By Kane S. Latranz
Jhonen Vasquez rose to cult status with one among a slew of absurd cartoons on Nickelodeon, Invader Zim. Unfortunately, that show was ultimately cancelled due to its sick and twisted content. The trouble is that sick and twisted is Vasquez' art form, as epitomized in such comics as Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Squee and the ever delightful I Feel Sick.
Now we have a third installment of Vasquez' Fillerbunny. While the first comic was created within a 24-hour period, and the second over the course of two sleep-deprived days, Fillerbunny's "worst book yet!" took much longer to find fruition. It follows the further horrific adventures of the adorable laboratory bunny genetically engineered to fill page space.
Fillerbunny starts off his third comic book tale in a context far removed from its predecessors, flying heroically into battle against "Slorrgh," the leader of a demon realm bent on overtaking the Earth. Our bunny saves the day by deftly lopping off the head of his long-winded adversary with a broadsword. By the second page, the bunny cheerfully bids his fans farewell only to learn that his job is far from over.
Having been thoroughly amused by the first ultra-weird creation, I was not terribly impressed by the rehash at first. This latest chapter, however, is self-referential and covers a wide field in its own disjointed way, with the miserable Vasquez interacting with a vile-tempered boss who wants the artist to produce corporate-friendly cuteness for the enjoyment of the fans. There's less of things like "Aborto," a grotesque floating fetus that is supplied as Fillerbunny's new friend, eventually inspiring the bunny to hurl in one of many vomiting sequences.
This installment includes an android bunny designed to ensure maximum performance from our hero, named "Killerbunny." There are also amorous fan letters from a transgendered clergyman, "Father Enrique Trueheart," and a hilarious foray into the fleeting possibility of Vasquez cashing in with spooky, yet cute T-shirts. (Picture a smiling cartoon kitty above the catchy slogan: "I'm a fucking moron!") Best of all, there's also lots and lots of violence.
There is a simple profundity in the juxtaposition of cuteness and the grotesque in Vasquez' world. In a tirade against his demanding boss, the artist makes the point quite eloquently that he is not a fan of rape and abortion, but that anything can actually be humorous, no matter how horrible it is in real life.
I share Vasquez's view of creative freedom, and enjoyed his little sermon about the fact that suffering and humor are close cousins. My only real complaint would be that Fillerbunny should maybe include a content warning. Then again, it's no worse than the dehumanizing crap slopped out every day on “Jerry Springer.”
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