Porcellino, John – The Collected Prairie Pothole

June 13, 2022


The Collected Prairie Pothole

Oof, alternative weekly newspapers. So spectacularly important in my formative years, and so rare to even see out in the wild any more. Sure, that was pre-internet, but their general cohesiveness (despite sometimes being all over the place in terms of politics) is just about impossible to describe. That was my first time discovering Dan Savage, Tom Tomorrow, Life in Hell (Matt Groening’s early work before Simpsons, although he kept it up for awhile during that run), Sonic Youth, Fugazi, political views that ran lefter than left… all from those newspapers. Why am I strolling down memory lane? This is a collection of John’s weekly strips that ran in The Reader, a Chicago alt paper, in 2019. He has a lovely introduction in this describing his own journey with that paper, and how much of a dream come true it was for him to get the gig. He also, sadly, went into it knowing that comics were always the first things to get the axe in those papers, so he wasn’t surprised when the strip itself only lasted four months. But it turned out that he loved using that format, so he kept it going for awhile and behold! A new comic from him, even if you do live near Chicago and read the first half of these as they came out. These are all four panel strips, but full page, not the usual cramped version. This is where I usually run into that brick wall in my head that doesn’t want me to spoil a thing from a new John Porcellino book, but I figure the least I can do is list a few of the topics covered to give you some sense of what it’s all about. There’s an absolutely horrifying prank on his sister (assuming you feel the same way about earwigs that most humans do, i.e. complete terror and revulsion), an album review of a recording of 92 different frog sounds, skunk encounters, trying to figure out the deal with Meat Loaf before the internet was around for reference, seeing Frank Sinatra live, a decidedly odd breaking news alert (just the fact that local programming would be interrupted for such a thing), and him sending his dad to buy his Black Flag records back in the day. Also a whole lot more, but I already gave away more than intended, as this is a game that I just cannot win. I guess the only drama here, since you already know that I’m going to recommend every issue of King Cat when it comes out, is whether or not this new book is a shocking stinker. And… no! No, it is not. It’s more great work from a guy who should be mandatory reading whenever anybody is arrested for hate crimes, as I don’t see how you could read his stuff and stay angry at anything. Yay, I solved racism! $6