Foster M. Follett's is an unexpected treat. The pun is a bit of a groaner--this soldier really is a person's private conscience--but easily forgiven once you take a second or two to absorb the beautiful illustrations. I completely adore the look of our hero, like a child's toy soldier come to life. He's just different enough from the other characters to suggest his otherworldly nature, but not so much that the effect is intrusive. The strip follows a simple formula: 1) Private Conscience arrives on the scene to talk someone out of doing something he/she will regret, 2) that person ignores our hero's words of wisdom, sometimes even assaulting him in the process, 3) the situation turns sour, proving our hero was right all along, and 4) Private Conscience is left to lament that he did his utmost to avert the situation as our victim realizes his/her folly. Keep in mind there are variations, such as the time a thief mistakes our hero for a "fancy cop" and makes haste from the scene of the crime only to take out his frustration on Private Conscience later. Or when a group of children armed with snowballs show our soldier what they think of his advice. I'm always happy to see the lines blur, to see the artist drawn into the art. And, of course, we're always suckers here at Barnacle Press for a gag involving our dear Chicago.
By Foster M. Follett