GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: Fox Bunny Funny
Wordless comics are usually considered “kids stuff,” but not in this case. I hope inattentive parents aren’t buying Fox Bunny Funny for their little darlings, since that might lead to a lot of nightmares and uneasy questions. But, for those of us who can handle explicit Fox-on-Bunny violence, Fox Bunny Funny is worth seeking out.
As I said, it’s a wordless anthropomorphic comic, set in a world much like our own populated by Foxes (who hunt, eat, and torment Bunnies) and Bunnies (who hide and try to survive). Our nameless hero starts off as a young Fox with odd urges – he doesn’t want to kill Bunnies, he wants to be one of them. And this causes all sorts of trouble for him.
The story is told in three chapters, presumably “Fox,” “Bunny,” and “Funny.” (They’re titled with little icons: a fox, a bunny, and a mixture of the two.) I’m not entirely sure what “Funny” has to do with anything – this isn’t humorous in any conventional sense – so I think it must be a reference to “funny animals.” Anyone who buys this looking for anthropomorphic humor will be very disappointed.
But what is here is quite good – it’s very emotionally involving, and the story is quite easy to follow, even without words. (And there is a story, unlike some wordless strips – there’s a definite plot, and more characterization than I’d expect without dialogue.) The story itself is somewhat conventional – it has a moral familiar from every third modern animated movie – but it’s told well, and doing it all in pantomime makes it fresher and more new.
The art is also very impressive – Hartzell has a good sense of gesture and body language, and his foxes are an inky black that he uses to good effect. He sticks to a six-panel grid most of the time, but breaks out of that for some impressive effects at the end.
Fox Bunny Funny will probably appeal mostly to fans of interesting black & white art, but the low price (ten bucks) is also an enticement. I’m still not sure where I’ve seen Hartzell’s art before, but I’ll be looking out for it in the future.
Fox Bunny Funny
Top Shelf Productions, 2007, $10.00