Roger Langridge is a British (New Zealand born) comics and webcomics creator whose mind and pen… well, wander a bit, and delightfully so. He is best know for his whacked-out character Fred the Clown and his webcomic Hotel Fred, both of which are more a playground for Langridge’s fertile imaginings than a coherent story in the usual sense.
Langridge has a style that seems “cartoony” on the surface, but is in fact quite sophisticated. His strong clean lines and carefully chosen color (sometimes bright, sometimes in subtle monochromatic palettes) are at once graphically strong and charmingly whimsical; and his drawings are just a treat for anyone who enjoys good comics and cartoon art. His work looks great in black an white too, handled with deft use of patterns and hatchings that show a fine command of the textural language of pen and ink drawing.
Langridge’s comics reveal a genuine fondness for (and knowledge of) the great comics artists of the past. Nowhere is this more evident than in FRED THE CLOWN – An Illustrated History, Langridge’s hilarious and dead-on send-up of every “History of Comic Strips” book or article you’ve every read. The “history” features a pastiche of Fred strips as if done by RF Outcault, Winsor McCay, Max Fleischer, George Herriman and Robert Crumb, among others! His work reveals influences from a host of cartooning and comics greats: E.C. Segar, Cliff Sterrett, Will Elder, Wally Wood, B. Kliban…, the list goes on.
In his affection for the great newspaper strips and comic books of the past, and in his exploration of the paneled language of comics as elements of graphic design, Langridge treads some of the same ground as Chris Ware, but with a decidedly different bent (and bent is the operative word). My mental thesaurus is coughing up words like “zany”, “wacky”, “loopy” and “off the wall” in an ineffectual attempt to describe his excursions into comics’ loonier territory.
The Comics page of his site features links to the Fred weekly comics, an archive of his attempt at a daily comic and PDF Minicomics that you can download free. For some of the best stuff, though, pick up on the terrific print versions of his comics, including Fred the Clown, his anthology of stuff from Zoot and The Collected Knuckles the Malevolent Nun. Yowzza!