High On ‘Lois’

when cartoonists stop caring.

Archive for the ‘H&L history’ Category

Friday? More like TWOiday… okay, maybe not.

Posted by The Author on May 1, 2009

Happy Mayday!  Happy First Day of the Summer Blockbuster Season!

Hi and Lois, 5/1/09


Yeah, Chip, and that way you can kill the earth twice as fast and make twice as much noise!  BRAP!

There is someone on my block (who shall remain nameless, but it may be my neighbor) who cuts their grass upwards of three times a week.  Like, every other day.  As a result, their lawn often looks like a patch of Astroturf.  The color is also pretty close to the sickly, muted lime-green we’re seeing in today’s strip.  Noice!*

I tried mowing the lawn once.  Well, it wasn’t by choice.  My daddy made me put on close-toed shoes and try manuvering the mower along the most uneven part of our property.  It was a tad difficult (read: impossible), considering that: 1) it was the absolute first time I was doing it, 2) our mower is ridiculously heavy and one needs the strength of a thousand Ancient Egyptians to budge it a couple of inches, and 3) I don’t even break 5′ 4″ on a good day.  So, needless to say, I had the priviledge taken away from me in less than three minutes.

And now, our blast from the past!! Er, yeah.

Hi and Lois, 4/24/09


Hmm, maybe I should have included this one in yesterday’s post.  H&L does seem to talk about movies a lot, doesn’t it?  Anyhoozle.  Chip, dear, even if you were going to two films in the same night (which I would call a “bad idea”), it wouldn’t cost forty dollars.  Maybe twenty-five or so.  Are you going on a Friday?  That is your first mistake.  Well, no, it’s your second mistake; suggesting you see two movies is the first.  Why don’t you just sneak into another theater after the first flick has concluded?  You’re supposed to be a badass slacker, after all.  Do I have to tell you everything? How long have you been a teenager??

Another question: which movie will they see first?  Perilous World Situation (With ‘Splosions), or Girl Meets Boy Initial Attraction Misunderstanding Cheerful Conclusion Happily Ever After?  I wouldn’t trust that girl as my date.  She’s gabbing away on her cell phone as Chip negotiates funds for the evening.  And she’s either not wearing shoes or has knee-high pink Uggs.  Which is worse?

*Almost didn’t add this footnote!  It means “nice”, in case ya didn’t know.


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Mort Walker interview from Comicology

Posted by The Author on March 20, 2009

Here’s something interesting I found on the You Tubes last week: part of a fer-reals interview with the fer-reals creator of Hi and Lois, Mort Walker, and a gentleman whom I can only assume is his son.  They start talking about H&L around 1:12 or so.  Everyone used to look so different.

Part one is here, and while it’s less H&L-based it still has some interesting tidbits, including but not limited to: a comic containing what looks like a nude Ms. Buxley from Beetle Bailey (1:05), an old-timey racist riddle (2:57), and the fact that Walker ran a German POW camp (4:58) which instilled his dislike for authority.  Nutty!

Looking at these old comics makes one realize just how much the style of Walker’s art has changed.  It used to be actually pretty stylized and interesting.  And the jokes, while still a little bland, make more sense being set in the 50s and 60s.

(Apologies for the interview’s strange bumpers; I doubt they had much of a budget.  Their website is Comicology.tv.)

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H&L History: Part I

Posted by The Author on March 2, 2009

Since the ol’ H&L has been so utterly uninteresting lately (lately?), I decided to do a little research on Why, Dear God, this thing exists in the first place. I think you might be surprised!

Or not.  Whatever.

A Brief History of Hi and Lois, In Case Anyone Cares, And I Highly Doubt They Do (Haha, See What I Did There? HI-ghly!)

Like all great artistic works, Hi and Lois is a spin-off of an older, equally-unfunny comic strip: Beetle Bailey. Yes, Lois Flagston’s maiden name is “Bailey”, and Beetle (or “Spider”, as he was originally known — where the hell that came from I can only guess) is her brother. In 1954, Beetle went AWOL to visit his sister and brother-in-law, and I’m sure hilarity ensued. Creator Mort Walker was, quote, “so intrigued” by Lois that he partnered with Dik Browne to create a new storyline centered on the Flagstons. Fifty-five years later, the strip is still kickin’ and appears in about 1100 newspapers. That’s a lot of papers, yo. Chances are it appears in yours. Go ahead and check; I’ll wait.

The helpful King Features Syndicate website declares that the adventures of a generic family in Suburbia, USA “provoked a strong emotional response from readers”, and that they “have seen themselves reflected in Hi and Lois.” I think that says, better than anything, what little families of the 1950s had to amuse themselves. We should only consider ourselves so lucky to exist in an era of YouTube and HBO and fax machines and hula hoops.

But I digress. The characters in the strip — while they may have once had “personalities” or “qualities” that folks of the past found “interesting”– serve now only as homunculi for the Average White Mom; to be chuckled at; to be pinned up in cubicles and stuck to refrigerators. Let’s face it: it’s bland. It’s blander than plain instant oatmeal on a Tuesday morning. Only occasionally do I find myself spending more than eight seconds thinking about it, and that’s usually to analyze the grammar or focus on some hideous, repetitive, slap-dash “artwork”. What can I say? It has baffled me more than any other strip because of its blandness. And I think the only way I can continue to point and laugh at it every day is to pretend that each and every member of the Flagston family is higher than a kite. Or drunk; that works too.

Best of Hi and Lois cover

Take a gander at this vintage “Best of Hi and Lois” cover, circa 19mumble.  Everyone is happily doing their little nuclear family roles.  The King of the Castle, Hiram Flagston, sitting on his ass and watching a still picture of a footballer from the ’20s.  Lois — The Gatherer — looking resplendent in her cowl-neck sweater, presents a tray with two glasses of Alka-Seltzer and a bowl of yellow Play-Doh.  The ‘Teen-Ager, Chip (like a “chip off the old block”, huh? huh?), who resembles his uncle Beetle “Arachnid” Bailey, tossing his physics-defying baseball.  The Twins, Ditto and Dot (self-explanatory), exploring their future roles: Ditto will pretend to be creative while not actually doing shit, and Dot will choke her husbands.  Dawg, the dog, has grown a giant mustache.  And then, the bane of my existence, baby Trixie, staring right into my soul.

Hmm.  All blond children, huh?  Isn’t the brunette gene the more dominant one?  And isn’t their neighbor Mr. Thurston a blond?  THE PLOT THICKENS.

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