1985: Army Surplus Komikz Featuring: Cutey Bunny

Army Surplus Komikz Featuring: Cutey Bunny (1985) #5 by Joshua Quagmire, Michael Lee, Dave Garcia et al.

Hey, what’s this? OK, if you’re interesting in Cutey Bunny you can just skip the next few paragraphs, because I’m going to witter on about this blog series for a while.

I’ve tried to do this blog series real uh method: I’ve been reading the comics Eclipse published chronologically (well, based on when the first issue of any series was released), and I based that on the work of the nice people at comics.org, who have collated the information.

However, there’s two problems with that approach: The first is that comics.org only lists comics (duh), and Eclipse published other things that I want to cover in this obsessive blog series. The other is that Eclipse co-published/distributed a number of books that comics.org didn’t list as being “Eclipse” comics, but I want to do those, too.

So after having almost finished off this blog series (I wrote the previous entry three weeks ago; it’s the Rawhead Rex post that’ll be published a week from when this blog post is published, and two months after I’m writing this blog post (WE SEEM TO BE TRAPPED IN SOME KIND OF TIME WARP)), I did a mop-up session after having finally discovered catherine ⊕ yronwode’s web site (cleverly disguised), and I ended up getting this extra stack of comics:

Which are primarily comics distributed by Eclipse, but also a couple of non-comics books that I had initially missed.

*phew*

Wasn’t that fascinating? What? No? Rude.

So let’s see whether I still remember how to do this Eclipse blog thingie… it’s been so long…

Oh, Joshua Quagmire. I remember liking his comics quite a lot from when I was a teenager, but his comics were rather difficult to come by. I vaguely remember (and this may be totally false) that he kinda talked more about publishing comics than actually publishing them. And he famously got into some kind of disagreement with Critters editor Kim Thompson that led to Quagmire withdrawing Cutey Bunny from that anthology, and gave Thompson a very non-funny story about children dying in a nuclear holocaust instead, if I remember correctly.

So above Quagmire talks about the proliferation of X-Men comics and parodies and makes fun of that phenomenon, and then… says that this is an X-Men parody. Sort of. Only not?

And he also helpfully explains that Eclipse isn’t publishing this comic, even if the Eclipse logo is on the cover, but actually explains what it means to be “distributed” by Eclipse, which I had kinda wondered about: Eclipse carried the book on their solicitation form, so the real distributors can order the book through Eclipse (I guess). So money goes from the comics shops to the distributors to Eclipse and then hopefully to Quagmire. Makes sense.

Ah, yes. That’s Joshua Quagmire as I remember him: Pages that manage to be totally chaotic without having weird layouts. There’s nothing on these pages for the eyes to latch on to; it’s all a swirl of characters and speech balloons and captions. That would normally be a major handicap, but I feel that that might be a conscious choice by Quagmire: His humour is based on chaos, and the artwork underscores the feeling of being out of control.

Heh. Costume design by Lela Dowling.

Anyway, Quagmire pours on the asides and bad jokes and visual gags and hopes that cumulatively it’s hilarious, even if the individual jokes aren’t that hot. When I was fourteen I loved this stuff to bits, but now it mostly leaves me exhausted. (On the other hand, I’ve spent the last few days at a music festival, which may explain the exhaustion.)

Captain Huey’s super-hero logic is impeccable.

As the book itself points out several times, there’s isn’t much of a plot. It has an improvised feeling that’s really endearing.

Huh. C.C. Beck writes in.

There’s a backup feature, that’s apparently a continued story about some gophers in space (all called Al), and it’s even more chaotic than the lead story.

Nice.

Eclipse didn’t continue distributing the book (for reasons that I’ve been unable to determine). Aardvark-Vanaheim almost picked up the book, but that deal also went south for unknown reasons.

Cutey Bunny got at least one more issue (from Rip Off Press).

Quagmire is still making comics.

But what did the critics think? Here’s Gene Phillips from The Comics Journal #81 (about the first Cutey Bunny issue):

Quagmire misinterprets the lessons of Mad—for Quagmire’s characters continually remark on the fact that they are characters in a story, or on their foreknowledge of events that have yet to happen. Once or twice this would be cute, but Quagmire runs Æhe device into the ground. Still, if in future efforts he can resist the temptation to “tell all” in this fashion, he might mature into an estimable talent (one recalls how Cerebus started out as little more than parodies and in-jokes).

File this one under “Guilty Pleasures” if you must—but Quagmire’s Komik is one of the few funny-animal comics that deserves the adjective funny.

Here’s Dale Luciano in The Comics Journal #88, about #2:

It’s funny stuff, even inspired in its own modest way. Whether Quagmire has any inclination to transcend affectionate parody-satire and attempt something more ambitious within the Cutey Bunny framework remains to be seen. As noted, the book has modest enough has long been my contention that there are far too few ‘Road Movies’ in the world,” writes Quagmire, “And so it ‘was to somewhat alleviate this deplorable condition that we set about to produce this issue… ‘ ‘—but there’s so little opportunity any more to enjoy this variety of intelligent, unpretentious slapstick that Cutey Bunny is welcome indeed.

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