Saturday, March 21, 2015

"Lead on, McBunny!" In which I unbundle Joshua Quagmire's Cutey Bunny

Cutey Bunny (not to be confused with Cutie Bunny, Cutey Honey, Honey Bunny or the Quik Bunny) is a product of the fevered imagination of one writer-artist Joshua Quagmire and has appeared for many years, sometimes in her own series, occasionally as a back-up feature in titles such as Launch! and Critters. Of late, she appears only at Quagmire's site. I had heard good things about the series and was able to obtain all five issues of her 1982 series (Army Surplus Komikz Featuring Cutey Bunny) and her Launch! & Critters tales.

How best to describe Cutey Bunny?


Seriously, what've you got? Me, I'm coming up empty.

Cutey Bunny is primarily a vehicle for Quagmire to indulge himself in whatever suits his mood. Is it a super hero parody? Yes. A fourth-wall breaking comic book about comic books? Yes. A cheesecake furry comic? Yes. A loving homage to the Crosby-Hope Road pictures? Yes. Uncle Joe Stalin's favourite bedtime storybook? Eerily enough, yes.

If I tried to explain the plots of the eight Cutey Bunny comics I have we'd be here all week (and the rent's due Monday) so instead I give you five of my favourite things about Cutey Bunny:

  1. Fatty Tubbins is the supposed inker of Cutey Bunny's stories, he being a rather short cat employed by Quagmire (Tubbins' signature can be found everywhere, including next to Quagmire's own in an autographed copy I own). As the character in the story who is closest to Quagmire, Tubbins is also nearest to despair as Quagmire inflicts many indignities (such as his "Astro Cat" identity) upon him. Tubbins is long-suffering born loser and I dig such characters in fiction. His seething resentment at being fawned over for being "cute" or made up to look like a super hero adds some nice balance to the generally-accepted insanity of Cutey Bunny's world.
  2. Quagmire made repeated use of Bob Hope & Bing Crosby in his stories, notably in issue #2 of Cutey Bunny's series, which, for all purposes, turns into a "Road to..." story. I'm no great fan of the Road movies, nor much of a Bob Hope fan, but - gosharootie! - their repartee is so spot-on that I simply have to give Quagmire props; some of his funniest fast-pace dialogue appears when those two enter the scene.
  3. Throughout the series, Cutey Bunny is bedeviled by a fox woman, Vicky, who might best be described as a depraved lesbian (she does like men, but mainly for S&M, it would appear). One character always trying to force their way into another's pants shouldn't be funny - but I think Quagmire gets away with it because he frequently reverses expectations, such as above where an assumed sex scene turns out to be Vicky eating Cutey's lollipops. It also helps that Cutey's kid sister Taffy eventually joins the series and the ever-innocent child frequently disrupts Vicky's attempts to tell "adult" stories. The play-by-play as Vicky and Taffy try to steal the story's narrative from each other is always fun.
  4. I love that the fourth wall is so thoroughly demolished in every story. The plots are barely discernible at times, but that's okay. Characters argue with Quagmire, kick their way through panels, intrude upon other people's stories and are mostly unwilling to participate in issue-to-issue continuity. Lovely!
  5. In Cutey Bunny's fifth issue, Quagmire indulges in an X-Men parody which invokes the Dark Phoenix Saga, much as many other satirical comics of the time did. What I truly enjoy about the issue, however, is that when the X-Menified cast of Cutey's book (X-Critters) combat a number of Golden Age super heroes, the fight scene is depicted with excellent choreography, clever uses of super powers and quippy dialogue. It's not only evocative of fight scenes from the Chris Claremont X-Men comics being parodied, but taken straight is also a pretty great extended fight scene - and given my frequently-stated irritation at today's incompetently staged fight scenes in super hero comics, I really appreciate seeing a parody comic demonstrate how it should be done.

Cutey Bunny hasn't aged perfectly - the Ronald Reagan jokes found throughout are certainly of their time - but most of it stands up. Some days I really need a good laugh and on that score, Cutey Bunny delivers.


Billthesurly said...

I have been a fan of Josh Quagmire and his Cutey Bunny 'verse for 30 years for all of the same reasons you enumerated in your review. "Thank's for the mammaries..." But you know what? He's still at it!

Michael Hoskin said...

Yes indeed, Billthesurly! I only hope we see a few more Cutey Bunny books in print format!