33 Comments

  1. I’m back online, by the way: since my wife’s company was going to replace her work laptop anyway, I asked whether I could mess with it. Keeping in mind that I have zero technical skills — I don’t even know how my own web site works, as we all know — but every once in a while you’re too stupid to know something shouldn’t work, so you try it and somehow it does.

    So now we both have our respective computers back.

  2. She’s a middle-aged woman and mother. That’s exactly what she’s supposed to look like.

  3. My mother is a middle-aged woman and mother. I know what they look like. I don’t think “streetwalker” is the best look, though, for anybody other than a streetwalker.

    Janis has been drawn looking truly sexy often enough (recently) to earn several spots in any Women of the Comics Page calendar.

  4. I saw this in black-and-white in the morning paper and I gotta say it doesn’t look any better in color.

  5. To Chak and BA, Janis is in her sixties, right? That is way past middle-aged.

  6. Uncca $crooge,

    What metric are you using? The mother of a 20-something would normally be a 40-something, right?

  7. Unca $crooge, I was being polite.

    And Chak, that plain bra, the Tammy Fay Bakker make-up… the whole effect looks more desperate than alluring. especially for a woman who’s always been drawn as very attractive.

    And Arlo does seem to have a WTF??? look on his face. It’s hardly this:

  8. Arlo is, at youngest, 67 years old. One o CIDU Bill’s Memorial Day comics shows Arlo reminiscing that he “won the lottery”, as in was not drafted to serve in Vietanam.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draft_lottery_(1969)

    If he was a participant in the last lottery, in 1972, he could be as young as 67 right now. He could be as old as 76, as the first draft lottery was conducted in 1969 and included men born from 1944 to 1950.

    According to Wikipedia, some backstory revealed in the comic says they met in college in 1973. If he were in college, Arlo would have a draft deferral. But he couldn’t have entered college before 1969 or his student days (1969-1972) would have seen him graduated before the meeting happened. So his enrollment in college would have been 1970 or later and he would have been at least 19 when he enrolled in college (more likely 20, unless his birth date is in the last quarter of the year). If he were younger than 19 when he entered college, he would not have been a participant in the draft lottery in 1969.

    If you would like to see what your draft number would have been if you ware a USA male born in 1950, you can do so here.
    https://www.usatoday.com/vietnam-war/draft-picker

    My number was 366. Not drafted!

    So, if he met Janis when she entered college at 18 in 1973, the youngest she could be right now is 64 if that’s so, maybe she is having a crisis.

    Personally, I like to think they’re a bit closer in age, so she’s late 60s to early 70s.

    Now, about her sexiness and the couple’s general randiness…


    From the A&J Wikipedia:

    Many of the most notable jokes are based on sexual attraction, especially Arlo’s desire for Janis. Despite having been a couple since meeting in college in 1973 (a backstory revealed in a series of strips that also functioned as a parody of the book and film Gone with the Wind), Arlo and Janis are still besotted with each other. The libidinous content of the strip can be surprisingly overt to readers accustomed to more sanitized newspaper comics. And in a medium where long marriages are often presented as either sexless or antagonistic (The Lockhorns, Andy Capp, etc.), these strips that show the couple’s love and ongoing attraction to each other offer an alternative.

    “There has always been knowledge of sex in Arlo and Janis, and the fact that married people have sex,” Johnson said. “I think it’s silly to ignore that humans have sex. It’s like ignoring eating and sleeping.”[citation needed] Johnson also wrote, “I’d be willing to bet you five dollars I was the first cartoonist to depict a couple exchanging sexual fantasies in bed.”[20]

    On the “Comics I Don’t Understand” website, “The Arlo Award” is given to a cartoonist who slips something past the syndicate censors.[21]

    Janis’s negative body image has been a popular topic over the years. She sees herself as at least a little overweight, and unworthy of wearing a two-piece swimsuit. Arlo, on the other hand, persistently tries to convince her to put on the bikini again.
    —–
    Yay! CIDU gets a mention in the sexiness section!

    But note that last bit, about how Arlo always wants her to put on the bikini. So, regardless of what all you prudes think about how inappropriate this is for a woman of her age, Arlo is into it. And it’s their relationship. And I hope there is someone who thinks you’re a sexy MF when you’re pushing 70. 🙂

    Bad Words Warning!

    TL;DR: Seriously, go read it. It’s good.

  9. Downpuppy, part of the problem is that Janis almost never has a mouth. And as Chak said, the colorist went a bit overboard.

    As for her age, this is often a problem for a comic strip that outlives its expectations. I’m quite sure that Lee Falk, in 1936, had no idea that his creation The Phantom would still be alive and kicking in 2020. He had no reason to plan for aging of the characters, so we now have literalists wondering how a roughly 104-year-old guy is still skull-marking baddies. (On the Phantom page, we’ve had lots and lots of discussion about this over the years.) Similarly, I suspect that the Jimmy Johnson of 1985 had no idea that, 35 years later, people would still be reading Arlo & Janis, much less quibbling about their ages.

