Review: Bun (Madius Comics)

With the first full issue of Mike Sambrook’s Bun proper coming very soon, and the first 11 pages now available for free on Gumroad, we look back at that sampler issue about a giant bunny trying to find his way in the world. But does writer Mike Sambrook manage to create a sweet all ages tale, that still has a touch of the mixed up Madius magic to it?

Publisher: Madius Comics
Writer: Mike Sambrook
Artist: Rosie Packwood (Art) Robin Jones (Lettering)
Price: Free to download here

From the opening pages of Bun, you know you are in for something very different. Artist Rosie Packwood sets the tone for this fascinating new direction, with an utterly sublime series of opening pages that look like something out a kids story book thanks to an impeccable sense of design and sublime muted colouring. These perfectly realised pages introduce us to Bun the bunny, but Bun is no ordinary rabbit, He grows up different to his fellow bunnies owing to his massive size. After a particularly heartbreaking scene involving him being shunned by the local farmer he sets off to the big city where he encounters a shadowy underworld figure after a confrontation on the train.

After starting off as a cutesy looking animal tale, things begin to get a bit edgy and darker as the story develops, and Rosie’s artwork begins to change and evolve too. What starts out as a beautiful series of pastoral panels turns into a slightly raw mix of cartoonish caricatures and art house quirkiness. Visually the early pages reminded us a lot of Nich Angell with its simple but expressive faces, while later on it felt more like an Avery Hill book with its quirky concept and stylish approach to the story. But as well as being cutesy it also has a real edge to it, mostly in the darker scenes like the fight on the subway which felt like a very gritty British comic from the 1970s and makes it a really compelling read and not what you expect after the opener. During these scenes Rosie’s art felt a bit awkward and the quality dips half way through the issue which is a shame. But this may of course just be her struggling to match the utter brilliance of those opening few panels, which is a tough act to follow.

Despite these minor quibbles, Bun is a genuinely exciting read, that came out of nowhere and showed us a really interesting new direction for Madius Comics. Sambrook’s story is simple and slow burning, while Rosie’s artwork is an eclectic mix, but one that brings a completely new look to the Madius stable – and may just be their most fun book yet. However, it is the characterisation which is the real star. Just like Griff Gristle or The Profits Of Doom, we genuinely can’t wait to see more from this new character and we can’t predict where it’s heading – which is really exciting. Will it get darker and more edgy or will it turn into a series of misadventures and return to its cutesy roots? We really can’t tell, but we can’t wait to find out!