Garbage Pail Kids: Gross Encounters of the Turd Kind (June 2015)

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IDW has been on a terrific run all this year of bimonthly Garbage Pail Kids specials – not yet an official continuing series but they’re now up to their fourth themed installment, with at least one more on the way. The roll call of artists who’ve contributed to these humor anthologies is impeccable, and their renditions of the beloved 80s pop culture landmark are characteristically stunning. I never thought I’d someday read Garbage Pail Kids strips by Peter Bagge, Dean Haspiel, Bill Wray, Shannon Wheeler or any of the many stylistically diverse cartoonists who take these gimmick based spoofs of a long-forgotten saccharine 80s toy line and populate an insular comedic world out of them. The stories are all a few quick pages of inventively gross humor in the irreverently and subversively juvenile spirit of those original trading cards. It’s a perfect humor comic format and is far less horrifying than placing Mark Newgarden’s Basil Wolverton Babies into our reality, as in The Garbage Pail Kids Movie.

Gross Encounters of the Turd Kind opens with some Topps-on-Topps violence as Mars Attacks Martians disintegrate a cityfull of Garbage Pail Kids with art by Hilary Barta and Doug Rice, who nail the balance of the two character designs. There’s a decent parody by Ryan Browne and Andrew Elder of The Thing, testing farts instead of blood. James Kochalka does a story starring Joe Blow – a GPK parody of Bazooka Joe, making this issue the closest Topps has ever come to a “Topps Comics Presents” comic book. For now they’ll have to be content with their precedent of having licensed the only two trading card based films in existence.

Kochalka’s talent for whimsy is in such typically pleasing form, one doesn’t even notice at first that unlike every other author in this series before him, he doesn’t depict anything grosser than ABC gum. Joe Simko, who’s contributed quality work in every special so far, does a quickie two-pager of snotty sneezing aliens. The closing story is Roger Langridge doing an astronaut and his robot sidekick on a turd planet of alien flies. It’s really touching to read a children’s cartoonist as accomplished as Langridge graduating to doody jokes with the Garbage Pail Kids.

IDW’s Garbage Pail Kids specials continue to be outstanding love letters to the phenomenon by a roster of amazing cartoonists, an absolute pleasure for longtime fans.

CREDITS

Writers and artists, Hillary Barta, Doug Rice, Ryan Browne, Andrew Elder, James Kochalka, Joe Simko and Roger Langridge; colorists, Jason Millet, Shawn Lee and Andrew Elder; letterers, Shawn Lee and Denny Tipton; editor, Denny Tipton; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Abigail and the Snowman 4 (March 2015)

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Langridge, no surprise, concludes Abigail and the Snowman beautifully. It’s a double-sized issue, which is good since the first half of it is mostly Abigail and Claude hanging out as they walk him to the boat to take him back to the Himalayas.

While they have that awesome hangout time–one of the most masterful things Langridge does in Abigail is control the characters and how they interact in front of the reader. The issue has six characters in it–but mostly five (along with two small speak parts). It’s very deliberately told and very impressive how Langridge is able to make that walk with Abigail and Claude so rewarding.

But Langridge still has to finish the series (the extra space lets him spend that hangout time, not necessarily just do all action) and he does it well. With some nice quiet surprises.

It’s a confident, delightful, rewarding conclusion.

CREDITS

Writer, artist, letterer, Roger Langridge; colorist, Fred Stresing; editors, Cameron Chittock and Rebecca Taylor; publisher, KaBOOM!.

Abigail and the Snowman 3 (February 2015)

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This issue of Abigail and the Snowman is Langridge’s strongest–it’s also the penultimate issue and the one where it’s clear Langridge could definitely keep this going longer. The issue’s kind of high adventure; it’s the expository in front of high adventure, but thanks to Langridge’s abilities, it moves beautifully.

