- Posted by Johanna on October 15, 2007 at 6:50 am
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: by Andy Hartzell
- PUBLISHER: Top Shelf Productions; $10 US
Some might think that Andy Hartzell’s Fox Bunny Funny, given the title and its starring animals, would be a cute and humorous book. It’s not. It’s more in the line of one of Aesop’s fables, where violence is part of the natural order and stories about fuzzy things are told to teach about humanity. Wordlessly, no less, attesting to Hartzell’s skill.
A young fox lives in a world of prevalent violence towards rabbits. Not only are they food, but their dismemberment is casual entertainment. The fox has a secret, though; he doesn’t share the bloodlust of his species, and he dresses up in a bunny suit in private.
Hartzell’s outstanding design sense is obvious from the endpapers, with fox and rabbit heads tiled in an Escher-like fashion. His characters are simple but expressive, and the culture he’s built provokes all kind of thought. Some of it is funny, but it’s black humor, like the odd guns the fox scouts carry, with little bear traps on the end of them. The “Funny” of the title comes from combining Fox + bUNNY, in a metaphor for an eventual blending of society hoped for but rarely achieved.
Rich symbolism provides room for individual interpretation. Is the story about oppression? Slavery? A metaphor for our current violent society? Commentary on homosexuality, or perhaps interracial relationships? The answers aren’t easy, and they aren’t provided. Readers will keep thinking about this long after reading it.
There’s another reason to come back to it, too: Hartzell’s talent. He’s richly creative, and his ending is unlikely to be spotted ahead of time. His moments, arranged in a six-panel grid, flow so smoothly that the book resembles a cartoon (another cultural touchstone that adds to the symbolism) in its sense of movement. He’s someone to watch.
(A complimentary electronic copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)