January 21st, 2018
by Brian Walker, Greg Walker and Chance Browne
Drawing animals is a challenging task for any artist. Rendering realistic creatures in a humorous comic strip is even more daunting.
As an advertising artist in the 1940s and 50s, Dik Browne was called on to graphically represent anything the clients requested. He drew historical figures, panoramic scenery, all kinds of vehicles including automobiles, trains and planes, characters of every age and type and a menagerie of animals.
Beginning in 1953, Dik created a monthly feature for Boys’ Life magazine entitled The Tracy Twins. Many of the plots revolved around tall tales their Grandpa would tell them about his colorful past.
In the Hi and Lois Sunday page above, the Flagston family visits their local zoo. The panoramic drop panel, which did not run in many newspapers, is one of Dik’s most spectacular scenes, featuring the full cast with monkeys and toucans in cages in the foreground and background.
The story stars a very photogenic giraffe. Dik somehow managed to fit the entire animal in the third panel and shows a charming close up in panel five. His rendering is neither realistic nor cartoony. Dik was an artist who could blend styles and genres effortlessly – whatever the assignment required.
For more examples from our rich archive of vintage Hi and Lois strips, check back here every week.
– Brian Walker
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