Fox Bunny Funny (Top Shelf)

fbf-header.gifCute, cuddly animals prove an effective means for exploring the deep, dark corners of the human condition in this boldly experimental, completely silent graphic novel.

 

 

102 pgs. B&W; $10.00

(W / A: Andy Hartzell)

 

Foxes are predators, bunnies are their prey, and any attempt to live outside of that paradigm is not tolerated. One young fox harbors a secret desire to be a bunny, and when his shocked and appalled mother discovers him hopping around his room in a bunny costume, she ships him off to a Boy Scout-like summer camp to scare him straight. He tries desperately to fit into mainstream, carnivorous society, but in the black and white world of fox vs. bunny, is there any room for shades of grey?

 

Andy Hartzell's exquisitely designed cover to Fox Bunny Funny. Click for a larger image.Despite its bright pink cover and adorably cartoony lead characters, Andy Hartzell’s Fox Bunny Funny is less a funny animal book than a social commentary, using the anthropomorphized animals to explore the human condition. After a series of underground mini-comics, Fox Bunny Funny is Hartzell’s first major work, but for a debut it is both remarkably self-assured and artistically well rounded. Perhaps Hartzell’s biggest artistic gambit is in presenting his story completely silently, with no dialogue, narration, or sound effects to adorn the art. It’s a gambit that doesn’t always pay off; though Hartzell’s art by and large has no problem carrying the narrative, it falls short during the occasional slapstick comedy scenes that would seem more suited to the silent format than the intensely dramatic scenes that Hartzell actually handles better.

 

The choice of the silent format opens up Hartzell’s deceptively simple story to dozens of levels of interpretation, at times echoing famed World War III contributor Peter Kuper. Depending on the reader’s perspective, the fox-vs.-bunny dynamic echoes some very real, very human problems: institutionalized oppression, peer pressure, racism, homophobia, gender identity confusion. Hartzell’s experiments with artistic craft deepen the narrative even further. Utilizing a rigid 6-panel structure (a structure which, it should be noted, gets thrown out the window 80 pages in to devastating effect), he varies panel border style or shifts the page background from white to black, evoking an emotional change in the reader. Occasionally, Hartzell overplays his hand, letting you practically feel him tugging on your heartstrings during certain sequences, but overall, this ambitious projects marks the large-scale debut of a new artist worth keeping an eye on. | Jason Green

Click here to check out a 6-page preview of Fox Bunny Funny, courtesty of Top Shelf!

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