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Happy 30th Anniversary to “Sally Forth” (The Unpublished Strips)

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on January 4, 2012

On January 4th, 1982, the comic strip Sally Forth first appeared in newspapers, supermarket circulars, mimeographed political screeds and random flyers shoved unceremoniously under windshield wipers across the country. Which means that today is the strip’s great big 30th Anniversary, hence why the banks were closed, you all got off from work and school and that parade with the smirking balloons was televised.

Of course, a lot has changed from that first strip thirty years ago, including the artist, the writer, the cast, the strictly Esperanto dialogue and the comic’s original name, They Die By Their Swords. And naturally I have not been with the strip since 1982, otherwise I would have been doing it from the 9th grade, thus making for a far more impressive curriculum vitae. In fact, I started the very last week of 1997, making 2012 the start of my 15th year with the strip (an important milestone I celebrated by putting on pants today).

Those 15 years mark a personal anniversary only made possible by King Features legendary Editor-in-Chief Jay Kennedy, who passed away far too young and without whom I would never have gotten to say I achieved a childhood dream. It was Jay who called me out of the blue back in the summer of 1997 after receiving what I had told myself would be my tenth and last ever comic strip submission. Jay introduced himself, said he had received my submission…and then turned it down. But before I could sob loudly and uncontrollably over the phone to a then complete stranger, Jay asked if I would like to write for the comic Sally Forth. I believe I replied “YES! OH DEAR GOD YES!” so quickly that I actually answered between Jay saying “Sally and “Forth.” This must have caused some flag to go up in Jay’s head that he then asked, “Have you ever actually read Sally Forth?” to which I paused for a moment and then replied, “I’m…I’m sure it’s a very nice strip.”

You see, Sally Forth practically never ran in Long Island or New York City papers, so growing up I had almost no prior knowledge of it whatsoever. Jay then sent me nine whole years worth of strips as an introductory course and off I started, first co-writing with the very talented Steve Alaniz and then eventually on my own.

Which brings us to today. Although not the creator, since 1997 I have made a few changes to the strip. I introduced Sally’s mom Laura and sister Jackie (in the hopes of answering many a reader’s question, “Why is Sally that way?”). I brought in Faye and Nona, who together with Hilary now make up the still unsigned band New Delhi Monkey Gang. And as far as Ted Forth is concerned, well, let’s just say I’ve altered him beyond repair. And all this has been okayed or more likely gone thankfully unnoticed by my truly fantastic syndicate King Features.

Alas, as forgiving and friendly as the syndicate has been, they have not let everything pass on to print. And so to mark the 30th Anniversary of Sally Forth I share with you some of the comic strips that never saw the light of day.

I want to thank each and every one of you who read the strip, take the time to share your thoughts about it with me and encourage me to keep writing and keep getting better at what I do. Thank you very, very much!

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32 Responses

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  1. Katherine said, on January 4, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    You, Ces, are to blame for my becoming a Sally Forth devotee. I think Ted is terrific, although I sure am glad he’s not my responsibility. I admire the sweetness of the Forth’s relationship and the honesty with which they tackle family conflicts. And I love the father-daughter bond. They are the anti-Lockhorns. May you have many more good years with them.

  2. cesco7 said, on January 4, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Thank you, Katherine!

  3. Nina said, on January 4, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    When I introduce people to your site, I always refer to you as “the guy who’s the reason that Sally Forth is the only funny strip in the papers.” And I agree with Katherine– the characters are really well-realized. Excellent job!

    • cesco7 said, on January 4, 2012 at 7:35 pm

      Thank you, Nina!

    • Mathew Walls said, on January 4, 2012 at 10:48 pm

      Sally Forth is great, but it’s not the only funny strip. Have you read Cow and Boy, Pickles, Cul de Sac, F-Minus or The Amazing Spider-Man? That last one may not be intentionally funny, but it still counts.

  4. yellojkt said, on January 4, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Sally Forth was always a fine strip but it has really blossomed in a Very Special Mayim Bialik Gets Her Period Episode way under your guidance no matter what that asshat Gene Weingarten says.

    • cesco7 said, on January 4, 2012 at 7:46 pm

      Thank you for your support over all these years, Yellojkt!

