Since Hilary was a child Sally has eaten the ears off her Chocolate Easter Bunny.
As Francesco Marcuiliano explains, the 34 year old running gag “has evolved into a loving tale of parental mind games and ensuing childhood mental breakdowns.”
Thus creator Greg Howard began the annual practice of Sally frustrating her child every year.
Eventually Greg passed the drawing of the strip on to Craig MacIntosh;
and in 1997 he passed the whole thing off to King Features Syndicate.
But Greg did do one last Easter Sunday strip before he left (1997 below).
Then a couple new writers came on board, neither aware of the tradition.
As Francesco Marcuiliano tells it:
When I took over writing Sally Forth in 1997, I have to admit I never had read the comic before…So the syndicate sent me a giant package of every strip up to that moment (this also being before the Internet) and I quickly went to work…making Sally Forth satire strips that are best left unseen.
But what I somehow inexplicably skipped in my panic reading (I had a few days from package to starting writing the strip) was that Sally and a long tradition of biting off the ears of Hilary’s chocolate Easter bunny.
This was brought to my attention in 1998 when—shortly after my first Easter Sunday strip (sans ear-sliced bunny)—I received an email from a very irate reader saying that he had bet his wife $100 that Sally would bite the ears off Hil’s chocolate bunny…
Having been informed the conceit returned in 1999.
So it has been every year since, with Ces “turning it from a loving example of parental boundary issues into an all-out psychological war between mother and daughter.”
But, as the song goes, “to every thing there is a season.”
Ces (I don’t think I’ll ever learn to spell Marcuiliano without looking it up) has plans for the future of Sally and Hilary and Ted which don’t include a few well established tropes:
As Jim Keefe and I prepare to enter “Phase Two” of the “Sally Forth Comic Strip Universe” this September (or “Phase 147,” depending on how many times you think I’ve altered/ruined the strip in my 22 years of writing it), we begin to say farewell to a few of the hallmark stories that made Sally Forth—in the words of one critical rave—”Available in print and online.” First up is “Sally Forth Eats the Ears off Her Own Child’s Chocolate Easter Bunny Every Year,” a long-ago inherited running gag that began what I assume as a touching tribute to poor boundary issues and in the last two decades has evolved into a loving tale of parental mind games and ensuing childhood mental breakdowns.
And today that story ends on a peace accord. Because we could all use a little peace.
You might want to regularly check in with the Medium Large site to keep up with behind-the-scenes happenings in Sally Forth, Judge Parker, and all things Francesco Marcuiliano (who is not above some self-deprecating, and dark, humor).
A history of the Bunny Ear Saga of the previous millennium, before color was invented,
is at Sunday Comics Debt, to whom I am grateful for the early Sally Forth strips.
Current Sally Forth artist Jim Keefe gives us the Sally-Hillary Easter War from 1999 to 2019, in color.
Sally Forth appears daily at Comics Kingdom and in your local newspaper.