Roger Langridge is the creator of Fred the Clown and Knuckles the Malevolent Nun, he wrote and drew BOOM! Studios’ The Muppet Show comic book, and wrote Marvel’s Thor: The Mighty Avenger. His new project, Roger Langridge’s Snarked!, debuts in August from Kaboom!, BOOM! Studios’ all ages imprint. Westfield’s Roger Ash recently got in touch with Langridge to learn more about Snarked!
Westfield: Snarked! is inspired by the work of Lewis Carroll. Will you be drawing from all of Carroll’s work?
Roger Langridge: Not everything – I haven’t read much of Sylvie and Bruno (I’m sure there’s some good stuff in there, but I can’t get through the affected baby-talk), and the mathematical stuff is right over my head – but I’ll be freely cherry-picking bits I like from wherever, yes.
Westfield: What do you enjoy about Carroll’s work and what makes it good for translation into comics?
Langridge: I’m a huge fan of the whole absurdist/surrealist streak that runs through British comedy, and indeed British society in general. There’s a wonderful tolerance of eccentricity here – celebration of it, even – that I respond to, and I suspect a lot of cartoonists respond to, growing up with our noses in books and imagining fantastical other realities as we did. Carroll’s work is the epitome of that. Pushed to the highest degree, really – where does eccentricity end and madness begin? Hard to tell in Carroll’s work. It’s smart, witty stuff, too, which I like – you appreciate the books in one way as a child, and in a completely different way as an adult, picking up on all the allegories and references and very black humour at that point. In terms of his influence on the wider culture, Carroll has been hugely significant, as well – you can see his influence in everything from Monty Python to Doctor Who. Knowing your Lewis Carroll gives you a way in to so many other things. So there’s that.
As for translating it into comics, well, the books are heavily visual already – not just lavishly illustrated by John Tenniel (and later by Arthur Rackham, Ralph Steadman, Tony Ross and many, many others!), but visual in its actual text. In Alice in Wonderland, for example, the Tale of a Mouse is told in words formed into the actual shape of a mouse’s tail. So a lot of the heavy lifting in translating the work to a visual medium has already been done. And the sheer physical variety of the characters is incredibly rich! You’ve got walruses and eggs and fat twins and kings and queens and dodos all bumping into one another. It’s a cartoonist’s dream come true.
Westfield: Will Snarked! be adaptations of Carroll’s work or will it be new stories featuring his characters?
Langridge: It’s my own story – a big sprawling thing, though each issue will stand on its own as well. I’m using Carroll’s work as a point of inspiration, but it’s not an adaptation or a sequel or anything like that, any more than my old Frankenstein meets Shirley Temple strips were an adaptation of the work of Mary Shelley. I’m just liberally borrowing ideas from Carroll’s work to flesh out my own fevered imaginings. I like the idea of taking something familiar and doing something original with it – and Carroll’s work has proven over the years that it can withstand a lot of reinterpretations. Snarked! is certainly neither the first nor the last in that regard.
Westfield: What can readers look forward to in upcoming issues?
Langridge: Adventure, laughs, my appalling poetry, a plethora of Carrollian references, and hopefully a lot of heart! The big, overarching story will recount the adventures of the new Red Queen, Queen Scarlett (aged eight) and her young brother Rusty as they go on a quest to find their missing father, linking up with one Wilburforce J. Walrus, genial con-man, and his none-too-bright carpenter stooge, Clyde McDunk, along the way. The relationship between these characters is proving to be a hoot to write – the young royals are thrown together with the Walrus and the Carpenter by circumstances beyond their control, so there’s plenty of friction there, always a great source of fun character interaction. And, as the title suggests, Snarks may be involved in some way. (Or possibly Boojums. I couldn’t possibly comment.)
Westfield: Are there any other projects you’re working on that you’d like to mention?
Langridge: I’m currently doing a short Jim Henson-related thing, adapting a Scandinavian folk tale for Archaia’s Jim Henson’s Storyteller anthology called Old Nick and the Peddler. And my web strip, Mugwhump the Great: The Show Must Go On, is heading towards its conclusion at ACT-I-VATE.com over the next few weeks. Who knows, that may be collected at some point.
Westfield: Any closing comments?
Langridge: Only to say that I’m very excited to be working on the project – I’ve spent twenty years trying to get to the point where I’d be writing and drawing my own, non-corporate-owned stuff for a living, so Snarked! is something of a dream come true for me. If even just a little bit of that enthusiasm comes through, you’re in for a fun ride!
And don’t miss Roger Langridge: The Show Must Go On SC, also from BOOM!