Sunday, March 25, 2007

Non Sequitur and Prickly City

Easily, two of the reigning champions of silent penultimate panel usage are Scott Stantis and Wiley Miller. Considering that a good portion of daily Non Sequiturs are single-panel gags, Miller's SPP ratio is extremely high.

When Prickly City debuted in 2004, my first thought was that the girl and animal pair of Carmen and Winslow were a direct rip-off of Non Sequitur's Danae and Lucy. Consciously or not, Scott Stantis created a conservative mirror of Miller's strip. Looking at the SPPs side by side, the parallel is especially apparent.

It is probably fairly obvious which way my political thoughts lean, but it is not because of that that I think Non Sequitur is the better strip. For one thing, the Danae and Lucy relationship , like Calvin and his friend Hobbes, is very genuine. Danae is first of all a lonely girl , raised by a single father, whose one true friend happens to be a talking pony. Like any political strip, that relationship can get lost to bald opinions and straw-man fighting, but Miller does seem to understand that his comic strip ultimately lives and dies by the believability of Danae and Lucy's friendship.

Carmen and Winslow, on the other hand, are just talking scribbles that exist only to be the mouthpiece of Stantis' opinions. We know nothing about Carmen and her likes and dislikes and how she became to be what she is. To be fair, Stantis has tried to add some characterization to Winslow, most notably with the running gag where Winslow tries to fly. But too often, Prickly City is just a slightly more sequential, slightly more sophisticated version of the talking diarrhea that is Mallard Fillmore.

(And it seems that Stantis and Bruce Tinsley subscribe to the same conservative talking points newsletter. They often parrot the exact same obscure argument at roughly the same time. Take these two strips from the past week for instance:


Both Non Sequitur and Prickly City need to cut down on the SPPs, but Prickly City still needs a lot more work to become the classic strip that Stantis is striving for.

(Oh, and about these arguments against the existence of global warming--please just give it up. You don't need to abandon your free-market political views to accept the fact of global warming. You can, in fact, just debate the government's role in solving the issue. It's like this: you can honestly and intelligently debate the need for universal health care, but you can't argue the fact that people get sick.)