The issue’s full of fantastic moments for Abigail. He even develops her father’s character through the interactions with her. It’s exceptionally thoughtful stuff. Langridge doesn’t even save his big moments for full page panels (just the action); the little character stuff he has in small panels, never breaking stride to draw attention to himself.

The entire comic takes place–with the exception of a few pages of Abigail and Claude playing–in one night. And not a long night. Langridge gets in a bunch of information (including Claude’s flashback) and keeps that great pace.

It’s great stuff, page after page.

CREDITS

Writer, artist, letterer, Roger Langridge; colorist, Fred Stresing; editors, Cameron Chittock and Rebecca Taylor; publisher, KaBOOM!.

Abigail and the Snowman 2 (January 2015)

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Abigail and the Snowman continues with Langridge a little more focused than last time. The story takes place over a couple days, with Claude (the Yeti) going with Abigail to school on her birthday.

Langridge actually fits in a bunch of information–both through dialogue, like Abigail talking briefly about her deceased mother, and through implication, Abigail’s father not letting her go to work. Meanwhile, there are the Men in Black trying to find Claude, who’s a big hit with all of Abigail’s new classmates (they can see Yeti, adults cannot).

The issue’s pacing is phenomenal; Langridge gets in multiple set pieces, including elaborate ones like Abigail arriving at school with Claude and his later run-in with the Men in Black. It’s a full issue, but there’s also a nice density to the stuff around the scenes. Langridge even trusts the reader to remember a throwaway line.

It’s superb.

CREDITS

Writer, artist, letterer, Roger Langridge; colorist, Fred Stresing; editor, Rebecca Taylor; publisher, KaBOOM!.

Abigail and the Snowman 1 (December 2014)

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Abigail and the Snowman feels very familiar. Roger Langridge does a beautiful job with the artwork, which has a bunch of great montage sequences and sight gags. The art is great. And a lot of the writing is good. Really good. All of the writing is good, occasionally it’s really good.

Occasionally too, however, the comic feels like a fresh take on a standard situation. Abigail is the new girl at school, she has a single parent–her dad, she sort of has to take care of him, she doesn’t make friends easily. There’s nothing interesting in the ground situation Langridge is setting up. A lot of it is stale.

The titular Snowman appears towards the end of the issue. Presumably he’ll figure in more in subsequent issues…

It’s a good comic from Langridge, but it never even approaches sublime. It’s too constructed, too self-aware of its selling points.

CREDITS

Writer, artist, letterer, Roger Langridge; editor, Rebecca Taylor; publisher, KaBOOM!.

The Fez 2 (September 2013)

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The Fez is, unsurprisingly, a lot of fun. The longest story in the issue has the Fez helping exorcize the queen of England. It comes in the middle of the comic, after Langridge has done some smaller stories establishing the Fez as something of a buffoon. There's a great Twitter-related joke to show just how out of it the Fez can get; he's an invisible man, so who knows what kind of stresses he's under.

But the Queen story moves fast and unexpectedly–The Fez is a very British comic, one of the most British things I've read from Langridge–and he doesn't slow down for the reader. The jokes get their own space, but Langridge doesn't make any extra.

The final story has the Fez versus a bunch of his foes, in something of a Spirit homage. It works out too.

It's just a solid little book from Langridge. Very pleasing.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, artist and letterer, Roger Langridge; publisher, Hotel Fred Press.

Captain America/Thor: The Mighty Fighting Avengers (May 2011)

Captain America/Thor: The Mighty Fighting Avengers

It's not a complicated story–writer Roger Langridge sends Captain America (from World War II) and Thor (from the present day) back to Camelot. They discover Loki has wormed his way into King Arthur's court and there's some trouble.

Good thing there are a couple superheroes to deal with it.

Langridge doesn't worry about establishing the relationship between Cap and Thor, he moves right into Loki, the Knights of the Round Table and the adventure. He's got a lovely Empire Strikes Back homage going too for the heroes versus a three-headed dragon. You'll just have to read it.

