“It was a sunny day in Happy Valley, where all the happy things lived. Happy trees… happy bugs… Happy creatures of all shapes and sizes. Everyone was happy. Except Lloyd.”
That’s how Happy Valley begins. You can probably guess what happens when Lloyd is unhappy, especially when you consider that Lloyd is a bear and that Happy Valley is a land of anthropomorphic cartoon characters, a kind of Disney universe where real life has intruded into the fantasy.
We’re informed that Lloyd lives in a cave with weatherproofing issues and an obnoxious roommate. His commute is hell, his job is horrific, and his wife is cheating on him. What’s a bear to do?
The answer is: go postal. After his internal temperature has reached the boiling point, Lloyd the bear from Happy Valley snaps and goes on a horrific rampage through the land, systematically destroying every aspect of his life that causes him torture. It’s a bloody and horrific rampage, but in an odd way, it’s kind of fulfilling. Who hasn’t entertained thoughts in his mind of doing away with everything and everyone that’s done him wrong? Lloyd’s reaction is way, way over the top, but hey this is comics and everything is supposed to be over the top.
The closest comparison to this comic is probably The Unfunnies, Mark Millar’s wildly satirical take on cartoon characters’ dysfunctional lives. But where that series was all about shock for its own sake, Happy Valley is a short little vignette showing one man, umm, bear’s reaction to the hell of his life.
Jesse Jones is no Mark Millar, but his amateurish style actually adds to the story rather than detracts from it. The loose and cartoony style gives the story a kind of energy that Unfunnies lacked. What Jones’s art lacks in slickness, it gains in passion.
This is clearly an amateur comic, and your mileage will surely vary based on your tolerance for amateur comics. But I thought this comic was a lot of fun. I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the animals and violence, and the hidden meaning that perhaps an animal will always be an animal. You can follow the webcomic for Happy Valley at http://www.happyvalleycomics.com/.