Ed the Happy Clown is a Canadian underground comic by Chester Brown, originally published in his comics series Yummy Fur, first as self-published minicomics from 1983 to 1985, then published through Vortex Comics from 1986 to 1989. It was entirely improvised by Brown as he went along, creating a strange and surreal story that goes through several bizarre twists and turns. This also means that at times it is shockingly vulgar, so the grosser bits will be spoilered out in order to preserve family friendliness.
The story consists of Ed, the eponymous clown, who is framed for stealing and cutting off the hand of Chet Doodie, a janitor at the hospital. However, Ed escapes the prison when a man in the cell next to him who can't stop pooping breaks the cell with the sheer amount of fecal matter he's discharging, before collapsing.
Meanwhile, Chet, an adulterer, has decided that losing his hand was a sign from God to atone for his sins. He decides to do this by seducing and murdering his girlfriend, Josie, then atoning for his sins. Unfortunately, Josie discovers that being killed while in the act of sinning turns you into a vampire, and she is now one of the living dead.
Both Josie's and Ed's bodies are stolen by sewer-dwelling pygmies, who planned to eat them. However, it is discovered that the head of a miniature Ronald Reagan has become attached to Ed's body, namely, to his penis. This is enough to cause the pygmies to pause as they consider this a sign from their penis god, and Ed, Ronald Reagan, and Josie are able to escape into even weirder adventures...
This comic book provides examples of:
- Body Horror: This is all over the place. This is not a comic for the squeamish
- Canada, Eh?: Set there (hence the RCMP functioning as The Men in Black of the story). Ronald Reagan was initially intended to be NDP party leader Ed Broadbent, until it was decided that Broadbent was too obscure a person for the comic's intended U.S. audience.
- Crapsack World: There are cannibalistic pygmies in the sewers, women apparently need permits to wear pants and have very few jobs open to them, everyone is murderously homophobic, and you get sent to hell if you sin but become sinless if you pray for forgivenness, even if you're a murderer. Ronald Reagan's dimension is literally a crappy world, given that apparently they never invented the toilet, meaning that crap is just left around in huge piles everywhere.
- Fanservice: Josie spends a lot of the comic naked, given that she cannot keep her clothes when she transforms
- Fan Disservice: Ed also spends most of the comic naked, wounded, and with Ronald Reagan on his penis.
- Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Josie, to Ed at least. Not so much to Chet, however.
- Jerkass: the anarchist punk who beats up Ed because he thinks Ed is too close to his girlfriend. According to Brown's notes, this guy was based on what Brown imagined the guy who was dating his ex-girlfriend was like.
- Karma Houdini: Chet initially looks like this trope, as Josie is told by his sister Annie (who's a ghost who hangs around her brother) that since he prayed for forgiveness for killing her, he is now sinless. This is averted when Josie seduces Chet and then crushes his head immediately after sex to prevent him from praying for forgiveness, sending him to hell.
- Lilliputians: The people from Ronald Reagan's dimension are tiny when they enter Dimension X.
- The Men in Black: The RCMP toward the end of the story who are trying to get the miniature Ronald Reagan's head.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Vampires apparently are created when someone is killed while in the act of committing a sin or has died before atoning. They can be killed temporarily, but if their bodies are still intact then their souls can go right back into their bodies. If their bodies are destroyed or they refuse to go back into their bodies, they go straight to hell. They can turn into bats, and apparently do not need to drink blood
- Politician Guest Star: Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan, and Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulrooney, although Brown is quick to point out that none of them look at all like their real-life counterparts.
- Refuge in Vulgarity: Quite a lot of the comic, particularly the man who can't stop pooping.
- Take That!: Surprisingly, Ronald Reagan's head stuck to Ed's penis wasn't actually intended to be this, at least not exactly. As noted above, Brown was initially planning on putting left-wing Canadian politician Ed Broadbent (who he felt was an arrogant blowhard) into the role, but eventually decided Broadbent was too obscure a politician even for Canadians to appreciate. Brown in his notes remarks that he had only the dimmest idea of politics at the time, and knew next to little about Reagan except that he was conservative (and so, Brown assumed, opposed to pornography and vulgar works of art such as his own).
- Vampires Are Sex Goddesses: Josie, although she was rather sexy before she became a vampire, was created to take advantage of this trope.