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excellent writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 3total score 9
Back Cover
Back Cover
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Snarf #8
Only Printing / October 1978 / 36 pages / Kitchen Sink Enterprises

By October 1978, the alternative comics era was already in utero, with independent comics like Cerebus and American Splendor percolating the zeitgeist, plus a slew of sci-fi/fantasy comics (The First Kingdom, Star*Reach, Andromeda, Hot Stuf', et al) bumping shoulders with Heavy Metal. Still, none of these were radically different or blazed distinctly new trails as a form of comics, but when Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly launched Raw in 1980, somebody had finally done something both outlandish and innovative with the rebellious spirit and freedoms wrought by underground comix. Raw set the comic-book paradigm on its ear, the alternative comics era was born, and like a child it gradually blossomed into the magnificent adult it is today.

So why mention this in a review of Snarf #8? Well, only because of a very brief and seemingly innocuous appearance by Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly on the inside front cover of this issue. They supply a single, four-panel strip called "A Slice of Life, with Art and Françoise" that is instantly reminiscent of the "art zine" look of Raw. The strip comes well over a year before Spiegelman agreed to help edit Raw with Françoise. It's merely a blip in history, but I was excited to find it. It's especially significant when I consider how Snarf became one of only a handful of underground comic series that successfully transitioned from being a true underground to a true alternative comic title, thereby joining Raw in the same league.

Though it's not quite in that league yet, Snarf #8 does have some terrific comics to offer, beginning with Howard Cruse's fairly breathtaking parody of Little Lulu that leads off the book. Though Little Lulu had already been effectively spoofed years earlier in Bijou Funnies #5 and It Aint Me Babe Comix, those were feminist takes on our shopworn adolescent heroine. Here, Lulu is a young adult who is haunted by nightmares of her childhood, seemingly focused on the heinous Mr. McNabber, the local truant officer. As the story quickly evolves, it becomes evident that the true source of Lulu's trauma is her own parents and their abusive child-rearing tactics!

Trina Robbins follows with "Lulu Goes to Paris," though the importance of her Lulu is entirely unrelated to the more famous Little Lulu. Robbins spins a tale of international intrigue featuring an American heroine named Lulu cleverly foiling evil Nazi plots with a little help from her French Resistance friends. Great entertainment illustrated in Robbins' dashing and luscious style.

After Steve Stiles continues the socialist theme with a wisecracking one-pager about Joseph Stalin, Sharon Kahn Rudahl takes it even further with the five-page "The Dying Swan," which also takes place in Nazi-occupied Paris! Rudahl's solemn tale is about an aging ballerina named Alexandria Levantina, who gets caught up in the consequences of the Nazi's seizure of Paris and is betrayed by her young protégé, the beautiful Odette. Unlike Robbins' story, "The Dying Swan" focuses on how the small repercussions of war can lead to a life-changing tragedy, which makes this powerful little story worthy of multiple readings.

Justin Green follows all this Nazi business with a one-pager called "Zen Time," which is about a Tibetan monk who is soon departing for an extended meditation in the wilderness. The monk yearns to meditate on the "special spectrum" of color that represents immortal light, so before embarking on his journey he asks his master to describe that specific color. The rest of the story is inherent to the punch line, but rest assured that Green delivers a special page of isolation.

Steve Stiles follows Green's "Zen Time" with a one-page Zen lesson of his own, entitled "Piece O' the Action!" It's every bit as funny as Green's story and even more complicated to explain, so go get the book!

Joel Beck gets us off of this crazy Nazi/Zen merry-go-round with his three-page "Love Story!" It's the fateful tale of a young couple whose passionate love affair changes their lives but coincidentally sets off an extended series of tragic events. Beck manages to rescue a perfectly happy ending that, in light of everything that actually happened, may not seem quite so perfect after all.

After a couple more one-pagers, Doug Hansen joins the Snarf family and contributes "Ten-Speed Tommy," in which a boy and his dog prove that it pays to remember that speed limits save lives! Kim Deitch closes the book with "Keep 'Em Flying," a five-pager about Deitch himself undergoing hypnosis. Yes, that is a scary thought, children, but Deitch makes it clear that the limits of hypnosis are nothing compared to the limits of his own imagination.

Snarf #8 maintains the recent strategy of including a lot of artists in each issue, and the net result here every bit as good as Snarf #6. The series hits a new high with this outstanding edition and will be hard pressed to improve upon itself with future issues.
Kitchen Sink printed approximately 10,000 copies of this comic book. It has not been reprinted.

Denis Kitchen - editor
John M. Pound - 1
Kim Deitch - 2, 32-36
Art Spiegelman - 2 (collaboration)
Françoise Mouly - 2 (collaboration)
Howard Cruse - 3-6
Trina Robbins - 7-14
Sharon Kahn Rudahl - 16-20
Justin Green - 21
Steve Stiles 15, 22, 27, 31
Joel Beck - 23-26
George Erling - 28
Doug Hansen - 29-30
Ellen Magee - 36 (color)