Fox Bunny Funny
By Andy Hartzell
It’s always an achievement, in and of itself, when an artist can execute a cohesive and intelligible work of sequential art without the use of any text. It’s an admirable skill that newcomer Andy Hartzell executes with a surprising amount of ease and finesse, over the course of the three mini comics that make up Fox Bunny Funny. Hartzell’s tale is alternately funny, fascinated, and surprisingly brutal, given the book’s title, and publisher Top Shelf’s penchant for lighthearted and cuddly furry animal stories.
Fox Bunny Funny follows the story an unnamed anthropomorphic fox protagonist, growing up in a world foxes and rabbits are continually at war—a war that, for the most part, involves violent rabbit death at the hands of their fox counterparts, trained as youths via mediums such as video games and groups akin to a furry version of the Boy Scouts of America, to love the hunt of their equally civilized herbivorous neighbors.
It’s difficult to pin down a concrete real-life situation for which the story might serve as a direct metaphor, but one particularly vivid image, involving a pack of rabbits, fleeing the attic of a house, for fear of the Fox Scouts’ grappling guns, evokes images of the cats and mice in Art Spiegelman’s famous holocaust allegory.
Another equally powerful panel that closes out the first book, finding our protagonist’s mother barging in on him, as he stands hopping, decked in a rabbit suit, in front of a full-length mirror, can be read as a fairly straight-forward take on the perceived immorality of homosexuality, or, at the very least, the sin of cross dressing.
As he matures, our fox hero manages to shock himself into assimilation, growing into a strong, red-blooded adult, with grappling guns and rabbit head trophies adorning his walls. Of course, we would be stupid to expect that he might be able to live happily ever after, without being confronted with that old children’s book moral of being yourself, before the story closed.
Hartzell’s unique spin on the theme keeps it far from cliché, and lends a new level of bizarre reality to the world he has designed for his characters, and while it may perhaps be a touch predictable, it’s certainly worth the wait, making Hartzell’s weird and wonderful book well worth a read for anyone on the lookout for a promising new talent.