Anniversaries

Hi and Lois debuted on October 18, 1954 and is celebrating its 60th anniversary this week.  To commemorate the occasion, we did a special series, “Then and Now,” showing how things have changed during the long run of the strip.  On Sunday we will be showcasing a special anniversary tribute page.

Although fans of Hi and Lois are well aware of its historic connection to Beetle Bailey, the general public is probably not.

In 1954, as the Korean War was winding down, Mort Walker became concerned that readers would no longer relate to the military theme of his three-and-a-half year old comic strip.  So he sent Beetle home on furlough to visit his family.  Here is a scene from that two-week sequence in which Beetle’s future is debated.  The couple on the couch with the baby is his sister Lois and her husband Hi.Beetle54

Mort received hundreds of letters demanding that Beetle stay in the Army, so he gave in to the pressure and had him return to Camp Swampy.  Six months later, he launched a new comic strip, Hi and Lois, with Dik Browne as the artist.

To mark the 40th anniversary of Hi and Lois in 1994, we did a special series in which Beetle goes home again to visit his sister.  Here is the week of daily strips from October 17 to 22, 1994.Beetle Visit dailies 10:17-18 copyBeetle Visit dailies 10:19-20 copyBeetle Visit 10:21-22 copy

We will be running the conclusion of this story in the next installment, so stay tooned.

– Brian Walker

Rip Van Winkle

Washington Irving’s short story, Rip Van Winkle, was first published in 1819.  It takes place in a town at the foot of the Catskill Mountains in New York shortly before the Revolutionary War.  The star of the story is a Dutchman who is beloved by the children of the village but nagged by his wife for his lazy habits

One winter’s day, Rip wanders up into the hills to escape from his domestic misery and encounters a group of bearded men who are playing nine-pins – an early European precursor to American ten-pin bowling.  After drinking some of their liquid libation he falls asleep.

He awakens to discover that his beard has grown down to his waist.  When he returns to the village he learns that his wife has passed away and all of his friends are gone.  It turns out that he was sleeping for more than twenty years!

An elder villager finally recognizes Rip and his now-adult daughter takes him into her home where he resumes his idle ways.  Irving’s story went on to become a classic American folk tale, making Rip a hero to many generations of hen-pecked husbands.

Rip Van Winkle has been reprinted in many different collections over the years, but the most beloved is this edition published by the David McKay Company in 1921 and illustrated by N.C. Wyeth.

Cover to the 1921 book, illustrated by N.C. Wyeth

Cover to the 1921 book, illustrated by N.C. Wyeth

In 2009, while trying to come up with ideas for Hi and Lois, I recalled this story from my childhood and immediately started thinking about how much the Flagston’s next-door-neighbor resembled Rip Van Winkle.  The following Sunday page was the result.

Hi and Lois Sunday page, October 4, 2009.

Hi and Lois Sunday page, October 4, 2009.

I managed to condense Irving’s tale into four panels and set it up with Hi telling the story to the twins.  Chance did the inking in a rough-hewn style similar to the way his father Dik drew Hagar the Horrible.  It was fun to do something different for a change and we hope our readers enjoyed this little story within a story.

Fall is our favorite season, so stay tooned for more autumnal-themed episodes of Hi and Lois.

– Brian Walker

Youth Football

In 1997, my son David played for the Wilton Warriors in a Pop Warner Football League. Bruce Mandia, the father of David’s friend Christo, was the coach.  I remember one game against a powerhouse team from New Milford, Connecticut.  Their running back looked like a mini-version of an NFL pro and they had more cheerleaders than we had players.  Our only score was when one of our defensive players picked up a fumble and ran for a touchdown, followed closely by Coach Mandia with his clipboard.

Here is a photo of David in his practice gear.

David Walker, age eight, 1997.

David Walker, age eight, 1997.

The next year, we switched to a youth football league in Fairfield County, Connecticut and played teams from Greenwich, Darien and Westport.  This league was more balanced and we won a few games. The Cos Cob Crushers were the dominant team.  They went undefeated and were not scored on during the entire season.

David barely made the minimum weight requirement to play but he was one of the best receivers on the team.  I spent hours playing catch with him in the back yard until his various patterns – down and out, slant, post, button hook, fly, etc. – were quick and precise. Coach Mandia was impressed and tried to work in some special plays for David. Unfortunately, our blocking was not very good, so the quarterback rarely had time to throw an accurate pass, although David did have some spectacular receptions.  After three years on the team, he decided to hang up his football spikes and devote his time to baseball.

I have many fond memories of cool, crisp Saturday afternoons in the fall watching my son play football.  These inspired me to do the following Hi and Lois Sunday page in 2002.

Hi and Lois Sunday page, October 6, 2002.

Hi and Lois Sunday page, October 6, 2002.

I hope some of our readers, who have played football or have kids on teams, enjoy this nostalgic episode.  Stay tooned.

– Brian Walker