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snarf5
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solid writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 4
total score 8
Back Cover
Back Cover
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REVIEW SCORE 7
Snarf #10
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Only Printing / February 1987 / 36 pages / Kitchen Sink Press
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It took six years after the previous issue came out before Snarf was revived by Kitchen Sink and the 10th issue was published. Why so long, you might ask? Well, Denis Kitchen and his company were just too damn busy. In the early to mid 1980s, Kitchen Sink was publishing runs of multiple titles like Gay Comix, Dope Comix, Bizarre Sex, Death Rattle (volume 2), Harold Hedd in Hitler's Cocaine, Megaton Man, and Border Worlds. But what really kept them busy was their work on books and magazines featuring Will Eisner and Milton Caniff that reprinted old comics like The Spirit and Steve Canyon, plus new material by the artists.

These projects took an enormous amount of time and effort from the small staff at Kitchen Sink (especially the jack-of-all-trades Peter Poplaski). On top of all that, in 1986 Denis Kitchen picked up a new title, Omaha the Cat Dancer, that became an instant best seller and would soon spin off multiple related projects and merchandise. For that matter, almost all of the other titles were much better sellers than Snarf had ever been.

Nevertheless, eventually the idea of reviving Snarf rolled around and the 10th issue was produced with loving detail and top-flight talent. The title had already been shifting towards a more alternative-comic book slant in previous editions, but this issue made the shift full tilt, with plenty of new, alternative creators, many of whom became regular contributors for the remainder of Snarf's run (five more issues).

This issue's beautiful front cover artwork by Will Elder depicts the travails of an old and battered comix-book publisher, with both young and gray-haired veterans piled upon a makeshift life raft, hailing the promise of a rising sun while leaving their fractured and useless past behind. Snarf already had a tradition of great cover art, and in their first ten issues they'd secured Will Eisner, Harvey Kurtzman, Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman and Will Elder for their front covers (and that doesn't even include personal faves of mine like Jay Lynch, John Pound and Denis Kitchen himself).

Snarf's best issues began in the late '70s when Kitchen Sink expanded their line-up of contributors, and this issue sets a new record with close to 20 creators (not including artists who just appear in ads). The book begins with a three-pager by J.D. King, who'd worked with Peter Bagge on numerous other titles and projects. King's story exemplifies Snarf's transition to an alternative comic title, as it features two incorrigible teenage punks raising hell around town while they skip a school day.

Mary Fleener appears with two of her earliest published works, "In Love" and "Madame X from Planet Sex." If you're not familiar with her, Fleener's drawing style is unmistakably unique. It was inspired by Cubism (she even calls is Cubismo) but also influenced by ancient Egyptian art, Chester Gould, Otto Soglow (The Little King) and Al Capp. But let's face it, it looks like Cubism as a comic illustration style. Fleener pulls no punches with her plots and scripts, either, (though John Eberly actually scripted "In Love"), so if you dig brutally honest and brilliantly talented women in comics (e.g. Aline, Julie, Melinda, Phoebe, Dori...and yes, you should know these women on a first-name basis), you won't have any trouble finding more of Fleener's work all over eBay and Amazon real cheap.

Speaking of brutally honest and brilliantly talented women, how 'bout Kate Worley, co-creator and writer for Reed Waller's Omaha the Cat Dancer? Omaha appears in Snarf #10 as well, with a five-page story that neatly cross-promotes the Omaha series Kitchen Sink had just picked up the previous year. Omaha is not for everyone (some people just don't like anthropomorphic anything, and I'm typically not a big fan of funny animal comics either), but Waller's illustrations are so arresting and Worley's dialogue so authentic it's hard not to bond with these feline and canine characters.

Two midwestern natives, Marc Hansen and P.S. Mueller, also contribute to this issue; Hansen with a four-pager featuring a maniacal white-collar office boss raging with jealousy and high blood pressure, Mueller with a few pages of sparsely drawn, eccentric New Yorker-style cartoons. Hansen's claim to fame would be the comic-book serial Ralph Snart Adventures, which sold about a million copies over seven years beginning in 1986. Mueller worked for The Onion for about two decades, writing mag material and voicing the fictional newsreader Doyle Redland for The Onion Radio News.

Chester Brown and Dennis Worden slipped into Snarf #10 as well. Brown has a one-pager about a gerbil and a voracious pet dog and Worden has a three-pager about a floating skull stand-up comedian (yes, literally) who hits the big time on the David Letterman show. Brown's career took off like a rocket this very year with Yummy Fur and Worden, still one of my all-time favorite degenerates, produced some of the funniest shit around in Weirdo, Stickboy, and Cruel and Unusual Punishment, among others.

The old guard is represented here by Jay Lynch and Gary Whitney (with some hit-and-miss Phoebe and the Pigeon People) and Howard Cruse with a three-pager that is probably the most depraved and disgusting thing he's ever done (feel those oats, Howard!).

The return of Snarf after a six-year absence didn't do much for sales, as Dave Schreiner (Kitchen Sink's other editor and author of Kitchen Sink Press, the First 25 Years) reported that the 10th issue "sold poorly." Which is a shame, since the anthology came back with some solid comics and gave a few future comic-book big shots some early-career exposure. Both Schreiner and Denis Kitchen recognized that Snarf could always be counted on for a few thousand sales based on brand recognition alone, and considered the title important for finding and cultivating new comic talent. It certainly did the latter in grand style with Snarf #10.
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keyline
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HISTORICAL FOOTNOTES:
It is currently unknown how many copies were printed of this comic book. It has not been reprinted.
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COMIC CREATORS:

Denis Kitchen - editor
Will Elder - 1, 34 (ad)
Peter Poplaski - 1 (color)
David Standish - 2 (script collaboration)
Jerry Sullivan - 2 (script collaboration)
Skip Williamson - 2 (art)
J.D. King - 3-5
John Eberly - 6 (script)
Mary Fleener - 6 (art), 15-16
P.S. Mueller - 7-9, 22
Chester Brown - 10
Dennis Worden - 11-13
Alan Moore - 14 (ad)
Kate Worley - 17-21 (script)
Reed Waller - 17-21 (art)
Marc Hansen - 23-26
Jay Lynch - 27-30 (collaboration)
Gary Whitney - 27-30 (collaboration)
Howard Cruse - 31-33
Harvey Kurtzman - 34 (ad)
Drew Friedman - 35
Donald Simpson - 36 (ad)
Mark Schultz - 36 (ad)