Poncho and Sammy
By: Jim Wright
Length: 224 pages
Release date: Dec 25, 2013
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Successful comic strip artist Ridley Dunham, bored by the predictability of his characters, Poncho the cat and Sammy the dog, finds it difficult to come up with new situations for them until he introduces Odin the Rottweiler, who thunders into the nice, clean, middle class neighborhood and reduces it to a war torn Third World slum. Former enemies Poncho and Sammy unite to drive Odin away.
Ridley’s fans are stunned by the alarming turn of events. Within weeks, newspapers are canceling Poncho and Sammy. Mitzi Steiner, his agent, implores him to write Odin out of the strip and go back to the lovable cat and dog that everyone expects before he’s out of business for good.
Meanwhile, Poncho and Sammy is upsetting other people, all of whom seem to read into Ridley’s new drawings a world view that fits whatever their particular agenda happens to be. When the editors of Mercenary magazine start running the strip, declaring Ridley’s alliance with their extreme right wing views, and talk radio host Max Rhodes endorses the magazine’s decision, militia group member Harry Schmidt, dismisses their claims. After a heated argument with members of his unit, Harry, with abused wife Holly in tow, decides to track down Ridley Dunham and expose him for the ignorant coward he undoubtedly is.
At the same time, FBI Special Agent Tom Sorkowski suspects that classified information is being passed through the drawings to unknown and possibly hostile recipients. His investigation leads him to a trio of men in San Francisco whose recent activities and purchases raise alarm. When they are joined by a man and woman from Idaho, he begins to realize that the situation may be more serious than he thought.
With all the hoopla surrounding Poncho and Sammy, Mitzi is swamped with requests for interviews with Ridley. She sets up a press conference so that, once and for all, Ridley may put them all at ease by telling them that his characters are simply a cat and a dog and that’s all they’ve ever been. On his way to the conference, however, Ridley’s car gets stolen and he misses the event. An apologetic Mitzi reschedules.
Arriving in San Francisco, Harry calls his old friend Marty Ernst, unaware of a plot being hatched by Marty and two other men to wreak havoc on the American public. Harry learns about the rescheduled press conference on the evening news and decides that is when and where he will abduct Ridley Dunham. In order to pull it off, however, he has no choice but to depend on Holly, an unwilling participant at best, to do the driving.
Acting on a hunch, Sorkowski arrives at the rescheduled press conference just as Harry makes his move on Dunham and a female companion. Unfortunately, he is unable to prevent the abduction from taking place. He does, however, have a strong idea where Dunham is being taken and alerts agents already staking out the Ernst house.
As expected, Harry arrives at the house with Dunham and goes inside. When agents hear a shot from within, they break down the door to find Holly holding a gun on her husband, with Dunham and his friend tied up nearby. They also find a bomb big enough to bring down a skyscraper or, as it happens, The Golden Gate Bridge.
As a result of the abduction and the attention it garners, Poncho and Sammy shoots back up the popularity charts. When Ridley, who all along has agonized over what to say that will satisfy the press, finally makes it to a third press conference, he surprises everyone, not the least of whom is Mitzi, by announcing his intention to stop drawing Poncho and Sammy.
Harry, who survives being shot by his wife, is in jail when the final installment of Poncho and Sammy is published in the Sunday Comics. He is outraged by its content and even more so by the fact that, as if by some sort of conspiracy among the inmates, the comic strip is placed all over the mess hall, making it impossible for him to avoid. He swears it’s not over.