The Sunday page format allows for more involved plotlines than a daily strip. The example above shows how an extended story can be told in multiple panels.
Many newspapers run only the second and third tier of panels, so the complete scenario has to be written without the top row. This particular gag is contained is six panels, which is not much, but more than the two or three panels of a typical daily strip. The dialogue, pacing and composition must be economical to tell a coherent story.
The charming sequence shows the Flagston kids enjoying a “grown up dinner party” with their parents. The set up is established when Chip, Dot and Ditto, dressed in semi-formal attire, are welcomed at the door. After a round of non-alcoholic drinks, the family sits down and engages in some pleasant dinner conversation. The next panel suggests a passage of time as they are shown saying goodbye. After a dramatic pause in the penultimate panel they reenter the house to reveal the premise of the mock event.
It’s not a particularly hilarious punch line, but Hi and Lois gags can work with humor that is not always reliant on funny jokes. The point is to create a situation that, hopefully, our readers see as similar to experiences in their own lives.
Next week, we will continue our Timeline series with another color Sunday page from 1972.
– Brian Walker