It’s hard to go wrong with a new Roger Langridge comic. From “The Muppet Show” and “Thor: The Mighty Avengers” to (a little more old school) “Fred the Clown” and “Zoot Suite,” there’s always a level of cleverness and fun present in Langridge’s comics that keeps you entertained.
With his new title, “Snarked,” Langridge has taken minor characters from Lewis Carroll’s works (all helpfully in the public domain) and built a new world around them. The Walrus and the Carpenter and the spawn of the Red Queen and Red King aren’t the most glitzy of characters to be your protagonists, but Langridge quickly convinces that they’ll work well, perhaps because they’re open to do whatever he wants with them.
The Walrus and the Carpenter are the simpler of the main characters; with the Walrus as a fast-talking con man (or should that be con walrus?) and Carpenter as his slightly dim-witted sidekick, you get an instant grasp on their characters. Langridge is careful to keep either of them from being evil; they’re just devious and keeping themselves out of ruin, although, as we quickly see, the Carpenter is more likely to help his fellow man than the Walrus is.
We also meet Princess Scarlet and Prince Rusty, the young children of the missing Red King (and deceased Red Queen). Scarlet’s a good protagonist; she’s smart and strong-willed, but at the same time Langridge makes her distinctly a child. She can get scared easily, but she’s able to use her wits to get her and Rusty out of particularly bad situations. I suspect that Scarlet’s encyclopedic knowledge of the stranger Lewis Carroll creatures (the Jabberwock, the Snark and Boojum, or even the Dodo) will be a central point in the issues to come, and that makes her all the more interesting a character. She’s definitely someone younger readers can identify with in this all-ages comic, which makes her an excellent hero.
Langridge’s art is adorable as ever. I love his take on the Cheshire Cat, with his classic animation smile and his tiger stripes. It’s a very different rendition than any I’ve seen before (most going over the deep end with purples and pinks), and it helps make the character his own entity, divorced from the trickster role in “Alice in Wonderland.” That’s good, since Langridge has given him here a position of defender, and keeping the two separate is a smart thing. There’s a lot of smaller details going on in the backgrounds, from Rusty terrorizing the guard with a mouse (which eventually shifts from background to foreground in terms of story) to the lovingly drawn map of the town.
“Snarked” #1 is a fun start, even as it serves primarily as set-up for stories to come. Now that he’s got all of his main characters together, I suspect the next issue is going to be one of those stories where everything jumps into full speed. For now, though, it’s a pleasant opening, and I’ll be back for #2.