Working Parents

By Jeremy Meltingtallow

For almost three decades, Hi was the sole breadwinner in the Flagston family.  Every year, he declared all of his income and paid his taxes with a groan.  His credit rating was good and his character references were excellent.

Hi still works as a district sales manager for Foofram Industries, which manufactures fooframs of all types.  His boss, Mr. Foofram, inherited the business from his father and sits at an ornate throne in his office vainly trying to get his employees to do his bidding.  He is the quintessential small man in a big job – a lot of power but not very much wattage.

Hi commutes to the office, by car, bus or train, with his next-door neighbor Thirsty Thurston.  The two are shown occasionally at their desks or on lunch breaks.  There are also frequent scenes of Hi returning from work, as in the classic single-panel strip below.

Hi and Lois daily strip, June 28, 1965. Hi and Lois daily strip, June 28, 1965.

During this time, Lois Flagston was the classic baby-boom mother.  She was a romantic lover to her husband, a devoted caregiver to her children and a civic activist in her community.

As more women entered the labor force, Mort Walker decided the strip needed to catch up with the times.  In 1980, Lois got a job as a real estate agent.  Since then, she has struggled to keep up with her child-rearing responsibilities and the demands of her career.  Her frustrations with trying to sell houses has been an abundant source of new gag material.  On rare occasions, she is successful, as in the strip below, which Chance Browne adapted from the 1965 episode.

Hi and Lois daily strip, August 21, 2007. Hi and Lois daily strip, August 21, 2007.

The tug of war between Hi and Lois over the rearrangement of their family roles has been a fertile ground for fresh ideas.  Hi helps with the chores and benefits from the money Lois earns while she appreciates the sacrifices he has made.  This sharing added a new dimension to the strip.  It has proven to be the most successful innovation in Hi and Lois since the emergence of Trixie in the late 1950s.

– Brian Walker