Where Did Foxtrot Go Wrong?

Bill Amend’s FoxTrot was one of the great successes of late-twentieth-century newspaper comics. At the end of its run as a daily feature in 2006, the strip was running in over 1000 papers, had published over 30 book collections, and Amend was a runner-up for the National Cartoonist’s Society’s title of Cartoonist of the Year.

Ivy Allie wonders why Foxtrot isn’t the comic strip she remembers.

But I did like the strip, back in the day, and it was to some extent an influence on the comics I drew at the time. I’m sure I’m not alone in that. So, again: why isn’t anyone talking about it anymore?

To answer this question, I did what any reasonable person would do: I bought the entire run of FoxTrot anthologies and read them all.

Ivy runs through some of the good:

First of all, purely in terms of drafting ability, Amend is an exceptionally good cartoonist.

Amend is also adept at creating drawings that are inherently funny, a surprisingly rare thing in the funny pages of recent years.

And then…

But this brings us to the quality of the jokes themselves.

Ivy goes on to mention repetition, cruelty, misogyny, and …

The characters are locked in a constant cycle of aggression and simmering resentment to a degree that’s often unpleasant to read. The animosity is so consistent that on the rare occasions when Amend writes scenes in which the characters acknowledge they care about each other, the effect is disorienting and odd.

© Bill Amend

Read Ivy’s essay at Women Write About Comics.

9 thoughts on “Where Did Foxtrot Go Wrong?

  1. I haven’t read FoxTrot much since it went Sundays-only, but I own all the anthologies up to that point.

    I really don’t see what the issue is. Sure, FoxTrot is fairly cookie-cutter in its setup of “Idiot dad, nagging mom, slacker son, ignored middle child, smartass younger child” that so many countless sitcoms have used before.

    Much of the strip’s humor does come from the constant friction that exists between the family members, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it “cruel” or “misogynistic”

    Maybe the kids don’t appreciate gross “healthy” meals that Andy prepares. Maybe Jason enjoys tossing his pet lizard into his sister Paige’s hair a little too much. Maybe Roger the dad is little too behind-the-times when it comes to how computers work. None of that is inherently “bad”, just a little dated and well-tread ground at this point.

    Again, FoxTrot stopped running as a daily comic nearly 20 years ago. That’s a long time.

    1. And if anything, FoxTrot suffers from the same problem as The Simpsons: it’s gone on for a little too long and simply isn’t all that relevant anymore.

      Both used to be considered the pinnacle of comedy in their day, but nowadays nobody really cares about them anymore. Their time came and went, and that’s okay.

  2. What? You find someone who makes one non-specific, dubious point, display a figure that hardly illustrates the non-point, and call it an article?

    Well that was a waste of my time.

    1. There are a half-dozen reasons I could name off the top of my head as to why Foxtrot declined as a strip, and you cite one woman giving one vague “They’re not nice to eachother” statement and call it a day. Talk about investigative reporting, bravo! You really earned that ad revenue, D.D.!

      1. In this particular case I liken myself more as an newspaper editor picking out an AP story rather than a journalist researching and writing an article. In such cases I try to be neutral – just presenting the story for your edification (or not).

  3. They lost me at “first of all, purely in terms of drafting ability, Amend is an exceptionally good cartoonist.”

  4. Fox Trot’s best bits were with Jason and played off his geek interests, otherwise it was fairly traditional family fare. Amend was probably the only game in town for those jokes before webcomics got popular. It surely inspired long running strips like Extra Life and Dork Tower as well as the relatively new Intelligent Life.

  5. I’m sorry, what exactly was the point of this article. This feels like an ad for the linked blog at best. I am sure the writer has some points worth considering, but you did them a huge disservice with this tissue-thin writeup that does zero to support the one claim mentioned.

Comments are closed.