DC Comics has been reviving old Hanna-Barbera characters like Fred Flintstone and Scooby-Doo in more contemporary forms. The latest cartoon update: Snagglepuss.
Flintstones writer Mark Russell and artist Mike Feehan will present the fey pink mountain lion as “a gay Southern Gothic playwright” in Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles, a new six-issue DC Comic series that launched this month.
“It was not much of a stretch at all,” Russell told HiLoBrow. “I envision him like a tragic Tennessee Williams figure; Huckleberry Hound is sort of a William Faulkner guy and they’re in New York in the 1950s. Marlon Brando shows up, Dorothy Parker—these socialites of New York from that era come and go.”
Snagglepuss debuted on the Quick Draw McGraw Show in 1959 and later got his own segments on The Yogi Bear Show. While he was never explicitly revealed to be gay, his mannerisms, speech and attire were coded in mid-century America.
There won’t be any doubts about the character’s orientation in the book, which co-stars Huckleberry Hound.
. But he’ll still be hamstrung by social mores.
“It’s natural to present it in a context where everybody knows, but it’s still closeted,” says Russell. “And dealing with the cultural scene of the 1950s, especially on Broadway, where everybody’s gay, or is working with someone who’s gay, but nobody can talk about it — and what it’s like to have to try to create culture out of silence.”
An eight-page “Snagglepuss” story already debuted in March, as part of the Suicide Squad/Banana Splits special, It detailed his being dragged in front of the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
It’s not lost on Russell that his Snagglepuss tale parallels the current political climate.
“It’s very easy in a time of national catastrophe—of perceived national catastrophe—to throw people under the sink and forget about them, and Snagglepuss is unwilling to let them do that to people he knows and loves,” he says. “In a lot of ways, that frees me up to say what I think about what’s going on in the world now, just putting it in the context of 1953 America.”