    And yes, SingaporeBill, for some reason there’s one person who still thinks I’m a sexy MF when I’m pushing 74.

  10. SingaporeBill, that’s why I asked you what metric you were using. In comics, aging is … well, let’s just say it’s inconsistent.

    But I admire the depth of both your detail and your boredom.

  11. Boise Ed: That’s good news. I hope to be in that position someday.

    CIDU Bill: Granted.

    Chak: Bored? I’ve got plenty of other stuff I could have done other than that post, including actual paying work. But I make the most important stuff a priority. 🙂

  12. The mother of a 20-something would normally be a 40-something, right?

    I have it on good authority that the mother of a 20-something can be 60-something

  13. Except…. That makes him 43 yrs, 6 months in the contest. The problem is that if he was born in 1954, lottery number 310 is August, 30, making him 42 yrs, 2 months in the contest. I’m beginning to think JJ is just making up numbers here.

  14. @SingaporeBill: “I’d hit that.”

    Your attraction to laptops owned by other mens’ wives is noted.

    By definition, people in their 60s are middle-aged.

    That definition: I’m less than two years from turning 60.

  15. Okay, so 67 it is.

    That conflicts with the whole Vietnam lottery thing, though. As I would have found out if I’d paid more attention in my reading:

    “Draft lotteries were conducted again from 1971 to 1975 (for 1952 to 1956 births). The birth year of 1952 was the last draftees, with the assigned number 95 being the last number drafted, which represented those born on July 20, 1952. The draft numbers issued from 1972 to 1975 were not used to call any men into service as the last draft call was on December 7, and authority to induct expired July 1, 1973. They were used, however, to call some men born from 1953 to 1956 for armed forces physical examinations. The highest number called for a physical was 215 (for tables 1970 through 1976). Between 1965 and 1972 the draft provided 2,215,000 service members to the U.S. military.”

    The last group of lottery participants who actually got drafted were those in the 1971 draft (who were born in 1952). The 1972 lottery, which would have included Arlo and others born in 1953, issued numbers but nobody issued a number that year (or after) got drafted. So it was not a high lottery number that saved Arlo. And I discovered that, had I been born in 1951 or 1952 in USA, I would have been called up as a result of those lotteries.

    Click to access 1973-Vietnam-Lottery.pdf

    More detail than SSS, but harder to read:
    https://www.randomservices.org/random/data/Draft.html

    The results of the lottery confirm what appears in the comic guero linked to. May 21, 1953 had a lottery number of 310. I’m beginning to think Johnson’s birthday is May 21, 1953. He is quoted in interviews saying he graduated high school in 1970, just as Arlo would have and he got that number right. And if he were in college in 1973 (as established lore of meeting Janis there says), then he may have qualified for a deferment anyway. But not necessarily! I discovered that, in 1965, with the need for more bodies, there were changes to Selective Service processes that meant you could get drafted even if you were enrolled in college, if your grades were bad enough or you didn’t do well on a government test.

    Short version:
    https://www.thecrimson.com/article/2016/5/23/lbj-wants-your-gpa/

    Much longer:
    https://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/33797340/BAILEY-DOCUMENT-2016.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

  16. We can’t determine anybody’s age based on information in a 1996 strip, though, unless everybody’s aging in real time like in Gasoline Alley. Otherwise there’s a sliding scale. Arlo’s father fighting in WW2 is already a bit iffy.

  17. A differential passage of time is troublesome. I remember, for example, reading comic books in my misspent youth. Poor Peter Parker was a college student for 20 years, suggesting time moved more slowly than in the real world. However, every year there would be a Christmas issue. With snow. So, in Spider-Man’s world, they had Christmas and winter 5 times per year.

  18. Kilby, that’s a mindbender. If they’re having to go register for the draft when it was reinstated in 1980, that means they were born in 1960. But they were in college in 1970. And B.D. went to Vietnam in 1972, when he was 11 or 12.

  19. Iffy? There’s a whole boomer generation out there whose parents could have fought in WWII. By our calculations above, I’m 5 or 6 years older than Arlo, and my father was 30 years old at the start of US involvement in the war. Arlo’s father would have been prime cannon fodder. The only thing iffy would be if they are still living.

  20. Gasoline Alley is kind of problematic itself. Walt would already hit like 120. Skeezix is like 99. Some argue that there were periods where the real aging took a pause.

  21. SingaporeBill – were you born on Nov 1, 1952? I had a friend in high school, well the annoying stupid brother of a friend, who’s number was 366 and that was his brother. Obviously there are other leap years and other dates with 366, but I was just curious.

  22. I recall the Marvel comic THE NAM where the original “gimmick” was that the story moved strictly in real time — each monthly issue would cover one month of “actual” storyline. As I remember, Marvel managed to maintain that discipline for only a couple of years and then gave up and did the same random time variations seen in all of their other comics.

  23. I would guess that in current continuity, Arlo was born no earlier than the mid 1960s (whereas originally, it was the early 1950s). Making Daddy Day, if he fought in World War 2, a bit old to be a first-time father.

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