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Ed The Happy Clown: The Perfect Mixture of Vulgarity and Stream of Consciousness

Updated on May 25, 2013

Writing about this one will be tricky. Partially this is because Chester Brown, the comic's author and writer, apparently was improvising the story as he went along, creating a story that is rather hard to summarize or describe, but mostly this is because "Ed The Happy Clown" is absolutely filthy in some parts. Brown actively did not restrain himself from whatever weird ideas came to him, which leads to such bizarre ideas as sewer-dwelling pygmies hunted as pests by normal sized humans, the head of a tiny alternate universe Ronald Reagan who gets attached to the main character's...extremities, a girl who is turned into a vampire for engaging in sin while she is killed, a guy whose hand falls off as an apparent message from God to stop sinning, and a man who discovers his body is a portal to another dimension,,,whose residents use him as disposal of their...waste. Some of the stuff I can only allude to, for fear of getting struck down for content violation, but let me state outright IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED OR DISGUSTED, DO NOT READ THIS COMIC.

I, personally, rather enjoyed "Ed The Happy Clown" for its somewhat surreal plot, weird humor, and out-and-out raw creativity. The only works by Brown that I can recall reading before were the autobiographical "I Never Loved You" and the historical "Louis Riel," both of which I liked but neither of which prepared me in the least for this comic. I can see why this comic is highly acclaimed in underground comics circles.

It's also impressively consistent as a narrative for a story that as far as I can tell was made up as Chester Brown went along (although the version I read had been revised from its original minicomic origins, so it is a little more consistent than when it was initially published). The adventures of Ed the titular not so happy clown (on the run for a crime he didn't commit), the pretty vampire Josie, and the head of Ronald Reagan who's become stuck to Ed's body is very engaging, and I was very eager to find out what was going to happen next.

The version i had contained extensive notes by Brown himself, that gives a pretty thorough history of how this story came about and what Brown was thinking about when he created the story. It's really helpful to get an idea of what Brown was intending, which also helps to explain some of the weirdest bits, as well as give an idea of where Brown was coming from (such as with the ending, which I personally found to be too mean-spirited, which Brown is at least able to argue for). These notes are a very useful addition to the narrative in my opinion.

All in all, a great comic if you're not easily offended, and a truly creative story as well. Check it out if you're willing to embrace the weirdness, and see if you'll like it.

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