The Flagston family. L-R, Hi, Lois, Trixie, Ditto, Dot, and Chip. Artist: Dik Browne.


Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: King Features Syndicate
First Appeared: 1954
Creator: Mort Walker
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The Hi & Lois strip is an example of something familiar to American TV viewers, but seldom seen in newspaper comics — the spin-off. The pair debuted in …

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… Mort Walker's Beetle Bailey as Beetle's sister and brother-in-law, in 1954. On Oct. 18 of that year, their own strip began, in only 32 papers. Today, it appears in over 1,000, in all parts of the world.

The Flagston family consists of Hi, Lois, their four towheaded children (teenage Chip; the twins, Dot and Ditto; and baby Trixie), and their dog, Dawg (no relation). They represent the typical suburbanites who, by the time of the strip's launch, formed such a large part of the newspaper audience. To maintain its relevance to that demographic, in 1980, Lois took a job selling real estate.

Dik Browne, who drew the Walker-written strip from the beginning until his retirement in 1988, had been working for years on lower-profile comics. It was his advertising work for Johnstone & Cushing (where his creations include Chiquita Banana) and his Boy's Life feature, The Tracy Twins, that brought him to the attention of King Features editor Sylvan Byck and led to the Hi & Lois job. Browne later became famous as the creator of Hagar the Horrible.

It was Hi & Lois that first brought Browne widespread critical acclaim. The National Cartoonists' Society awarded him plaques for "Best Humor Strip" in 1959, 1960 and 1972; and in 1962, conferred upon him its highest honor — the Reuben Award, given to the outstanding cartoonist of the year.

The series was never animated, nor did it become a noticeable presence in comic books, with only a couple of mid-1950s issues published by Dell and a brief series from Charlton that came out from 1969-71. Nor did it spawn a host of licensed products. But generation after generation, it continues to appeal to its newspaper audience.

And when we say "generation after generation", we mean it quite literally. The strip is now written by Brian and Greg Walker and drawn by Robert "Chance" Browne — sons of Mort Walker and Dik Browne.


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Text ©2000-08 Donald D. Markstein. Art © King Features, Walker and Browne.