Sam and Silo. Artist: Jerry Dumas.

SAM AND SILO

Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: King Features Syndicate
First Appeared: 1977
Creators: Jerry Dumas and Mort Walker
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Sam & Silo is just an ordinary comic strip. A little old-fashioned, perhaps; but with a couple of protagonists, a handful of supporting characters and a regular gag-a-day format, it's …

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… pretty typical of what you see all over the comics page. The main characters, however, have an extraordinary history — they were once the stars of Sam's Strip, an extravaganza of self-parody unique in all the history of American comics.

In their current roles, Sam and Silo play "Andy" and "Barney", respectively, in the two-man police force of Upper Duckwater, a small town not unlike Mayberry. The main difference is that both are buffoons, not just the deputy. Mayor Abe McGuffey, the town politician, provides plenty of grist for the comedy mill, and Rosie, who runs the local diner, maintains the hangout where the characters rub elbows. A few incidental cats, bums, kids, etc. round out the cast.

Jerry Dumas (who has done some scripting on Boner's Ark and Hi & Lois) and Mort Walker (creator or co-creator of Beetle Bailey, The Evermores and others), who co-created the two title characters in their Sam's Strip incarnation, were behind this version as well. It debuted as a King Features strip on April 18, 1977, almost 14 years after the demise of the characters' previous venue. Dumas and Walker handled the strip together until 1995, when Walker withdrew from it. Since then, Dumas has done it by himself. It hasn't exactly set the world on fire (in fact, hasn't even been done as a Sunday strip since Walker's departure), but it has a loyal following, who have been able to depend on it for years to provide chuckles Monday through Saturday.

To see Sam and Silo today, comfortably ensconced in an ordinary, mid-circulation daily strip, you'd never guess they once hobnobbed with Krazy Kat, Popeye, Blondie and other superstars of the medium. But as Sam would probably have agreed back in his salad days, that's show biz.

— DDM

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Text ©2002-04 Donald D. Markstein. Art © King Features Syndicate.