This seasonal Sunday page is another masterpiece of story structure and graphic design by Mort Walker and Dik Browne.
The gag stars the innocent and endearing Ditto who tells the elderly Mr. Rimmel about his dream of becoming a cowboy when he grows up. I remember going through a cowboy phase myself when I was about Ditto’s age. Mr. Rimmel gives Ditto a lot of good reasons to aspire to be a teacher instead. My wife and daughter are both teachers, so I am very sympathetic to this argument. I believe teachers don’t get enough credit or compensation for the jobs that they do. Ditto seems to be going along with Mr. Rimmel’s logic until he reverts back to his original obsession at the end.
The mood is set by the atmospheric outdoor scene in the second panel. The Flagston home is shown at night with snow on the roof, smoke coming from the chimney and a church steeple in the background. There are cars parked in front of the house in the foreground.
Ditto is introduced to Mr. Rimmel in the next panel and the crowded interior is shown in the following panel. The secondary characters are all distinctive. The conversation continues for the next three panels. In the penultimate panel Mr. Rimmel and Ditto are shown through the window in silhouette. This effect creates a dramatic pause before the final punch line.
This episode is an example of the seamless collaboration between Mort Walker and Dik Browne. It was one of the legendary partnerships in the history of comics.
In 2018 we will resume our Timeline series with the year 1972, so be sure to check back.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Hi and Lois team!
– Brian Walker