At its core–with Chris Samnee on the art, doing a wonderful job–it's an issue of Thor: The Mighty Avenger with Cap (the Fighting Avenger version) thrown in. Langridge does make a little time for a Thor and Jane character development subplot and, while lovely, it begs for more.

So it's a functional success.

B+ 

CREDITS

Once and Future Avengers!; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, Chris Samnee; colorist, Matthew Wilson; letterer, Rus Wooton; editors, Sana Amanat and Michael Horwitz; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Popeye 12 (April 2013)

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Langridge goes out of his way to give the feature a distinct look.

He’s got a lot more lines–for backgrounds–than the other Popeye artists usually use and it gives the story an aged quality. Langridge is crossing Popeye over with another comic strip character, Barney Google, and he takes it seriously.

Castor and Wimpy are the real stars of the story. Popeye’s sturdy as usual–and there are some great lines from him for Olive to hear–but Castor and Wimpy’s individual schemes run off with the story.

It’s also nice how Langridge constructs the narrative–he’s introducing Barney Google to everyone, which makes everything seem so fresh. It’s a good one….

But it can’t compare to the backup. It’s Popeye and Swee’Pea at a carnival. Langridge brackets the story with Popeye writing to Swee’Pea’s mom. It’s touching, it’s funny, it’s perfect.

Langridge continues to make Popeye outstanding.

CREDITS

A Horse of a Different Color. Letter to Momma. Writer, artist, colorist and letterer, Roger Langridge; editors, Ted Adams, Craig Yoe and Clizzia Gussoni; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Popeye 11 (March 2013)

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Bluto’s back in town, this time touring as a magician. Popeye and company go to the show, Wimpy gets a ventriloquist act going (show business means hamburgers) and general mayhem occurs.

The issue’s as close to all-action as Langridge’s gotten on this series. There’s nothing else going on except Olive’s occasionally inappropriate comments about Bluto’s manliness.

The pacing is a little odd because there’s so much Bluto throughout the issue. He’s being a very nasty guy and then Langridge forces the reader to spend time with him. There’s no good explanation why Popeye goes so easy on him in the first place….

Still, there’s a lot of charm to the story. Langridge excels at writing Wimpy; Pappy and Toar have good moments too. It’s just Langridge doesn’t know how to keep Bluto present without it being awkward.

The end gag is excellent, especially since Langridge builds it so carefully.

CREDITS

The Conniving Conjurer; writer, Roger Langridge; artist and letterer, Vince Musacchia; colorist, Luke McDonnell; editors, Ted Adams, Craig Yoe and Clizzia Gussoni; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Popeye 10 (February 2013)

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Langridge continues the odd trend. This issue, in Sappo, there’s this incredibly awful moment and Langridge plays it for laughs. It’s downright disturbing. Lovely art from Ken Wheaton though; a lot of the strip is charming.

The Popeye feature is excellent, with Toar having to box Popeye to get citizenship. Everyone finds out the motive for the fight except Popeye; he spends a lot of the story depressed. It’s a genial little story. Langridge just lets the characters move gently through the story. Langridge plots these Popeye stories wonderfull; in between set pieces, he always makes room for character bits.

Here, as it tends to be, it’s Wimpy. Langridge lets Toar have the first act to himself and he’s a good protagonist. What’s also lovely is how Langridge paces the story–it takes place over a few days–he does really well with summary storytelling.

But Sappo’s still nuts.

CREDITS

American Toar; artist and letterer, Vince Musacchia; Ant Music; artist and letterer, Ken Wheaton. Writer, Roger Langridge; colorist, Luke McDonnell; editors, Ted Adams, Craig Yoe and Clizzia Gussoni; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Fez 1 (May 2013)

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With nine to ten pages of actual content (the count depends on what constitutes content), Roger Langridge doesn’t have a lot of time in the first issue of The Fez. The cover, with its booming title design, vaguely reminds of The Spirit and the first page does have a recap of the Fez’s villains. They’re very funny villains.

