Snagglepuss
EXIT STAGE LEFT: THE SNAGGLEPUSS CHRONICLES #2 by Mark Russell, Mike Feehan, Mark Morales, Paul Mounts, and David Sharpe
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
Even though this book will make you laugh, it's also going to make you deal with some raw emotions. The cartoon characters of old can become relevant and real at the hand of Mark Russell. The art is also very much on point, making the characters really look like their animal counterparts.
92 %
All the Feels

Warning: this post contains spoilers for EXIT STAGE LEFT: THE SNAGGLEPUSS CHRONICLES #2!

Those who expect to read EXIT STAGE LEFT: THE SNAGGLEPUSS CHRONICLES #2 and not feel things are in for a pretty big surprise. Many know Snagglepuss as the funny, pink mountain lion from cartoon days of yore, but now he’s here to drop some serious knowledge and make you cry. Yet the most heart-wrenching parts of this issue don’t belong to Snagglepuss, but the people who surround him.

EXIT STAGE LEFT: THE SNAGGLEPUSS CHRONICLES #1:  Heavens to Murgatroyd!

A Lesson in the Red Scare

Crack open your history books, kids. To fully understand EXIT STAGE LEFT: THE SNAGGLEPUSS CHRONICLES #2 — and the series in general for that matter — you’re gonna have to know what the heck was going on in the late 40’s and early 50’s in Hollywood. Due to increased tension with Russia, the House of Un-American Activities Committee was tasked with finding communists in the US. This Committee blacklisted a lot of successful, famous artists. This included actors, writers, producers, and more. Hollywood took quite a hit.

What does this have to do with our favorite gay mountain lion, you ask? Oh, so damn much.

EXIT STAGE LEFT: THE SNAGGLEPUSS CHRONICLES #2
EXIT STAGE LEFT: THE SNAGGLEPUSS CHRONICLES #2 page 3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Our version of Snagglepuss is a gothic playwright a-la Tennessee Williams who writes stories about the realities of the human condition, kind of like A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. When we first saw him, the Committee was questioning him. Now, they’re bringing him back to speak with them again, which isn’t a good sign.

Some Foreshadowing in EXIT STAGE LEFT: THE SNAGGLEPUSS CHRONICLES #2

Before we find out exactly what the Committee has in store for Snagglepuss, we get a clue from fellow playwright Lilly Hellman — a real-life dramatist who was actually blacklisted. Hellman explains that she received rejection letters from various places, all with the same typo. She’s sure that this is a form letter and that the Committee is behind it.

“The first time they call you in to testify, it’s to see if you’ll play ball,” she warns Snagglepuss. “The second time is to ruin you.”

EXIT STAGE LEFT: THE SNAGGLEPUSS CHRONICLES #2
EXIT STAGE LEFT: THE SNAGGLEPUSS CHRONICLES #2 page 5. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Shortly thereafter, Snagglepuss meets with a representative of the Committee who asks him to write some plays to “inspire” Americans. He doesn’t play ball. He says, in a brilliant moment that makes Mark Russell the great writer he is, “You are asking me for my pen and that I cannot give.” He then leaves. Even knowing what will probably happen to him, Snagglepuss stands his ground. He stands for the integrity of his work, and that is admirable. Naturally, he’s summoned to appear before the Committee again almost instantly.

The Real Tears

As all of this other life-changing stuff is happening, Snagglepuss is trying to help one of the actors in his latest play become inspired.

EXIT STAGE LEFT: THE SNAGGLEPUSS CHRONICLES #2
EXIT STAGE LEFT: THE SNAGGLEPUSS CHRONICLES #2 page 6. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

They meet with Huckleberry Hound, who is having a damn hard time. He, like Snagglepuss, is a member of the ostracized gay community. As Huckleberry tells of his troubles, you truly feel for a blue dog who you’re used to seeing sing “My Darling, Clementine” in the old cartoons.

Once again, Russell absolutely shines. He’s excellent at making these old characters your parents loved into extremely relevant and sympathetic figures. You root for them, you laugh with them, and you absolutely cry with them.

Firing on All Cylinders

Everyone on this team is killing it. Russell doesn’t only make you cry, he makes you laugh out loud with lines like, “Oh dear god of corn.” Like, what does that even mean? I have no idea, but I’m not mad.

Penciler Mike Feehan has found a way to make these cartoon characters feel extremely real by drawing them like actual animals. It grounds you in reality right away as it sets up the real-world themes Russell is addressing. Similarly, Mark Morales’ inks add a dimension to the work in a way that’s both subtle and instantly noticeable. It’s the little flourishes on Snagglepuss’ fur, for instance, that make the images breathe.

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Colorist Paul Mounts makes it instantly clear who the more “colorful” characters are in the story without making them out of place. They stand out without being unrealistic. Part of this is being true to the original designs of Snagglepuss, Huckleberry, and co., but there’s more to it. Yes, Snagglepuss is wearing a bright blue shirt and a pink ascot even though he’s already pink as all hell. He’s loud, and he looks it, and it’s wonderful.

David Sharp’s lettering is on point, as always. He gives us the perfect emphasis and personality through his work, and it makes the book that much more delightful.

So yes, EXIT STAGE LEFT: THE SNAGGLEPUSS CHRONICLES #2 brings some laughs, but it also brings all the feels while taking us through a tumultuous time in our nation’s history which isn’t that dissimilar to our present. The fact that this is a limited series is kind of disappointing, but this book is an absolute gift for the time being.

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