Mayor Good Boy – Dave Scheidt, Writer; Miranda Harmon, Artist
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: What do you get when you combine a hard-hitting political satire with the fluffiest dog around? You get Mayor Good Boy, the delightfully bizarre new all-ages graphic novel from Dave Scheidt and Miranda Harmon. Focusing on a pair of siblings, ambitious and awkward Abby Ableman and her hyperactive and gross little brother Aaron, the two get involved in politics for the first time when their town elects a new mayor. That would be the titular Mayor Good Boy, a furry and rambunctious talking dog with a love for cheese.
I like that this book has zero interest in exploring any of the bigger issues here. Why can this dog talk? That’s just a thing, no one seems surprised about it. How did a dog get elected mayor? No one knows, just go with it. Even though Mayor Good Boy (the only name we’re given for him) talks and has human intelligence, he’s very much a dog—he sleeps most of the day and needs to be bribed with treats to give his opening speech. But for such a lighthearted concept, this book has a lot on its mind.
As soon as Mayor Good Boy gives his first speech, a crowd of unhappy onlookers who voted for the opposition start to cause trouble. One rabble-rouser, a surly old man with a violent streak, manages to gin up a riot that actually feels oddly reminiscent of the other time a group of violent goons tried to overturn an election through force. They’re foiled by a wacky scheme involving Aaron’s toxic-smelling socks, but the crisis forces Mayor Good Boy’s advisor Monica to make some changes—and that includes bringing in the young siblings to help the mayor reach out to the people.
From there, the story takes on a lighter tone as the Mayor enlists the kids to do good deeds around town, representing the Mayor’s office and making the town better. Aaron often causes more trouble than he solves, such as a wacky series of events at the zoo that lead to him releasing a monkey that stole his chicken nuggets and accidentally causing a stampede. But there’s a very good message about how to be a good politician here—it’s often about the unglamorous hard work of making a town a better place.
While this is definitely an all-ages book, it has more ambition than the younger-skewing books from the line like Pizza and Taco. It has a clear narrative, with a villain that—while definitely appropriate for a kids’ book—goes a lot further to unseat his hated candidate than one might expect. He even engages in a form of biological warfare—very itchy biological warfare. And while his enmity towards Mayor Good Boy is never quite explained, it’s clear he just doesn’t like the idea of a dog as mayor and his signature line, “Send that dog back to the pound,” has some very clear echoes of other bigots.
Overall, Mayor Good Boy is better than a book about a dog Mayor has any right to be. It’s a surprisingly savvy satire that will work as a fantastic way to introduce kids to the concepts of politics, citizenship, and bigotry. It also has some laugh-out-loud moments that will make the educational elements easier to swallow. It’s one of the best books Random House Graphic has put out yet.
GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.