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‘Exit Stage Left!: The Snagglepuss Chronicles’ examines witch hunts, gay persecution

Exit Stage Left The Snagglepuss Chronicles

A satirical comic book that reimagines the Hanna-Barbera cartoon character Snagglepuss as a Southern gay playwright victimized by witch hunts in the 1950s is nominated for an award that recognizes underrepresented minority voices.

A satirical comic book that reimagines the Hanna-Barbera cartoon character Snagglepuss as a Southern gay playwright targeted by witch hunts in the 1950s is nominated for an award that recognizes underrepresented minority voices.

The Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics will be announced Friday at the Comic Creator Conference in Long Beach, an industry event for comic creators.

The award is named for the acclaimed black writer who co-founded the comic book company Milestone Media that introduced black superheroes such as Hardware and Static. McDuffie died in 2011 from complications after undergoing emergency heart surgery.

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SNAGGLEPUSS COMIC BOOK

“Exit, Stage Left!: The Snagglepuss Chronicles” is written by Mark Russell and penciled by Mike Feehan. The comic book is set in the 1950s and features the lovable pink cougar a target of the McCarthyism witch hunts against alleged Communist infiltration in the United States.

In the comic, Snagglepuss testifies in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee, an official Congressional group that was convened to ferret out alleged Communists or Communist sympathizers working in the U.S. government and entertainment industry.

WITCH HUNTS

During this dark chapter of U.S. history, big names in Hollywood were named as potential Communists or Communist sympathizers. However, in a show of solidarity, many stars, including Lucille Ball, Humphrey Bogart, Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, and Frank Sinatra, refused to testify at the hearing and created the Committee for the First Amendment in protest of the fear-based investigation. Many of the accused were blacklisted or lost their jobs, although most did not  belong to the Communist Party.

Mixed into the Snagglepuss story is a glimpse at the struggles queer Americans faced. For example, Snagglepuss attends red carpet affairs on the arm of a lovely pink beard because he fears the personal and professional backlash he could have faced.

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AWARD FINALISTS

Here are the other four finalists for the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics:

Papa Cherry” — written by Saxton Moore and illustrated by Phillip Johnson

Archival Quality” — written by Ivy Noelle Weir and illustrated by Christina Stewart

Victor Lavalle’s Destroyer” — written by Victor LaValle and illustrated by Dietrich Smith

The Carpet Merchant” — by Reimena Yee

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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