  5. Gen said, on January 4, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Happy anniversery!

  6. Vince M said, on January 4, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    The word ‘reimagining’ has been getting hackneyed lately (and often used not as a good connotation), but your helming this strip defines the word in its best sense. Thanks for one of a few strips I enjoy unironically!

  7. Carl said, on January 4, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    Have you ever considered crossover with Wally Wood’s Sally Forth (who would probably have to be an unacknowledged cameo)?

  8. Naked Bunny with a Whip said, on January 5, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Congratulations on your anniversaries, Ces.

    Now…when do we get the darker and edgier Sally Forth continuity reboot?

  9. Seth Johnson said, on January 5, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Congrats, Ces!

    When I was a young Far Side and Bloom County devotee, I would have never guessed that when I grew up it would be a Sally Forth strip hanging on my fridge as a touchstone between my wife and I. Thanks to you, the strip is full of subversive fun, just like the best parts of real life.

    I can’t wait to see what comes next.

  10. Truman said, on January 5, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    AHHHHH HAHAHAHAHA! Proof that you have always rocked, Ces. I’m going to celebrate Ted Forth day this year. I don’t even know when that will be; I’ll do like Ted and just pull the date out of my ass when I come up against something for which a detailed explanation is in order. This may mean several Ted Forth Days for me. Thanks ahead of time!

  11. Woodrowfan said, on January 5, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Imagine what you could do if you took over “Funky Winkerbean”!!!

  12. dimestore lipstick said, on January 5, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Thank you, Ces, for the gift to the world that is Ted Forth. He is an adorable dork, and as a working woman married to an adorable dork, I love the representation on the comics page.

  13. Slappy said, on January 5, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    If by “altered him beyond repair”, you mean “made him the most entertaining character on the comics page”, then I agree. I still laugh when I think of his “the Kaiser’s head” comment.

  14. cesco7 said, on January 5, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    Thank you very, very much, everyone!

  15. David Maltby (@maltbyd) said, on January 5, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Dear Ces,

    What I really appreciate, besides daily touching humor delivered to my doorstep each morning only to be sent to the recycle box at the end of the day, is the insight into the writer’s life and the connections that you have developed with your readers. If only Greg Evans would let me inside his mind like you do. Congratulations to Sally for 30 years (she is more beautiful now than ever, thanks Craig) and you for keeping her alive.

  16. Jed Johnson said, on January 6, 2012 at 12:52 am

    I had meant to leave a thank you for you at the end of the holiday season for all the enjoyment I had gotten out of angry santa elf both this year and last, but times got away from me. I’ll include that thanks as well as the one for all the years I’ve enjoyed Sally Forth as well. I hope the next 15 years are just as productive for you.

  17. Dub Not Dubya said, on January 6, 2012 at 4:34 am

    A while back, I was visiting my mother and reading the comics in the paper. I started laughing out loud at something in Sally Forth and explained to my mom that a cool guy from my generation is the writer now and that the strip is actually genuinely funny now. Truly, SF is one of the few strips that I enjoy non-ironically. Keep up the great work, Ces.

  18. MrJM said, on January 6, 2012 at 11:01 am

    I propose the following as the cover blurb for the next Sally Forth collection:

    “I’m sure it’s a very nice strip.” — Francesco Marciuliano

  19. Toronto said, on January 7, 2012 at 11:43 am

    A very nice strip indeed, Ces. And I always love your “out of band” stuff here at medium-large, too.

    Here’s to another 15 to 30 years.

  20. LBD "Nytetrayn" said, on January 8, 2012 at 5:01 am

    Congratulations! Though I’ll be honest, I haven’t looked at the strip very much– I forget what brought me to Medium Large, but that’s the main reason I come. Sounds like I should give it a look, though…

    …or you can try to sell me on it, and then I’ll definitely check it out (whether you do a good job or not– I’m just curious to see how you’d do it). 😉

  21. maradanto said, on January 9, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    You joke, but if there were an Esperanto version of “Sally Forth,” I would so read that.

  22. maradanto said, on February 7, 2012 at 1:49 pm
  23. maradanto said, on February 7, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Dang, that didn’t work right. But here’s what I came up with: http://tinyurl.com/7urfxwt

  24. Dan Franzen said, on July 12, 2014 at 11:51 am

    Here’s a late addition: Ted Forth is to the comics page what Randy Marsh is to cartoons – hilarious, unpredictable, and a terrific breakout character.


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