Obscurity of the Day: Sister

Long before the husband and wife team of Stan and Jan Berenstain hit the jackpot with their Berenstain Bears, they created a strip called Sister. The strip ran 4/6/1953 through 4/15/1956, from the Register & Tribune Syndicate. Before this, I am told, the feature appeared in Collier’s magazine.

Sister stuck to a strict gag-a-day format in both the daily and the Sunday versions. The child, who was mildly mischievous, sort of a Little Iodine on Ritalin, had a pair of generic parents who went by the board-approved names Mom and Dad, befitting their complete lack of any distinguishing character traits. Now I speak of gags, but that may be gilding the lily. The writing on the strip gives me the impression that the Berenstains were big Dennis The Menace fans, because many of the gags seem to be recycled from that feature. As anyone can tell you, the recycling process does not yield new materials of the same quality as the original.

Perhaps the best gag in the strip, and it seems to be unintentional, is that the titular Sister is an only child. Anyone giving pause to think about this may wonder how the name came about. Is there a feral sibling locked up in the attic? Is there some horribly sad secret in this family to which we aren’t privy?

That this strip lasted three years (running for its entirety in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, for one) speaks, I think, to the possibility that strips just get cancelled a lot slower at sleepy Iowa-based syndicates. Surely it wasn’t particularly popular in its run; I see it pop up as a Sunday rarely, and the daily is even more scarce.

4 comments on “Obscurity of the Day: Sister

  1. The Berenstains also had a long running feature in McCALL’S magazine called “All In The Family” (no relation to the TV show) which was not a comic strip so much as a series of related single panel gangs that built to a climx. “All In The Family” covered familiar territory but did so in a charming, funny manner. They also had a slew of original cartoon books in the 1960s that tackled adult subject matter but in what would be now considered a PG-13 manner.

  2. Maybe Mom and Dad were actually Brother and Sister?

    Ger A.

    As to ‘kid’s strips’, when I was looking for more Blade Winters (the latest I found was februari 14 1953) I ran into that delightful Peanuts sized strip about kids dressed as their parents by Sam Brier. Could you tell more about that? Was there a sunday?

  3. Ger –
    Ooh, that’s even more disturbed. Nothing like a little incest to spice up a comic strip.

    As for Small World (Brier’s strip). I have running dates of 9/15/52-5/5/56. Delightful art and good gags on that one.

    — Allan

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