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  • Writer's pictureC.M.Knopf

Politics has Gone to the Dogs

| MAYOR GOOD BOY introduces fart jokes to the tradition of Good Government Comics.|

Mayor Good Boy, the new kids' graphic novel from RH Graphic by Dave Scheidt and Miranda Harmon proclaims,

The votes are in! The new mayor is... A DOG?!
Mayor Good Boy is ready to make change!


With foes around every corner trying to ruin his campaign of fun, will he still enjoy a future full of belly rubs?

The town of Greenwood seems surprised that its new mayor is a sleepy, cheese-gobbling, dog... But most of the residents don't really mind all that much, with the exception of one very cranky, loud, and devious "old man." When Mayor Good Boy's election night is disrupted by heckling, two outgoing children - Abby and Aaron Ableman (yes, they are very able) - immediately come to the nervous pupster's aid, landing them positions as junior mayoral aids.

To this Gen-X reader, the story seemed to follow the formula established by Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel in the 1990s and 20-aughts: precocious children (who somehow don't seem to have to go to school) saving the day from implausible disasters, the trouble they cause along the way being quickly forgotten by the somewhat clueless adults surrounding them; lots of gross-out gags about smelly feet, burping, and passing gas; and a smattering of sarcastic witticisms, random silliness, childish pranks, and plenty of junk food.

At times, it looked as though the book was nothing more than a humorous story of what amounted to a prank war: Mayor Good Boy's main detractor attempting to derail the canine mayorality, and Abby and Aaron trying to thwart the cranky old man's plans. But, like any typical children's book, it had its concluding moral. The story eventually advocated for community, cooperation, and civic engagement.

The smart, but insecure, Abby discovered that even a kids like her, and her gross little brother, could make a difference in their community and made an appeal for other children to do the same.

At the end of the 200+ page book, kids find step-by-step guides for drawing the main characters and then encounter "The Mayor Good Pledge," entreating them to promise to "use my bark more than my bite," to "help make my community a better place," to "remember that being different is what makes me special," and to "always root for the underdog"... as well as to "try to fart less than a hundred times a week." Abby and Aaron Ableman then "show you how to contact your representatives" because in a democracy everyone can make their voices heard.

Such messages were quite common in comics of the 1950s and 1960s. Civically-produced floppies entreated people to vote.

Commercially-produced floppies celebrated the American political system.

The government, civic fraternities, and political organizations used comics to remind people of the importance of voting, to reaffirm faith in democracy, and to oppose Communism.

But, despite a common perspective of comics as children's literature, most of these Good Government books, unlike Mayor Good Boy, were not aimed at children. In fact, they asked their adult, voting-age, readers to vote in their children's interests.

The smelly socks and fart jokes of Mayor Good Boy not only reach out to audiences in ways these stodgy, propagandist, comics could not, but they are also reaching an audience these earlier comics ignored.

Or, maybe, Mayor Good Boy is simply trying to tell us that politics stink.

~Christina M. Knopf

11 September 2021


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