The webcomic The Man of Many Shades is a grizzled noir set in a little girl’s happy drawing

Illustration for article titled The webcomic The Man of Many Shades is a grizzled noir set in a little girl’s happy drawing

When Happy escapes from jail, he finds himself in a place much worse than prison. Now he's trapped in the waxy, dystopic world of a little girl's drawing ruled by a maniacal unicorn, and he's desperate to get back home.

Matt Ellis takes the sweet, crudely drawn pictures of small children and puts a darker spin on them. Happy is titular Man of Many Shades, the only person in the girl's drawing who isn't a mere scribble of shapes and colors, but a carefully rendered creature of contours and shading. Happy, we learn, was convict who dreamed of escape from prison, until one day he woke up and found himself living in this crayon-created world. Maddened by the bright colors and the waxen smiles everywhere, Happy begins a quest for the Black Staff, an object of immeasurable power that might be his ticket home.

But while Happy is searching for the Black Staff, someone is searching for Happy. The girl's drawing is ruled by the dictatorial unicorn Rainbow, who introduced the concepts of money, property, and vice to the once idyllic land, effectively enslaving its people. Rainbow also happens to be obsessed with human culture (which he learns about through magazine collages the little girl makes), and believes that, if Happy can explain human culture to him, Rainbow will become the most sophisticated being in the drawing.

Advertisement
Illustration for article titled The webcomic The Man of Many Shades is a grizzled noir set in a little girl’s happy drawing

The Man of Many Shades juxtaposes childish innocence with unrepentant violence, but it's the moments of absurdity that make the first installment such an enjoyable read. As Rainbow, with his multicolored horn and his stick legs, swirls a snifter of brandy and wonders how to tie a cravat, we see what Ellis can do with his chosen style, and get a tease of how strange and silly Happy's quest could end up being.

[The Man of Many Shades found via reddit]

Share This Story

Get our `newsletter`

DISCUSSION

monsieurxmallah
Monsieur Mallah

"he finds himself in a place much worse than prison. Now he's trapped in the waxy, dystopic world of a little girl's drawing ruled by a maniacal unicorn, and he's desperate to get back home."

Welcome to my life. Now that the library is incredibly understaffed and we're all doing the work of three people I find myself having to work on the children's desk instead of the reference desk.

All I want is to find my way back to the safe confines of my reference desk with the crazy homeless people. Instead I find myself in children's hell surrounded by crotch-droplings and soccer moms.

And of course I'm bitter and cranky and find it really hard to get excited by the stupid shit that children need to fuel their day. For one thing they really need to push the elevator button. If they don't get to do it their life is ruined. I swear to god I hear, "I WANT TO PUSH THE BUTTON OH MY GOD WHY CAN'T I PUSH THE BUTTON HE GOT TO PUSH THE BUTTON IT'S JUST NOT FAIR! MOM!!!" like twenty times a day.

It's a fucking button.

Am I that old, bitter, and cranky that I can't find joy in a fucking elevator button? It really bothers me.

And you should see the power they put in their totem objects. The other day this kid came up crying about his, "tygah." He couldn't find it. We tore the place up looking for it. When I finally found it his eyes lit up like we had found Nazi gold. And all I could think was, "You got all upset over this haggard piece of shit?"

At least he was happy and I made his day. And it’s not like I'm mean or cranky to the kids. I just think horrible sarcastic things. I never say them.

But yeah if I could get my hands on the Black Staff (that sounds really freaking perverted) it would be awesome to go back to the reference desk.