A Silver Celebration of Arlo and Janis, Day 3

 We’re almost halfway through the retrospective extravaganza, and today is an important stop along the way. In the period covered today, Arlo & Janis somehow makes the transition from what it was in the beginning to what it is now, both the writing and the drawing. It wasn’t a conscious process, and it wasn’t completed during the time of the strips we’ll examine today, but I think you’ll see what I mean. A subtitle of this week’s exhibition might well be, “The better of Arlo & Janis.” If you’ve wondered how I came to choose these particular cartoons, they were chosen from a broader sampling of dozens of cartoons of which I’m not particularly ashamed. Other than that, there really is no rhyme nor reason the cartoons you’re seeing made the ultimate cut. If your favorite isn’t here, don’t take it as a reflection on your taste.

February 1, 19931993-02-01-if-he-loves.gif

I was married to a woman who actually pulled stunts like this. I can tell you that with impunity (I think!), because although we’re no longer married we’re very good friends.

February 5, 19931993-02-05-on-purpose1.gif

I know of a true story wherein a four-year-old boy somehow removed the steering wheel off his grandfather’s parked car. When his flabbergasted grandfather asked him how he managed such a feat, the little boy replied, “Well, it wasn’t easy.”

February 14, 1993 1993-02-14-valentines-call.gif

The early Janis had a jealous streak that provided the basis for much of the relationship humor. Overall, I thought of the marriage of Arlo and Janis as being a happy one, and a lot of people identified with them. However, now and then I’d get a letter saying the union seemed unhappy and troubled. This puzzled me at the time, but looking back over these early years is disquieting to me now. I see what they saw. I did not see it when I was living it.

March 31, 19931993-03-31-georgia-okeefe.gif

Give a little boy something constructive like a box of crayons, and he’s liable to come up with something like this.

April 2, 19931993-04-02-dog-of-love.gif

I don’t know if this strip has much going for it overall, but I’ve always been proud of the “dog of love” quote.

April 16, 19931993-04-16-u-r-unique.gif

January 26, 19941994-01-26-consenting-adult.gif

August 26, 19941994-08-26-little-tasks-und.gif

These days, I am trying to convince myself that mundane everyday tasks indeed are the key to remaining sane. I’m not having much luck.

June 6, 19951995-06-06-julia-roberts.gif

March 4, 19961996-03-04-fantasies.gif

Among many firsts, I dare say Arlo & Janis was the first newspaper comic strip to feature a married couple discussing sexual fantasies. I sometimes wonder how I got away with this stuff. Maybe I’m just one of those people who’s never taken seriously when the subject is sex. By the way, this is a bonus cartoon! Click on the cartoon to go to the United Media Web site where you can view the entire six-day series.

March 13, 19961996-03-13-eggplant-monkeys.gif

After this cartoon appeared, I actually heard from one of the researchers involved. Yes, it was a real experiment, to see if monkeys could count, or make good produce managers. I forget. I wish I’d saved the letter.

January 17, 19971997-01-17-remote-tee.gif

OK, here’s an example of what I was talking about earlier. Although Arlo and Janis still sport their initial appearance, the artwork has become much more competent, and the writing has become more whimsical and, at times, less character-driven.

March 20, 19971997-03-20-blooming-idiot.gif

Another not-insignificant development about this time were my first efforts at limericks. I occasionally had employed rather pedestrian rhyming couplets for years, but then I branched out into AABBA and never looked back. (Artist’s note: you can depict women naked in newspaper comics if you don’t draw nipples.)