Fox Bunny Funny

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.

Fox Bunny Funny cover
Fox Bunny Funny
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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.

Endpaper sample
Endpaper sample

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.

Preview pages are available at the publisher’s website. Andy Hartzell also has a site, and he’s been interviewed online.

(A complimentary electronic copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)

3 Responses to “Fox Bunny Funny”

  1. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » Oct. 16, 2007: Kind of corny and cookie-cutter Says:

    […] Johanna Draper Carlson on Andy Hartzell’s Fox Bunny […]

  2. Slush Pile Cleanup: Comic Books Part 2 » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] there’s a woodcut-looking adaptation of a Hans Christian Andersen story by Andy Hartzell (Fox Bunny Funny). I hadn’t heard this tale before; it’s reassuring, and Hartzell’s pantomine […]

  3. courtney Says:

    girl you got to read this ;p




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