None of them appear in the rest of the issue. The first story has the Fez haunting a thief–three glorious pages. Langridge turns nine very short lines of narration into a very amusing little story. The Fez, you see, is an invisible person wearing a fez, hence the title.

The bigger story involves the Fez doing experiments–to regain his visibility I assumed but Langridge doesn’t address it–and having a hallucinogenic journey.

The comic’s an art tour de force, but Langridge is so good at precise narrative, it’s sublime too.

CREDITS

Writer, artist and letterer, Roger Langridge; publisher, Hotel Fred Press.

Popeye 9 (January 2013)

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It’s a strange issue. Not the Sappo backup so much, but the feature is just… unpleasant.

A new burger sensation has hit town and Alice (she’s Swee’Pea nanny) doesn’t like it. Turns out Bluto is exploiting people in a third world country (or island) to produce the burgers, which are mushroom-based. It’s kind of hard not to read something into the situation Langridge presents; he still manages to turn in a satisfying Popeye story but it also makes one think.

Or maybe I am just reading too much into it.

Popeye gets most of the action and has a few nice character moments; Wimpy does have his moments, of course. Toar is working out to be a fun addition too.

The Sappo backup, for the first time, doesn’t eclipse the feature. It’s a cute story about a ice sculpture invention of the Professor’s. Ozella’s got some great panels too.

CREDITS

The Right Schtuff or Tears of a Goon or Miracle Meat; artist and letterer, Ken Wheaton. Feast Your Ice on This; artist and letterer, Bruce Ozella. Writer, Roger Langridge; colorist, Luke McDonnell; editors, Ted Adams, Craig Yoe and Clizzia Gussoni; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Popeye 8 (December 2012)

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It’s a full-length adventure–Langridge breaks it out into three acts and follows through. I was a little surprised how carefully he plotted the third act; the issue runs on jokes, not the narrative, but Langridge keeps both going.

Popeye’s dad has fallen for a younger woman and Popeye’s suspicious (act one). It turns out she’s after his hidden treasure and Poopdeck Pappy finally sees the light, teaming up with his son–and Olive and Wimpy–to foil her plot (act two). Then there’s the action-packed finish.

Throughout, Langridge keeps the supporting cast fluid. People come in, people go–nice little Castor bit for the attentive reader. The issue feels nice and full, even though it’s a breezy read.

Vince Musacchia packs the pages with panels too. He works up these great little (in size) panels, which read a lot bigger than they measure.

Popeye’s delightful as usual.

CREDITS

Vamped! Or The Fall of Poopdeck Pappy; writer, Roger Langridge; artist and letterer, Vince Musacchia; colorist, Luke McDonnell; editors, Ted Adams, Craig Yoe and Clizzia Gussoni ; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Popeye 7 (November 2012)

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Langridge drawing Popeye looks exactly like… Popeye. This issue’s the first Langridge does the art on too and I guess I was expecting something else. It’s great art, it’s just great Popeye art. Langridge never has ego problems so I don’t know why I’m surprised.

The feature story has Popeye and Castor on a case (Olive and Wimpy come along too). There are a couple things for Popeye to punch, lots for Wimpy to eat and an old boyfriend for Olive to occasionally swoon over. Langridge isn’t reinventing the wheel, just making it as round and smooth as possible.

He does a great job with Castor, turning him into the reader’s stand-in in the story. He can’t overplay him, but he could use him more, he does so well.

The backup, involving a mechanical cow, is–as usual–funnier. Langridge’s only got to sets up joke, not a narrative.

CREDITS

The Beast of Desolation Gulch or The Case of the Desert Yeti. The Cow of Tomorrow!. Writer, artist and letterer, Roger Langridge; colorist, Luke McDonnell; editors, Ted Adams, Craig Yoe and Clizzia Gussoni ; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror 4 (May 2013)

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Everything ties up nicely for the finish. I’m still trying to determine how Langridge made this take on The Rocketeer. He’s turned Cliff into a young doofus, added Groucho Marx as the narrator and so on… yet it’s definitely the Rocketeer.

