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.
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.
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.