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snarf5
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excellent writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 3
total score 8
Back Cover
Back Cover
(click for larger image)

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AVERAGE SCORE 10
Snarf #12
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Only Printing / June 1989 / 36 pages / Kitchen Sink Press
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I'm not sure what motivated Kitchen Sink to come out with Snarf #12 just a few months after the previous issue, but perhaps they felt that sales of the title might improve if fans didn't have to wait years between issues. Or perhaps they just kept unearthing new talent and felt they had to find an outlet to promote it (indeed, another half-dozen creators make their debut in this issue). Whatever the reason, it was commendable that Kitchen Sink gave Snarf a fairly regular publishing schedule and a fighting chance to find an audience before they killed it off for good.

#12 kicks off with a pseudo-autobiographical three-pager by Howard Cruse that depicts him as a little boy who bred a batch of tiny comic-strip Nancies as family pets. Yes, to clarify, they were miniature Ernie Bushmiller-type Nancy clones that hatched like Sea-Monkeys, which Howard was able to purchase through a mail-order ad. The story gets rather depressing pretty fast, but "Raising Nancies" gets the book off to a decent start.

Wayne Honath (aka Wayno) makes his first appearance in Snarf long before he even changed his nom de plume to Wayno. Honath gets a couple one pagers and they're both quite funny, as is virtually everything I've seen him do. Wish I could say the same about P.S. Mueller, as his four-pager featuring a sadistic clown falls short. Mueller's been pretty good up to now, so I'll grant him a pass on this one.

Some young whippersnapper with the funny name Foolbert Sturgeon does a six-pager.... Okay, I couldn't fool you—you know I'm only kidding about the whippersnapper part. Foolbert Sturgeon is the legendary pen name of underground legend Frank Stack, 51 years young, who revives his classic Jesus character for his first appearance in Snarf. The story is called "At Home with Jesus" and I'm not kidding when I declare that Stack hasn't lost a step in nearly three decades of creating comics. "At Home with Jesus" is a whimsical take on Jesus as a middle-aged husband stuck in the rat race with too many bills and too little luck. Thank God he can always talk to "the old man" and see his fortunes turn. Right? Right??

Steve Toornman, who had his debut in the previous issue, returns with a couple of one-pagers in Snarf #12, the first being excellent and the second being competent. Perhaps I identify all too well with "Art School in the Seventies" and not well enough with "The Mile!"

Mark Landman also returns for another computer-generated comic story called "The Man with the Autonomous Tongue," which is literally what the story is about. Once again, Landman proves to have a talent for comics writing that adds much-needed physicality to his digital compositions. Landman's skill set with the computer rapidly improves over the next few years, and by the time he was producing Fetal Elvis strips for Blab, the quality of his computer cartooning had reached exceptional levels (and this was in the early '90s with early '90s computers and software: Landman was quite the blazing pioneer in this niche).

Jim Siergey also debuts in this issue with his one-page "Waiting For Gummo" comic, which had been previously published as an eight-page minicomic in 1985. The story is loosely based on Samuel Beckett's absurdist 1953 play Waiting for Godot, in which two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, wait endlessly for the arrival of someone named Godot. In Siergey's story, the Marx Brothers assume the characters in the play: Groucho is Vladimir, Zeppo is Estragon, Chico is Pozzo and Harpo is Lucky Not surprisingly (in my estimation), it's quite funny...though very, very tiny.

Siergey, who was a major contributor to the minicomics industry in the '80s, went on to co-produce the very successful comic strip Cultural Jet Lag, which appeared in alternative press publications and (in a slightly toned-down version) as a regular feature in Time magazine from 1997 to 2001. Siergey was prominently featured in Fantagraphics' Newave, a thick little hardbound book about minicomics that I always enjoy perusing.

Joe Matt comes up with four more pages of his intensely autobiographical comics, of which only four are outstanding. Haha, see what I did there?

Harvey Pekar gets three pages of his own intensely autobiographical comics (and yes, three are outstanding), illustrated by the immensely capable Gary Dumm, with a guest appearance by Robert Crumb. "What Superman Means to Me" provides Pekar with a chance to reiterate his disdain for superhero comics while also deprecating his weakness for being self-serving.

Sharon Clayman and Al Via collaborate on a one-and-a-half-pager about a woman who gets her high heel stuck in an elevator shaft, much to the inconvenience of everyone who works in the 10-story building. It's quite the entertaining narrative, but I have to wonder why the hell the woman didn't just step out of her shoe and break the damn thing off herself.

Snarf #12 closes with its first-ever fan letter page, which is dominated by a letter from an atheist who hated Dennis Worden's "Fundamentalism" and must rant about it endlessly. Fortunately, Kitchen Sink gives Worden a chance to respond to the letter with his own rant (touché Mr. Worden).

This issue of Snarf is another strong one and introduces some talented new creators to an already powerful roster of artists and writers. Oh, and I forgot to mention that Richard Corben produced the front cover art! It's an uncommonly non-sci-fi/fantasy cover for Corben and almost feels like an homage to another era.
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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 - co-editor
Dave Schreiner - co-editor, 2 (introduction)
Richard Corben - 1
Howard Cruse - 3-5
Wayne Honath (aka Wayno) - 6, 23
P.S. Mueller - 7-10
Frank Stack (aka Foolbert Sturgeon) - 11-16
Steve Toornman - 17, 24
Mark Landman - 18-21
Samuel Beckett - 22 (script)
Jim Siergey - 22 (art)
Joe Matt - 25-28
Harvey Pekar - 29-31 (script)
Gary Dumm - 29-30 (art), 31 (art collaboration)
Robert Crumb - 31 (art collaboration)
Sharon Clayman - 32-33 (script)
Al Via - 32-33 (art)
Dennis Worden - 33 (art)
Rand Holmes - 34
Ernie Bushmiller - 36 (ad)