There will be spoilers about the issues discussed in this post.
Issue One of Four
Author: Grant Morrison
Artist: Darick Robertson
Grant Morrison’s series The Invisibles is what got me interested in reading more comics, and because of that I’m forever grateful. I think he’s utterly brilliant and last year I had the honor of meeting him (I blogged about it). So, now that you know how much I love him, it should come to no surprise that I was elated for the release of Happy!. Especially since the art is by the Darick Robertson (Transmetropolitan). This is the kind of collaboration I’ve only dreamed about.
After reading just the first page you know Morrison is back to telling his post-modern, mind-fucking stories and I couldn’t be happier. The gritty surroundings (impeccably illustrated by Robertson) and the blunt language give the comic a dark and dangerous energy. Just when you start to think that Happy! getting real hardcore, real fast, a blue pegasus-unicorn hybrid swoops into the panel disrupting everything you thought you knew about the comic. That stark contrast threw me off, despite the fact that I was expecting it to happen. But of course, that was on purpose.
Since Happy! is a four issue series, I know that each page is busting at the seems with meaning and each word holds a lot of weight. Morrison doesn’t do anything gratuitously, and I think that the cartoonish début of the horse is his way of making light of the over-saturated violence that’s common in comics. And of course, it also means something within the comic as well.
Sax is a quintessential anti-hero, and not even a charismatic one at that. His life and his happiness are in the gutter. It only takes one issue to realize that he is miserable. And as a result, his mind (may have) created a talking horse to literally save his life because he can’t do it on his own. Not only does this horse want to save him, but it also needs his help saving someone else.
The horse said that it was Hailey’s imaginary friend, so who knows, maybe somehow this is true and Sax didn’t imagine the horse on his own. Everything isn’t always by the books when it comes to Morrison, sometimes what you see is what you get. Even though what you see, to quote the first word of the series, is “unreal”. It wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve said “WTF” to myself while reading a Morrison comic. The appearance of this imaginary friend goes to show that Sax not only needs to save himself, but after all of the mindless ultra-violence in his life, he needs to save someone else and feel like his life is more than just murder and money.
Knowing how Morrison works, Happy! is more than just a story about Sax and his imaginary horse friend. After one issue, it gives us a reason to reflect on our own lives and ask ourselves, am I really happy? How low does my life have to go before I need an imaginary horse to make me happy?