Sundays in Spring

By Jeremy Meltingtallow

This is a time for renewal after the dreary days of winter.  Spring also provides a great opportunity to do some beautiful scenery in Hi and Lois.

For many years, King Features mailed out full-color, Sunday-page proofs to their artists.  We have a set of these for Hi and Lois, which cover the years from 1956 to 1970.  They are printed on heavy-coated stock and the colors are brilliant.

Here is a color proof of a classic Sunday page from 1960.

At this point, Dik Browne still had a trace of the slick style that was typical of the work he did for the Johnstone and Cushing Art Agency during the 1950s.  Lois, similar to a model in an illustrated magazine advertisement, is glamorous and fashionably attired.  She moves with the grace and confidence of a young mother.  Chip, not yet a full-grown teenager, has a bow-legged shuffle to his walk. Dot, Ditto and Trixie, who are dressed in their Sunday best, are appropriately adorable.  The secondary characters look like people who might live in the same neighborhood as the Flagston family.

Dik was an expert at setting up a scene.  The shaded figures in the foreground of the long panel in the middle tier give depth to the composition, as do the flowers in other panels.  Close-ups of Lois and Hi are interspersed with wide shots to vary the pacing.  The aerial view in the last panel is a perfect setting for Hi’s mad dash back to retrieve the forgotten car.  This is truly a masterpiece of comic art.

Chance Browne frequently says he tries to “channel” his father’s artistic wisdom when he is drawing Hi and Lois.  He often uses Dik’s work for reference and, most likely, was inspired by the episode above when he created the following Sunday page in 2006.

Although Chance is a multi-talented artist and musician in his own right, he has definitely inherited his father’s genius for graphic design.  He has also continued the tradition of showcasing spectacular scenery in Hi and Lois, particularly during the spring season.

– Brian Walker