When Sally Forth first appeared on the comics pages, not many newspaper readers suspected its creator was a man (and they certainly never suspected creator Greg Howard was a lawyer-turned-cartoonist).
Over the years, Sally Forth has made a consistent impressive growth in popularity. Why? Because it’s every working mother’s story! And because, as one reader wrote to her newspaper, it’s about “a nuclear family whose trials and tribulations my husband and I repeatedly could relate to. We enjoyed sharing many strips with our children since we felt the strips depicted values we hope to instill in them.” The National Women’s Political Caucus presented Howard with its “Good Guy” Award for his “sensitive and humorous portrayal of the conflicts and victories that touch the lives of working women.” As one newspaper editor said, “It’s one of our top strips in every age bracket. It’s amazing. Our readers have a real personal attachment to Sally.”
Cartoonist Greg Howard created Sally Forth in 1982 and wrote and drew the strip for nearly 10 years until professional cartoonist, Craig Macintosh began drawing. Howard continued writing the strip until 1999, when he decided to pursue other creative interests. The talented Francesco Marciuliano now writes the popular strip with artist Jim Keefe.
Today, Sally Forth appears in nearly 700 newspapers some as far away as Iceland! In 1999, the comic strip gained nearly 80 new newspaper clients, and its popularity continues to rise.
Francesco Marciuliano was born in Dix Hills, New York, a town known for honoring Walt Whitman with his very own shopping mall, for appearing in a single line in The Bonfire of the Vanities, and for being the birthplace of Sally Forth character Ted forth, even if one can’t actually have the phrase “Dix Hills” appear in a daily comic strip without getting letters.
After a childhood marked mostly by a crippling fear of both the color yellow and “The Sunboy,” Francesco graduated from Duke University with a major in English and a minor panic attack about entering the job market with an English degree. He went on to work as a copywriter for BusinessWeek, The New York Times, Random House, Harvard Business Magazine, The Economist, Disney, and Scholastic.
During that time he also submitted one comic strip idea after another to the syndicates, hoping to become a professional cartoonist and so check off an item on a bucket list he wrote at age ten. (A bucket list composed because it was at the height of the killer bee scare and he believed that unless his family moved up to Canada to buy another six months, he was as good as dead.)
Francesco’s dreams and peculiar childhood fear-based aspirations finally came real when King Features’ Editor-in-Chief personally called him and said with great fanfare, “We just received your latest submission. I’m afraid we can’t publish it.” What began as a seemingly cruel conversation concluded with an incredible job offer to assume writing responsibilities for the beloved Sally Forth. And the rest, as they say, is a historical footnote.
Since then Francesco has also written the New York Times bestselling book I Could Pee on This and Other Poems by Cats as well as the national and New York Times bestsellers I Could Chew on This and Other Poems by Dogs and I Knead My Mommy and Other Poems by Kittens. His next book You Need More Sleep: Advice from Cats will be published July 2015. And yes, there does appear to be a running theme here.
In addition, Francesco served as the two-time Emmy Award-winning Head Writer for the PBS children’s show SeeMore’s Playhouse and has written for the Onion News Network, Smosh, McSweeney’s, and the New York International Fringe Festival. He also wrote this bio in the third person either in an absolutely ridiculous attempt to convince you he somehow possesses the clout to attract his own Boswell-like biographer or because he has suffered a complete nervous breakdown and has convinced himself he actually hired a writer with a strikingly similar name.
Francesco Marciuliano is available for viewing Monday-Saturday, 9AM to 5PM (closed on Sundays and holidays). Please inquire about group-rate discounts as well as the audio tour guide inside his head. Please visit his website at medium-large.com.
A graduate of the Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic art, Jim Keefe started his career in the King Features Syndicate comic art department coloring such world-renowned comic strips as Blondie, Beetle Bailey and Hagar the Horrible. While on staff, he began a seven-year run as both writer and artist of the Flash Gordon newspaper strip as well as his tenure doing fashion illustrations for Sew Simple.
Work experience over the years has also included coloring Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Lion King holiday comic strips, lettering Yu-Gi-Oh, Whistle and Dragon Drive for Viz Media, illustrations for the Actionopolis chapter book Dragonblood and cover illustrations for Comics Revue published by Manuscript Press.
Keefe has also taught and guest lectured at area schools on the east coast, including the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, Malloy College and Hofstra’s UCCE Youth Programs in Long Island. Since moving from New York to Minnesota he can be found as Adjunct Faculty at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
In 2011 Jim connected with Minneapolis area cartoonist Craig MacIntosh and began work as his assistant inking and coloring the Sally Forth Sunday pages. When Craig decided to retire, Keefe worked up samples under Craig’s tutelage and watchful eye – and the rest, as they say, is history.
Jim Keefe can be found online at his website and blog, www.jimkeefe.com.
