The Phoenix Weekender – so, there’s a bunny, and there’s a monkey….
The Phoenix Comic arrives, like clockwork, through the letterbox every single Friday. And I try to tell you about it as often as I possibly can. Why? Because it’s the very best children’s comic out there in my humble opinion. No, seriously, I really believe it is. Don’t get me wrong, I love The Beano, but the Phoenix does something different, with a variety of strips in each issue, action, adventure, comedy, how-to guides, puzzles, and so much more.
You can find The Phoenix at your local comic shop (if they don’t stock it, well that probably tells you something) or subscribe.
Now, once upon a time, I used to do a weekly rundown of the strips inside each issue. And then life got in the way and I stopped. Now I’m back, but thought instead of doing a rundown of every strip every week, I’d highlight a different one each week. It’s so much more fun that way.
This week, it’s time to turn my attention to Jamie Smart’s Bunny Vs Monkey. Smart’s work has appeared in The Phoenix in every single one of the 273 issues so far, mostly with Bunny Vs Monkey.
The concept for this one is hardly difficult. There’s a bunny. Bunny lives in the woods with a variety of friends. Bunny’s life is simple, quiet, frankly boring. And then some scientists have the rather ridiculous plan to launch a Monkey into space. Or something like that. Anyway, Monkey lands in the wood. Chaos ensues.
And it’s a chaos that’s never ends and never gets old. Over the years Bunny Vs Monkey has been hilariously funny, ludicrously surreal, utterly magnificently ridiculous, and just occasionally, utterly heartbreaking. Oh, and on the heartbreaking note, go back up to that first image… see the empty space where Metal Steve once was. Yeah, this.
There’s an invention to Smart’s work that’s a joy to behold, and over the years, this invention has developed so much, his comedic shorthand refined to a sharp point, the gags coming beautifully, the panel to panel moments sublime.
Oh, what the heck, I’ll just show you….
Here’s perhaps the most Bunny Vs Monkey moment there’s ever been:
And here’s a classic single panel gag that Smart does so well:
But the real funny stuff comes in the way Smart builds a gag in BvM. Panel to set up the gag, second panel to deliver it. And usually undercut the gag brilliantly as well. Classic example…
But Smart’s not satisfied with just a good gag, he wants to give us more, so much more. Next couple of panels… the gag just gets better and better and better….
And as for the plain old brilliantly surreal and weird funny stuff, well this from issue 272. I’ll just leave this here, no need for comment, just enjoy. And buy the books. And subscribe.