Snake Oil 1 & 2 by Chuck McBuck [Forsman]

Last year I met Chuck McBuck at SPX. He was such a nice guy, and when he said he made comics and had some inside, I got a little nervous. What if his work was really bad or embarrassing? What if his work had giant balloon tits or ninjas in it? He led me over to the CCS table he was helming with Alex Kim and handed me a stack of comics made with creamy papers and stinky inks. I needn’t have been worried.

In April of this year Snake Oil 1 appeared in my mailbox. SO1 is number one of the two parts that make up McBuck’s CCS thesis. It begins with two trash men in a diner. Tim is heartbroken (and looks familiar…) and Bob is hungry. Soon Tim will feel much worse.

Later, we meet nice-guy Bob’s goth son Darryl and Darryl’s angry, lustful friend Kim. They are bored and decide to smoke some weed out of a pipe Darryl finds in his house. Kim starts without him and will soon feel much worse.

All the story threads end up as cliffhangers in SO1. Normally this would be incredibly annoying, but the differing landscapes that Mc Buck creates keep the plot from being an overwhelming element and keep your eyes on the pages exploring the art. The black and white pen drawings render policemen and buffalo thugs equally well.

The little touches in SO1 (endpapers that include elements from the stories strewn in a mysterious weed-filled lot, beautifully done title panels, the melancholy back-up story and the cover’s graphic eye-tease) made me excited for number 2 and called for a reread in between the issues, a must for a series where issues come out sporadically.

Both cover colors of SO2 are striking, but the blue called out to me. The plot pushes the characters further into distress and one of the mysterious characters is revealed. My favorite chapter (?) is a one-pager called simply “Darryl” that, in four panels, shows us more about the character than pages of dialogue could. Besides a few standout panels, such as the chorus of meows in “Pretty Kitty” and Bob and his wife waiting at the door in “Slow Down,” the art in this issue was less innovative. While I liked the writing in the back up story, I didn’t really enjoy looking at it.

Overall, Snake Oil reflects McBuck’s keen eye for creepy detail and a knack for pacing that much older artists should be envious of. I am really looking forward to see what he does next.

Happy Ignatz(s)

[Yes, try harder readers, you have seen this one before. All upcoming reviews will be Inkstuds-exclusive, I promise.– Carrie]

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