There’s a big action scene to resolve everything. It takes most of the issue and Langridge has to fill it out with some minor twists and turns. Some of his intimations are still too vague for me–though I think maybe Doc Savage makes an appearance.

Without being identified, of course.

The Bone art probably does hurt the comic’s commercial viability–the non-realistic comic strip influenced art doesn’t scream sales–but it’s impossible to imagine the series without it.

Langridge and Bone should be very proud. There are all sorts of great little details, but the overall result is outstanding too. It’s an excellent series, start to finish.

CREDITS

A Night at the Altar; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror 3 (April 2013)

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Oh, Langridge is just having too much fun now. He reveals the narrator–Groucho Marx. It’s a hilarious little detail; it doesn’t make any sense yet (how he’s omniscient but he’s Groucho so who cares). There also might a slight Return of the Jedi nod as far as Betty’s outfit goes.

It’s a slower issue than normal, as Cliff has to figure things out. He’s not racing after Betty with believable speed–Langridge writes the characters differently. Cliff is a bit of a dunce. Betty’s the smarter one, which makes her constant peril an interesting contradiction.

The hero is the damsel in distress.

Even the villain’s big reveal scene works beautifully. Langridge and Bone work beautifully together.

The film has a lot of the Golden Age Hollywood feel to it. That Hollywood setting permeates throughout; it’s one of Langridge’s finest achievements on the book. He never forcibly includes the details.

CREDITS

In the Soup; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror 2 (March 2013)

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Langridge really embraces the Thin Man tie-in. It’s without names, instead of him doing thinly veined homages. It’s a nice touch, sending Betty off on her own adventure without Cliff.

Actually, Betty’s got the much bigger story. She’s the one who has figured out there’s some creepiness with the Scientologist Cthulhu fan–sorry, Cosmicist–while Cliff’s basically just running around dumb. He’s on the run from Howard Hughes’s guys, who want to bring the jet-pack in for a tune up.

There’s some more great work from Bone this issue. He’s got a lot of Rocketeer action, some great reaction shots between Cliff and Betty; that whole vibe, from cartoon broadness to comic strip focus, continues here, if not amplifies.

While Langridge does follow the general IDW Rocketeer continuity, Hollywood Horror never feels forcibly tied in. They’re creating their own thing; so far, better than anyone else has done.

CREDITS

These Troubled Times; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror 1 (February 2013)

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In the past, I think I’ve referred to J. Bone as some kind of Darwyn Cooke wannabe. I take it back. I regret making those statements, though Hollywood Horror seems to be a breakthrough for him.

He mixes old animation styles with comic strips to wonderful success. Even though she’s cartoony, Betty’s anger is real (and, since it’s Betty, her figure voluptuous). Cliff might be a square-jawed hero, but he’s real too–panic, excitement, aggravation.

As for Roger Langridge’s script, it’s unsurprisingly divine. There’s humor, there’s a fantastic “dear reader” narrative device, there are cameos from Nick and Nora Charles. Langridge and Bone also throw in a Einstein stand-in and some Lovecraft.

It’s fast and fun, with some amusing Rocketeer heroics–which the creators use to subtly add in direct references to the subplots.

There’s a lot going on–too much to even identify the main plot yet.

CREDITS

The Rocketeer vs. the Hollywood Horror; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Popeye 6 (October 2012)

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It’s a book length story. Langridge and artist Ken Wheaton do a great job of it too.

Langridge probably could have rushed the story, but by taking the whole issue, he lets Wheaton’s art breath a little. The word balloons aren’t packed full of text. Wheaton is able to give conversations reaction shots, for example.

The story concerns Popeye and company going to Hollywood to shoot a movie about Popeye’s life. Popeye’s the consultant… until he has to star too.

