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Comic Book / Ice Cream Man

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Ice Cream Man is an ongoing Surreal Horror/Fantasy comic published by Image Comics as of January 2018. It is written by W. Maxwell Prince and illustrated by Martin Morazzo.

The series takes on an anthology format and follows different characters each issue as they come into contact with a strange being known as Rick the ice cream man. From there their lives all take a turn (usually for the worst) as the ice cream man toys with reality and spreads human suffering wherever he can. Needless to say, this is one series you'll want to skip if you ever plan on enjoying ice cream the same way again...

There is a companion six-issue mini series called Haha with the final issue crossing over by telling the origin story of Happy Hank who first appeared in Ice Cream Man #8. Similarly, the mini series Swan Songs crosses over in it's sixth issue.

No relation to the film Ice Cream Man.

This Comic Book provides examples of:

  • An Aesop:
    • Issue 2 really drives home the point that Drugs Are Bad and will completely ruin your life.
    • Issue 4 shows that abandoning your family is likely to be one of the biggest mistakes of your life and that you might not get a second chance to make amends.
    • Issue 11 rallies against new media over saturation and the increasingly shorter attention spans of people in the modern age. The main character of this issue is a guy who neglected his family and ended up wishing he hadn't gotten so out of touch with them.
  • Alcoholic Parent: George, the viewpoint character of issue 18 was one. It ended up destroying his marriage.
  • Animal Motifs: Rick has a strong connection to bugs (particularly spiders) and often uses them as metaphors for various bad things.
  • Anthology Comic: Aside from a few recurring characters, each issue is episodic and follows different protagonists and their encounters with the titular ice cream man.
  • Any One Can Die: Expect roughly half of the characters to die by the end of each issue, if not more.
  • Arc Words: Several.
    • "Do you see with your eye?"
    • "Everything is one thing."
    • "Lickety Split."
    • "People disappear and no one can find 'em."
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Some of the factors that led to the Unspecified Apocalypse in issue 12?
    Thing 1: Global warming.
    Thing 452: Split atom.
    Thing 679: Disease.
    Thing 782: Technological singularity.
    Thing 1,599: Bad television.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Issue 12... holy shit. Not only has humanity been reduced to a single solitary astronaut in the far future, but Rick manages to kill even him and steal his ship to find a new universe to play in. Given that this event chronologically takes place in the distant future after one version of earth's demise it's also very likely that this is the ultimate outcome of Rick's stay in the present universe. In other words, Caleb may inevitably fail to stop Rick and he'll be free to torture humanity to his heart's content for many centuries to come.
  • Bad Humor Truck: It's a series following a reality warping ice cream man who seems to feed on human suffering, so of course he spends most of his time riding around in an enticing ice cream truck. Interestingly, when a junkie steals and crashes it in issue 2 he makes an offhand comment that he has plenty of extra trucks to spare and is seen driving a new undamaged one afterwards.
  • Bears Are Bad News: A random guy is seen being chased, mauled and eaten by a bear in issue 8.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Caleb has a habit of doing this. As do a few of the various protagonists.
  • Big Good: A strange cowboy named Caleb seems to be the good counterpart to Rick. Not to mention their uncle.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Several pages of issue 10 are written entirely in Spanish, including the narration.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Often the best a character can hope for. They might survive if they're lucky, but not without an ordeal first.
  • Black Comedy: The humor in this series is usually pitch black but it exists nonetheless. In spades.
  • Body Horror: All over the place, the comic usually has at least one nasty example of this per issue.
  • Breather Episode: Issue 26 has a descendant of some of Rick's victims going on a spiritual journey to chat up with his ancestors as facilitated by Caleb.
  • Bury Your Gays: Under the implied influence of Rick, a man decapitates his husband (and coworker) so he could try to hit on "V," the secondary protagonist of issue 5. Ditto for Rita and Cindy in issue 8.
  • Call-Back: Issue 17 features several call backs to earlier issues while Rick is showing off his collection of curiosities to a reporter.
  • Confession Cam: Played for Horror in the chapter where a scriptwriter gets Trapped in TV Land by the eponymous Humanoid Abomination and finds himself in increasingly disturbing reality shows. Each time he shifts to another show, there are interludes like this where the guy details how he suddenly found himself in these shows, how disturbed he is by what's going on, and how desperate he is to leave. There are also interviews with the other show participants (like a mannequin woman in a dating show and three zombie women in a Real Housewives sendup) who talk about their roles in the disturbing shows like nothing unusual is going on, as well as an interview with the scriptwriter's uncle who was also pulled into the shows, killed, and is now surprised that he's dead.
