Easter

Religious holidays are challenging to acknowledge in a comic strip that is read by millions of people from many different faiths.  We have to be careful not to offend anyone’s beliefs or advocate a specific religion.

Although we sometimes show the Flagston family going to church, their religious affiliation has never been specified.  It is safe to assume that they are Christians but we leave it at that.

The  Sunday page that will run tomorrow (April 20, 2014) has a reference to “the real meaning of Easter.”  For Christians this is one of the most important observances of the year.  Bunnies, baskets, bonnets, chocolates, eggs, flowers, parades and meals are among the many things that people do to celebrate the holiday but it is not what Easter is really about.  I like to occasionally point out the religious significance of the day without getting too preachy about it.

Easter is a time for rebirth.  This Sunday page pays tribute to the many joys of the season, both spiritual and sports-related.

Hi and Lois Sunday page, April 8, 2012.

Hi and Lois Sunday page, April 8, 2012.

The man greeting the Flagston family in the last panel is based on Mich Zeman, the pastor of the church that my wife and I attend.  We hope all of our readers have a wonderful holiday weekend.

– Brian Walker

Taxes

There is an advertising campaign currently running on television for a tax preparation company with the theme, “The Year of the You.”

“You had a big year,” the narrator says.  “Celebrate all the things you did, and all the things you’re capable of doing. Get your taxes done right with …”

These commercials make it sound like collecting bank statements, adding up receipts and filling out forms is like turning the pages of a scrapbook filled with cherished memories.  We all know the process is not that blissful.

Doing your taxes is a way of reviewing your year, but it’s more about numbers than accomplishments.  The first step is usually adding up your income.  If it was a good year you might conclude, “I didn’t do as bad as I thought I did.”  Then the fear that you might owe the government some money starts to creep in.

The next step is to calculate your deductions.  As these add up you start thinking that you might actually get some money back.  That would be nice.

If you’re lucky, the bottom line is close to even.  This realization inspired a Hi and Lois Sunday page in 2008.

Hi and Lois Sunday page, April 13, 2008

Hi and Lois Sunday page, April 13, 2008

Since most Americans have to file a tax return, it is an experience we all share.  Almost every year, we feature either a Hi and Lois Sunday page or a daily strip on the theme of taxes around the April 15th deadline.

In today’s Sunday page, Hi is complaining about all the work that is required to complete his tax return.  It’s bad enough that he has to pay the government a large chunk of the money he earned.  Being legally obligated to fill out the forms himself or pay someone to do it for him is like adding insult to injury.

Lois reminds Hi that it could be worse. This causes him to conjure up a scene from the Dark Ages when tax collectors would come knocking at the doors of peasants to demand the King’s ransom.  Maybe we don’t have it so bad after all.

We hope all of our readers finish their taxes on time.

– Brian Walker

Spring 1965

We would like to share another classic Sunday page that was created by Mort Walker and Dik Browne almost fifty years ago.  This one has a spring theme and features some terrific scenery.

Hi and Lois Sunday page color proof, April 25, 1965.

Hi and Lois Sunday page color proof, April 25, 1965.

Dik Browne was a master at composition and pacing.  Each panel in this page, from the long shot in the opening panel beneath the title to the double-size panorama at the conclusion, was perfectly designed to advance the storyline.  He varied the perspective, using an aerial view in the second panel, close-ups in panels three, five and seven and a wide-angle layout at the end.  He added details to some scenes to establish atmosphere and solid color backgrounds in others to emphasize conversational exchanges.

Lois is pretty and perky in her red spring blouse and checkered skirt.  Ditto is boyish in overalls and Dot is adorable with a ponytail and white shoes. The robin redbreast and butterfly are realistically rendered but still feel at home in the cartoon world of the Flagston family.

The bare limbs of the tree in panel six provide a dramatic contrast to the lone bud and the sturdy trunk in the last panel provides a good lookout spot for Ditto.  The bright color palette suggests the changing hues of early spring.

This example was scanned from an original color proof that was sent to Mort Walker by King Features Syndicate in 1965 and was recently restored by his assistant, Bill Janocha.

We hope you enjoy seeing these vintage Hi and Lois Sunday pages.  There are may more of these in our archives so stay tooned.

– Brian Walker