Media is an interesting thing. We take it for granted that the word itself covers all manner of artistic (and sometimes not so) endeavors, as well as covering things happening in day-to-day life. We often gloss over the fact that it is a plural word, encompassing all manner of intellectual conveyance, with TV being substantively different from radio or print – each a medium that has its own style, rhythm, and flow. Dust Bunny Mafia is a webcomic that is now being published physically, and for fans of the series, it serves as a great collection of some of their favorite strips.
I’d not encountered Bret Juliano’s web strip before settling in with this printed version, and I’ll be honest that I don’t think it’s exactly the format for introducing it to someone. Reading through, I found myself losing focus, expecting to have more tie-in between the three and six-panel strips. I can see how fans of the series who’ve been exposed to it in shorter bursts over a longer period of time would have more of an appreciation of the overarching line through the series. Bret has a wonderful flavor for puns, the setups are somehow adorable and deranged all at once, and the payoffs are sufficiently groan and chuckle inducing. The premise is a fun riff on pop culture ideas on mafiosos, and the topical humor certainly adds flair to the thread.
The character designs are the strongest part of the illustrations, and while there are plenty of visual gags throughout the collection that land brilliantly after several pages, it begins to feel a bit stiff or restricted. I do love how much Juliano is able to pull out of subtle eye shifts and frame composition, managing to sell the jokes well with characters of low articulation. It’s an almost deadpan style that works with sudden shifts and exaggeration, making each strip laugh-out-loud entertaining.
I would say to head on over to comics.dustbunnymafia.com and check out the series from the beginning before picking up this volume. You’ll fall in love with the characters and jokes, and then this collection will be a perfect way for you to explore this nutty underworld more fully.