The Hunting of the Snark: An Agony In Eight Fits

A comic review article by: Ace Masters


It's nonsense

Nonsense I say

Chasing a Snark any day

Is a fool's way!

The Hunting of the Snark is a classic "nonsense" poem written by Lewis Carroll, the master of "nonsense" literature and author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Of course if you didn't know that, you might be able to guess it upon reading The Hunting of the Snark, as it is written in a similar, if darker, style.

This edition of The Hunting of the Snark is published in a graphic novel format by MelvilleHouse and features stunning illustrations by Mahendra Singh. If you are not familiar with The Hunting of the Snark, you need not be to enjoy this presentation. If you are familiar, even intimately, there will still be new discoveries awaiting you in the form of Mahendra Singh's illustrations.

The Hunting of the Snark tells the story of some very odd characters (a Bellman, Baker, Banker, Butcher, Beaver and more) who set out on an odd journey to search for a Snark -- whatever a Snark is. The story and plot is as nonsensical as the verse itself. The story seems to go nowhere, yet at the same time it goes everywhere at once.

Like any good story, the oddball characters themselves also go through a personal journey. A nonsensical journey, of course, of course. Each of them is different in some way when the poems end, affected by their hunt for the elusive Snark.

While Carroll's poem is truly a gem of nonsense, the real story of this edition is Mahendra Singh's illustrations. Mister Singh has captured in his illustrations the flavor, style and pure nonsense of Carroll's poem. The artwork is as dazzling as it is nonsensical. The illustrations have their own style, look and personality that perfectly capture and compliment Carroll's nonsense verse.

The portrayal of the characters themselves is just short of brilliant. Each character is distinct, with their own look and personality. No one character can be confused with the other, and each has the own importance to the art that mirrors their poem counterpart. In particular the Bellman, the leader of our Snark hunters, is a commanding character in the poem, and when he appears on the page, bell in hand, his presence is dominating, but does not overwhelm the page.

The poem and the illustration are pure nonsense. That point cannot be beating home enough. But what is the point of the nonsense? The point of Singh's illustrations is quite clear – to bring to life in some way the nonsense and give it form.

What of the poem itself? Just what is a Snark and why are they hunting it? Is there a meaning or point to it? Carroll himself wrote that he didn't know if it had a meaning. Maybe that in itself is the meaning.

Young and old should pick up The Hunting of the Snark, An Agony in Eight Fits by Lewis Carroll, Illustrated by Mahendra Singh, read it for themselves and see what meaning they can discover.

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