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The Unfunnies is a depraved work in its own right, but being a horror reader/writer with a fondness for metafiction, I was naturally intrigued. After tracking down the entire work in a comic shop, I got to reading. It is just as demented as the reviews all said it would be.
The premise is somewhat interesting with a lunatic in a cartoony world of anthropomorphic animal characters with an alright art style fitting the content. On a metafictional level, The Unfunnies works in emphasizing the depravity of the artist Troy Hicks. It falters because it's not funny (not that I ever expected to laugh at any point) and it wears itself as a running gag. As for the main story...it's "effective" in that it revolted me and made me angry at the work, thereby defying Darkness Induced Audience Apathy because I did genuinely care about Birdseed Betty, even with the knowledge that she wasn't going to survive. And by the end, I really got the impression that I was somewhat to blame for these characters' suffering. Not because I find their suffering amusing, never in the least, but because I actively sought out the story due to my fondness for the horror genre and my natural intrigue which allowed Hicks' plot to unfold. Such a thing really gets at someone who thinks much of metafiction.
But that's the only positive thing I can say about The Unfunnies. It works as a horror story and should only ever be read as one. Aside from the feeling of dread it left me, it's not all that great as a horror story. Troy Hicks is ultimately an uninteresting Complete Monster and a villainous Marty Stu who manages to trump all because he's the creator. He's a thug without charisma, humor, intelligence, or interesting gimmicks. He's a troll with a bloodlust. When you really get down to it, there's no real conflict in the narrative-just Hicks trolling. These characters are just his playthings and nothing more. Aside from Birdseed Betty, whose fate really gets at me, the characters are just there to die. In the end, The Unfunnies plays up as a villainous Marty Stu's romp. Hicks can do whatever he wants and there's no chance he can be defeated or even truly confronted. It's all downhill from there. And thus, there really is no story, just a sick man's fantasy.
So if you're going to read it, read it for what it truly is: a sick man's fantasy.
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