The Cartoonists by Susanna McLeod


Scott Stantis, Editorial Cartoonist and Creator of "Prickly City"

December 30, 2012


What is it that is coursing through the veins of Scott Stantis? India ink? Graphite? Giggle serum? Or perhaps barbs of wit that flow out onto the page? The creator of several comic strips and a leading editorial cartoonist, Scott Stantis has spent his life in the cartooning business. Engaging readers in luaghter and smiles, prodding politicians when they need a good poke, or defining unexplainable sadness, Stantis comments on the insanity of society with the eye of an astute observer. And whatever it is in his blood, he is able to craft great characters and masterful caricatures.


A west coast boy, Scott Stantis was born on May 2, 1960 in San Diego, California. The family moved to Madison, Wisconisin when he was a youngster, making their home in the midwest long enough for Stantis to complete high school.

The family packed up and returned to the sunny coast. Enrolling in art and journalism at the community ocllege in Wilmington, California, Stantis graduated from Los Angeles Harbor College.

At the ripe old age of 19, the blossoming cartoonist sold his first editorial cartoon panel to the San Pedro News-Pilot. Stantis didn't know exactly when the cartoon was to be published. Purchasing a paper on chance on May 22, 1978, he "flipped to the editorial page fully expecting to be disappointed again and there it was," Stantis wrote on the blog on May 22, 2008. "Staring back at me from the page was something I had drawn." He soon received his first cartooning cheque for $10.

Scott Stantis, Cartoonist  
Creator Scott Stantis and his main characters from "Prickly City"  

"Prickly City" Collection

That sealed the deal for the young man. "From that moment to today," wrote Stantis, "it is the only thing I have ever wanted to do for a living."

Stantis grabbed onto the change and ran with it. Climbing up through a series of editorial cartooning positions, the creative humourist worked first at Santa Ana, California's Orange County Register, then moved on to Tennessee and the Memphis Commerical Appeal. He sat at the drawing desk of the Arizona Republic in the city of Phoenix, and the Grand Rapids Press in Michigan.

Then Stantis was "drawn" to Birmingham, Alabama. Landing a post at the Birmingham News in 2006, the political cartoonist settled in for a long and popular run.

Meanwhile during all those moves, Stantis' pen had been busy creating other owrks. "Sydney" was the first comic to spill onto Stantis' page. The strip didn't last long, but Stantis was not daunted.

"Prickly City" Comic Collection, Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2005 © Scott Stantis  

In 1990, Stantis devised a family strip titled "The Buckets." Two parents, two kids, a grandfather, and a pet or two filled out the cast, including the name fo the creator's own pet -- Dogzilla. Picked up initially by Tribune Media, the strip is now under United Features Syndicate. After ten years at "The Buckets" drawing board, Stantis passed over the daily grind of the strip to cartoonist Greg Cravens. (Cravens started as Scott Stantis' art assistant and moved up to partner before taking over the comic strip.)

A political commentator at heart, Stantis invented a strip in which he could take positions from unusual perspectives -- an astute young Hispanic girl named Carmen, and Winslow, a talking coyote. "Prickly City" debuted in 2004 under Universal Press Sydicate. Popular internationally for its generally-conservative (meaning Republican-leaning) observations and sharp humour, "Prickly City" appears daily in over 100 newspapers.

Panel from "Prickly City"

The strip changed over to the United Features Syndicate in 2009 and Stantis again passed his creation on to another cartoonist. Eric Allie is now the lead on humour and art for "Prickly City."

But Scott Stantis wasn't sitting in a rocking chair twiddling his thumbs. Creating political cartoons five days a week for the Birmingham News, Stantis changed jobs, moving to the Chicago Tribune on August 30, 2009 as their staff editorial cartoonist. (The pretigious Tribune jobs was held in the past by the inimitable Jeff MacNelly until his death in 2000.) Stantis was also drawing weekly humourous panels for USA Today.

"His work is syndicated to over 400 newspapers and has been featured by Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, The New York Daily News, The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, CNN, 'CBS This Morning' and 'Nightline'," said "Cartoonist Profile: Scott Stantis" at The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists.

Panel from "Prickly City" Comic. © Scott Stantis, United Features Syndicate    

Radio called to Stantis, offering him a talk show of his own. Beginning with Birmingham's WYDE Talk 850 am, from 3 to 6 pm, the voice of Stantis is now heard occasionally on WGN 720's airwaves. Holding not only political discussions, he also conducts interviews and chats with artists, cartoonists, rights activists, and others on a range of topics.

Dedicated to cartooning, Stantis is a member and past president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. Another, separate, concern for the the cartoonist is epilepsy. A member of various boards related to the condition, Stantis' speaking honorariums are donated to the Epilepsy Foundation (Central and Northern Alabama).

Married to his high school sweetheart, Janien Fadich, Scott Stantis is the father of two sons. The Stantis family splits their time between Chicago and Birmingham.

Visit "Prickly City" and read Stantis' latest political cartoon at Also, visit "Taking a Stantis," the cartoonist's fascinating Blog. Prepare to smile, to groan, nod or be surprised... those reactions to his work are what makes a great editorial cartoonist, after all. And there is just so much variety of creativity coursing through that man's blood: so much that we just can't pin it down to a single thing.

Great work, Scott Stantis!

© Susanna McLeod 2012