In 2006 cartoonist Bill Amend made the decision to end the daily strips for his popular FoxTrot comic strip, instead focusing on producing a Sunday only version. Not unlike when a popular TV show transitions from regular episodes into occasional made-for-TV movies, this change would let Jason, Paige, Peter, Andy, Roger, and Quincy the iguana exist a little longer.
While news of their favorite strip being reduced to a week-only affair was disappointing to fans, its wind-down could have been handled much worse, as evidenced by the prolonged deaths of fellow comics like Darby Conley’s Get Fuzzy and Aaron McGruder’s Boondocks. Unlike many of its comic contemporaries, FoxTrot never branched out into other media, so was the comics or nothing. Some FoxTrot was better than no FoxTrot, after all.
Berkley Breathed had done the same ten years prior with his Bloom County before phasing out the strip altogether (and before its multiple resurrections). Also like Bloom County, the current incarnation of FoxTrot seems to exist mostly in the dual realm of online and irregularly printed collections, with strips available on-demand online yet still available in nicely printed, collectable paper form.
The 43rd collection of Amend’s long-running comi, Deliciously FoxTrot is packed with over 140+ new Sunday strips that continue the Fox family’s gentle hi-jinks and sitcom-friendly dynamic that come fully colorized and perfectly formatted however you choose to read, paper or digital (provided your digital reader has color, that is).
At its best, FoxTrot was a comic strip that excelled at reflecting the culture around it, not only embracing whatever was popular at the time but demonstrating a keen insight into why it was popular. Basically, it was memeing pop-culture before social media made memes more annoying than funny.
Jason, the hyper-nerd, has always been the strip’s most bankable standout, a reminder that, at one point, the bratty kid was the most popular archetype in all of comicdom (can you believe that FoxTrot predates The Simpsons?). It’s a little disappointing the current version of the comic feels significantly paired back when it comes to poking at what’s shaking up the nerd-o-sphere, to the point where references rarely show up, save for the occasional Game of Thrones or Star Wars bit.
Instead, there’s a heavier focus on math jokes and science puns than ever, many of which (admittedly) went right over my innumerate head. But Amend is a better cartoonist than most, and knows how to craft scenarios that even plebes like myself can chuckle at.
They’re not all winners, of course. There’s a gag where Jason “flosses” that just… ugh. Even many FoxTrot standards, like the snow sculpture jokes (not inspired by Calvin ‘n Hobbes, of course) or Paige’s dating woes or Roger’s widening waistline, feel a little stale and beyond the sell-by date.
I guess this should be expected as a proper gag-centric comic strip almost demands having an ongoing conversation with readers, building a routine that allows for those jokes, puns, gags, and – occasionally – character development to be rolled into the daily routine in a predictable, comforting way. The frequency of repetition can help hide the creakier bits, which can be forgiven somewhat when there’s more variety in what’s being repeated, but it’s a little harder when you’ve only got a single weekly strip to work with.
Deliciously FoxTrot should please fans of the comic who’ve been waiting to spend a little more time with the Fox family, even if the visit is a brief one. In a world where (too) many modern comics often mistake cynicism for being edgy there’s something comforting about an old-fashioned comic strip like FoxTrot that isn’t afraid of going for low-hanging fruit to get a laugh. You might even pick up a little math along the way.