SNELSON: COMEDY IS DYING
Writer: Paul Constant
Illustrator: Fred Harper
Publisher: AHOY Comics
WHAT IS IT?
In this hilarious social satire graphic novel, a washed-up 90s comedian attempts to make a comeback and whines about cancel culture.
It's like the glory seasons of satirical The Simpsons episodes meets The King of Comedy.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
We first meet the infamous Melville Snelson waiting in line for a reunion concert. A fan recognizes Snelson and drops the words every older comedian loves to hear: "I was a big fan of yours." And that's who Snelson is now: A former semi-famous stand-up comic from the '90s who decides he's sick of being a has-been.
Desperate to redeem himself after years of failure and a sexual scandal involving a relationship with a minor, Snelson makes a comeback on tour with a group of young up-and-coming comedians. When he suddenly receives a phone call about a tumor, he realizes his reputation can't get any worse and begins using his set to shout about how "cancel culture" is supposedly silencing people in the comedy sphere.
Does an alt-right podcasting career await the "canceled" comedian suddenly gaining massive popularity for expressing his opinion that he isn't allowed to express his opinion anymore? Does Snelson have fatal cancer? Is comedy truly dying? Find out more about the poor white man in peril in Snelson: Comedy Is Dying!
Writer Paul Constant employs a critic's and journalistic eye for viewing the world around us, which thrums throughout every sentence of the attention-grabbing dialogue in the narrative.
Fred Harper's art is nothing less than extraordinary. Snelson is an unmoderated satire and Harper exaggerates facial features to the extreme, amplifying the element of hyperbole the comic's plot hinges upon.
You rarely see such a varied color palette in a single comic trade. Lee Loughridge takes full advantage of using gorgeous gradients and differing hues for each issue/chapter to complement the narrative tone.
Rob Steen's lettering always stands out because of its legibility and perfectly spaced kerning. Thank you, Mr. Steen.
Speech bubble placement always works with the spacing in the panels, especially in scenes where multiple people in Snelson's group are talking in the car or his friend taps him on the shoulder and the speech bubble appears under the illustrated hand.
I've been a fan of Paul Constant's work ever since reading Planet of the Nerds a few years back. The snappy dialogue and attention to consistent characterization while writing rounded characters in Snelson only increase my appreciation for Constant's writing style.
The fact that a serialized storyline and plot twists occur beneath the surface of comedic jokes, obvious satirical commentary, and general absurdity is a testament to the skill of Snelson's entire creative team working in tandem.
Fred Harper's artistic style will be instantly recognizable to readers after engaging with his talent in this graphic novel. Characters emote in Snelson with too-close-for-comfort angles and almost 3-D-like close-frame illustrations.
It's hard not to read the comic in one sitting because you think there's no way it can say more about controversy and its apt topics, but every last issue throws a new surprise in to demand its readers keep turning the pages.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Content Warning: This comic is for mature audiences and those who can enjoy satire. There are depicitons of sex, vulgarity, language, graphic violence, and a smartly on-the-nose mocking of comedians with huge platforms ironically decrying "cancel culture" inside these profanely funny pages.
Everything about Snelson feels extreme, but isn't the obsession with claiming someone's voice is being "silenced" every five minutes on Twitter also extreme? Nonetheless, Snelson's humor and thematic material is tailored to a specific adult audience.
If you're looking to avoid thinking about the numerous comedians, politicians, etc. who are currently involved in sexual misconduct allegations, I would caution you when reading this comic. Though filtered through a satirical lens, these issues can definitely be triggering for certain readers.
Though I understand the prolonged sex scene, it felt a bit drawn out, in my personal opinion.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Why should you read Snelson: Comedy Is Dying? Because there's nothing like this comic on the market. Sure, there may be similar stories flitting around, but Snelson is especially fitting as far as relevancy, exaggeration, and acting as a critical lens toward poignant social culture. There hasn't been a lot written (at least to my knowledge) about the comedy side of "cancel culture" specifically. Yet, Snelson utilizes the satire genre with hilarity and assuredness.
Each chapter of Snelson: Comedy Is Dying can be likened to a serialized comedy television show or connective pitch-perfect SNL sketches. Fred Harper's visual work includes sight gags and an overzealous appearance that ties the comic's narrative humor together.
Melville Snelson is a character you'll love to hate. Snelson: Comedy Is Dying will make you chuckle, cringe, and sigh with slight irritation that Snelson's behavior is hardly satire at this point. Hopefully, you won't be dying from laughter by the last page!
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Planet of the Nerds by Paul Constant & Alan Robinson
Hashtag Danger by Tom Peyer, Randy Elliott, & Chris Giarrusso
Billionaire Island by Mark Russell & Steve Pugh
If you like the art:
Daredevil: Typhoid's Kiss by Ann Nocenti, Steve Lightle, James Fry, and Fred Harper
Dirtmeister's Nitty Gritty Planet Earth by Steve Tomecek & Fred Harper
Penultiman by Tom Peyer & Alan Robinson
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Paul Constant – Writer (@paulconstant)
Prolific: Paul Constant is a co-founder of The Seattle Review of Books. He has written for The Progressive, Newsweek, Re/Code, the Utne Reader, the Los Angeles Times, the Seattle Times, the New York Observer, and many North American alternative weeklies.
He has worked in the book business for two decades, starting as a bookseller (originally at Borders Books and Music, then at Boston’s grand old Brattle Bookshop and Seattle’s own Elliott Bay Book Company) and then becoming a literary critic.
His other work for AHOY includes prose and short stories, writing the backup Snelson comics in Hashtag: Danger, and penning Planet of the Nerds.
Fred Harper – Illustrator (@deadredfred)
Fred Harper has illustrated stories for DC Comics Marvel Comics, DC Vertigo, and AHOY Comics.
Prolific: He went on to do illustrations for White Wolf and Magic the Gathering as he transitioned to magazine illustrations for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time, The Week, SPORT, The Sporting News, Muscle and Fitness, Men's Health, Muscular Development, and Sports Illustrated.
He is a freelance artist who resides in New York City.
Lee Loughridge – Colorist (@leeloughridge)
Prolific: Lee is a comic book colorist who has been working in the comic book industry for decades.
He is most well-known for his work on the Batman Adventures titles from DC Comics.
Award Winner: Lee was nominated for the International Horror Guild Award for best illustrated narrative in 2001 for his work on the comic edition of The House on the Borderland. He was also nominated for a Hugo Award for his work on Fables; War and Pieces, and was recognized for his work with a Comics' Buyer's Guide Favorite Colorist Award nomination in 2004.
Rob Steen – Letterer (@RobSteen4)
Rob is the resident letterer at AHOY Comics. You can’t pick up an AHOY issue without finding his name!
Prolific: He has lettered for all major comic book companies like Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image, Valiant, to name a few.
Award Winner: Rob illustrated a children’s book series called Flanimals, written by Ricky Gervais. They won the Galaxy British Book Award in 2007 for Children’s Book of the Year.
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All Snelson: Comedy Is Dying characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Paul Constant, Fred Harper, or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED