print. Torsobear: Yarns from Toyburg got love from reviewers and readers, thankfully and to my pleasant surprise – but the most ravenous response was definitely from people who wanted to play in that sandbox again.

Thinking about it now, it was just inevitable, as there were and are so many stories to tell in Toyburg. Someone told me that it felt like Fable to them, which sounded delusional to at first, because that series is so huge and influential. But I guess like Fable there are almost infinite ways to explore the premise and avenues for using Toyburg as a satirical tool. But more than anything it gets me juiced to know that people involved believe in it so much.

AP2HYC: So, what’s Torsobear Volume 2: All Stitched Up all about then?

Brett: Okay, so in the book Ruxby Bear is sent to The Corner to think about what he did. To elaborate, he is arrested for obstruction of justice and sent to a brutal toy prison in the literal corner of the Toyworld. Here he tries to figure out how he was framed by mulling over previous cases, while avoiding being de-stitched by toys he put away.

Meanwhile, his former partner and now Toyburg PD Lieutenant, Hazbrow tries to keep the city in one piece as a wave of Copycat crime and violence threatens to tear Toyburg apart.

In amongst this, there are clues that point to another antagonist in play, somewhere in the gathering shadows. You may get a hint from the imagery we use in the current campaign.

Can our friends both prevail against these huge odds, when their prior actions set current events in motion?

AP2HYC: How exactly is All Stitched Up different from Yarns from Toyburg, the first volume? Is it simply a continuation or are we going into darker places than before? Or something else entirely?

Brett: There are continuing story elements to be sure, but the main thrust of ASU is to take our goal of Safe For Kids murder mystery storytelling to an even nastier place.

In trying to top ourselves, we’ve come up with stories around the implication of toys knowing the truth of their reality, paranoid pre-cognitive Magic 8-Balls, demoralised 80’s action figure prison guards & de-fluff row convicts dealing with their last days. One even follows the exploits of an army action figure seeking a way to become the doll they are on the inside.

AP2HYC: The Kickstarter shows a selection of stories up for consideration for the volume. What made you want to produce All Stitched Up in the same format as Yarns from Toyburg?

Brett: We wanted to introduce all the new extremes within the context of something that the reader is familiar with – as so to subvert expectations. These yarns are easily richer and more relevant than they’ve ever been. The variety afforded by a plethora of great creative people gives this world that richness.

There’s no telling if we’ll continue along in this vein, but it felt right as of this moment. We’ve got something that that seems to have naturally hit its stride.

AP2HYC: Ruxby’s family life played a large role in Yarns from Toyburg. Is there more of that in All Stitched Up?

Brett: Ruxby’s wife and kid, Mytell and Wellington, are removed for their safety, but do appear in this book. They provide not only a counterpoint to Ruxby’s isolation and growing dark side, but also their own struggles highlight the politics of a Toyworld area only mentioned before in Volume 1.

These sections in particular are something I can’t wait to see the result of, as the art of Giles Crawford is always a complete joy to behold – and his style will lend itself to the locale so well.

AP2HYC: In Yarns from Toyburg, there was a great array of toy-inspired locales, and All Stitched Up has something called The Corner. Do we see more of the wonderfully subversive Toyburg?

Brett: You can’t have Torsobear without Toyburg! The Corner really is a place that reveals that the city perhaps isn’t a place of sweetness interrupted by darkness – but perhaps the larger darkness was just moved to a place conveniently out of sight, across the desert-like waste of The Craftlands. Even Mytell and Wellington get to explore the austere foreign land of Playstoria.

AP2HYC: Are there future plans for Ruxby and Toyburg if All Stitched Up is successful?

Brett: It might seem presumptive, but at this point we’ve already got ideas for more stories floating around like last time. In fact, I’ve already got a rough ending for a third volume mapped out.

I intend the third volume to be the end of Ruxby’s adventure – it doesn’t have to be the end of tales from the sweet city of Toyburg, but I feel by then that Ruxby’s arc will have naturally reached a satisfying conclusion. As for the other creators, I’m sure that always their endless passion and creativity will make the Toyworld ever more rich and exciting.

You can donate to the Kickstarter for Torsobear Volume 2: All Stitched Up here, and why not check out our review of Torsobear Volume 1: Yarns from Toyburg here? You can also buy Torsobear Volume 1: Yarns from Toyburg here. Once you’ve donated, why not sound off in the comments section below or send us a tweet!

About the author

Fred McNamara