Mom gives Winky the wherewithal to see that the family isn't embarrassed when the collection plate comes around.


Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: Post-Hall Syndicate
First Appeared: 1954
Creator: Cal Alley
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The Ryatts occupies a place in the history of domestic comedy in comics, just like Toots & Casper, Foxtrot and Priscilla's Pop — or Kevin & Kell, if you don't mind your comedy in funny animal drag. Not as prominent a place as, say, Blondie, Hi & Lois or even, for its historical connections at least, The Dingbat Family, but a …

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… definite place. It's been compared to The Family Circus, at least in terms of its supposed lack of intellectual content, but like that feature, consistently delivered chuckles to more than one generation of devoted readers.

The Ryatts was created by Cal Alley, a staff artist on The Memphis Commercial Appeal and, like Bob Weber Jr. of Slylock Fox, a second-generation cartoonist. Alley's first experience on a nationally-syndicated comic was with the panel Hambone's Meditations, by J.P. Alley, his father, which he and his brother James took over after the elder Alley's death in 1934. The son's comic was distributed seven days a week by Post-Hall Syndicate (Pogo, Dennis the Menace) starting Monday, October 11, 1954.

Besides Mom and Dad Ryatt, there were five kids: Missy, Kitty, Pam, Tad and Winky. If there was one family member who could be singled out as the star, it was Winky, the youngest. In fact, for a while during the late 1960s and early '70s, the strip had the alternate title Winky Ryatt. Like many working in the domestic comedy genre, Alley drew inspiration from his own family.

Alley retired in 1965, and died in 1970. The Ryatts was taken over by Jack Elrod, who later also took over Mark Trail from creator Ed Dodd. The syndicate folded the strip in 1994.


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Text ©2008 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Post-Hall Syndicate.