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.