By: John C. Mayberry
The indy genre of comics is full of some pretty damn good reads, unique in the stories they tell and how they’re presented in both dialogue and artwork. Although my love of comics began with the superhero genre, it’s refreshing to see creators that take the time to tell a more realistic tale, sans the tights and undies. Snelson: Comedy Is Dying #1 is one of the great examples of such a story, having what it takes to be relatable and entertaining as it is funny and resonating to all who read it.
Melville Snelson, a traveling stand-up comedian, was known for offensive humor in his heyday. In the modern age of cancel culture, however, his spotlight on stage has diminished. He strives to reclaim it with his traveling companions, fellow comedians whom he used to call his “human shields” as they travel from venue to venue, drawing in crowds, while Snelson must endure the blank stares from a new generation that his humor is seemingly completely lost on. Amidst another personal struggle that adds a new level of depth to an already entertaining comic, this is an excellent and thought provoking read for anyone, whether you prefer your protagonists to be more grounded in a harsh reality or those of the cape variety.
The first issue is a great start to this miniseries, but for some may come in short when it comes to how long it is. For most miniseries I have in my personal collection, the shorter a miniseries is the longer the issues are. It is still an great read, but some may find there is something left to be desired, a deeper connection between story and reader that could’ve been achieved by fleshing out the story beyond the pages it’s contained in. Faults aside, I still highly recommend this issue, it’s just too good not to. If you pass this comic up, well, you’re just a dunce now, aren’t you? Hahaha, relax everyone, I’m probably kidding on that one.
Artwork – The art of Fred Harper is honestly not something I’ve had the pleasure of coming across frequently, but I am damn glad I did. Realistic with a hint of cartoonish vibes, it just makes this first issue that much more entertaining. Combined with the coloring of Lee Loughridge and letters by Rob Steen, a unique breath of life is given to the story that leaves readers wanting to see more of where Snelson’s story goes.
Symbolism – Used effectively, symbolism can take any tale to new heights, and Snelson: Comedy Is Dying is a fantastic example of this. With artwork making subtle reference to conversations had earlier in the issue, the added emphasis and clarity to the story and deepens that personal connection between reader and protagonist, making Snelson and his story more memorable beyond just the indy comic community.
Writing – Witty and bold, Paul Constant’s work perfectly captures and depicts the world of the likeable jerk that is Melville Snelson. The dialogue with his “human shields” is funny, smart, with the group dynamic creating a more entertaining atmosphere that is sure to lead to even better and funnier things. Beyond that also are the references made to current real-world issues that make Snelson: Comedy Is Dying a more relatable story.
Story length – I’ll never stop talking about how much of a great read this comic is, but one drawback some may notice might be with the actual length of the issue. The ending does leave you wanting to read more but may feel like it was reached a bit abruptly instead of the story being fleshed out more to make it deeper and more resonating with its audience.
OVERALL SCORE – 9.5 out of 10
Length of the comic aside, issue one of Snelson: Comedy Is Dying is the beginning of a great miniseries, and one I cannot wait to finish reading. If there was ever a perfect definition of the phrase dramedy, this miniseries represents it. Dealing with serious subject matter in a way that’s entertaining and funny is sometimes not an easy thing to do, but the creative team involved in Snelson: Comedy Is Dying #1 nailed it for sure. It’s going to be interesting to see how this story goes further in future issues, but one thing I know is that it can only get better from here.