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Comic Strip / Sally Forth (Howard)

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She... Is... Tired!

Sally Forth is a King Features syndicated newspaper comic, originally written and drawn by Greg Howard (then a recently retired lawyer), and introduced in 1982. It is a slice-of-life domestic comedy, tending towards story arcs but often using the gag-a-day format for the Sunday strips. In 1992, Craig MacIntosh took over the drawing with Howard continuing to write. Then, in 1999, Francesco Marciuliano took over the writing, when Howard left the strip completely (and when arguably the strip entered into its full form). Sally Forth is carried in nearly 700 papers nationwide.

This strip should not be confused with the decidedly more adult military comic of the same title by Wally Wood.

This comic provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: A storyline from February 2018 had Sally agonizing over whether she should re-hire Alice or not. It was never mentioned again until eight months later, when Ted brought it up.
    Ted: Speaking of stories that went nowhere, whatever happened to Alice coming back to work with you?
    Sally: Well, we had some brutal layoffs. But yeah, that one kinda just faded away.
  • Abusive Parents: Sally's mother is the worst. She is catty, emotionally abusive, and clingy. There was an entire arc where her house needed repairs that necessitated her to move, and Ted helps Sally arrange for Sally's mother to go to her sister's. When Sally decides to give her sister a break and invite her mother for a few days, the lady belittles everyone in the house, going so far as to demean Hilary's guitar-playing and saying she should take up ballet to lose the pudge she has. It gets so bad that Ted nearly kicks her out on Sally's behalf unless she agrees to talk things out. Sally becomes livid when learning that her mother lied about the home repairs because she wanted to spend time with her daughters. Fortunately, her mother moved out and stayed out, realizing she went too far.
  • Author Avatar: Marciuliano has said "Ted Forth is for the most part just a whiter version of me."
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Ted is generally laid-back and flexible. Then he finds out his wife is on the verge of tears thanks to his mother-in-law, and threatens to kick the lady out unless she can work things out with Sally.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead
    • The Forths' daughter Hilary is a blonde. Her best friend Faye has black hair. Their friend Nona is a redhead.
    • Sally's friend/coworker Alice is blonde; her daughter is a level-headed redhead, and her son is hyperactive brunette.
  • Breakfast in Bed: A Running Gag is that every Mother's Day, Sally's husband Ted and daughter Hillary go to ridiculous lengths to outdo each other in providing her breakfast in bed, which rarely results in anything edible, or even vaguely resembling a normal breakfast. She keeps begging them to stop, but they insist that this is how they show how much she means to them.
  • Cloneopoly: A Running Gag is Ted getting the Monopoly board out and describing increasingly bizarre and arcane House Rules, to the point that it barely resembles Monopoly anymore. Sally and Hil have usually given up by then.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • Nona. The writer has described her thusly:
    Nona started as an answer to my own question, "What if Luna Lovegood lived in the suburbs... and wasn't a wizard... and didn't have an English accent even though, let's face it, English accents make everything sound brilliant or diabolical... except maybe the poor English characters in Mike Leigh films... Seriously, just watching those doomed characters try to scrape enough shillings to purchase a pen to sign over their house to creditors is absolute torture... Who am I talking to?"
    • Ted, of course. His choice of office watercooler talk is less sports and more '80s TV cartoons.
    • Sally's stepdad; he might actually be senile.
  • Comic-Book Time
    • Lampshaded by Hil's boyfriend, Jon, after he comes back for the summer and is...quite a bit taller than when he left.
    "It doesn't feel like people ever age around here. It's like a Twilight Zone episode, but with Wi-Fi."
    • Lampshaded on September 14, 2014.
    Hilary: Wait, if Bettina aged a year, why am I still 12?
    Ted: Don't...don't go down that rabbit hole. The whole system will fall apart.
  • Deadpan Snarker: If you find one person in the strip that isn't one, you get a gold star.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: Marciuliano seems to take pleasure in showing how off-putting a family with sitcom-like behavior would be in the real world. As an example, the Forths have no friends because no one wants to deal with Ted's loopiness or Sally's desperate need to prove herself to her mother.
  • Last-Second Photo Failure: Ted forgot to shave and then sneezed when they were taking the picture, making him look like he was turning into a werewolf.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Ted does it, but Hilary seems to take after him in this department on occasion.
  • Meta Guy: Sally's husband Ted was Abed before Abed was.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: The "Karen" that visits Jackie's shop in the 9/16/20 strip.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: According to the above interview, Nona is apparently very bright if scatterbrained.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Both sets, really. Sally's mother is a constant belittler. Ted's parents are dour borderline alcoholics. At some point Ted's mother was reinvented as an Extreme Doormat to his layabout brothers, who Sally finds frustrating to deal with because she can't stop trying to do everything for people.
  • One-Two Punchline: Under Marciuliano, especially. In fact it's not too rare to see a one-two-three punchline if, say Sally, Ted and Hilary are all in the last panel.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Ralph, Sally's former boss. He was eventually demoted to her co-worker before she was reorg'd to the marketing department.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Hilary and Faye had a falling out with Nona and, thinking that she needs space, wait so long to apologize that Nona found a new pair of blond and brunette friends.
  • Running Gag:
    • Every Easter, Sally always bites the ears off of Hilary's chocolate bunny. Hilary's attempts to hide it always fail, no matter which bizarre location she hides it in. The crowner had to be when Hilary bought twelve of them, and Sally got a stomachache afterward.
    • Every autumnal equinox will begin with a soliloquy on how awesome Fall is.
    • Every Halloween, Ted argues with the same eight year-old trick-or-treater.
    • The way Sally's stepdad Gerald suddenly appears when people wonder where he is (or just remember he exists), often emerging from rooms they're almost certain he wasn't in before.
    • Ted and Hilary compete with each other over who can provide the best Mother's Day breakfast for Sally.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Ted threatens to kick out Sally's mother during an arc where the lady is staying at their house, unless she agrees to be nicer to Sally. They try, with some alcohol, but nothing resolves. Sally then finds out her mother was lying about her house needing repairs, and send her out the door, furious that she was lying about being in need. Even if her mother had good intentions in wanting to spend time with her daughters, she was still emotionally abusing the family for several days, while also emotionally abusing her other daughter for weeks and lying about the reason why. It never occurred to Sally's mother that if she had been honest — and nice— she would have gotten the desired results.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Sally, in an O.O.C. Is Serious Business moment, boots her mother out the door when learning that she was lying about her house needing repairs. The reason that she lied was to have an excuse to spend more time with both her daughters. Just one problem: she spent all the time "bonding" with them by insulting them and their families repeatedly, including going after Hilary for the crime of playing guitar and saying she should take up ballet to lose that "pudge". While Ted, who had threatened to kick the woman out earlier, says that her mother had good intentions, Sally calls bullshit. Her mother is a narcissist that couldn't handle her daughters having lives separate from hers.
  • Villain Over for Dinner: When Sally's sister Jackie announces that she's hooked up with Sally's former boss Ralph. They're now married.