100 Days, 100 Comics #42: ‘Snake Oil’ #3

Snake Oil #3As a follow-up to Snake Oil #2, I was anxious to see where this series was going to go. It’s obviously the work of someone with an eye for the basic Understanding Comics mechanics of sequential narrative, which has a made each of Chuck Forsman’s books I’ve picked up so far an engaging read.

Three issues into the title now, the name seems to be gathering some semantic moss, which in turn has affected the contextual evolution of Forsman’s symbols and characters. If Snake Oil references back to old-time faux medicines and placebos whose power comes from their salesman’s showmanship and presentation, you really get a sense that Forsman’s referring to the comics reading experience that goes on between the panels — something that isn’t really there but is imagined and gains its power through the act of communication and inspiration alone.

From that perspective, the recycled elements such as the hairy igloo monster, psycho skinny Zangief (Street Fighter II reference there) fellow and minotaurs all have histories now, and now populate a small David Lynchish community of recurring threads. The beauty at work is really how well Forsman pares each scene down to a raw action or minimalist sequence of moments. In fact, as is the case with the minotaurs in the woods, what you don’t see if often more powerful that what you don’t see.

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