Writing - 7.5/10
Art - 9/10
Overall - 8.3/10
Writer: W. Maxwell Prince
Artist: Vanesa Del Rey
Colorist: Chris O’halloran
Letterer: Good Old Neon
Maturity Rating: Mature
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: January 13, 2021
A clown’s life is no laughing matter, or maybe it is? Bart chooses to look on the bright side of things, no matter how bad they are.
User Review( votes)
“Bring in the Clowns” Haha #1
Haha #1 is W. Maxwell Prince‘s first issue in his six-issue one-shot/anthology series looking at clowns. Yeah, you read that right: one-shot stories featuring clowns. Whether they make you laugh or cry or want to run and hide, clowns are in the cultural zeitgeist and Prince is looking at what makes them tick. Much like his series The Ice Cream Man, Prince will have a wild worldview for clowns.
Haha #1 follows Bart, or Bartelby when he is in costume. Wife, kids, a house, a dog, and a clown job. Bart has it all…or does he? Maybe his sweet happy life is all in his head? Maybe it is just his worldview to always look at the bright side of life, no matter how bleak and bad.
Haha #1 certainly oozes this odd strangeness to it. I am not sure exactly what it is, between the subject matter of clowns, the main character’s oddly upbeat enthusiasm despite his circumstances, and the overall setting. Prince plays with all these superbly well to weave a strange one-shot tale.
I am a huge proponent of one-shot stories and love that we get this little self-contained story. It is weird, odd, and keeps you interested throughout. It is almost like a Black Mirror or Twilight Zone episode, except featuring clowns. I don’t know exactly what the story is or what it is exactly aiming for, which almost turns me off of it. But that mystery also makes me want to explore it deeper, as well.
I like that Prince is not going with horror or scary stuff with the clown theme, but looking at it in somewhat of a different light than we have seen in a while. Haha #1 is a sad, touching, and strange story all rolled up into an odd-shaped balloon animal for the reader to play with. Prince guides us through Bart’s horrible, terrible day but somehow keeps a smile on his face.
Even if you are afraid of clowns you should think about picking up Haha #1 for the stunningly beautiful art of Vanesa Del Rey. Some truly mesmerizing pieces throughout this issue. Her style fits pitch-perfect with the story happening in this issue. Her linework is superb; the texture and feel just give Haha #1 an incredible look.
With her designs and character work, she captures this gloomy, morose tone of the story. Yet she still captures the odd upbeatness of it all, as well. Her visuals give Haha #1 this strange, yet captivating visual flair that you can’t take your eyes off of. Also, fantastic little pieces throughout the issue; after several reads, you will find yourself seeing some images you missed.
Chris O’Halloran‘s coloring work also has to be praised. He paints the issue in a darker tone, yet again captures this weird, bright, hopeful weirdness to it as well. It all just works tremendously well together to weave this odd tale of Bartelby the clown having a terrible, yet bright and sunny day.
I am not exactly sure what to tell you about Haha #1. The story is a strange one, something that I just can’t quite put my finger on. It is one of those stories that, after you put it down, still kind of sticks with you for an odd reason. Not for the normal reasons, just because it is so odd and that, for me, I keep coming up with different reasons for what Prince may have been going for.
Something that is not in question are the stunning visuals throughout Haha #1. The book looks incredible and even someone who hates clowns will have to admit it looks fantastic.
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