EXIT STAGE LEFT: THE SNAGGLEPUSS CHRONICLES #3 Rumination - "Everyone knows you're a Sugarfoot"
Updated: May 21, 2020
• DC Comics (Publisher)
We open the issue with Snagglepuss and Huckleberry Hound on the Moe Franklin Show. The opening panels seem inconsequential but give a lot of insight into Snagglepuss and the motivations behind his work. He goes on to explain the difference between theater and television.
Snagglepuss says that "Television is about creating Stars while the theater is for the development of actors"". The difference he says is that a star shows people who they wish to be while an actor shows them what they truly are.
The segment ends and we see Snagglepuss relaxing at a pool. Peter Potamus calls him irate because his new actor is terrible and has issues reading lines. Puss tells him he will deal with the situation and ends the call. Shortly afterward Snagglepuss receives another call from his friend Arthur Miller. Arthur swears Snagglepuss to secrecy and needs him to come over.
Snagglepuss agrees and upon arrival, we find that the secret is that Arthur been having an affair with Marilyn Monroe. He's afraid that her beau, Joe Dimaggio will kill him. Somehow Joe has found out that Marilyn has been messing around with a playwright. The plan is to have Puss cover as the guy that Marilyn has been spending her time with. When Snagglepuss asks why him, Marilyn chimes in and says "because everyone knows you're a Sugarfoot."
Joe Dimaggio sits in a diner explaining to the attendant what he sees in Marilyn. He says that while he's famous at the end of the day he will always be seen as an immigrant. There's a difference between being loved and belonging. Marilyn is America's sweetheart, everyone loves her. Joe postulates that Marilyn represents everything he will never be and that he will kill the guy she's seeing. Joe is interrupted by Marilyn as she sneaks up on him. Seeing Snagglepuss instantly defuses the situation. After leaving the diner, Snagglepuss calls Arthur and tells him to never ask him to do anything like that again.
Huckleberry Hound asks if everything is okay. Puss says he's fine and that he wants to take Huck somewhere. Snagglepuss asks Huck what he thinks of New York and Huckleberry says that he's lonely and wonders aloud how a city with so many people can feel so lonely. Snagglepuss tells Huck that people come to New York either disappear or to live the life they were always meant to. With this statement, they enter The Stonewall Inn. Huck is flabbergasted that a place like this can exist. Snagglepuss tells him that it's the only place like it in New York, possibly even the world.
Snagglepuss meets up with his lover, Pablo. They enjoy each other's company until Pablo gets excited by the armed resistance in Cuba, his home country. Snagglepuss tells Pablo that he's happy that he isn't out there fighting. Pablo takes exception to this statement. He tells Puss that what he really means is that he should be grateful that he's a kept man and other people are fighting for him. Pablo storms off angrily.
Snagglepuss and his wife Lila visit the old Judge in the retirement home from last issue. Puss tells his wife that the Judge has a son in theater. She asks what projects that his son is working on. The judge says that they don't talk anymore since his wife died. The judge says that his son was the one that killed her.
The judge then tells her that his wife was sick and lived to hear her son speak to her about his day and all of the things he had seen. The boy eventually left to find his place in the world and left behind a note saying that he had to leave or the situation would have destroyed him.
After leaving the hospital, Puss and Lila attend a party and meet Huck and his new boyfriend. Huck tells Snagglepuss that he may be in love and that he has never had a place where he could be at ease with himself he also lets Puss know that he may be in love.
Snagglepuss runs into Marilyn again at the party. She apologizes for the situation with Joe and they talk about her relationship. She says that Joe's sadness draws her to him but he never allows her to be herself and that being Marilyn all the time is exhausting. She says she didn't intend to be a star, she just wanted to act but realized that men either worshiped Marilyn or salvaged her. She says she doesn't know how long she can go on being Marilyn and that's what drew her to Arthur. He allows her to be herself. She doesn't even think that he's seen any of her films. Snagglepuss leaves and thanks her for allowing him to see the part of her that she keeps hidden from the world.
Snagglepuss goes back to his set and we find that the actor that Arthur that was having problems with earlier was a young Clint Eastwood. Snagglepuss tells Clint that he doesn't think that he should be an actor but he does have a future as a star in the business. He leaves Clint with the line that "People remember a good actor, but a star is someone you never forget."
The book cuts back to the Moe Franklin show. Snagglepuss postulates that we need stars in the same way we need God. We see in them the moral simplicity that we lack in ourselves. Snagglepuss then reveals that the purpose of his plays is to admire people in their broken complexity.
"Every character should be loved if only by their creator because we are all loved despite each of us being despicable in our own way".
When I first glanced at this issue a few weeks back I didn't love it. It seemed like a cheap story in the vein of "Forrest Gump". A romp of Snagglepuss interacting with the celebrities of 50's New York. I picked up the issue again a couple of weeks later and fell in love.
The main theme of this issue is identity. Do we hide our identities out of fear and adapt the persona projected upon us by the world or do we learn to accept our flaws and carry on with our lives.
The parallels of the identity theme are drawn in the presentations of Joe Dimaggio, Marilyn Monroe and Huckleberry Hound.
Huck appears to be on the verge of suicide until he is presented with the opportunity to finally be himself, a homosexual man after visiting Stonewall.
Joe Dimaggio is ashamed of his family history. His personal insecurities attract him to Marilyn. Upon finding her, he objectifies her by placing her on a pedestal. He doesn't even know her outside of the Marilyn persona.
Marilyn is being torn down by the constant objectification from Joe and the industry at large but stays with Joe because he needs her, Marilyn. This gives her some fulfillment but not enough to keep her happy which leads her into the arms of another man.
Arthur would obviously be better for her but because of her status as a star, Marilyn embraces the identity that is assigned to her. At the end of the issue, we see a shot of Marilyn and Joe on their wedding day. In the context of the issue and her real-life, we know the outcome of Marilyn's story. Life is too short to spend it wearing someone else's skin.
The tragedy of life is that we often end up spending so much time trying to make everyone else happy that we end up miserable or depressed by the weight of the "Role". We essentially become actors in our own play. This is what Snagglepuss means when he says that in theater we see a person as they truly are.
Who is at fault? Is it society for placing the individual in a box or the individual for allowing it to happen?