With issue #5, Snelson: Comedy is Dying comes to its close. The story sees Snelson mature somewhat while it brings the thesis behind the series to a conclusion. Writer Paul Constant keeps the heart of the story at the forefront while allowing for some jokes; at the same time, artist Fred Harper delivers some of his best work of the series. Additionally, it is an Ahoy book, so there are extras from the likes of Kek-W, Robert Jeschonek and Kirk Vanderbeek.
Issue #5 is great because it puts Snelson in the kind of dramatic situation needed to close out the series. After all the problematic things he’s said and done, it’s here that we see how he reacts to the consequences of his own actions. A shooter namedrops him, directly placing Snelson’s ‘gimmick’ at the heart of a tragedy.
This raises its own point about violence and how seemingly harmless words can lead to very tangible pain. Importantly, Snelson reacts. We see how he responds and how he grows. The series has been building to a point like this where it’s no longer a joke. There’s no “I didn’t mean it, I’m a comedian” to hide behind now. But things get worse for Snelson when his response to the shooting leads to a former ‘fan’ arriving at his apartment with a gun of his own.
What follows is a superb story by Paul Constant that rides the line between comedy and tragedy. There’s humor throughout, of course, but it’s delivered in such as way as to never divert attention away from the argument of the series. Not many books are as mature as this one, which can seem like an odd statement to make given the opening issues.
Fred Harper’s artwork has been a constant throughout the series, and here, his work is as good as ever. Harper shines throughout the issue and makes the wordiest of pages a joy to read with his style. As far as creative teams go, this is a great one and with any luck they’ll work together again.
As good as the issue is, it’s unfortunately not perfect. The commentary of the series has been on point throughout, but there have been minor problems, one of which is more obvious here. As a social commentary kind of book, some of its commentary is very on the nose. Fred Harper’s cartoonish style works great when it’s juxtaposing a serious critique of toxic masculinity, but it at times the plot mirrors Harper’s art.
Snelson: Comedy is Dying is the kind of book that’ll make a great point on one page and have some readers rolling their eyes in the next. But it aims high. Taking on topics as vague as the “dying breath of the entitled white male toxicity” while responding to the alt-comics of the ‘90s is no mean feat. While the commentary doesn’t always land clean, it’s worthy of admiration regardless.
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