Latest posts by Rachel Bellwoar (see all)
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- Book Review: The City on the Other Side - 13th June 2018
Madius Comics may be better known for their horror comics and Kickstarter campaigns, but it’s the fact that they can throw in an all-ages comic without batting an eye that’s made them one of my favorite publishers. Bonus points for that all-ages comic being about a bushy eye(brow)ed bunny, named Bun, who’s left home because of his giant size.
A lot of conversation can be spent on writer, Michael Sambrook’s, use of narration but my first reaction to Bun was that it felt like a children’s book I would’ve read growing up, where there wasn’t much dialogue and it fell on the storyteller to carry the weight of the narrative. Self-involved, this particular narrator arouses pushback, but it’s pushback in a good way, where the narrator is a purposeful convention that makes readers think about what constraints their perspective puts on Bun.
Since Bun doesn’t talk, readers are dependent on the narrator’s account of events and he or she is trying to get a rise out of people. It’s not about gaining readers’ trust but toying with them, and where you’d think that behavior might hurt Bun, he is the definitive, innocent party.
Somehow the two of them know each other, but in what capacity is anyone’s guess. There’s at least one other animal species that’s given human characteristics, in that they can walk on two legs, but they can talk, too, and it’s not like Bun, where the rest of his family are regular-sized bunnies.
What’s pestering is that you don’t get to hear from these other characters. Bun’s departure from home doesn’t get The Ugly Duckling special, where Bun’s siblings ostracize and bully him. He’s uncomfortable but his decision to leave seems to come as a self-exile and you don’t get a complete picture of what happened. The comic begins with the narrator saying this is “our story,” the narrator and Bun’s, but then the narrator streamlines Bun’s life with a lot of personality, but not a lot of careful consideration.
There’s so much he or she is leaving out, and the only true gateway to Bun’s voice is Rosie Packwood’s art, which is phenomenal(!). That clash between the dramatic narrator and the artless bunny visuals makes for a fruitful mix. The opening pages are read up and down, following the motion of a rabbit hopping into his burrow, and I almost wish the whole issue had been designed to read vertical. Bun doesn’t hurt for this not being the case but it’s so intentional for a rabbit comic, and gleeful as a reader (and careful not to let the bunnies distract you, because there are art treasures hidden in the dirt).
Rob Jones’ lettering for the dialogue is a dream match for the comic’s offbeat charm and it’s impossible not to turn into mush at the sight of poor Bun under a lightening sound effect. The cover has Bun packing a punch, but Packwood’s colors don’t try to be macho and include magentas and hot purples. Instead of being tough or sweet, this comic can be casually both.
There are a few places where the comic doesn’t dot its i’s and cross its t’s (you can come up with an explanation for how Bun suddenly comes to be wearing a sash but it’s not sequential) but that’s a very adult nitpick, that kids would be right to boo and hiss.
A bunny out of water story, that has a lot more going on with anthropomorphic animals walking among humans — hop, don’t run, to check out Bun when it debuts at Thought Bubble Festival.