Juggling work, family, and pottery class (which is rather ill-advised considering how easily crockery can shatter), Sally is a dedicated human resources director, wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter, daughter-in-law, aunt, co-coach, coworker, and co-superhero (when she and her husband dress for Halloween) among many other roles that can be both rewarding and overwhelming. Not trying to be the perfect person, Sally is instead trying to pursue a full life for herself, her family, and her new online game character.
Sally’s husband whom she met in college. Specifically the college dorm laundry room. Specifically when Ted put in quarters to rewash some stranger’s clothes just so he had an excuse to talk to Sally. Ted works in strategic sourcing but in truth comes to the office to focus on his would-be Great American Novel, his hopes to coach yet another championship softball team, and his dream of somehow scoring a cameo in the new Star Wars sequels, standalone, or digitally remastered holiday special. A loving husband, devoted father, and deranged Monopoly fanatic, Ted treasures both his Gen X childhood and Gen X childhood toys, which he has perhaps mistaken as a retirement fund.
Sally and Ted’s daughter, seventh-grade student, softball player, and drummer/lead songwriter/occasional solo performer for the band New Delhi Monkey Gang. Hil has her mom’s knack for leadership and her dad’s faculty for excessive daydreaming. The result is someone with a can-do attitude about some things that simply cannot be done, though Hil believes that should never stop anyone no matter how much others complain.
Faye Simmons: Hilary’s best friend since elementary school, Faye is the voice of reason when Hil is just the louder voice. Initially critical of the Forths, Faye has slowed been pulled into their lives as she tries to maintain a level of sanity and clarity while coping with Sally’s chocolate Easter bunny obsession, Ted’s softball speeches, and Hilary’s belief that the song “You’re So Party, Let’s Go Dancey” will catapult their band to stardom or at least a YouTube video with more than 12 hits.
Nona: Hilary’s other best friend and bass guitarist for the New Delhi Monkey Gang. Nona is exceptionally intelligent and often gets lost in her own thoughts or those of her friends, thanks to what may be to be telepathic powers.
Jackie (née Jansen) Adams: Sally’s younger sister by five years, Jackie had a long, rocky relationship with her sibling, often asking Sally for help while getting annoyed whenever Sally offered advice. Initially flighty where Sally was focused, Jackie has since really come into her own, much to Sally’s delight…even when Jackie married Sally’s archnemesis/not-quite-Moriarty former boss Ralph, with whom she has a daughter and a history of poor business planning.
Ralph Adams: Sally’s former nightmare of a boss and current brother-in-law, having married her sister Jackie in spite of all the times Sally made a wish when blowing out her or anyone else’s birthday candles. Presently a business professor at a community college with the Division IV team the Fighting Boxers, at age 62 Ralph also became a new dad to daughter Bettina.
Bettina Adams: Jackie and Ralph’s one-year-old daughter named after Jackie’s childhood pet Siamese cat. Bettina’s current resume includes repeatedly grabbing Ralph by the nostril, artfully tossing food to the floor with an eye towards the splatter painting aesthetic, and somehow aging a full year when her cousin Hilary (or anyone else for that matter) did not.
Laura Jansen: Sally’s often demanding mom who is quite critical of Ted but certainly seems to have nothing but praise for wine. Though loving in her own way (the way in which people ask “What is her deal?”), Laura can add undue stress when Sally really needs support, often needing to be the center of attention even when everyone has fled the room.
Gerald: Laura’s current older boyfriend. At times he seems to recall fighting in the Crimean War with startling detail.
Jeff Jowdy: Sally’s boss. He is genial, competent, and assumed the position after former head of the company Tony Moody proved to be a cross between a Borgia and Master Control Program from Tron.
Alice Sharples: Sally’s longtime coworker and best friend, Alice recently left for a new job after years of dissatisfaction with her old position, her old boss, and her old hairdo. She is a single mom to 14-year-old very astute Chloe and five-year-old very animated Marcello.
Hank and Jeanie Forth: Parents to Timmy, Tommy, Terry, Tate, and the youngest, Ted. Live on Long Island. Usually seen and barely coped with during the holidays.
Cynthia Keys: Sally’s new coworker. She is 30, newly single, and is slowly realizing that no one at the company has ever referred to the company by name. Cynthia’s niece Jenny plays on Hilary’s softball team, spending most of her time critiquing coach Ted’s speeches for content or even common sense.
Kevin Tor: Ted’s best/only friend at work. Kevin is not quite sure what to make of Ted so he often just makes a quick turn whenever he sees him approaching in the hallway.
Jon: Hilary’s boyfriend who visits every summer to stay with his grandmother. He is a year older and recently grew much taller. He has heard Hilary’s band play “You’re So Party, Let’s Go Dancey” more than he can count or wishes to recall.
Tom Racine: The Forth’s very accomplished, very sensible neighbor. Naturally Ted has designated Tom to be his sworn enemy.
Kitty: The Forths’ cat. No doubt in her mind she is the main character of the strip.
Marcie: Ralph’s former administrative assistant. Embezzled from the company. Also took more than her fair share of office pens. Has not been seen in the strip or on any video surveillance footage since 2005.