The Snagglepuss Chronicles #1 Makes Snagglepuss Great Again
I’m sure many of you are aware of how writer Mark Russell transformed The Flintstones into one of the greatest satires of 2016-17. Well, Russell is at it again. In Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #1, he demonstrates his expert control over another Hanna-Barbera character: Snagglepuss. Russell casts the titular pink mountain lion as a gay Southern Gothic playwright, fashioned after Tennessee Williams. Snagglepuss and his comrades shuffle about 1953 New York, just as Joseph McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) purges alleged communists and other non-conformists from American society. The Snagglepuss Chronicles dares to ask questions that are just as relevant today as they were in 1953.
I’ll say it here and now: I couldn’t be more satisfied. I am so grateful to have opened 2018 with Russell’s adaptation of Snagglepuss. The Snagglepuss Chronicles is clever, witty, weird, and dangerous. Russell infuses this book with questions and statements that shouldn’t belong in a comic, but do. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I was this passionate about a comic. Thank you, Mark Russell, thank you.
The issue opens with Snagglepuss and his beautiful wife, actress Lila Lion, attending the last showing of his Tennessee Williams-esque play. S.P., as his friends call him, is the talk of the town. But we soon find out that it’s all a facade. S.P.’s marriage is a scam, a way to avoid the prejudiced stares of both government and countrymen. Once “a young kit growing in rural Mississippi,” S.P. is more at home in the Stonewall Bar, where he can shed his heteronormative mask.
Russell’s twist on this precious pink mountain lion is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. S.P. is charismatic, warm, intelligent, and talented. He rose from nothing and became everything. He’s an undercat, if you’ll excuse the phrasing. But he’s also tragically misunderstood. In the words of S.P., “You only know a man by seeing the parts he doesn’t show you.” Sadly, no one seems to know the real S.P. Russell gives us multiple shades of pink in The Snagglepuss Chronicles #1, but I wonder which one we’ll end up with. S.P. can either continue to conform to the rules of McCarthy era-society, or he can reveal himself to be the “deviant” that he is.
Yes, that’s right—Russell’s writing is just that good.
Now that you know the character of Snagglepuss is worth following, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Russell’s genius flows like a current through the entirety of this first issue. The Snagglepuss Chronicles could easily be classified as historical fiction, but there are present-day concerns written on nearly every page. With today’s political climate, it’s difficult to avoid certain topics. Immigration, gender equality, the devolving middle class, freedom of sexuality—the list goes on. Well, Russell saturates this issue with questions regarding all four topics—and more.
The Snagglepuss Chronicles #1 is a great way to gain insight into a historical era that has not quite passed. As they all say, history repeats itself, and this comic reveals some disturbing similarities between the America of the 1950s and present day. I applaud Russell for this daring demonstration of honesty and can’t wait for next month’s issue.
Penciller Mike Feehan and inker Mark Morales tag-team the linework in The Snagglepuss Chronicles #1. The two create a modern comic with an old-style feel that complements Russell’s subject matter. Snagglepuss’s design is fresh and honest. Though his expressions are the most visceral, the two take every face into consideration. Feehan and Morales translate human expression onto anthropomorphic animals perfectly. This allows for animals and humans to coexist smoothly, without question (and, apparently, without explanation). Emotions from all sides are explicitly calculated and drawn, allowing a deep connection between reader and comic. Again, I could not be more satisfied.
Paul Mounts dominates the colors in this issue. Though I found a few outside-the-line coloring mistakes, they are forgivable. Snagglepuss remains pink and proud, and the other animals in the comic are just as bold. Huckleberry Hound makes an unfortunately short appearance and yes, he’s still blue. Mounts takes great care to imbue the characters and scenes with complementary colors and eye-catching textures. There’s movement and interest in every panel. His command of color and lighting is superb. I often found myself staring at a single panel for 30-40 seconds, analyzing the detail. Mounts uses color to create scenes that are both fun and solemn. Where one shade appeals to the right side of your brain, another wakens the left.
I wish February weren’t so far away. I know, I know—2018 just started, but I need the next issue of The Snagglepuss Chronicles now! Russell’s wit and wisdom astounded me and I can’t wait to continue with Snagglepuss’s story. This first issue asks so many questions about identity and justice and I need to know the answers!
I’m pleased that Russell, Feehan, Morales, and Mounts have created a comic that satisfies so many of my interests. With how little free time I have on my hands, this is a big plus. No, I’m not too politically-minded, but current affairs have become inescapable. And I’ve always been a fan of historical fiction, so yes, more of this comic, please! And, bonus: you don’t need to know anything about the original Hanna-Barbera character to connect to this story. The Snagglepuss Chronicles #1 tickled my brain and my fancy, and I think it’ll tickle yours.
How was your experience with Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #1? I hope you loved it as much as I did. Let us know in the comments below!
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