The Dancing Bears

The Dancing Bears

May, 9, 1987

OK, you’ve seen enough of Janis sunbathing on the beach. One thing that was fundamental to Arlo & Janis for many years after its inception was kid humor, provided by young son Gene. When writing material about a young married couple, one handicaps oneself tremendously without at least one little kid in the cast, and Gene filled the role well for A&J. He was always available for a generic little-kid joke (see above), but over time—for some reason—he also evolved into the favored focus of many story lines, strips woven into a narrative that would play out over a week or more. This led many places. I’ve been telling you I would talk about this, and I will, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Next week, our final retrospective week in newspapers and on GoComics, I’m featuring early strips about Gene and his love interest Mary Lou. So, here on the Website, beginning Monday, I’m going to devote next week to Gene and Mary Lou and all that. Have a good weekend!

33 responses to “The Dancing Bears”

  1. What? I get to post an opening comment? I confess to liking Gene much more as he aged and evolved into a really good young man. For a cartoonist with no children I must say you raised a really good son Mr. Johnson.

    You should be proud of Gene.

  2. I have weird sleeping hours and sometimes I just give up and get up, a habit that concerns Ghost. I try to restrain my activity to less dangerous chores. Today it was peeling and prepping a basket of assorted apples to turn into a couple of apple raisin walnut pies.

    As some of you know, I have a friend who rescues huskies that are going to be put to death from kill shelters or abused situations. She is an under funded miracle worker who rehabilitates and restores these beautiful but abused dogs. There is no one like her in Oklahoma or anywhere else I have lived.

    One of my donations to her rescue is that three days a week I cater dinner for my friend and her family, entree, sides, salad, homemade bread and dessert. I would do more days but Ghost is right, I can handle three days.

    It’s because Jenni, Rob and the boys take such loving care of the dogs. During the puppy mill raid they had custody of over 120 huskies!
    Go to to see the dogs and video of this happy healthy pack. I believe they have around 40 available for adoption. They deliver adopted animals if needed all across America.

    That’s why I bake apple pies and cook.

  3. To me, A&J constitutes a humorous look at family life – at first, with Gene; now, without. GREAT! It is a fine strip of which JJ can be quite proud.
    To me, Gene, ML, and Shrimp constitute a small family beset with financial constraints. Such may be true-to-life, but, ‘taint funny. That group comes off more as a soap opera than as a piece of humor.
    As I read JJ’s work for the humor – and send on some of the better ones to my friends, too – I much prefer A&J to the young family group. Oh, I will read whatever JJ provides, but A&J will be my preference while (recent) Gene, etc., will merely exist.

    “Chacun a son gout.” /YMMV !

  4. JJ-Looking forward to Gene next week. It is sometimes more serious, but has a humor all its own- different from A&J. All families have their own separate styles.

  5. Forgot to add that back in the day my kids wanted to camp out in a small fenced in back yard. Lasted only about 1 hour because of all the “noises”

  6. I ‘camped out’ in my backyard last night. Got tired of not sleeping outdoors but around here the forests are all closed due to drought and nobody to camp with anyway due to social distancing and stay-at-home mandates. Bought myself a tent small enough to set up in my yard (my normal two-room 12’x20′ canvas job wouldn’t fit) set out my bedroll and slept great. No bears but I did hear a deer munching wind-fall apples just before dawn. I wonder what he thought of the big red bubble set up under his snack tree?

  7. Here’s a thought, Jimmy (or at least I hope it qualifies as one): The adventures of Arlo and Janis continue running as dailies, but just Mondays through Saturdays; and the Sunday cartoons become home to Gene, ML, and Meg…either every Sunday or most of them. The characters and plots could cross-over, of course, and the Sunday cartoons could be stand-alone or multi-week arcs or a combination. And could those Sunday cartoons contain more than the usual four or five panels they do now, if necessary for that concept to work? Hopefully that would not adversely impact your workload, since you are doing a Sunday cartoon anyway.
    But yes, I’m fully aware of the adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

  8. We are renting a cabin on a beautiful lake in Hillman MI, about 30 miles west of Alpena. I got a 10 mile walk in this morning with the temperature at 62 degrees. Main street is your typical Hallmark movie. Tomorrow is the 75th VJ parade. Probably against the Governor’s orders, but I will be wearing a mask during the parade and keeping as distant as possible.

    It is SO wonderful to get out of the house. This is like a throwback in time and we intend to enjoy it!

