(Roger Langridge; kaboom!)
As you kind collaborators may know, I’ve had a rough month. I got laid off from my job, got in a car accident, had a very busy Christmas, and am deep into the process of writing a book. Things are hectic for me. Stressful. More than a little bit crazy.
Whenever I’m busy I go back to the things that make me happiest, which means of course that I read some comics. But not just any comics will do. I need comics that are beautiful and whimsical, gorgeously drawn and colored with a life and verve and energy that brightens my day.
You guessed it, of course: I loved Abigail and the Snowman #1.
This is the latest comic from New Zealand genius Roger Langdridge, of whom I’ve been a fan since his earliest stuff (anybody other than me ever pick up a comic called Leather Underwear? It’s much less racy and lacy than you think it might be). You probably know the man from his thoroughly delightful work at Marvel, and if so, you have some idea what you’ll find here, especially the almost otherworldly charm and the delightful drawing style. But what you might not expect is the pain below the surface of this frothy mix. There is worry and anger and more than a little bit of the outside in Abigail and her dad (not to mention the giant outsider on the run who’s half of this comic’s title) and that helps keep things grounded in a very special world.
What about the rest of you? How did you enjoy your time with young Abigail?
I think you said it perfectly, Jason. This comic is beautfiul and whimsical and gorgeously colored and will help brighten the day. I started my day yesterday by reading Abigail and the Snowman #1 and the day continued to just, be ok.
There is a lot hiding under the surface, like you mentioned, with Abigail’s transfer to a new school and her father’s recent job loss. The thing I like the most about this comic is how the characters react to the trying times. Abigail seems to have some trouble fitting in with the other children at school and at the park, but it doesn’t seem to bother her. She shrugs it off and is completely comfortable in her own skin playing with her imaginary dog, Claude. I love that. So many kids are told that they have to act certain ways to have and keep friends, but Abigail is able to truly be herself and her father is ok with that. It’s a great lesson that I hope to remember hang onto when my wife and I eventually decide to have kids.
There’s no mention of a mother in this story, which makes me think this family has experienced tragedy in the past that has shaped the relationship that Abigail and her father have. They joke and play, argue and squabble, but there is always love and understanding between them. The imagination and creativity behind this book is gleaming and I can’t wait to see how new Claude (the Yeti) plays into this family…not to mention those agents.
I’m a little disappointed that we can’t make this an actual slugfest, but I’m in complete agreement. Abigail and the Snowman #1 was a delight to read. It seems that Jason and Michael have covered it. From the genuine pathos of Abigail’s incomplete childhood and lack of friends to the delightful cartooning of Roger Langridge, this entire issue is a joy to read.
I’m going to take this opportunity to regress a little bit and revel in my instinctual reaction to this issue. When I first saw Abigail marching across the playground scowling at her fellow schoolmates, I recognized her as a character to which I was instantly drawn. When she is shown playing with imaginary playmates and being ridiculed by classmates, that’s a story I can recognize. Throw in a father who is simultaneously attempting to keep his head above water while sympathizing with Abigail’s struggles and… It’s the sort of tale that I can’t help but love. This is a story that strikes emotional chords for me and still manages to hold all of the allure of a simple children’s book.
I think that’s the real joy of Abigail and the Snowman at its beginning. It simultaneously holds the wonder and joy of a fantastic journey, but doesn’t attempt to bury pathos within the confines of a yeti. Instead, it chooses to reveal the struggles of a family and imbed them in this fantastic journey. I am a big fan of children’s stories that see families overcome difficult circumstances. A large part of that comes from my own history, but it also comes from the fact that there’s no reason why all ages comics can’t tell stories filled with both pathos and joy. This is a great start that establishes both and makes me care about Abigail, her father, and this strange Snowman that has wondered into their lives.
OK, I got it. Ready? The one nitpicky problem with this book. It reminds me of dozens of other stories. I won’t say it’s derivative, because it’s not, but I can definitely see where it’s going. It feels like Lilo & Stitch, it feels like every Disney movie where the little girl inexplicably has no mother, it feels like Monsters Inc. It hasn’t done anything that’s really unique yet. Is that an actual problem? Honestly, probably not. I don’t care that it feels like something I’m familiar with, because it’s just so gosh darn enjoyable to read.
You know what I really like about kids? There’s this thing they do, where they pretend something is real, and they know that it totally isn’t real, but on some really important level it feels real. When kids have a stuffed animal, for instance, and they know that they’re only pretending the conversation has two sides, but it also feels like their relationship with their toy is real and important. Or with Abigail, with her dog Claude. The way she admits to Specimen 486 that Claude isn’t “real like you.” I really love the way this book captures the realness of the pretend games from childhood. I love it.