Books — Bunny Suicides

The Book of Bunny Suicides and the Return of the Bunny Suicides


By Robert Greene

It’s never like they tell you. Bunnies with profound problems

But they are so darn funny about it

The Book of Bunny Suicides and the Return of the Bunny Suicides, by Andy Riley, Plume (Penguin Books), published in the U.S. in January 2004 and February 2005.

You have to wonder what exactly is so bad about being a rabbit.

Maybe they took Watership Down too much to heart. Maybe they are tired of their media image being limited to (a) wisecrackers like Bugs (b) gibbering fools like Roger Rabbit (c) soft-hearted sidekicks like Thumper or (d) samurai warriors like Usagi Yojimbo. Possibly they’ve never recovered from the fact that Harvey got top billing but was still never seen on camera with Jimmy Stewart. It might be that they are just exhausted from all the sex.

Who knows? But the facts are pretty clear in both The Book of Bunny Suicides and Return of the Bunny Suicides, these cute little buggers really, really want to die. And in both of these cartoon book by British humorist Andy Riley, they’ll go to any means to do it.

Riley is sort of the UK’s version of Gary Larson, without Larson’s apparent love of cows, small poodle-like dogs and humans with big noses. Riley either really likes bunnies, or he really hates them. It’s hard to tell by his work. (He subtitled The Book of Bunny Suicides “Little Fluffy Rabbits Who Just Want to Live Anymore.”)

These books are sick, twisted and macabre but funny as hell. A bunny pees on the third rail. Another glues himself to a submarine. Yet another gives the UK version of The Finger to Adolf Hitler. One bunny smokes cigarettes from every possible orifice while his bunny buddy shreds himself with a cheese grater or makes sure a crazy woman sees him while she is watching Fatal Attraction. Then there is the one who locks himself in a bird feeder and waits for the sweet little birdies to nibble him to death.

All the while the bunnies sit quietly, resigned to their sought-for fate. Sad.

But you have to laugh. I defy you not to. Riley’s simple line drawings are clear and creative, and the range of suicide methods used by his bunnies shows a warm humor and insight into pop culture. Who else could show a sad, little bunny ending it all by feeding itself to a Venus flytrap or pouring pepper onto Suaron’s fiery eye (from Lord of the Rings)?

Don’t expect to see more suicidal-bunny books. Or at least I hope you don’t see them. It’s a good gag but one pretty much covered by two books. But the books are small and make great bathroom or coffeetable reading.

- Robert Greene

2004 HippoPress LLC | Manchester, NH