  • Covers Always Lie: The front cover of the Ice Cream Man Volume 1 graphic novel compilation. It looks all happy and whimsical with all those smiling children. Very misleading, given the actual content of the stories.
  • Crossword Puzzle: The main theme of issue 14, due to the main character being a huge crossword addict. He's implied to get over it by the end of the story and instead begins working on repairing his marriage.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Caleb wears an all black cowboy duster and hat, yet has so far been shown to be the good counterpart to Rick.
  • Downer Ending: Most stories end with their protagonist dead or heavily traumatized.
  • Death of a Child: Yes, there are children who get killed. This is a horror series, remember?
  • Doing In the Wizard: Despite the cover and supernatural nature of the series suggesting otherwise, there was no ghost in issue 7. The poltergeist just existed entirely in the protagonist's imagination as a way to cope with her best friend's death.
  • Driven to Suicide: Issue 5 follows a man who was coaxed into jumping off the top floor of his office building by the ice cream man and reflects on his life and mistakes on the way down.
  • Drugs Are Bad: The main theme of issue 2, which follows a junkie and her boyfriend committing various crimes to fuel their drug habit.
    • Paramedics Mike and Jenny in issue 8 are far too busy chugging down and mixing powerful hospital medication to actually help in any of the several disasters that occur around them over the course of the issue.
  • Existential Horror: Recurring themes include the anxieties of the inevitability of sickness and death, as well as the seemingly inherent sadness of life.
  • Eye Scream: What good is good old fashioned ice cream without some good old fashioned Eye Scream to go with it?
  • Faux Affably Evil: Rick plays up the role of the friendly neighborhood ice cream man but its clear that it's all just an act that he uses to spread misery wherever he can.
  • Fingore: A particularly gruesome example happens to the protagonist of issue 15. It's even featured on the cover art.
  • Flaying Alive: Happens to an unfortunate man named Jimbo in issue 7, courtesy of Rick.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: Caleb sometimes uses Rick's full name, "Riccardus", if he really feels like drawing his attention.
  • Fun with Palindromes: Issue 13 in it's entirety is a palindrome and is read the same no matter which end the reader starts from. Given all of the surreal and disturbing imagery contained in the issue the effect this has is... unnerving.
  • Giant Spider: Massive alien spiders appear in issue 9, the smallest of which is bigger than a dog.
    • Issue 17 gives us a giant robot spider as well.
  • Happy Ending Override: The black box found in the plane crash of the 25th issue reveals that rather than reciprocating his love as the previous pages depicted, Joe performed a Dying Declaration of Hate on his copilot Neddy.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Rick is only human on the outside. He's actually some kind of alien abomination.
  • Last of His Kind: Issue 12 follows a lone astronaut from earth desperately searching for a new planet to call home that can be used to revive the nearly extinct human species. It's unknown exactly what happened back on the little blue marble, but the hints given in the story imply it's ultimate fate wasn't pretty...
    • It is implied that Rick, Caleb, and their Uncle are the last of their kind from an unseen universe.
  • Light Is Not Good: Rick, the titular ice cream man. He wears a white, squeaky-clean outfit much like an Expy of the Good Humor Man. However, Rick's actions and personality are anything but good... or humorous.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: The creepy little gremlin that appears in issue 18 is fully nude... including his penis.
  • Murderous Mannequin: The story of issue 11 takes place in a Reality TV dimension inhabited by living faceless mannequins, dog people, living skeletons, and zombies. Victim du jour Will Parson got banished there by Rick to compete in a dating show otherwise populated exclusively by mannequins. He loses the first round of Mannequin House when Stiffanie doesn't give him a rose on account of him having facial detail. Will is taken away for "improvement", which entails the removal of his face, but he escapes. In order, he ends up on the sets of Family Autopsy, which has mannequins in the audience, Chop'd, where one other contestant is a mannequin, America's Got Intestines, uniquely without mannequins, and Wealthy Family of Zombies. The zombies' cook is a mannequin and he feeds Will to them for brunch.
  • New Job as the Plot Demands: Given that it's not always easy to insert an ice cream man or a monster dressed as one into a story, Rick occasionally changes vocations to fit the events of an issue such as a cameraman in issue 11 or a convenience store clerk in issue 14.
