Bunny Man: My Life in the Easter Charade
Written and Illustrated by Sean Seamus McWhinny
There's nothing like a good Shitty Job Story. From Carol Tyler's The Job Thing (1993, Fantagraphics) to David Sedaris's famed The SantaLand Diaries (first published in 1994), it's always fun to laugh while simultaneously wincing in recognition at tales of dreadful bosses, evil coworkers, insufferable customers, and just plain old routine job misery. Who amongst us hasn't had at least one lousy job at one point or another? No one you’d want to know.
Just in time for Easter comes this funny, fascinating Shitty Job story, in the form of a 128-page graphic novel by Sean Seamus McWhinny, best known for Diary of a Catering Whore (available digitally from Northwest Press). When he lost an animation gig during the Silicon Valley Dot Com bust of the early 2000s, McWhinny was driven to take a temp job as an Easter Bunny in the supremely depressing atmosphere of a dying shopping mall in the ‘burbs of San Francisco. This meant dressing up in a head-to-toe bunny suit, complete with a huge, suffocating, plaster bunny-head. McWhinny describes putting on this daunting outfit for the first time: "Entombed, I heard other people's voices as if they came from another room."
McWhinny vividly describes the rest of his bizarre two-week-long stint: the desolate, employees-only corridors and break rooms of the mall; his creepy co-worker Fred, who eats hard-boiled eggs while regaling McWhinny with hard-to-believe anecdotes ("I can read the thoughts of animals"); and the difficulties in handling rotten, ill-behaved children and harsh, controlling parents. Worst of all, there's the sheer ignominy of the job itself. Dressing up in the claustrophobic prison of the Easter Bunny outfit, forbidden to speak, all the while having to deal with the public at large is dehumanizing – surely the most defining attribute of any Shitty Job.
McWhinny captures all of the absurdity in good old-fashioned two-color cartoony drawings, with an assured sense of pace and great comic timing. He handles the tricky problem of drawing from the POV of inside the bunny suit particularly well. At times of confusion we see only what he sees—a hand or a partially obscured face—filtered through the wire mesh that covers the suit's eye sockets. It’s quite effective at capturing for the reader what wearing the suit would feel like, the sense of claustrophobia and disconnect. I would have liked a bit more detail about his personal life - even just a moment or two discussing his situation with a friend or relative might have offered a deeper glimpse outside the confines of his job, a bit more narrative texture. But overall this is good, funny, occasionally poignant comics autobiography, and a stellar contribution to the canon of Shitty Job stories. Hop to it (sorry, couldn't resist) and get yourself a copy.