Posted by Don MacPherson on July 4th, 2011
Writer/Artist/Cover artist: Roger Langridge
Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Editor: Bryce Carlson
Publisher: Boom! Studios/Kaboom! imprint
Price: $1 US
Poor Roger Langridge. He’s been crafting some fantastic comics in recent years featuring mainstream, pop-culture icons. He wrote one of the best super-hero comics Marvel has published in recent years, but alas, Thor the Mighty Avenger was cancelled after less than a year of publication. And before that, he did the impossible, making a TV variety/comedy show come alive in comics with The Muppet Show, published by Boom! Studios. Well, I’m pleased the folks at Boom! have given his new creator-owned project a home with its kids’ comics imprint. Langridge’s cartooning brought the same kind of fun and energy to Snarked that it did to The Muppet Show. It turns out that his characters aren’t entirely unfamiliar either… though I required something of an education as the source material and inspiration that led to the creation of this property. Snarked doesn’t have the same kind of recognizable cachet as those Muppets comics and won’t necessarily resonate as much, but it does demonstrate the irreverence and personality that makes Langridge such an appealing comics creator.
Con artist Wilburforce J. Walrus and his sidekick Clyde McDunk, a carpenter by trade, venture out into the world on another fine day, looking for the opportunity that will lead to their next meal. And by opportunity, I mean scam. Upon learning that the king is away, the Walrus figures the palace ought to be easy pickings, but the pair soon discovers that it’ll have to contend with a surprisingly obstinate opponent: Princess Scarlett. Taking his cue from a book the child is reading, the Walrus convinces her he and his associate are at the palace to hunt a mythical, dangerous creature.
Langridge’s expressive, imaginative cartooning style really delights the eye here. Strong layouts and striking yet simple character designs keep the eye engaged throughout the book, as so colorist Rachelle Rosenberg’s bright contributions as well. There was a number of influences at play in Langridge’s style, but I was surprised to find the even simpler style of the late Charles (Peanuts) Schulz had clearly made an impression on the artist. Just look at his take on Princess Scarlett; at times, she looks as though she could be related to Charlie Brown. I think my favorite part of the artwork is an aspect that could almost go unnoticed: the backgrounds. Langridge incorporates a great amount of detail in the locales, but he also doesn’t strive for a sense of realism so as to avoid disrupting the magic and wonder of the storybook setting.
In order to fully appreciate what Langridge is doing with this comic book, one has to have an appreciation of the works of Lewis Carroll. Now, I’m not well versed in that subject matter at all; in fact, until I reached the end of the book, I was pretty much in the dark as to the origins of these characters as derivations of snippets of Carroll’s writings. Fortunately, Langridge and Boom! Studios provide a crash course on the relevant material in the back of this comic book. It brings a literate, informative balance to the silliness of the main story.
The title of this series is a bit puzzling to me, though. The Hunting of the Snarks turns up as a plot point in the main story, with the Walrus using the myth to perpetuate a fraud, but that plot runs its course by the end of the story. Will the Snark concept keep popping up in future issues, or will the title serve only as an isolated nod to Carroll in future, non-Snark-referencing scripts?
While the characters and plot developments are largely inspired by the works of Lewis Carroll, the two main characters’ behavior and the dynamic between them is much more reminiscent of a different kind of mass entertainment. The Walrus strikes me as the Hardy to the Carpenter’s Laurel. I was also put in mind of the misadventures of the Three Stooges. Langridge takes an old-school, slapstick approach to the comedy here. It’s cute and fun, but it’s also predictable. However, I’m mindful of the fact that I’m not among the target audience for this comic book. This is published under Boom! Studios’ relatively new kids’ imprint, Kaboom! Many often mistake kids’ comics as being “for all ages,” but Snarked seems aimed directly at the younger set. The origins and inspirations here might intrigue adults, especially those with an interest in classic literature, but the broad strokes here likely won’t captivate an older crowd they could a younger set. Still, for only a buck, you’d be hard-pressed to find better entertainment value in another comic book on comic-shop shelves today. 7/10
Follow Eye on Comics on Twitter.