Eric's Boom! Studios Comic Review: SNARKED #4
Published: January 11, 2012 - 8:07am
With a firm grasp of the English language and a lizard version of Steve Buscemi, Snarked #4 might be a bit wasted if relegated as merely a kid's book. Robert Langridge has some solid comedy and swashbuckling on display with this great comic.
Robert Langridge's Snarked is quite possibly the smartest all ages comic out in the market today, which makes it a bit of a double-edged sword when considering its marketed audience. On the up side, older readers will find a lot to like in the fun syntax and quick wit. Protagonist Wilburforce J. Walrus is the epitome of both of these qualities. His manipulative intelligence might remind one of Popeye's J. Wellington Wimpy, except with a more pronounced aplomb and sinister edge (not too much so). Passive aggressive tactics are only the beginning of his mental arsenal. Issue #4 features William Lizard Jr. as the anthropomorphic marine mammal's patsy. Whether intentional or not, this character is Steve Buscemi in comic/animal form, which creates great situational humor with the bulging eyes, odd mannerisms, and underlying secrets. He's, also, well layered with an incredible amount of mysterious backstory that makes one hope his part isn't completely ancillary confined to the single issue. This is the strength in what Langridge does with this series in making each player interesting and seemingly important. It makes the fiction ascend past the silly plot elements and slapstick comedy.
The negative that can be found here is less in its content and more in its marketing. Snarked is a really good book, but it may fly over the heads of younger readers. Using subversion, alcohol, and cross-dressing to comedic purpose may not hit as well with kids as it might adults. It's not a major criticism, but one can see how someone might get the wrong idea with the bright, cartoonish presentation. With something of this quality, it's good to expand what might be preconceived notions (Don't judge the comic by its cover.).
Despite what is said in the previous paragraph, Robert Langridge's playful use of visuals is appropriate for the narrative and beneficial for the book. As mentioned before, there's some thematic similarities to old Popeye cartoons and strips. The facial expressions are exaggerated, which makes the comedy set-up and punchlines resonate with lucidity. If the text gets a bit too verbose, the visuals make up for it with a clarity that keeps the pacing chugging along. One shouldn't be deceived, though, there's a depth to each panel with background imagery informing the situation and characters. This is a great example of an expert cartoonist in his prime.
Story: Robert Langridge
Art: Robert Langridge & Rachelle Rosenberg
Cover: Robert Langridge & Matthew Wilson
On Sale January 11, 2012!