There are some comic book titles that have absolutely nothing to do with the comic or only have meaning because there’s an established history to go along with them. If I say a title like the X-Men you know what the series is about due to exposure. Not every comic has this same benefit so often times they come up with complex titles or the other extreme of overly simplified. It’s rare that you have one that’s accurate more than anything else. Snapshots is accurate. It’s also incredible easy to describe to you. It’s a series of painted portraits presented as Polaroid’s. That’s it, just a painted picture of someone or occasionally a thing… with a hilarious caption underneath. Creator Mark Hamer excels at the combination of the two. His paintings are extremely realistic and perhaps even based off of real photos, but his presentation is what makes the paintings realistic and incredible. There will be a time in my life that the word “polaroid” will only be associated with a photo app filter, but for someone that knows what it truly is, Snapshots will speak to them.
Hamer’s imagery captures all the nuances of polaroids from the dull backgrounds to the motion blurs, but more importantly the white frame and dirty edges. There’s a sense of age to these “photos” that really bring each picture to life. The painting is wonderful and nostalgic and without that as the base the captions wouldn’t be as poignant or funny.
The old saying/cliché is that “a picture is worth a thousand words” and I imagine that’s what Hamer was going for with this project. His captions are something that you would read in the Onion or The Far Side they’re that hilarious and magical. The subject of the image rarely has anything to do with the caption and yet they match perfectly. For instance, picture a photo of an award winning dog with its trophy and a caption that reads “He was impossible to live with after that.” Its small hilarious moments like this that never gets tired or draining to continue reading.
That’s all there is to this… comic? I don’t know what to classify it as, but it was funny. Usually when I read a collected series of single panel pages I tend to get tired or bored with it. The repetitive nature of the punch lines leave you punch drunk and just wanting to finish the book to finish it. With Snapshots I not only blew through the 180 pages of content, but I could have done with more. Because you never knew what to expect from the “photos” or captions it made it exciting to turn the page.
For me this book has a wide appeal since it’s really not geared toward comic book fans. Its only goal is to make you laugh and for me it succeeded. I don’t know if it’s something that will end up like The Far Side where you can pick it up later in life and laugh again like it’s the first time you’ve read it or if it’s a one-time deal, but I do think you’ll laugh and that’s sometimes just as important as a moving narrative or the eternal battle of good vs. evil. If you need a laugh or know someone that does, then check it out.
Writer/Artist/Creator: Mark Hamer Publisher: Oni Press Price: $14.99 Release Date: 12/3/13