  9. Steve, Ghost and I live in one of those Hallmark movie sets! They recently filmed a Christian movie here, an inspirational love story because that was kind of town they wanted.

    We applied for the new Hometown Take Over show that HGTV is doing with Ben and Erin Napier and went all out but didn’t make the cut. It’s a small 3000 resident town with clusters of camps and homes scattered around the huge lake.

    By the way, JJ I agree with Ghost about putting Day Light on Sunday. It’s a historic tradition I remember back to 40s and 50s as a kid. Or maybe some only ran on Sundays?

    • I recall the Buz Sawyer comic strip used the Sundays to feature Roscoe Sweeney and his sister. But personally, in Jimmy’s case I would rather see the kids appear in a Saturday strip and keep the Sundays like they are. They give Jimmy room to expand into a bigger canvas once a week and have produced some of his best work, like the one with Janis having her newly planted seeds washed out and then blooming all over the hillside and ditch. And the one with the couple setting up their country farm and ending with the panel showing the remains of the farm and the flowers still going strong years later.

    • Some people of HGTV shows really appeal to me, especially Ben and Erin. But some have such irritating hosts that I can’t watch.

      House Hunters is fun in that you wonder if the couples will stay together. It’s also did n to guess which one that they’ll pick.

  10. Hey Jimmy I am nothing if not stubborn. Facebook unlocked me, I invited 50 more Friends to join Arlo and Janis zfans. Of which 10 instantly joined within the hour and Facebook instantly shut me down for 24 hours!

    Except this time I Disagreed and Protested to Facebook!

    Hopefully a human will review my Facebook accounts and see I am neither a Robot nor from Uzbekistan. Otherwise we will do this musical chair routine every 24 hours!

  11. Hey, I think I’ll know when I’ve seen enough of Janis sunbathing on the beach, thank you! But luckily I have a lovely framed image of Janis sunbathing to look at every day!

  12. After seeing the archives this past week , I must say that your drawing skills have really improved over the years, or were they purposely drawn that way to show their ages? Regardless I love Janis and Arlo and can relate to them on many levels. Thank your for sharing with us!

  13. Steve FRO

    You have to realize TV & “Reality” are oxymoron.
    Couple on Alaska House hunters never bought a house and 2
    they looked at were not for sale.
    American Pickers prices are settled on before
    filming (old geezerism )( Taping/ Digital Recording) Stuff is transferred to bigger
    van before leaving driveway.
    We like Ben & Erin – They are “Re-users” maybe not like “Maine Cabin Masters”
    but good non-the-less.

  14. Joy,
    And we don’t, or didn’t, as the case may be. At a 2004 or so ad hoc art display at BUMC [my entries were mostly photos], had one 8×10 of Elaine I’d taken in ’49 or ’50, fully clothed, spring frock. Said to some woman, “She still looks like that to me.” [Elaine was not in earshot.]
    Of course, it helped that Elaine was still a B cup, & had not put on 30-40 ##. Was blessed, & still am.

  15. I’m approximately the same age as the comic strip… and I was a very young reader of the daily comic strips in the local Detroit newspaper. It was fun “growing up” with Gene, and it continues to be fun to enjoy (and understand) Arlo and Janis as an adult. There are a lot of days A&J are the only comic I read. Looking forward to seeing Gene next week.

  16. Waited out the 24 hours per Facebook, started inviting my Frends to join A and J Fans, they began to instantly accept and Facebook shut me down mid-invite! Again, as Forrest Gump would say.

    Don’t mess with stubborn old women with 5000 Friends. I’ll invite some more at 11.30 tomorrow night.

  17. re the Sunday strip. Arlo can dream, can’t he? And BTW, how does he know precisely the right time to walk into the room when “interesting stuff” is happening? I think husbands and boyfriends have built-in radar for that sort of thing. Never fails. Never.

    • Kids and pets. Check out the YouTube videos of news people trying to work from home and you’ll see what I mean. And the occasional husband/boyfriend too.

  18. Heat indexes in Oklahoma are high triple digits. I sleep all day, do laundry in shifts as I wake up.

    Tomorrow is big day, i put on clothes and go to Tulsa for blood work and cancer injections for treatment. Were it not for that I’d be a naked hermit. It would cut back on laundry considerably.

    Dropped the cute underwear when cancer changed my life. Giving serious thought to that friend who said about her possible demise due to huge weight loss:

    “But don’t she look good in them purple bell bottoms?” Said at her funeral.

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