Haha #4 tells two intertwined stories, one dealing with a shrinking clown named Gustav, and the other about a boy and his grandpa that’s reminiscent of the movie Up. The writing for this issue is probably my favorite part because it begins in an ironic fashion. The dialogue caption starts by stating, “ a wise clown once said everything floats.” If you’ve read or seen IT, you know that last word, “wise” describes that murderous clown. This is the type of humor that keeps W. Maxwell Prince’s writing so fresh and unique.
Is Haha #4 worth your hard-earned four bucks? Yes. Prince has done a great job of taking clowns and using them as a gateway to tell compelling stories that many of us can relate to. The first part of Haha #4 focuses on Gustav the clown, who gets shrunken down and trapped inside of a balloon at a children’s party in a bizarre interpretation of the 1950s TV show This is Your Life. Gustav has a good way of showing that in life, the first person you need to be truthful with is yourself.
As for the other half of the story, it was a great way of showing how it’s never too late to start over. One of the few blessings the pandemic gave us was more time. The second half of Haha #4 serves as a reflection of what it is like when we stop and look at what we have and make the most of it while we’re still able to. The writing for both is pretty solid and has a very realistic feel.
This entry boasts some phenomenal hand-painted watercolors crafted to perfection by returning artist Patrick Horvath. Horvath previously did a variant cover for issue #5 of Prince’s Ice Cream Man series. This time around with Haha #4, Horvath not only did the cover but the illustrations too. What you’ll come to love most about Horvath’s imagery this issue is how he takes a book that dishes out some extremely heavy and relevant topics like a kid growing up without a dad and adds a lighthearted tone to it. It’s also worth mentioning his keen eye for detail as it was a nice touch having the mom’s shirt have matching colors with Gustav’s color pattern on his clothes and makeup.
Haha #4 is a book that every reader will take something different from. The writing is witty, engaging, and fits right into the wheelhouse of everything we’ve read from Prince before. Hopefully, we’ll continue to see Prince and Horvath work together in the future and Horvath’s waterwork on other comic projects.
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