An Eisner-nominated cartoonist best known for his pitch-perfect take on the "Muppet Show" comics for BOOM! Studios and the fresh, fun "Thor: The Mighty Avenger" at Marvel, Roger Langridge has been yearning for a return to his writer/artist roots. Luckily for him and readers alike, he's been given a chance with "Snarked!," a new creator-owned ongoing series through BOOM!'s kids-friendly imprint, KABOOM!
Though Langridge shared art duties on the Harvey Award-winning "The Muppet Show" with Amy Mebberson and "Thor" was illustrated solely by Chris Samnee, "Snarked!" will see the New Zealand-born Brit once again serving flying solo, bringing to life a lively and innovative version of the world Lewis Carroll saw when he peered "Through the Looking Glass." Comic Book Resources caught up with Langridge to discuss the series, its vaudeville sensibilities and "The Show Must Go On," a forthcoming collection of the cartoonist's other creator-owned strips.
"Snarked!" debuts with a preview issue in August, which introduces the series' major characters and the particular world they inhabit.
"Our main protagonists are genial con artists Wilburforce J. Walrus and Clyde McDunk (better known as the Walrus and the Carpenter), the 8-year-old Queen Scarlett (the 'Red Queen') and her little brother Rusty," Langridge told CBR. "It's a comedy adventure story heavily inspired by the works of Lewis Carroll, although in truth it probably owes as much to the adventure stories of Carl Barks and [Popeye creator] E.C. Segar as it does to Carroll. The story starts in a little unnamed fantasy kingdom by the sea, which is in all sorts of trouble owing to the mysterious absence of Scarlett's father, the Red King; later on, as our heroes attempt to find him, we'll be hitting the high seas and visiting strange lands. All of which are plucked entirely from my own rapidly balding head."
Though the series clearly represents Langridge's own comic sensibilities, the Walrus is, according to the writer, "broadly the same character" as the one found in "Through the Looking Glass," "an unscrupulous, self-serving but highly resourceful scoundrel." "The story has he and the Carpenter thrown together with the young Royals in order to serve the greater good, which means the Walrus will have to cope with having an 8-year-old girl boss him around. Hilarilty ensues (it says here)! The Walrus in particular has been terrific fun to write. I do like a verbose ratbag."
Lewis Carroll's characters have been reinvented many times and in many ways, but a look at the preview pages reveal "Snarked!" as unique, a project inspired by Carroll but distinctly Langridge's creation. Asked about the appeal of building from Carroll's characters, Langridge cited creative, personal and practical considerations. "I like playing around with disreputable vaudevillean types, as readers of my other comics are probably aware," he said. "The Walrus seems to be broadly cut from the same cloth as W.C. Fields, or perhaps Oliver Hardy (the dynamic between Walrus and McDunk in 'Snarked!' is somewhat Laurel and Hardyish). I'm also a lifelong fan of Carroll, having re-read the books every couple of years since I was a child, and they're works which have proven they can withstand multiple interpretations. And there's the simple fact that characters which already have some degree of recognition are more likely to find an audience in today's marketplace than brand-new characters created from whole cloth. I feel like I've struck a nice balance between keeping the characters recognizable and making them my own -- hopefully the readers will agree!"
Langridge begins "Snarked!" after two very well-regarded runs with beloved characters, "The Muppet Show" followed by "Thor: The Mighty Avenger," both of which had been nominated for Eisner awards. The cartoonist, who has also done strips for "Doctor Who Magazine," said he is "absolutely delighted" to be working on his own characters again. "As much as I enjoyed working on those books, it always feels more rewarding to work on my own stuff. When you're working on corporate-owned properties, you're only ever babysitting them until the next guy comes along."
As to whether there will be aspects of "Snarked!" that might surprise fans of his other work, Langridge said that fans of the Muppets and Thor should be fairly comfortable. "I don't know if there are a whole lot of surprises in the basic approach -- though hopefully there will be a few in the actual narrative," he teased. "I regard 'Snarked!' more as a consolidation of some of the lessons I learned working on those books -- this will really be my first attempt at a long story arc that I write and draw myself in my own artistic voice. Until now, it's either been relatively short stories or (in the case of 'Thor: The Mighty Avenger') adjusting my style to suit some material that was, for me, somewhat off my own aesthetic path. So from that point of view this is new territory for me -- and very exciting territory, at that!"
In addition to "Snarked!" #0, August will also see the release of "The Show Must Go On," a collection of Langridge's strips (also available from BOOM!) that are at times less kid-friendly.
"It's sort of a career retrospective, I suppose -- a collection of various bits and pieces from the past 20 years that until now hasn't had a book to call home," the artist revealed. "It's less kid-friendly in the sense that it's got some rude words and a bit of over-the-top cartoon violence, though it broadly comes from the same place aesthetically as my more recent work. It includes strips from 'A1' in 1992 ('Frankenstein meets Shirley Temple' was an early example of me appropriating well-known figures and doing my own thing with them) all the way through to my most recent web strip serial, 'Mugwhump the Great,' which just finished last week at this writing -- taking in work from 'Dark Horse Presents,' 'Heavy Metal,' 'Deadline Magazine' and various other places along the way. I like to think of it as the comic-book equivalent of a variety theatre bill -- there's a bit of everything in there. Something for everyone, I hope!"