I can’t actually say it plainer than I did in the title, but I’ll spend the next four hundred words or so saying the same thing, but at greater length: Snarked – the new series from writer/artist Roger Langridge that riffs on concepts created by Lewis Carroll – is by turns funny, heartfelt, and beautifully whimsically drawn.
The story – if you missed the zero issue – is this: the Walrus and The Carpenter are two poor rogues living in a shack by the sea. The Walrus is the smarter half of the duo, the Carpenter nearly as dumb as the wood he works on, and both are as conniving and sly as you’d expect. Except, secretly, they also may have warm hearts, though they don’t know it yet. Meanwhile, Princess Scarlett – who will one day become The Red Queen – is mourning her missing father, who is presumed lost at sea. Her baby brother Rusty is scared of the invisible Snarks, and is a baby. That’s pretty much it.
This issue makes it easy to jump right in… If you read the zero issue, you’ll catch on a lot faster, but this is a first issue, and it brings everything up to speed efficiently and quickly, as well as adding a slew of new characters, including the King’s councilors, and a familiar smiling cat.
What works so well about this issue is that Langridge isn’t afraid of very, very dumb jokes. That’s what vaudeville is based on, and the routines used here are as old as the hills. But by focusing them through clear characters, pitch perfect pacing, and unique visuals, Langridge uses the comic book to its absolute best. Reading this issue is like attending a master class in cartoon comedy. For adults, you’ll love the designs and the earnest plotting. For kids, you’ll get all that, and since these jokes AREN’T as old as the hills, they’ll like them, too.
What makes this truly special though, like I said, is the heart. It’s all about the journey of these characters into becoming true, caring human beings, bit by bit. We’re at the beginning of the journey here, but even with all the goofy humor and cartoony character designs, there’s a real sense of emotion – and danger – where necessary. I’m extremely excited to take this journey with them, and I hope you are, too.
Briefly: I haven’t had a chance to read through this whole collection of Roger Langridge’s early cartoons, as its, you know, 220 pages long, and I’ve got deadlines. But also being released with Snarked #1, this volume works as a nice contrast, and a great companion volume.
All of Langridge’s humor and designs are on display here, but the art is cleaner in Snarked – due in large part to Rachelle Rosenberg’s brilliant and beautiful colors – and that whole issue is much sparser in its dialogue and structure. The Show Must Go On is a totally different animal of course, but its interesting to see the journey Langridge has taken from some of his first work, to now.
If you’ve whizzed through Snarked, and want a little something extra (well, a lot something extra), this is a great read… At least until Snarked #2 comes out.