[Please note: “Snarked” #0 is out in stores this August, with the first issue set for an October release. ]
A great comic for kids is truly a delight to behold. Childhood is an ephemeral beast to capture and yet Roger Langridge has here managed to temper it, distil it, reinfect it, and serve it over numerous courses. For only a dollar, this is a parent’s best bet at keeping their kid quiet while entertaining them and teaching them a little something as well. If anyone is looking to fill the void left by Carl Barks then they’d do well to watch Langridge, because he is succeeding admirably. A few decades from now, Langridge’s name will be tossed around with a nostalgic smile by as many as we can expose today.
This introductory #0 issue is an eclectic smattering of story, fun and games, and back matter. We get an introductory tale of Langridge’s “Walrus and the Carpenter.” It’s not so much an adaptation as it is an interpretation. There is no necessity for you to have read the poem to enjoy this book. Langridge is expanding the scope of the tale and putting these two dastardly characters into new situations. He is successful in building actual cores for these characters and providing a rich and populated landscape upon which they can wreak their brand of havoc and trickery.
The interplay between Wilburforce J Walrus and Clyde McDunk is flippantly fun and well thought out. Walrus has a sly tongue but not so sharp the little kids reading won’t be able to pick him out as a trickster. He’s the sort of character kids will love to boo and hiss. McDunk, however, is just a buffoon. There’s nothing redeemable, yet, but he works as a good foil within the schemes of his anthropomorphic friend. Though you don’t necessarily like either character they will be extremely fun to watch. As for those we can care for, Princess Scarlett and her little brother Rusty are perfect characters for the intended audience to hang their little hats on.
The language is lyrical and erudite at all times. There’s a poetic rhyme to the captions, and the characters turn phrases constantly to get their way. The Walrus has many lines you’ll want to read more than once, and providing a comic with re-readability is exactly how you do kids’ comics right. Something is constantly happening and this has always been a staple of Langridge’s work. He layers his pages through script and art so you can sit down with one page and really pore through it to take in the nuance and fun.
That Langridge is also on the art no doubt helps him as he can see the flow of a page and use his pencil to add in an extra gag if needed, or a background detail to develop density to this world. It also aids the book that the storytelling, action, and acting are all superb. The Walrus knowingly leers at the audience, McDunk constantly looks flummoxed and in over his empty head, and the royal family comes across like a regal “Peanuts” homage. Langridge doesn’t overstate things. If you want to know the whole tale, you have to pay attention. It’s complex without being smug.
After the short tale, we are gifted a variety of back matter. This is the sort of wondrous stuff to keep kids occupied and constantly changing their minds as to the best section. A fabricated letter pages (and who doesn’t love those?) makes way for some sketches of character and setting. The “Princesses Diary” is an enjoyable read and a text piece that is as much fun as the actual story, while supporting it by presenting the alternate perspective. Langridge has a go at doing a Lewis Carroll style poem of epic delights and disgusting character right before presenting the original “Walrus and the Carpenter” poem in its entirety. Some newspaper articles and a few simple games round out the experience. The variety of childhood fun and slight educational content is exactly what every parent wants for their child.
“Snarked” is just the start of the Kaboom! line of comics for kids. If this is any indication, we will soon have a great children’s’ library to amass. This introductory issue is great value for all the entertainment it provides. The story is expertly crafted and sure to appeal to all ages. If you are a parent, an older sibling, or a teacher, it is your duty to drop a dollar on this glorious publication and spread the good word. The bricks with which to assemble childhood have been lovingly crafted by Langridge, now we must be the builders.