So Langridge has time for three acts, even though he opens the issue with a flash forward showing Popeye in the picture itself. One reads it just waiting for Popeye and company to take over the film production. It’s a nicely paced wait.

The issue also reads a little different because more of the cast seems self-aware. Not Popeye or Wimpy, but definitely Olive and Castor. Oh, and Bluto.

CREDITS

The Popeye the Sailor Story; writer, Roger Langridge; artist and letterer, Ken Wheaton; colorist, Luke McDonnell; editors, Ted Adams, Craig Yoe and Clizzia Gussoni; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Popeye 5 (September 2012)

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It’s a parenting issue.

There are two stories concerning Popeye’s parenting abilities.

The first is a babysitting adventure. Swee’Pea goes missing, ending up on the wrong side of town and joining a gang. Swee’Pea, it turns out, is really good at knocking the fleas off dogs. While Ozella does a fine job with the art, the story’s strength comes from Langridge’s concentration on making the tale make sense in the comic strip mentality. He never encourages–or lets–one think too hard about it. To do so would be to miss the point.

He also doesn’t have a lot of supporting cast cluttering. In the second story, he does. Popeye’s drawing Swee’Pea a comic strip and the supporting cast stops by to help. That usage works though–they aren’t cluttering, but literally helping.

It’s a deceptively complicated issue, especially the comic strip in the second story. Langridge and Ozella excel.

CREDITS

The Wrong Side of the Tracks; inker and letterer, Bruce Ozella. The Adventures of Pete and Patsy; inker, Vince Musacchia; letterers, Ozella and Musacchia. Writer, Roger Langridge; penciller, Ozella; colorist, Luke McDonnell; editors, Ted Adams, Craig Yoe and Clizia Gussoni; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Popeye 4 (August 2012)

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The Popeye feature suffers a little from lack of intelligent characters. For a second, I thought Castor Oyl would prove smart; he does not. Wimpy does show intelligence… and never gets recognized for it. But Langridge never loses track of him, which is sort of a reward. Langridge loses track of everyone at some point in the story.

It’s a very busy tale of a small (microscopic) kingdom Popeye and friends have to save. There’s lots of dialogue; Langridge wraps the exposition into the jokes beautifully. It’s well-written, it’s just a war story mixed with a detective story mixed with Popeye. It’s amazing Langridge is able to keep track of it at all.

The Sappo backup is a beautifully simple day at the beach. The jokes are universally strong, Langridge paces them all carefully, Neely’s artwork is lovely.

It’s a good comic, the backup’s just stronger than the feature.

CREDITS

Good Night, Blozo!; artist and letterer, Vince Musacchia; colorist, Luke McDonnell. Hero of the Beach; artist, colorist and letterer, Tom Neely. Writer, Roger Langridge; editor, Ted Adams, Craig Yoe and Clizia Gussoni; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Snarked 12 (September 2012)

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I guess Langridge gives Snarked a very grown-up ending. It fits with the fable tone he’s established, but it also got me all teary-eyed. It’s a philosophically rewarding finish, which isn’t the same thing as being an immediately pleasurable one.

Langridge covers a lot of territory. There’s a lot more character development than one would expect for a final issue–he has something like three big scenes between the major characters. He also has time for the humor. I never mentioned the Chipmunk, who’s on the ship’s crew and is something of a ninja. She doesn’t do anything this issue, but she’s a great sight gag.

As much as I hoped it would go a different way, Snarked is an outstanding comic. Langridge established three and a half wonderful characters and gave them a lovely outing. I’m going to miss Scarlett, the Walrus and Snarked quite a bit.

CREDITS

Fit the Twelfth: For the Snark was a Boojum, You See; writer and artist, Roger Langridge; colorist, Lisa Moore; editors, Eric Harburn and Bryce Carlson; publisher, kaboom! Studios.

Snarked 11 (August 2012)

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Langridge goes all out this issue in terms of obviousness. It’s okay though, he’s earned the right to be forward. He deals with the Walrus’s character and the Royal Family’s family issues bluntly. And he makes great scenes out of them.

