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solid writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 3
total score 8
Back Cover
Back Cover
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Snarf #9
Only Printing / February 1981 / 36 pages / Kitchen Sink Publications

Snarf finally moves into the 1980s with issue #9, though it took two-and-a-half years since the last issue came out to get there. The indicia has gone from saying the title is published "sporadically" to saying it's published "irregularly." Yeah, you ain't kidding Denis!

#9 gets off to another strong start with Howard Cruse's "Hell Isn't All That Bad!" The post-Barefootz Cruse has developed a richer and more substantial illustration style that helps us forget his old, cloying Barefootz style, freeing him up to take on some terrific topics (although, to be fair, he took on some very interesting topics with latter-day Barefootz as well). This seven-page story provides the account of one man's journey through Hell; although the man claims it's really not that bad, it sure looks like it's as painful as we would imagine! Solid stuff from a newly vibrant comic creator who recently had become editor of Gay Comix (finally acknowledging in print what Cruse had admitted to his friends for years—he is gay).

Rick Geary contributes "Farewell to Charlie Chaplin," a three-page story based in Switzerland in which the author chronicles how he and his friend dig up and steal Charlie Chaplin's corpse (and coffin) from the local cemetary and then demand a ransom from the town's government for the body. The story is told in 27 equally sized panels with a very matter-of-fact narrative. The dry manner of narration and detached, nearly random compositions effectively contrast with the bizarre act of stealing a celebrity corpse, creating a campy atmosphere of absurdity.

Steve Stiles, who a few pages back contributed a flat one-pager about the dead Elvis Presley, comes back for the autobiographic "Yes, It's Me!" It's a five-page summary of Stiles' personal beliefs, milestones, ravings and quirks, presented one at a time in high-action panels. In the end, all of the unique irritations and idiosyncrasies in his life can be assuaged by the common satisfaction of dancing like a fool to a blast of rock and roll, or even the simple act of going to the movies with a friend. We might all be weirdos and misfits with unorthodox secrets or dismal futures, but give us a familiar routine or the company of a good friend and we can all still enjoy the good things in life.

Kim Deitch contributes "Going to the Dogs," a two-pager that illustrates how an alcoholic's nightmare of going to Hell turned out to be a dog's life, which might not be much worse than the life he's already leading.

Joel Beck follows that with "The Trials and Travels of Bert the Penguin," which describes how an eccentric penguin at the South Pole came to feel victimized by humans and decides to venture to America to assimilate with human society. Despite the odd stares and hushed insults from the people he meets, Bert thinks he's finally met his destiny, settles into his new life and begins a family. But when community outrage about his deviant ways culminates in mass hysteria, Bert and his family are forced to flee back to the South Pole.

The point of Beck's seven-page story seems to be that we might think we're destined for a completely different life than the one we already have, but no matter how much we desire that new life or come to enjoy it when we get there, society does not put up with people who don't fit in with our rules and conventions. Then again, Bert seems perfectly happy to vamoose back to the South Pole, so perhaps the point is to chase your dreams no matter what; your life will surely be richer just from the experience.

The one- and two-pagers that fill out the rest of the book are all pretty solid. Snarf #9 doesn't quite live up to the very best issues of the title, but it's yet another solid comic book that easily upholds the high standards of Kitchen Sink. But it would be quite a while before we'd see the next edition of this anthology.
Kitchen Sink Publications printed approximately 10,000 copies of this comic book. It has not been reprinted.

Denis Kitchen - editor, 36
Leslie Cabarga - 1
Robert Crumb - 2
Howard Cruse - 3-9
Steve Stiles - 10, 14-18, 28, 31
Rick Geary - 11-13
Kim Deitch - 19-20, 32-33
Joel Beck - 21-27
Julien Hoge - 29-30 (collaboration)
Joe Schwind - 29-30 (collaboration)
Dan Steffan - 34
W. Prince - 34