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average writing
competent art
historical bonus 2
total score 5
Snapper 1 _ Snapper 2
Snapper #1
Snapper #2

1973-1975 / Artists at Large
Why do I have to review comic books like Snapper? Is it really worth it for me to put so much effort into studying long-forgotten comics like Snapper and being forced to come up with an objective critique and qualitative evaluation? After all, it's nothing but a two-issue, forty-year-old series that virtually no one has ever heard of before and few will ever seek out. And yet, I can't ignore that it's also an indelible chunk of underground comix history and must be included on this site.

I mean, just judging these books by their garish covers, I figure this title is probably an amateurish piece of crap with little redeeming value. And yet, on the other hand, it could also be a work of genius and clearly ahead of its time. Right? RIGHT??!!

Like so many of our precious undergrounds, Snapper (as well as its primary creator, Gregg Miller) does not exist on virtually any of the billions and billions of web pages on the internet. So there's really no way for me to provide you with much background on the book, the publisher, nor the creator. So what can I tell you?

Well, I can tell you that Gregg Miller was (and perhaps is) an artist and poet who lived (and perhaps lives or is buried) in San Francisco. He must have known Gary Arlington at Arlington's legendary comic-book store San Francisco Comic Book Company, because in 1972 Arlington printed 500 copies of the 4x4-inch, 24-page poetry book Ragu #1, for which Miller wrote seven pages of poetry and produced the front cover art. Miller must have enjoyed seeing himself in print, because he subsequently self-published Ragu Too (#2), another tiny 4x4-inch book that exclusively features his poetry and his fairly brilliant six-panel comic story about talking birds called "Beaks."

With his thirst for seeing his own work in print still unquenched, Miller spent considerable effort to produce not one, but two comic books that he titled Snapper and self published in 1973 and '75. Along the way, he recruited two or three friends to provide a few pages of additional material for his books.

That's what I can tell you. To my knowledge, as of today Gregg Miller has not resurfaced from humanity to publish any other notable works. He's not the first person and won't be the last to experience a similar career arc in comic books, and I've certainly reviewed other artists who flashed across the underground scene for only brief moment in time before fading into obscurity. And so it is with Mr. Miller.

So what of Snapper? As a casual fan of underground comix, should you rush out to eBay and buy one of the handful of available copies of either issue for $5?

Well fuck yeah, you should! By the third page of the first issue, you'll see a drunk, young couple fucking in public on a dining table in a trendy San Francisco restaurant. The story after that is about the trial of an admitted rapist who is found not guilty. Not long after that you'll witness a literal depiction of Christ on a crutch during a drug hallucination. By the time the book closes, you'll know that Gregg Miller was probably on speed for most of the time he was creating (or thinking about) Snapper #1. The second issue offers nearly as much fun, as it delivers a bizarre side story about the Watergate scandal and a hallucinogenic Alice in Wonderland parody. As any fan of undergrounds would tell you, this is all comedy gold.

So why the mediocre review scores for Snapper, you ask? Well, despite the good intentions, Miller screwed up on multiple levels, not the least of which was being too stoned for his own good. Some of his writing and plotting is a bit inpenetrable, at least for the sober, and it would've helped if he'd studied a little more in art school (if he ever went to art school) instead of shooting up with his pals under various bridges.

The net result of Snapper is a relatively sloppy outcome after visions of great potential. Gregory A. Miller (aka Gregg) had ambitious motives for putting out his two comic books, but he didn't put in the time and effort to make them more than what they are: clumsy comics that never fully realize the concepts that propelled their creation.

Snapper is a measurably flawed comic series that deserves whatever criticism may be cast towards it, but it's not a comic title that should be entirely ignored by history. The first issue in particular offers far too much interesting content to be overlooked, despite its awkward method of delivery.