  • New Media Are Evil: Issue 11 has a modern media addict who neglected his family end up trapped in various tv shows.
  • Non-Ironic Clown: Happy Hank in issue 8. The only really harmful thing he does is commit suicide and even then, the children whose birthdays he helped entertain care enough about him to give him an amateur, but well-intentioned, "viking funeral."
  • Pun: Most of Issue 11 is a build-up to the reveal that the doomed Will Parson is one of the stars of a TV show called Missing Parsons whose gimmick involves members of the eponymous vanishing between episodes over time.
  • Reality Warper: The titular ice cream man seems to have the ability to distort reality and change the lives of anyone he comes into contact with, though to what extent is currently unknown.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Both Rick and Caleb are part of some sort of ancient alien/deity race that existed long before the current universe was even born and left their old world before it was destroyed.
  • Sanity Slippage: Issue 15 follows a young woman who slowly starts losing her grasp on reality after being given the wrong coat at a restaurant.
  • Shout-Out: Issue 17 reads like one big love letter to famous comics, particularly Superman. Even the cover is a reference to Action Comics first issue.
  • Spiders Are Scary: Issue 1 gets a lot of mileage out of this trope, though it helps that said spider is one of the most venomous species on the planet.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: The main protagonists of issue 10 are a pair of young lovers from different border towns, one in Mexico and one in America, who plan on running away together. Rick makes sure their story ends in tragedy, naturally.
  • Straw Nihilist: Assuming Rick isn't lying, his Uncle told him life was meaningless and that it was his purpose to "kick up dust." Caleb, on the other hand, completely dismisses his views.
  • Surprisingly Happy Ending: Pops up from time to time to balance out the downer endings. Issue #38, for example, ends with the protagonist escaping his prison with seemingly no catch.
  • Surreal Horror: The comic dips into this from time to time. Issue 13 for example, is one giant palindrome that tells the story of a man who lost his husband/boyfriend to cancer and goes on a journey into the sewers. Then things get freaky...
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Disturbingly, Rick seems to have a great fondness for cats. In issue 1 he is seen morphing into a more bestial form to prey upon the neighborhoods pet cats. In issue 7, he talks about how a deep fried kitten is tastier than an expensive steak, and later throws a kitten into a large soup pot.
  • Tragic Stillbirth: The main protagonists of issue 14 suffered this at some point in the past, which had a massive negative impact on their marriage.
  • Trapped in TV Land: Happens to Will in issue 11.
  • Turn Out Like His Father: George's son John divorcing his wife and possibly losing his family like his father did years before is one of the main sources of drama in issue 18.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: In issue 26, the main character is contemplating his family's cycle of bad choices, literally travelling down his family tree. At the end, he is seen joining his long gone family members for a drink. And Caleb is the bartender. It's incredibly touching, given how bleak this comic's setting is.
  • Uncanny Valley: This seems to be intentionally invoked by the art style, which is mostly realistic, but just cartoony and stylized enough that it becomes creepy to look at, especially whenever someone smiles or grins.
  • Unspecified Apocalypse: Though several minor causes are listed as contributing to the end of the world and humanity in issue 12 the book never actually tells the reader exactly what happened. All the reader really finds out is that the devastation was apparently so bad that the last known living human is seen piloting a ship in deep space looking for a new planet he can recreate the earth on.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Rick uses his disguise as an ordinary ice cream man to befriend and find victims with most people having no idea of his true nature. Issue 17 even has him pretending to be a superhero.
  • Wham Episode: Issue 8. The entire town seems to be undergoing some sort of full on purge, people are dying in the streets and the last few pages reveal that Caleb has been fatally stabbed, likely by Rick himself.
    • And to make it worse, the following issues take place either in the past or a Rick-created side dimension, so the audience doesn’t get resolution on that or what it means for the town.
    • Issue 12. In the far future humanity has been reduced to a single astronaut who is scouring the cosmos for a habitable planet he can rebuild a new earth on. After crash landing on a distant moon he then follows a distress call that leads him to a cave where Rick is waiting for him. After showing that he killed all of the other astronauts Rick then follows the main protagonist back to his ship, where he murders him horribly. Cut to the final scene of Rick blasting off in search of a new universe to ruin as Caleb watches him from the moon's surface, promising to meet him again in the next world.