I had often wondered about the humble origins of Carson the Muskrat. He starts here as a college student who is undergoing the process of figuring out his life (well before he meets the Dork Tower crowd). Also, he's really funny to read about.
While I want to talk about Wild Life as a proto-Dork Tower that comparison is hardly fair. Yes, the art style has evolved. And yes, I can see the beginnings of some common themes and joke material. However, calling Wild Life a "proto-Dork Tower" makes it sound like it's not a full product or idea on it's own. The reality is that Wild Life is a fully formed idea that is well executed. While there are some areas that Dork Tower may have carried on and expanded, Wild Life deserves to be read as more than just a historical curiosity.
The physical copy was well made, though the dimensions of the book are obviously not the ones of the original print run. Based on the cover art, I suspect the original printing was shaped like the old Far Side lengthy collections. Quirks of the reprint aside, it's a high quality printed book and well worth what I paid for it. I look forward to buying more of Kovalic's collections here.
The only real drawback to the book is that some of the political references haven't aged well. You need to be well versed in 180's politics to fully get all the jokes. I was alive in the 80's and can barely remember the importance of a few of the punchlines. I hope anyone younger than me majored in history or poli sci (or is prepared to wiki several jokes).
Still, the bulk of the comics stand well on their own. Most speak to universal experiences of college kids. I remember myself and my friends at that age and there is a bit of us reflected in the main cast. I suspect that most people will be able to read it and say the same.
[5 of 5 Stars!]