SLYLOCK FOX AND COMICS FOR KIDSMedium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: King Features Syndicate
First Appeared: 1987
Creator: Bob Weber Jr.
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newspapers intended exclusively for that demographic, and it is the first cited by the prestigious Parent's Choice Foundation for excellence in providing wholesome entertainment for children.
The cartoonist behind Slylock Fox, Bob Weber Jr., has been at least a peripheral part of the comics scene since he was even younger than most of his current readers. His father became assistant to Dick Cavalli (Morty Meekle) when Junior was about two years old, and drew magazine cartoons on the side. Moose Miller, by Bob Weber Sr., started six years later, in 1965, so Bob Jr. grew up learning how comic strips are created. In 1978, when he was 21, he became his dad's assistant on that strip, then went to work for King Features Syndicate, which has distributed every kind of comic from Flash Gordon to Krazy Kat. Through King, he launched Slylock Fox & Comics for Kids on Sunday, March 29, 1987.
The Slylock Fox feature is not, strictly speaking, comics, in that it doesn't tell a story in a sequence of panels. It consists of puzzles, quizzes, how-to-draw demonstrations, and similar things, all designed to exercise the readers' mental and observational abilities, and illustrated with clear, simple pictures designed to appeal to the target audience. They contain plenty of jokes to attract kids and keep them coming back. Daily strips usually consist of one such item, while Sundays feature several.
Slylock himself doesn't appear every day (but is always part of the mix on Sunday). When he's on-stage, he and his assistant, Max Mouse, must solve a mystery, think their way out of a dangerous situation, or in some other way use their brains to achieve desired results. The problem is set forth in text form, with clues scattered through the accompanying illustration so readers can figure out the solution for themselves. Supporting characters include Chief Mutt (who, in contrast with most policemen in detective stories, actively encourages the sleuth's assistance) and the villainous Count Weirdly.
Like Dragon Tales and Clifford the Big Red Dog, Slylock Fox & Comics for Kids tends to be ignored by cartoon aficionados, who generally prefer things aimed at their own age group. But the fact that King Features distributes it to more than 400 newspapers constitutes irrefutable proof that it's held in high esteem by those it's made for.