Prickly City by Scott Stantis begins as sort of a philosophical strip much in the style of Calvin and Hobbes, but shortly after it’s debut, it evolved into a political strip which lights up the comment sections of newspapers with calls for it to be banned.
It is interesting to note that other political strips, most notably Doonesbury get similar comments as well and has for decades longer than Prickly city. I am usually not a fan of political strips as the subject matter of recent events quickly dates the material, and it is very easy to cross the line from humor to commentary as Prickly city does on occasion.
However, there are good things to be said about the strip. The two characters are very well defined and actually have a good chemistry together. When Stantis steps off his soap box and focuses on popular culture, his humor can be hilariously biting.
It must be difficult to keep political humor fresh and exciting without being overly harsh, but in this collection, Stantis walks the fine line with ease and keeps his comic grounded and funny without being overly insulting to people of a differing political opinion. It works, only because of the relationship between Carmen and Winslow. They have the sort of childhood innocence that Calvin shared with Hobbes, and from that innocence the philosophical humor becomes less political and more general in tone.
That being said, this is a political strip and during the election year, that is what it is all about. I would not recommend this comic to anyone on the left side of the isle that is easily offended, but it would be shame for them to miss it. There is a gentle innocence to the strip which can be enjoyed by anyone.
This is the only physical collection of Prickly City, there are several more available through digital media such as Kindle, but the first book is the only one you can buy a hard copy of. This is not uncommon, several of the great strips which started in the comic boom of the 90’s have only seen one or no physical books published of their work. Andrews McMeel publishing put out a lot of the new syndicated books and then stopped when the e-book markets took over, so now even mainstream successful comics are seeing less copies of their books being published and the wait between volumes is becoming longer and longer. Anyone who collects new comics and buys from Amazon know all to well of the constant delays as they push back publication dates.
I am glad to see companies like IDW putting out classic strips in book format now and I hope they will expand the operation and begin taking over the publication of newer strips as well. We can only hope anyway.
In review, if you like political or philosophical strips than you will enjoy Prickly City, it is one of the best of it’s kind. It lacks the subtlety of Pogo or Little Orphan Annie when they ventured into the political arena, but it is a modern strip in every sense of the word. If you like the political humor of the Daily Show or the late night talk show hosts, than Prickly City will be right up your alley. Until next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.