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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.
The Unfunnies from "Kick-Ass" and "Civil War" writer Mark Millar lives up to it's name. Expecting to laugh while reading this comic is like expecting to leave Las Vegas with all of your money AND your innocence intact. The content of the book is purposely disturbing and shocking, including scenes where adorable cartoon characters are killed in gruesome and horrible way, which is all very disturbing... if you've never seen South Park, Happy Tree Friends, Sealeab, Harvey Birdman, or any of the other hundreds of shows that have all played this exact concept for comedy.
What separates this comic from all of those other things is that The Unfunnies wants us to take this concepts completely seriously. This is Mark Millar's attempt at a serious, straight-faced horror comic. And boy, does it fail at that.
Riddled with plot holes, lackluster art, terrible photoshop effects, and general crassness in place of plot or characterization, The Unfunnies is a thoroughly unpleasant experience. Those who like funny animal books will be horrified, and those who like shocking, thrilling horror comics will be bored out of their skulls. This is a comic that believes itself to be shocking and terrifying, but is only crass and boring.
The "shocking twist" of the comic, that Troy Hicks has replaced himself with a character in his own book and is slowly corrupting it, isn't that much of a twist, considering that the book practically tells the reader exactly that in the very first issues.
To the book's credit, the concept is wonderful, interesting, and boundlessly original. Unfortunately, like most of Mark Millar's body of work, the great concept is wasted on poor execution.
If you're looking for a funny comic, stay away. If you're looking for an interesting horror comic, stay away. If you're a Millar fan, you're the only person this book will truly appeal to.
A few people may enjoy it, good for them. If you can gain enjoyment from this book, more power to you. I certainly couldn't.
Ok, despite what you've read about it, The Unfunnies isn't bad. Ok, it's bad if you go into it expecting to laugh, but not if you go into it expecting to be disturbed. The premise (A bunch of children's show characters being corrupted by a Serial Killer) is pretty original, the art is brilliant, and it's just entertaining watching the whole sugarbowl-esque world go to shit in a matter of seconds.
So, to sum up, read it, but don't expect to laugh.
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