For many, the mention of Hanna-Barbera’s cartoon character, Snagglepuss, evokes a wave of nostalgia. With his iconic catchphrases such as “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” and “Exit, stage left/right/up/down!”, Snagglepuss was a staple of Saturday morning cartoons that many recall fondly. But in recent times, this beloved character underwent a transformation, taking center stage in the comic book “Exit Stage Left,” penned by the talented Mark Russell.
A Brief History of Snagglepuss
Before diving into Russell’s reinvention, it’s essential to understand Snagglepuss’s origins. Created by Hanna-Barbera, Snagglepuss was a pink mountain lion known for his distinctive voice, provided by the talented Daws Butler, who based the character’s voice on the Southern accent of Bert Lahr, best known for his role as the Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz.” He first appeared on television in the late 1950s and quickly became a favorite among audiences, mainly due to his comical attempts at leading a sophisticated life despite his wild nature.
Interestingly, while both Snagglepuss and the Pink Panther are iconic pink feline characters, they hail from different creative houses and are distinct from one another. Snagglepuss predates the Pink Panther, who made his debut in the 1963 titular film’s opening credits. They have separate narratives, personalities, and origins but share a similar color palette.
Mark Russell’s Vision of Snagglepuss
Mark Russell, known for adding depth to seemingly straightforward narratives, reimagined Snagglepuss in “Exit Stage Left.” Instead of the light-hearted escapades typically associated with the character, Russell explored deeper themes of identity, society, and the struggles faced by artists.
Set during the 1950s, “Exit Stage Left” places Snagglepuss in the heart of New York City, where he is a successful playwright. The storyline delves into the socio-political climate of the era, touching on the Red Scare and the challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community. Through Snagglepuss, Russell provides a lens into those who dared to defy societal norms, shedding light on their sacrifices, resilience, and the ever-present search for acceptance.
More Than Just Catchphrases
While Snagglepuss’s catchphrases remain integral to his character, they take on a new meaning in “Exit Stage Left.” No longer mere comedic elements, they become poignant reflections of his internal struggles and the world around him. “Exit, stage left/right/up/down!” evolves from a humorous exit strategy to a metaphorical expression of the choices and escapes one makes in life.
“Exit Stage Left” is a testament to the power of reinvention. Mark Russell has masterfully transformed a beloved cartoon character into a complex figure, navigating the challenges of his time. Through Snagglepuss, readers are invited to reflect on issues that, while set in the past, resonate profoundly with today’s society. It’s a reminder that even the most seemingly straightforward tales can be imbued with depth and relevance, making us view old favorites in a brand-new light.