Continuing in our Meet Your Creator series, we bring you Scott Stantis, creator of "Prickly City", celebrating its tenth anniversary. For this blog, this is our first contribution by an editorial cartoonist. Scott is out of Chicago and incorporates his Windy City edge into his work and his writing. Enjoy!
How the Hell did I get here?
One thing it wasn't was fate. Unlike so many of my fellow cartoonists, I did not grow up wanting to be a cartoonist. As the fourth of four boys born to a former concert singer and pianist and a television executive, I was going to be a doctor. Until I discovered that the sight of blood made me sick.
Later, I had changed my mind and decided to go into law with an eye towards a career in politics. While there I noticed the cartoonist for the campus newspaper was, in a word, awful. I thought, "I always liked to draw," so I walked into the newspapers office and asked if I could give it a try. They say sure. I drew the cartoon, which ran in the next edition. It was love at first sight; a love affair that has now spanned over three decades.
This was the late "÷70's. Editorial cartooning was in its heyday with the likes of Jeff MacNelly, Mike Peters and Doug Marlett rising to the level of rock stars. In addition to their Pulitzer Prize-winning political commentary, they all drew successful comic strips. Jeff did Shoe, Mike still draws Mother Goose and Grimm while the late Doug created Kudzu. This seemed like the template and I was determined to follow it.
Along the way, there were other jobs and other comic strips, but those were all detours that took me to the place I am now.
Prickly City was born of my desire to do a politically themed comic strip. Tying in the environment of the desert came naturally as I had lived in a small town in Arizona for a number of years and fell in love with it. The idea that there is an ecosystem that is designed to poison, kill and eat every living thing seemed the perfect metaphorical landscape for a strip dedicated to the lethal practice of politics.
The main characters, Carmen and Winslow, were a way for me to vent a political agenda in a palatable way. Because they are a cute little girl and her coyote pup pal, I could have a harsh message delivered in an adorable package.
Kevin the Lost Bunny of the Apocalypse was a one-off character I used early in the strip. Then, I kind of forgot about him. Years later, I needed a character who could illustrate the deepening insanity of our political discourse. Kevin has become the perfect conduit. In many ways, he has taken over the strip, a development I didn't see coming. (I have to admit, whenever I heard other comic creators talk about a character doing this, I thought they were nuts. I don't think this any more).
While I am libertarian/conservative by nature, I try to poke at anything I think is stupid. Much of what the Republicans have been spewing lately is enough to make my teeth itch. The Democrats have always had that effect on me. So many are surprised I don't march lock-stepped with the conservative speaking points du jour. I think for myself and wholly expect my readers to do the same. This leads to a lot of confusion in this age of Fox News and MSNBC.