Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
By now, faithful readers of this blog will have read not only an interview with the creator but also a review of Roger Langridge’s new series for kaboom, Snarked. Let me add my voice to the choir on this one: It’s a very, very good comic, indeed.
It’s not merely that Langridge’s strip has the tone and effortless swagger of something that feels as if it’s already stood the test of time – Within a couple of pages, the characters feel familiar enough that it’s as if you’ve been reading them since you were a child, in large part because of his sharp use of familiar shorthand (The Walrus looks a little like Wimpy, from Popeye, and has a little of that attitude, as well, but he’s much sharper: “McDunk, old boy — at this juncture, may I call upon the debt you will surely own me by this time tomorrow, for services not yet rendered?” is in many ways “I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today,” but further up the evolutionary ladder). That’s not to say there’s a feeling that you’ve seen all of this before, because Langridge manages to play with the plot in such a way that his execution is just undeniable, so fun, so precise that you can’t help but be swept up in it as if it’s all brand new. It’s an astonishing balancing act that he pulls off with glee.
(It helps that there’s also a similar sensibility here to his Muppets work, which surely is agreed upon as a classic already, right?)
But, as much as the actual comic, what won me over to Snarked so completely was the backmatter, which featured a letters page filled with letters to the Walrus – Sorry, Wilburforce J. Walrus, Esq. – from other characters, some sketches, puzzles and, most importantly, the original “The Hunting of The Snark” and “The Walrus and the Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll. I don’t know why this surprised and pleased me so much, but it really elevated the whole experience for me – It was a sign that this wasn’t a comic that was going to pander in its attempt to entertain, but instead expect its readers keep up with the literary allusions and references it’ll be throwing out (There’s also a fake newspaper called “The Jabberwock,” with the tagline, “You too can believe six impossible things before breakfast”). There’s such… ambition may be the wrong word, but an attitude of refusing to settle for the lowest common denominator reader while still being as hellishly entertaining and enjoyable as possible – and this is a really enjoyable comic – that I can’t help but be entirely bowled over. I don’t just like Snarked, I’m in love.
I can see why Boom! is putting this preview out at $1, and trying to get as many people to pre-order it as possible. Something this good really can’t just fall down into the cracks between X-Men: Schism and the DC relaunch. Everyone who likes good comics should try this one out.