In terms of the former, it’s not as blunt. There’s a great twist to reward the reader (and the Walrus). But the family stuff is blunt because it needs to be. Scarlett has to carry too much and the weight reaches its apex towards the end of the issue. The beauty of Snarked (and Langridge) is the issue isn’t over yet. There’s the funny, touching soft cliffhanger after the big blowout. It’s fantastic.

The issue reads reasonably fast; there are a lot of laughs to it and there’s a lot of action too.

Langridge does outstanding work, but I’m guessing the next (and final) issue will be even better.

CREDITS

Fit the Eleventh: Smiles and Soap; writer and artist, Roger Langridge; colorist, Lisa Moore; editors, Eric Harburn and Bryce Carlson; publisher, kaboom! Studios.

Snarked 10 (July 2012)

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Langridge comes up with some rather unexpected turns this issue. He opens it with a couple asides, first a reference to the occupy movement with the evil royalty back home, then the Gryphon running the pirate ship, before catching up with the main cast on Snark Island.

This issue isn’t as full as the last one, but Langridge still has some major events before the pirates arrive. I’m not spoiling, it’s on the cover.

There’s a lot of nice character work with the Walrus. Langridge’s intentions with him are so clear, the captain can even see them and comments on them. Snarked is warm and fuzzy a few times this issue. Always with some bite, but definitely warm and fuzzy.

Even though there’s a lot going on, Scarlett’s still the primary lead. Langridge rightly gives her time to discuss the family–and political–issues at hand.

It’s another great issue.

CREDITS

Fit the Tenth: Beware the Cyberwock!; writer and artist, Roger Langridge; colorist, Lisa Moore; editors, Eric Harburn and Bryce Carlson; publisher, kaboom! Studios.

Snarked 9 (June 2012)

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This issue is gloriously full. The cast arrives on Snark Island and Langridge sets them out exploring. But the captain has been to the island before, which leads to him remembering geographic features. Then there are the bickering lion and unicorn guards, then there’s the missing king….

It goes on and on, so much so the cliffhanger comes as a surprise. Langridge has already put his characters through two major challenges; one would expect him to let up a little.

There’s a lot of great character work in the issue too. McDunk magically becomes smart on the island, leading to some good dialogue exchanges, while the Walrus reveals more of his tenderness. And Scarlett has a big scene too.

Technically speaking, this issue is Langridge at his best. His storytelling skills–the way he paces the story, how he layers in the subtleties–are amazing. Snarked is a great comic.

CREDITS

Fit the Ninth: The Lion and The Unicorn; writer and artist, Roger Langridge; colorist, Lisa Moore; editors, Eric Harburn and Bryce Carlson; publisher, kaboom! Studios.

Snarked 8 (May 2012)

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Langridge brings the arc–it’s a journey arc, which is somewhat unexpected since there are so few navigation references in the issues–to a close.

Once again, Langridge focuses on the action of the issue. The evil Gryphon finds the heroes and sets loose a sea monster on the ship. And, once again, Langridge uses it as an opportunity to develop the Walrus as a character. There are little character bits throughout the issue, but the end clarifies–it’s all about the Walrus.

For that ending, Langridge unexpectedly promotes one of the supporting cast to more of a main role. Snarked has been relatively static in its primary cast; Langridge inserts the new character deftly. He had already established more of a role for him at the issue’s open, before moving back to the heroes.

As the story develops, Snarked just gets better. Langridge takes full advantage of its opportunities.

CREDITS

Fit the Eighth: The Frumious Bandersnatch; writer and artist, Roger Langridge; colorist, Lisa Moore; editors, Bryce Carlson and Eric Harburn; publisher, kaboom! Studios.

