Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #1:
Where are we in the Multiverse? I’ll start each journey log with this question. However, in this case, there’s not a clear answer to that. Since the resurrection of the Infinite Earths in Dark Crisis, Snagglepuss’ world could be part of the greater DC Multiverse, but, if it is, it hasn’t been catalogued or given a designation yet (though I could be wrong there, so please let me know if I am).
Anyway, I really liked this issue a lot. I’ve read Mark Russell’s work before and have particularly enjoyed his takes on Prez and Superman: Space Age. This also gave me the chance to read a comic that I normally wouldn’t have. I knew that these alternate takes on the Hana-Barbera characters existed, but I just don’t have enough interest in the characters themselves to seek them out on my own. This was a reminder to me that you shouldn’t always be so limiting as you can miss out on some interesting things like Snagglepuss reimagined as Tennessee Williams during the Red Scare.
At least, I believe that Snagglepuss most closely resembles Tennessee Williams in this series. I see a lot of parallels between the talking, pink cat and the legendary playwright: Roots in the south, secretly homosexual, and experiencing the height of their popularity around the Red Scare. For those that don’t know, the Red Scare lasted from about 1947 until about 1957 and involved the US House Un-American Activities Committee hunting down and often ruining the careers of suspected communists and, mostly, targeted those in show business or had some other claim to fame. This IRL rampage of paranoia didn’t just stop at suspected communists, though, and branched out into other parallel witch hunts like the Lavender Scare that sought to root out suspected homosexuals in society. The issue ended with the suggestion that things would be headed that way for poor Snagglepuss.
I enjoyed how the story utilized these real life events and alluded to the things that helped bring them about. I also really, really enjoyed the parallels set up between the Red Scare hearings and entertainment. The issue begins with a couple who may have lost a pair of tickets. At first, you believe they’re tickets for Snagglepuss’ play, but, later on, we find out that they are tickets to watch the execution of the Rosenbergs, a real life couple who were convicted of spying for the Soviet Union and executed (I should note that the guilt of Ethel Rosenberg is, to this day, being debated). This is Russell pointing to the real reason the Red Scare and its parallel witch hunts were able to thrive for so long: People found it entertaining. As terrible and barbaric as it seems, people were willing to cheer on as Congress ruined the lives and careers of famous people because it was something to watch and be invested in. This issue was amazing. It could send me off on a million different rants regarding the history and politics, but this is only the first stop on my journey, so I’ll leave it there… for now.
So, I would love to read more of Exit Stage Left, and maybe I will someday. But, that’s not how this method works. The point of this method is to hop around different DC titles to uncover continuity mysteries or to find similar plot threads or even just to learn about a new series. So, the next leg of this journey can’t be Exit stage Left #2, it needs to be a different series that Exit Stage Left leads me to in some way.
Now, there’s not an obvious jumping off point in Exit Stage Left #1. An obvious jumping off point would be something like an editor’s note referring me to a specific issue to read. That’s okay, though. We can just stream of consciousness this. In that regard, my mind can see two potential branching points for what to read next. The one I’ve decided to stick with is the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Snagglepuss is far from the only famous character the Committee has tried to mess with. Famously, they also went after the Justice Society of America in Adventure Comics #466 in the story titled “The Defeat of the Justice Society!” That will be my next stop and I’ll return once I’ve taken it. In the meantime, please feel free to share your own thoughts on Exit Stage Left or any of the themes it explores.