Saturday, January 14, 2012

Highlights Magazine's "The Timbertoes"

One of my favorite tasks is writing The Timbertoes each month for Highlights. The little wooden family was created by John Gee many years ago (he did the writing and illustrating; I just write), and the comic strip has appeared in just about every issue of the magazine for more than 60 years.

I believe I'm only the fourth person ever to have the byline. Gee did it until this death, and then writer-illustrator Sid Quinn took over for a long stretch. My former colleague Marileta Robinson did a wonderful job with the strip until her retirement a couple of years ago, and I was honored when I was asked to take her place. Each strip includes 12 panels and a total of less than 60 words, so it requires a very tightly written story.

And that's the key: the story. There isn't much room for character development or plot, but there has to be some of that. Most important, is an element of adventure or surprise. In this month's story, for example, Pa Timbertoe makes musical instruments for the family (he's a carpenter). They play very badly, but they enjoy it, so they keep playing and get better at it. Lots of noise. And the dog joins in by howling.

If I can make myself laugh a bit each month, I figure I've accomplished my goal for the script. It's a long, proud legacy to live up to, and I don't take it lightly.

Rich Wallace


  1. It was obviously passed into very capable hnads with a respect for its history. Kudos, Rich!

  2. Wow...I will look upon this magazine with a sense of you the writer from now on.

  3. Oh my gosh, I just clicked here from Mother Reader's Comment Challenge, and I found the guy who writes the Timbertoes! I've read those since I was a kid, and then read them with my own kids. This feels so amazing.

    Anyway, I'm a fan of your work.

  4. How wonderful! My son loves the Timbertoes!

  5. We've always enjoyed the Timbertoes. It's great how the kids sometimes get into naughtiness, but the family dynamic is strong and forgiving.

  6. That is so sweet...when I taught my kids loved that mag...

  7. My children having grown so long ago I completely forgot about Highlights! What a wonderful magazine!

  8. Where the hell is Woody Gremlin? Have we turned chicken?

    1. Been wondering the same thing. Your post is the only reference I could find!!

  9. Is there an archive somewhere of all the Timbertoes strips online?