Snake Pit 2007 by Ben Snakepit

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Snake Pit 2007
By Ben Snakepit
Microcosm

Of all the many hats one must wear in order to execute an effective diary comic, perhaps none is more important than that of editor. Let’s be perfectly honest with ourselves here—most of us lead fairly dull, repetitive existences. The same thing applies to the vast majority of those who write autobiographical strips—if not more so. After all, most professional cartoonists spend a large percentage of their time slaving away under the lamps of their drawing boards or huddled around sketchpads, honing their craft. With rare exceptions—like, say, Joe Sacco—comic book artists lead a very un-Hemingway-like existences.

Boiled down to their true essence, how many of our days would read something along the lines of: “This morning I ran a few errands. Then I went to work. I came home and got stoned”? Ben Snakepit certainly has more than his share. The above, for the record, was transcribed verbatim from the Jan 29th entry of the artist’s latest book. A full collection of last year’s strips, there are plenty more strips along those lines, which, one imagines, were Snakepit to pull out during a book reading at the local Barnes & Noble, would be something akin to performing a dramatic reading of a grocery list.

There’s something baffling in this equation, however. Somehow, even in the overwhelming face of the modern world’s overpowering doldrums, Snake Pit continues to be one of the most entertaining diary strips around.

Part of this phenomenon, naturally, can be chalked up to the fact that the strips are more than a simple three daily bullet points. It is, after all, a comic strip, and as such, the artist includes the requisite corresponding images and text bubbles, where necessary. Taken alone, however, this is not the sole culprit. While Snakepit does occasionally reveal himself to be a more well-rounded artist than he often lets on, the art included in this volume largely adheres to the simple cartoony sketchbook style he laid out in his earliest strips.

What Snake Pit does possess, however, is a remarkable consistency, both in terms of style and the author’s strict adherence to his strip-a-day mission—a cursory scan through the book’s pages doesn’t reveal a single missed day. This regularity, it turns out, is one of the major root’s of Snake Pit’s magic. The book’s charm lies not strip-level (though, for the record, those strips that involve Snakepit’s ladyfriend, Karen, can be downright adorable). Read individually, between the rock tours and the occasional vacation, they oft delve into the aforementioned doldrums. Read in clumps, however, the book’s power is far clearer, painting a picture of not only the life of a real human being, but the nature of a modern existence. Progress in life is gradual—sometimes painfully so, but, much like the ebbing and flowing of Snakepit’s facial hair over the course of the book, it’s a constant.

Snake Pit
doesn’t subscribe to a highlight reel-style execution like many of its contemporaries. The artist’s strip, like his life—like all of our lives—is comprised of a million throwaway moments. Try as we might change our ways, or merely simply forget about them, when taken together, they reveal the true nature of our existence.

–Brian Heater

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No Comments to “Snake Pit 2007 by Ben Snakepit”

  1. Rickey Purdin | July 28th, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    I’ve been reading Snakepit for over three years now and you perfectly nailed what it is I find so endearing about the book. It’s hypnotic sometimes in that constant progression.

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