Writer: Peter Milligan
Illustrator: Michael Montenat
Publisher: AHOY Comics
WHAT IS IT?
In a not-so-distant future-America, the government requires happiness as law, but those who want freedom from mind-control face severe punishment in this comedic thriller.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest meets 1984 in the maniac society of Happy Hour.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
In order to curb America's depressed society, all citizens undergo a "happiness" brain operation, and displays of unhappiness are outlawed. When Jerry Stephens damages his head in a car accident, he becomes instantly disillusioned with the Happy Hour mandates. Jerry's injury lands him in a "readjustment center" bent on forcing him into mind-addling happiness again.
While undergoing aversion therapy, Jerry meets Kim and former agent, Hamm. Hamm preaches about government freedom from mind control, provided for by an elusive man named Landor Cohen. Jerry and Kim eventually decide to escape the vile center, but their journey to locate Cohen is filled with police, fire, and...romance?
Will Jerry and Kim escape the cruel joy of Gleetown? Is Kim hiding a vital secret from Jerry? And, most importantly, will the newly miserable Jerry and Kim ironically form a happy relationship together?
Michael Montenat's art successfully grounds Peter Milligan's absurdist premise denoting outlawed happiness in America.
All of the characters and the settings are drawn with precise intention for authenticity, juxtaposed against the farcical plot.
Even with so many absurdist elements, Happy Hour satirizes present-day issues that could easily evolve into realistic jurisdictions in our future. The parallels between fiction and reality are both terrifying and hauntingly significant.
Happy Hour features at least three intriguing, interconnected plots with wholly unique characters that are develop quickly in these first three issues.
Each character possesses their own perception around happiness, which leads to some highly engaging - and hilarious - disputes and stand-offs.
Montenat's precise linework and Felipe Sobreiro's coloring truly stand out, effectively depicting the illusory veil of those invested in government-mandated "happiness" from the rebellious Jerry, Kim, and Hamm.
Rob Steen's dialogue boxes and word balloons are extremely crisp and readable, especially in the foreground of Montenat's disturbingly dystopian color palate.
The second issue absolutely contains the funniest gags, from obnoxiously crying children to an old woman singing "Psycho Killer" in a retirement home.
The color choices, panel layouts, and continually moving characters give a frantic energy to Happy Hour. Milligan is really torturing his protagonists, and he rarely slows the story's pace.
Despite its grim-sounding storyline, wry humor homogeneously melds with terror.
There's lots of plot twists thrown into issue three that tantalize readers for upcoming issues.
Happy Hour includes AHOY Comics-related references that I deeply appreciate, like the "Peyer Happiness Scale" that tips its hat to AHOY's editor-in-chief, Tom Peyer.
While all of AHOY's prose stories hit the mark, Happy Hour #2 features Bryce Ingman's "Inspirational Sports Story", one of the funniest pieces of fiction I've ever read.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Jerry and Kim display some romantic interest in issue #2, but Kim later shies away from Jerry. I know it's for the sake of building tension, but I'm way too eager to find out the status of their relationship already!
Landor Cohen is formally introduced in issue #3, but specifics about his commune or real goals down in Mexico in previous issues were overtly vague. Reading all three of these issues together might help readers stay more connected to his untethered character.
Content Warning: There's no truly explicit content, but the idea of realistic, brutal violence (leeching, burning at the stake, etc.) could trigger some sensitive readers.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Quasi-realistic plot about plausible, dystopian societies are timely stories that can serve as predictors - and warnings - about the future. Milligan and Montenat nail the combination of absurdity and realism. Happy Hour uses unabashed dialogue, piercing imagery and ironic wit to insightfully explore the relationships between good vs. evil, love vs. hate and happiness vs. unhappiness.
Happy Hour exemplifies the finite balance necessary in the relationship between happiness and sadness to fully appreciate all life has to offer. This comic will force you into personal self-reflection while cracking nuanced jokes that land every time.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Shade, the Changing Man by Peter Milligan, Christ Bachalo & Brendan McCarthy
Edgar Allen Poe's Snifter of Terror #5 by Peter Milligan, KEK-W, Hunt Emerson, Richard Case, & Lee Carter
Citizen Jack by Sam Humphries & Tommy Patterson
If you like the art:
The Last Sacrifice by Joe Hart, Stuart Moore, & Michael Montenat
The Flintstones by Mark Russell & Steve Pugh
Chrononauts by Mark Millar & Sean Gordon Murphy
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Peter Milligan – Writer
Name-Recognition: He is most known for being the longest-running writer of the Hellblazer comic and his work on Human Target. Critically acclaimed, he has written popular comics like Britannia and Kid Lobotomy for IDW Publishing.
He has previously collaborated with AHOY Comics, writing stories in the horror-anthology series, Edgar Allen Poe's Snifter of Terror.
Multitalented: He is a British writer and has worked in the comic book, film, and television industries.
Michael Montenat– Illustrator
A freelance illustrator who has provided art for comic companies such as BOOM! Studios with Hellraiser Annual #1 and IDW Publishing with Tales from the Cobra Wars.
He illustrated The Last Sacrifice with fellow AHOY Comics member Stuart Moore.
He graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.
Felipe Sobreiro – Colorist
An artist who previously contributed his talents to AHOY Comics as a colorist on Planet of the Nerds.
Prolific: His art can be found at any major comic book publisher, such as Marvel, DC, Image, IDW, and Dark Horse.
Outlander: He lives in Brasília, Brazil and has been in the comics industry since the mid-2000s.
Rob Steen – Letterer
Dream Team: Rob Steen letters nearly every AHOY Comic title and worked with Milligan on AHOY's Edgar Allen Poe's Snifter of Terror.
Prolific: Has lettered for all major comic book companies like Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image, Valiant, to name a few.
He owns a cat and lives in New York with his wife.
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All Happy Hour characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Peter Milligan & Michael Montenat or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED