Today King Features launches a new comic strip entitled Oh, Brother! by Slylock Fox and Comics for Kids creator Bob Weber Jr. and Emmy Award-winning creator of Secret Saturdays and Tutenstein Jay Stephens. Oh, Brother! is centered around a precocious younger brother, Bud, and a more sensible slightly older sister, Lily.
From King’s announcement to their DailyInk subscribers:
“Oh, Brother!” perfectly captures the wide-eyed innocence and simple moments of childhood, from winter’s first snow day to summer’s first water balloon fight. Despite their obvious personality differences, Lily and Bud love each other deeply and have a strong sibling bond.
Reprinted with permission
As you can see above, the feature is sold as a panel, but the layout is that of a vertical multi-panel. Sundays (below) are laid horizontally like most other Sundays.
Reprinted with permission
The drawing style harkens back to a cartooning style of the ’60s and ’70s. It’s void of extraneous detail (sparse backgrounds, no wrinkles/folds in clothing) which adds to the simplistic writing of the comic. There are no belabored setups to get to the punchline. The Sunday posted above is one of the wordier Sundays. The character cast is narrowly focused on the siblings – no parents in the beginning months that I reviewed and friends appear to be one for each sibling.
Another mark of its simplicity is the feature tries to be timeless. There are no iPods, iPads, iMacs or any “iModern conveniences.” In a couple of dailies there is an ATM machine and an airport x-ray machine that were necessary to set a context, but overall modern references don’t exist. When Bud writes a thank you note to his grandma for a gift, he’s shown handwriting it, not sending an email.
I find it interesting that they use a vertical gag panel to do a multi-panel strip. Because of the simplicity of the line art they can pull it off. Sometimes the panel is split in half horizontally, sometimes vertically, sometimes horizontally with the top half is then split vertically. It’s an interesting arrangement, but it works well and it’s not difficult to follow the flow regardless of how they’re laid out.
One last observation. The feature reminds me a bit of a nostalgia comic like Red and Rover. It reminds you of a simpler time, simpler concerns and simpler themes. The strip will probably play well to older readers and those with pre-teen children. The strip, in its early form, is very, very safe. Teens through those without children are going to find it lacking any edge. Since the demographics of newspaper subscribers skew older, the feature should do well in print.