SALLY FORTHMedium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: North America Syndicate
First Appeared: 1982
Creator: Greg Howard
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When Greg Howard created Sally Forth, he seems not to have been aware of cartoonist Wallace Wood's earlier success with
a character of that name. And that's not all he didn't seem to know about the cartooning field. Many critics considered his illustration stiff and unconvincing, the sort of work you'd expect from a lawyer who decided one day he'd rather do a comic strip, which is exactly what Howard was.
But Howard's artwork was quite good enough to land him a gig at North America Syndicate (John Darling, Willie & Ethel), which launched the daily and Sunday feature on January 4, 1982. Apparently, his strip, like Cathy, Dilbert and other modern ones that a lot of folks think aren't drawn very well, struck a responsive chord with a sizeable readership.
Sally is a working mom, dividing her attention between the job (a vaguely-defined middle management position with a corporation) and her family (husband Ted and 10-year-old daughter Hillary). Thus, she represents a large and growing demographic — an audience not diminished by the strip's everyman-style characterizations. Sally feels the stresses of maintaining two careers, but manages to keep her wry sense of humor about it. Ted is a sensitive 21st century guy, but very male as regards ruling the remote. Hillary is smart and cute, and occasionally given to sarcasm. You can find families like that on every block in America.
Greg Howard continued to write and draw his typical American family for ten years, while its circulation steadily grew and book collections started coming out. In 1992, he turned the art over to Craig MacIntosh, whom King Features Syndicate (which took over North America Syndicate right about then) characterizes as a "professional cartoonist". Despite MacIntosh's credentials (he's also done a lot of book illustration, and currently draws Doodles for Tribune Media Services), and despite his efforts to emulate Howard's style, the change drew irate mail. It took several weeks for MacIntosh to get everything exactly to the readers' liking, but the furor eventually died down.
MacIntosh draws it today, tho Howard left the strip in 1999. The current writers are Francesco Marciuliano (whose prior experience in comics includes self-syndicating a strip, Byron, to college newspapers) and Steve Alaniz (a newcomer to the field). Readers must like the current team, because Sally Forth is carried by almost 700 newspapers, and circulation is still on the rise.