Abigail and the Snowman #1-3
Abigail and the Snowman is exactly what it says on the tin — a charming all-ages adventure between a girl and her fantastic friend.
Abigail and her dad are new in the neighborhood. Dad’s a good-humored electrician who’s just gotten fired from his new job, so while he applies to find work, Abigail works at fitting in to her new environment. Joining a new school is tough, so when no one wants to play with her, she shrugs and pets Claude, her “invisible dog”.
It’s not a focus of the book, but I really enjoy Abigail and her father’s relationship. He encourages her imagination and clearly deeply cares for her. He believes in her and keeps a good attitude while still being honest with her. He’s a dream parent, but still realistic. It’s refreshing to see, and it’s a wonderful basis for the sense of humor throughout the book.
Similarly, it’s not clear whether Abigail really believes in Claude, or whether she’s entertaining herself instead of settling for being bored, or whether she’s just nicely imaginative. That’s not a complaint; it’s recognition that it might be all of these things, and a compliment as to the complexity author Roger Langridge is putting into a “kids’ book”. Regardless, it prepares her for meeting a yeti, whom she also names Claude.
He’s able to make himself invisible to adults, but the kids can see him. And, suited to Langridge’s approach to comedy, he’s wearing a jacket and tie and smoking a pipe. He’s like your dream uncle from the 1950s. He’s escaped from government captivity, which provides the conflict, since two bumbling men-in-black are pursuing him.
Ladgridge’s cartooning is, as always, astoundingly good. The characters are animated, with strong senses of personality and movement. He builds rich environments quickly with just the right images. The characters show themselves through visuals, both in design and action.
Issue #1 sets up the meeting between the two title characters. In issue #2, Claude (the yeti) comes home with her before she takes him to school, making for some lovely, funny sequences. This installment is setting up the coming showdowns, giving us emotional background to care about what happens.
Issue #3 ramps up the action, as the big bad guy is revealed, and we see how the pair decide to proceed. Skilled wordless sequences demonstrate both Abigail and Claude’s friendship and his history. I’m also touched by the back-and-forth between Abigail and her dad. He’s protective, but he’s also willing to let her make decisions and take action. It’s the most surprising (and pleasing) part of the book for me.
This month’s issue #4 will conclude the short series. I’m eager to see how Langridge next astonishes me. Also, read his commentary on issue #1 to learn even more about how beautifully he assembles a page.