Cover of the 1st issue.
|Publication date||January 2004 – October 2007|
|No. of issues||4|
|Created by||Mark Millar
|Written by||Mark Millar|
|Editor(s)||William A. Christensen|
The comic uses cartoon characters drawn in a simple style similar to Hanna-Barbera and photographs to tell the story of a comic world gone wrong. The plot intertwines several storylines that eventually meet in the end.
The Unfunnies was one of the launch titles for Millarworld, the umbrella brand that the creator-owned works of Mark Millar would be marketed under beginning in 2004. After being rejected by multiple publishers, Millar had Avatar Press release the book, as the company was the only one to not object to the transgressive content of the series, which Millar described as being "a very dark, multi-charactered story (along the lines of Magnolia) with funny animals" that he had decided to write after "tapping into that whole Happiness vibe I've been dying to utilize since I saw my first Todd Solondz movie."
Anthony Williams was personally selected by Millar to illustrate the title due Williams's past experience in the animation industry, which Millar believed would allow Williams to perfectly render the intended Hanna-Barbera-based cartoon art style that was to clash with the story's grim subject matter in a manner comparable to "It's A Wonderful Life Part 2 starring all the same people as the original or The Little Mermaid 3 animated in exactly the same style, but the opening scene had Ariel's dad busted for child molestation or James Stewart sneaking into a mortuary for a little skull-fucking." Millar expressed dissatisfaction with Williams' initial artwork, and instructed him to "make it shittier."
By Millar's own account, when he gave a copy of the first issue to his wife, she read the first six pages of it, and then threw the book back at him while calling it "the most horrible thing she'd ever read in her life" as he frantically attempted to explain to her that "the crow was sucking cock for a REASON."
Issues #1 and #2 were released in 2004, and were re-released in 2007 together in a compilation titled The First Follies. Issues #3 and #4 were also released in 2007. Each installment had two covers, a mass-market one, and an "Offensive" variant.
The title is wholly absent from the Millarworld art book, as well as the line's official website; when reached for comment by Bleeding Cool, both Avatar Press editor-in-chief William A. Christensen and art book publisher Image Comics claimed that Millar had not brought up including The Unfunnies in either. Millar and Williams also both failed to respond to any of Bleeding Cool's queries relating to the apparent "excommunication" of The Unfunnies from their bibliographies.
The story starts with the Crow family sitting down about to watch television. Suddenly the police come through the door and arrest Moe the Crow for possession of child pornography. As the story progresses, we discover that crime and depravity have gone up in this world, and no one understands why, or what is happening. Moe the Crow tells Birdseed Betty while she's visiting him in jail that he doesn't understand what's happening, but that he had been getting mysterious e-mails from a stranger calling himself Troy Hicks who had been tempting him with the child porn with a final offer to trade places with him in his world, which Moe refused to do.
As the story continues, more and more of the characters find themselves in situations that they do not understand, and Sheriff Dribble is on the hunt to find out why. Once he discovers that there's a connection to a lot of the recent events and a penguin named Frosty Pete, Sheriff Dribble and his force confront him at the church.
Frosty Pete tells the cops that they can't stop him, because he is really Troy Hicks, and has been controlling the world this whole time. In his world, Hicks was a cartoonist who drew a comic strip called "The Funnies". He was charged with eight child murders. His wife wanted a child, and had turned to prostitution after his arrest. He explains to Sheriff Dribble that after his final appeal was rejected, he decided to start drawing his world again in an attempt to stay alive forever and do whatever he wanted in the new world without consequences. He e-mailed all his characters figuring that at least one of them would bite if he gave enough temptation of sex and women in his world, which Frosty Pete accepted (thus Hicks's current form as Frosty Pete). Hicks then demonstrates his new power by stopping the bullets fired at him and killing the police force.
As the comic ends, we see a glimpse into the real world where Frosty Pete, now in Hick's body, is about to be led to the electric chair, while Hicks, after killing off or seriously harming various characters in quick succession, walks off with Sally Gator's baby in the stroller.
Moe the Crow – a cartoon crow. Married to Birdseed Betty, has two kids Timmy and Molly. He is arrested and jailed for possession of child pornography (provided to him by Troy Hicks). Becomes a prison “bitch” to the other inmates. Is eventually raped by a bulldog in prison with AIDS.
Birdseed Betty – a cartoon crow. After Moe is sent to jail, Betty turns to prostitution. Kills her landlord after he suggests having sex with her kids, as well. Becomes a Christian and leaves Moe after receiving a mysterious inheritance, but is killed by a weight in the end by Troy Hicks/Frosty Pete.
Sheriff Dribble – a cartoon cop. Is investigating the sudden appearance of Troy Hicks and the deaths of the children in the world. Dribble is killed by Troy Hicks/Frosty Pete.
Jungle Jim – a cartoon lemur. Landlord to Moe the Crow and Birdseed Betty. Becomes Birdseed Betty’s first client in order for her to stay in the house. Is killed by Birdseed Betty.
Pussywhisker – a cartoon panther. Out of work actor. Married to Polly. Loses both his testicles after being convinced by Dr. Despicable that he has cancer. Is forced by Polly to find a sperm donor so they can have a child. Polly later reveals that she orchestrated her husband's castration so that she would be justified in her acts of adultery with copious partners, and enjoys that she has forced her husband to find these partners while she waits at home.
Dr. Despicable – a cartoon doctor. Convinces his patients to do things they wouldn’t normally do.
Sally Gator – a cartoon alligator. Is convinced by Dr. Despicable to have a “medical termination” of her ten-year-old daughter Allie Gator and have another child to “replace” her. Sally's baby is last seen being pushed in the carriage by Troy Hicks/Frosty Pete.
Chick-Chick Chickie – a cartoon chick. Foul mouthed to all the adults, but it is later revealed that he is being forced to do so by Troy Hicks/Frosty Pete. Is killed by Troy Hicks/Frosty Pete.
Legal Beagle – a cartoon beagle. Lawyer. Becomes a client of Birdseed Betty.
Troy Hicks – Cartoonist. Creator of the cartoon world and controls everything in the world. Child molester and child killer. On Death Row for the deaths of 8 children after his final appeal is rejected. Starts drawing his cartoon world again when in prison and uses it as a gateway to live forever. E-mails his creations and tempts them with stories of sex and porn, in an attempt to make it over into the cartoon world, talks Frosty Pete into going along with the plan. Is last seen walking off with Sally Gator’s new baby.
- M. Keith Booker (2010). Encyclopedia of Comic Books and Graphic Novels. ABC-CLIO (Greenwood Publishing Group). p. 418. ISBN 9780313357466. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
- Ness, Alexander (10 October 2003). "Slush Interview: Millar Talks Avatar's The Unfunnies". slushfactory.com. Slush Factory. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
- O'Shea, Tim; Naso, Markisan; Brice, Jason. "Mark Millar: World On A String (Part One of Two)". comicsbulletin.com. Internet Archive. Archived from the original on 10 August 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
- Weiland, Josh (5 November 2003). "Exploring the funny side of Millar's The Unfunnies with Williams and Christiansen". comicbookresources.com. Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
- Johnston, Rich (22 August 2013). "Have The Unfunnies Been Excommunicated From Millarworld?". bleedingcool.com. Bleeding Cool. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
- Johnston, Rich (13 February 2015). "The Unfunnies, Officially Excommunicated From Millarworld". bleedingcool.com. Bleeding Cool. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
- The Unfunnies at the Comic Book DB
- Interview with Mark Millar and William Christensen at Slush Factory
- Interview with Anthony Williams and William Christensen at Comic Book Resources