If you grew up watching Hanna-Barbera cartoons, you are no doubt familiar with the big pink mountain lion named Snagglepuss who always wanted to become a stage actor. As most fans of comics know, DC teamed up with Hanna-Barbera for a series of titles updating famous cartoon properties like The Flintstones, Wacky Races and Scooby Doo with their own comics. One character to get his own book is Snagglepuss, who appears in the six-issue series Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles.
If you’re expecting the silly, light-hearted mountain lion of the cartoons, guess again – Chronicles takes things seriously. Set in 1950s America, in a world where anthropomorphic animals are simply part of society, Snagglepuss is a gay playwright who, because of the times, is in the closet. He does, however, have a close circle of friends and colleagues who know, including his wife (also a mountain lion) and his good friend Huckleberry Hound, who re-enters Snagglepuss’ life after being outed and forced to leave his wife and child.
The story is treated with the gravity that the setting deserves and does not ignore historical elements. Because he is well-known and there are rumors about his lifestyle, Snagglepuss is called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities to testify and officials attempt to coerce him into creating patriotic plays for “good Americans”. Events of the time are shown, such as the execution of the Rosenbergs, and celebrity relationships are depicted, like that of Marilyn Monroe, Arthur Miller and Joe DiMaggio.
Chronicles is a well-written, well thought out and engrossing piece of writing that won’t get the attention it deserves because it’s “just a comic”. But it is worth reading for the parallels in the world today and seeing how things may not have come as far as we hoped. It’s a shame that it took a big pink lion to make such a statement and that there are so few issues in the series to get the message out.