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DC Comics to Turn Hanna-Barbera’s Snagglepuss into ‘Gay, Southern Gothic Playwright’

Last year, DC Comics began releasing a series of comic books re-imagining several Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters and updating them for the modern era. DC has reimagined such TV cartoons as The Flintstones and Scooby Doo, and now the comic book giant is taking aim at Snagglepuss for a new series that will turn the character into a “gay, southern gothic playwright.”

Snagglepus was a giant, pink, anthropomorphic cat introduced in 1959 that hit kids’ cartoons years before the Pink Panther debuted (1963). But Snagglepuss was far more chatty than his pink cousin, sporting catch phrases such as “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” “Exit, stage left,” and “Heavens to Betsy.”

Few noticed anything strange about Snagglepuss when he appeared on such Hanna-Barbera cartoons as The Yogi Bear Show and The Quick Draw McGraw Show, but years later, gay activists decided that the character’s flamboyant and theatrical tendencies meant he was secretly gay.

It is the latter impression of Snagglepuss that DC Comics is to focus on for its new Snagglepuss comic book.

The homosexual storyline was confirmed in a recent interview that series writer Mark Russell gave to HiLoBrow.com. Russell, who also writes The Flintstones reimagining, revealed that the new Snagglepuss will be gay.

“It’s Snagglepuss sort of reinvented as a gay Southern Gothic playwright,” the writer noted.

Yeah, it was not much of a stretch at all. I envision him like a tragic Tennessee Williams figure; Huckleberry Hound is sort of a William Faulkner guy, they’re in New York in the 1950s, Marlon Brando shows up, Dorothy Parker, these socialites of New York from that era come and go. I’m looking forward to it; that’s what I’ll do after The Flintstones. [Russell’s contract in the gravel pit is for 12 issues.] I’ll go right from that into Snagglepuss.

The HiLoBrow interviewer added, “I’ve long admired the affirmative gayness of Snagglepuss.”

Russel replied, saying:

Yeah, it’s never discussed and it’s obviously ignored in the cartoons ’cuz they were made at a time when you couldn’t even acknowledge the existence of such a thing, but it’s still so obvious; so it’s natural to present it in a context where everybody knows, but it’s still closeted. And dealing with the cultural scene of the 1950s, especially on Broadway, where everybody’s gay, or is working with someone who’s gay, but nobody can talk about it — and what it’s like to have to try to create culture out of silence.

Russell also noted that the new comic will present Snagglepuss as being persecuted for being gay.

“Yes, in fact, an eight-page sampler … it’s about Snagglepuss being dragged in front of the House Committee on Un-American Activities!” he said.

Russell also pointed out his underlying reasoning for doing these comic books.

“I think it’s always good to criticize the time you’re in by putting it in a different time and place, because people aren’t as likely to take it personally,” he said. “That’s really what all science-fiction is; it’s satire set on a different planet or in the future, so people can read about themselves objectively.”

Russell didn’t say how presenting a pink lion being persecuted because he is gay is a commentary on today since being gay raises few eyebrows these days, especially in the entertainment media. In fact, in many ways, being gay is far more often portrayed as a badge of honor.

The new Snagglepuss comic is set to debut sometime in March of this year.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com.

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