(the following was originally posted to AT 1.0 back on March 23, this 2008)
While I’ve used the above cover to The Unexpected #202 (September 1980) in at least two previous posts, I’ve actually never managed to get around to discussing the actual story to which it loosely refers. It’s a grevious omission on my part, and one I plan on rectifying in today’s special Easter installment of Armagideon Time.
Written by Michael Uslan and illustrated by Terry Henson, “Hopping Down the Bunny Trail” begins with the residents of Anytown, USA wondering about a mysterious advertising blitz for an Easter Egg hunt being held at the local Place of Ill OmenTM. While some parents have questions about the whos and whys behind the event…
After the Doubting Thomases have been convinced to put their faith in the City Council ahead of parental concern, the kids are sent off to join in the festivities and indulge in a moment of heavy-duty, low-grade horror comic story foreshadowing:
Upon arriving at the abandoned mansion, the children are greeted by the the Easter Bunny himself, a jovial lagomorphic nightmare who tempts them inside his secret lair with offers of candy and presents and strange mutterings about “nine days, three hours, and two minutes”…
The tykes let their greed (or stupidity, considering how vulgar Darwinism tends to be the motivation du jour for characters in cheapjack horror comics) overcome years of warnings delivered via filmstrips, after-school specials, and parental lectures about taking presents from talking animals (or even worse, from furries), and go gallivanting through the dark, bat-infested ruin in search of ovoid booty.
Things take a strange turn, however, when the kids fall into a concealed pit and land in a vat of chocolate sauce. This would normally be the point where a person with a fully functioning fight-or-flight reflex might tumble onto the notion that perhaps the Easter Bunny has his own separate agenda that goes beyond simply bringing joy to the children of Anytown. Not these kids, though, who seem to take it all in wide-eyed stride…
Now some of you might be wondering how the act of mastic decapitation performed upon a confectionary effigy could justify a similar action taken against a living being. The answer is deeply rooted in the Lapinite world view, which does not differentiate between the symbolic and the actual when it comes to assessing transgressions and assigning consequences. This aspect of lagomorphic culture was also the reason behind the global outbreak of violent rabbit protests following the publication of Beatrix Potter’s manuscripts.
Lest the ersatz irony of that harsh (though cultural relativists may object to that description) act of retribution be lost on the readers, the writer and artist were considerate enough to restate it in the concluding panel, which in keeping with genre conventions possesses all the delicate subtlety of a grand piano dropped from a third-story roof.
Recommended listening: The Damned – White Rabbit