The best thing that classic cartoons from the 1930s gave us were rabbits and explosions. It’s hard to go wrong with a little bit of dynamite and cute critters holding the matches. Thus I was delighted to find this web-comic from a fellow cartoonist, which features jackrabbits that specialize in dynamite. I also discovered a lot more. That’s why I’m sad that the cartoonist has decided to end this delightful romp, though also accepting.
Urban Underbrush is about a commune in the Grass Roots Boarding House where humans and animals live together. A tree grows out of the roof, which is only one of the building’s interesting aspects. The Jack Rabbit brothers Dynamite and Detonator move in to open a company branch for their family business, which specializes in demolition. No one is supposed to know that jackrabbits run the company, but the brothers can be a bit inept when it comes to stealth. Add in a landlord that prefers to let the tenants handle their own problems, a laid-back con artist and several civil-minded folks that occupy the building, and you have ample chemistry.
Marj Rishel, the cartoonist for Urban Underbrush, is highly talented, and has an eye for quick-witted humor. She also does Draconis Wicked, a fantasy adventure comic about a former dark minion that wants to become an evil overlord. Along the way he attracts a motley crew and an enemy that wants him dead, as well as his former boss’s undesired attention. That comic in itself is a subject for another article.
Given all these positive qualities, having a talented writer and artist and fun stories, I am sad that Urban Underbrush is doing its final arc, though the characters will reappear in another comic, set in another universe. Marj in January posted a blog explaining her reasons:
“I’ve written myself into a corner with Urban Underbrush. The characters and their stories are not reaching their full potential. Each time I write a strip, I find myself thinking, “If I had started this comic today, I never would have written this [character/idea/plot] into it, but now I’m stuck with it.” That’s a bad sign for any comic, especially one that’s as young as Urban Underbrush.”
Speaking as someone who had to put a comic on hiatus due to school, I can respect Marj’s decision to end on a high note and start anew. It’s also good that she is drawing a finale arc, rather than simply ending the comic where it is and refusing to tie up loose ends. This won’t be “Goodbye” but rather “We’ll meet again.” At the same time, it’s bittersweet to read up on a finale, much as it was bittersweet to say a necessary goodbye to the show Gravity Falls earlier this year. The minute we reach the last page, we’ll have to admit the story is over, and any more adventures in this universe will occur off-screen. I’m going to savor each page and update until we reach that end.
Do read the archives Urban Underbrush before the final comic strip posts, to enjoy the jackrabbits, the people, and the explosions. There are also endangered species, hidden poets and dead cacti to enjoy, as well as pondering what it means to reach your potential or to hide it. Please do read Marj’s comics, present and in the future, because her style is unique and fun, and her storytelling magnificent.