The Reality Stars and Russian Trolls of the Brand-New ‘Busytown’

The wholesome burg of Richard Scarry’s children’s books, with a twisted, 21st-century update.

The published works of beloved children’s book illustrator Richard Scarry (1919–1994) are as famous for what they don’t clearly depict (the mysterious Lowly Worm) as what they do: a community called Busytown, made up of anthropomorphized animals working at now-quaint jobs such as grocer, blacksmith, coal miner, and newspaper reporter. (RIP print media.)

How times have changed. Fifty years after the publication of Scarry’s classic What Do People Do All Day? (answer: build roads, and, if they’re spinsters, bake cakes), we’re thrilled to present cartoonist Ruben Bolling’s new parody of Scarry’s idealized, midcentury town. (You can see his first one on The Nib here.)

Bolling’s take on Busytown will not be unfamiliar to anyone who’s been paying attention to the ravages of late capitalism and the decline of American democratic institutions. Here, we meet a variety of farm and forest creatures, from bitcoin miners to mansplainers to a “good guy with a gun.” Plus: three porcine fellows with a penchant for brutality. (As the saying goes, “Never wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”)

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