Snarked 7 (April 2012)

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I didn’t count but I don’t think the North Pole-South Pole romance in this issue took Langridge more than seven or eight panels. Spread throughout the issue, of course. But it’s a devastating little romance. It’s sweet, heartfelt and melancholic all at once. It’s quite lovely.

This issue our heroes find themselves trapped on an island with the last surviving dodos. Everyone manages to get him or herself in a bit of trouble–except the usually troublesome little prince, actually–and Langridge keeps them moving.

It all takes place–the island stuff, so not counting the first act–in a couple days. Langridge never focuses on the time, but Snarked never feels rushed or not rushed enough. It comes from Langridge concentrating on making each moment, even if it is building to another (or none at all), as pleasing as possible.

It’s a great way to approach comic storytelling.

CREDITS

Fit the Seventh: Beautiful Soup; writer and artist, Roger Langridge; colorist, Lisa Moore; editors, Bryce Carlson and Eric Harburn; publisher, kaboom! Studios.

Snarked 6 (March 2012)

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Langridge presents the heroes with a single challenge–a single one they know about, Langridge opens the issue with the Gryphon’s plotting–and, over the course of the issue, creates a second one for them.

He creates it subtly, but on the page, during a big action sequence. This issue introduces a pirate ship, crewed by familiar characters from Alice in Wonderland. Langridge gives them a lot of funny dialogue, making up for his regular cast being too busy in the action scene to have a proper conversation.

It’s a rather good issue; the two crews give Langridge a lot of variety to draw and a lot of personalities to write. He excels at both. He even introduces new characters later on–crews are big, after all–and they come into the issue seamlessly.

It’s one of the better all-action issues I’ve read. Langridge knows how to do it.

CREDITS

Fit the Sixth: Yo Ho Ho and a Nice Cup of Tea; writer and artist, Roger Langridge; colorist, Lisa Moore; editors, Bryce Carlson and Eric Harburn; publisher, kaboom! Studios.

Snarked 5 (February 2012)

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Langridge sets this entire issue–with the exception of the prologue featuring the villains–aboard ship. The heroes have set sail for dreaded Snark Island, but they haven’t told the crew where they’re going yet….

There’s also the matter of sea sickness, the Cheshire Cat popping in, an angry crocodile who follows the ship and then the crew themselves. Oh, and the little prince getting eaten by said crocodile.

So, while the entire issue takes place in a day and most of it in a morning, Langridge manages to keep it quite full. He also gets in some excellent character work, particularly on the Walrus. The Walrus and Queen Scarlett–this issue doesn’t focus on her as much, rather the situation–are easily Snarked’s best characters, but for completely different reasons. Scarlett is just a fun, strong character. The Walrus is on an unknowingly redemption trip.

It’s an excellent issue.

CREDITS

Fit the Fifth: How Doth the Little Crocodile…?; writer and artist, Roger Langridge; colorist, Rachelle Rosenberg; editors, Bryce Carlson and Eric Harburn; publisher, kaboom! Studios.

The Muppets 4 (December 2012)

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It’s Christmastime at the Muppet Studio and, of course, things don’t go particularly well. They also have a new fridge, which Kermit guards carefully. Piggy is trying to get a marriage proposal as a gift, Fozzie can’t come up with jokes for his sketch, Rizzo and Gonzo are trying to clone dancing yogurt… there’s probably something else I’m forgetting.

It turns out to be so packed, even Langridge can’t make the whole thing fit. He skips through one of the plot resolutions. It’s too bad, because it sounds like it might’ve been funnier than any of the other sketches.

Oh, see, I did forget. The Swedish Chef is trying to cook a Christmas Pudding; it escapes and wrecks havoc around the studio.

It’s nice, but lacking–Langridge has an overabundance of ideas and no way to properly fulfill them all. He had to pick Christmas or winter and missed both….

CREDITS

The Four Seasons: Winter; writer and artist, Roger Langridge; colorist, Kawaii Creative Studio; letterer, Litomilano S.r.l.; editor, Antonello Donola; publisher, Disney Comics.

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