Review by Jamie McNeil
Bunny Vs Monkey has been running in the pages of weekly comic The Phoenix since the very beginning and shows no signs of stopping. Creator Jamie Smart’s funny and anarchic tales fill seven (at least) trade paperback collections and as of late 2020 is available in a re-mastered omnibus edition that collects two books at time, in this case the first two. So what is it about?
A group of scientists place a monkey in a rocket ship with the intention of launching him into space. It turns out a failure and instead the rocket lands in the middle of the woods. As far as Monkey is concerned, he has landed on another planet and declares himself King. This leads him into conflict with the already resident Bunny who simply wants to live a quiet life. Drawn into the struggle although on varying sides are Pig, Weenie Squirrel, Le Fox, Action Beaver, Metal Steve and Skunky, inventor of Monkey’s line of madcap weapons. It sets the stage for what reviewer Win Wiacek calls “a madcap duel of animal arch rivals set amidst the idyllic arcadia of a more-or-less ordinary English Wood.”
Only the hardest of frozen hearts would fail to even crack a smile at Smart’s hyperactive slapstick humour curiously balanced by subtly intelligent yet nonetheless funny dialogue. The artwork is bright and loud like the characters yet Smart can make you breathe a calm sigh of content like Bunny before Monkey comes crashing through the panels. When it comes to imagining new gadgets and designs for Money’s and Skunky’s quests for domination, few artists have the output or cartooning skill Smart does to whip one up on a weekly basis. The Cluck Cluck Zeppelin, Fists of Furry, Pig-O-Tron 5000, the Wish Cannon and the Octo-Blivion are all inspired! The detail of each item and the genius of the plots surrounding them is so impressive you could believe it possible to build one.
Not only are there plenty of silly laughs there are also little lessons about reinventing yourself and learning to live in the moment. It’s refreshing and inspirational with enough to please all ages. The new edition is more compact, a little larger than the pocket sized digest formats so it is easy to transport the fun. Do yourself, your kids and your granny a favour by investing in Bunny Vs Monkey because, to quote one of Jamie’s lines, “Everybody needs their dance mode activated once in a while”.
Bunny Vs Monkey And The Human Invasion! compiling the third and fourth books will be available in 2021.