Snake Oil #5: Wolf
Chuck Forsman, writer/artist
I think there’s something on the verge of being really, really good here. Forsman’s wispy, hesitant line and Segar and Gray by way of Chester Brown and Sammy Harkham character designs can at times feel a bit unmoored against his backgroundless panels–I never quite buy their physicality. But it’s a lovely style, one that makes his characters instantly sympathetic, particularly the hefty, good-natured title character with his wilted mohawk and Sears uniform, but also even the abrasive, adenoidal types with whom he interacts. And that in turn is key to making the umpteenth “’80s ennui among the Great American Nowhere’s lower middle class” comic you’ve read feel, if not fresh, then at least deeply felt rather than a report from a rear-view mirror. Several of the moments Forsman selects to highlight in this day in the life are really astutely observed and wincingly sad, recognizable to anyone who’s overstayed their welcome in suburbia with shit jobs, fast food, small-hours onanism, and well-meaning reprimands from the family with whom he’s saddled himself. (Take that either way you want.) The ending in particular killed me, and I could return to the page where Wolf eats a burger and fries by himself over and over. Forsman clearly has enough control over line, pacing, and story that this is the sort of comic you read as much for the promise of future ones as for this one itself. I look forward to that future.