Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
By Roger Langridge
Roger Langride, writer of the Muppet Show comics and Thor: Mighty Avenger, set the bar pretty high when he decided to use Lewis Carroll’s characters, the Walrus and the Carpenter, in his new comic, Snarked. Carroll is a tough act to follow, and there’s a big risk that the new characters will fall flat compared to the original.
Langridge has succeeded admirably, however, in not only making an enjoyable comic but making one in which his story is both an original creation and true to its roots. Carroll’s walrus and carpenter use witty-sounding conversation as misdirection while they lure unsuspecting oysters to their dinner plates. Langridge’s characters, cast as lovable swindlers in some vague past, fast-talk their way into the palace to steal some food from the king’s kitchen, but unlike in the poem, they wind up with empty stomachs after all.
Snarked #0 is a tease, a one-dollar prequel to the series, which launches with issue #1 in October. This comic features an eight-page story, plus some special bonus content—puzzles, a fake diary and newspaper that relate to the story, and all of Carroll’s poems “The Hunting of the Snark” and “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” with the original illustrations.
The story itself is a bit of fluff, but it introduces the characters and sets up the basics of the story. The Walrus is a con man, of the WC Fields subtype, who talks a good game but is a bit dim under his fine words. The carpenter is his even more dim-witted sidekick. As for the snark, people talk about it a lot but it has yet to show up.
The comic starts with the Walrus learning that the king is out of town and deciding to raid the palace kitchens. He and the Carpenter fast-talk their way past the guards only to run into the young princess and prince. They charm the royal youngsters while filling their sack with goodies, but then they get distracted…
And here, alas, is the story’s one flaw, a narrative hiccup that left me wondering if there was a page missing from my digital review copy. Langridge cuts from the Walrus gazing at a gold statue of the king to the two con men being chased from the palace. What happened? The princess’s diary in the endmatter fills in the gap (they try to steal the statue, which alerts the guards), but the comic itself completely punts on what should be a key scene. That’s a lot of narrative to show by implication only.
That aside, there’s a lot to like about this comic. Langridge’s style is easy on the eyes and he has some cute little bits of business that are straight out of the animator’s handbook, as when the princess flies up in the air rather than taking a step. Colorist Rachelle Rosenberg has developed a nice, lively palette for the book and helps bring the story to life without being intrusive.
Snarked #0 comes out in August, but June 30 is the deadline for ordering it from the June Previews. I’m going to issue a “buy” recommendation on this one, especially as it only costs a dollar. Heck, if you hate it, give it to some lucky kid; you’ll get a dollar’s worth of satisfaction from that alone.
Still not sure? Check out our own Tim O’Shea’s interview with Langridge, which includes a four-page preview of Snarked.