Abigail’s friend isn’t the Frosty kind of snowman; rather, he’s of the abominable variety in Roger Langridge’s “Abigail and the Snowman” #1. The first of a four-issue miniseries, the issue establishes the relationship between the two, as well as that of her and her father, and her early, icy interactions with her new schoolmates.
Within the span of one page, Langridge establishes Abigail’s situation with a standard first-day-in-new-school introduction structured with a brilliant and simple efficiency. One single panel with Abigail surrounded by a classroom full of judgmental school kids, complete with their caricature-like frowns, tells readers everything they need to know about her new environment. Langridge’s cartoonish style is enhanced with a straightforward kind of stripped-down technique; one simple change to an eyebrow is all it takes to convey disgust, disinterest or joy with deceptive simplicity.
The first real relationship Langridge lays out is that with her father, a refreshingly upbeat one that’s nonetheless tinged with resentment. Her dad is a kind-hearted fellow with whom she can freely laugh, yet he harbors some dissatisfaction over his perceived inattentiveness as he struggles with other real-world challenges that compete with his being a full-time parent, and at a time when she needs him the most. A day at the park with her father means she tries to play with the other kids while he sits with his laptop on a bench searching for a job, which leads to Abigail’s discovery of Claude. Langridge puts a clever spin on the notion of a child’s invisible friend with the idea that only children can see Claude, adding a curious new dynamic between Abigail and her father; he now thinks she has another imaginary friend, but this one is actually real.
While Langridge fully realizes he’s writing a story for children, his style makes it completely approachable for their parents or any other adult, for that matter. The humor is genuine, not dumbed down for kids but rather told at their level using a subject that both kids and grownups alike will find amusing. His art is refined so that his story doesn’t look like one aimed solely at children, and colorist Fred Stresing uses a rich but unassuming palette that makes the town of Shipton-On-Sea appear welcoming enough, even if it takes some time for newcomers to get comfortable there.
Protecting for the possibility that some old-timers might discover this comic, Langridge provides some initial laughs in the form of a comedic “Men in Black” meets “Laurel and Hardy” mashup with two bumbling “bad guys” who are in pursuit of Claude, or Specimen 486 as they call him. The homage to the classic early 20th Century comedy duo could very well be missed by the comic’s target audience but doesn’t harm the story in the least, even if the lob does go over younger readers’ heads. “Abigail and the Snowman” #1 is exactly the kind of all-ages entertainment anyone familiar with Langridge’s work would expect, and even those new to his cartooning will find a delightful and enjoyable comic nonetheless.