The Lockhorns Logo image
Leroy and Loretta dancing image
Leroy and Loretta dancing image

Bill Hoest

Bill Hoest was the creator of The Lockhorns (syndicated to 500 newspapers in 23 countries), Agatha Crumm, What a Guy!, Bumper Snickers for the National Enquirer and Laugh Parade and Howard Huge for Parade magazine.

Born in Newark, New Jersey, Hoest spent two years in the Navy then studied art at Cooper Union. In 1948, he was hired as a greeting card designer with Norcross Greeting Cards. Bill left Norcross in 1951 to become a freelance cartoonist. His cartoons appeared in Collier’s, Playboy, The Saturday Evening Post and many other magazines.

Hoest became an assistant on Harry Haenigsen’s comic, Penny. After an injury kept Haenigsen away from the drawing board, Hoest took over most of the work. In 1970, Hoest left to start his own strip, My Son John, for the Chicago Tribune New York News Syndicate.

Perhaps Bill’s biggest success came with the syndication of what was originally titled, The Lockhorns of Levittown. The single panel’s immediate success and expansion across both national and international markets meant that a name change was in order. While Levittown was famous for it’s affordable housing for returning servicemen and home to a new commuter society, the strip now appealed to a national audience and the name was shortened to The Lockhorns.

In addition to all his other projects, Bill became the cartoon editor of Parade magazine in 1979. While in that position, he created the feature Laugh Parade. Laugh Parade consisted of several unrelated cartoons. In 1981, added Howard Huge, to that section of the magazine. Howard Huge, was a single panel cartoon based on the Hoest family’s St. Bernard.

Bill regularly spent ten hours a day at his drawing board. “It is a business, and I have to treat it like a business. I keep busy. That’s the way I make my living.” After his untimely passing, his assistant, John Reiner continued to illustrate all the features, while his widow, Bunny Hoest, took over the scripting. A few thoughts on Bill from John:

“Bill insisted on doing each of his comics meticulously. The artwork, writing, lettering and inking were all done in such a way as to meet his high self-imposed standards. I came to realize that his success, which so many cartoonists young and old tried to analyze, was the result of a simple rule: Learn to do each segment of a comic professionally. Bill Hoest could draw well, letter attractively and legibly, design in an eye-catching fashion, direct and control the action and expression of his characters, and write material that was genuinely funny. He then blended the elements to produce work that stood out on the comics page. I must now meet that same standard of excellence.”

He was president of the National Cartoonists Society at the time of his death in 1988. Bill received three National Cartoonists Society awards. The Lockhorns was named the best syndicated panel of 1976 and 1980 and he also won the gag cartoon division in 1977.

Bunny Hoest

Bunny hoest is one of the most widely read cartoonists today, reaching nearly 200 million diverse readers every week. she has produced the Lockhorns, Agatha Crumm, What a Guy!, Hunny Bunny’s Short Tale, Laugh Parade featuring Howard Huge for Parade magazine, seen by more than 80 million people every sunday; and the long-running Bumper Snickers for the National Enquirer, with a circulation above seven million. Known as “The Cartoon Lady,” this dynamic and versatile talent has 25 best-selling anthologies and a host of exciting new projects in the works, including a new Lockhorns book and a Howard Huge project in development.

When Bill Hoest became ill, just like a stage production, the comic strip must go on. There are people relying on you for the laughter but also many for their very job. A comic isn’t just the creator, it’s the people who work to support it, syndicate staff, newspapers, etc. Here’s a couple of excerpts from a recent interview on the Superstar Agenda blog:

“Bill was like a father figure to John Reiner. He absolutely worshipped Bill. And I said, ‘John, through the tears can you still draw?’ So the two of us thought that we’d just give it a shot. We’d try. And we did very well. John kept up his end and we were able to go on and never missed a day. And that’s the thing about personal days. I went from death to divorce to disaster and I never missed a deadline because if you have a job you have to do it. There’s a personal responsibility. Nobody out there reading . . . my 100 million people. They don’t care about my life. They don’t care if I’m having a bad day. And they shouldn’t. It’s not their problem. . . . John was great. He really was a great supporter. He never missed a day.”

When it comes to The Lockhorns, it’s not all fun and games. Bunny is meticulous and strategic. She has devised a system that allows her to have cartoons completed four months in advance of when they go to print. “I can’t have a deadline,” she says. “I get [some good] ideas from . . . people. . . . They’re either a gem or a germ. Sometimes somebody sends me something really funny and I use it as is or I shorten it. I only do one panel and I like it to be as tight as possible. The drawing is very black and white. And I like the caption to be simple and terse and succinct and so I keep the caption in keeping with the artwork. . . . Sometimes they send me a germ of an idea. This is an idea that has a possibility and then I can fix it. And that’s where I solve the problem . . . maybe shorten it . . . reverse it,” Bunny says.

She continues, “And then we put [the ideas] in three by five file cards . . . We do four weeks at a time. Four weeks of cartoons. Four Sundays with five cartoons each and four weeks of six dailys . . . And I mix and match them. We don’t want all the cartoons to be the woman beating up on the man. We don’t want it the other way around of course. We don’t want all of them to be in the movies, or all of them in the kitchen, or all of them to be in the garden. And I’m even more meticulous. I don’t want them all sitting. I want them standing and walking. . . . I treat it like a proscenium[: the stage arch where the scene in a piece of theatre is enacted].”

Read the rest of the interview on the Superstar Agenda blog.

John Reiner

John Reiner was born in New York City and raised on Long Island, where he graduated from Smithtown High School in 1974. He attended the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where he was a contributing artist to Statesman, the student newspaper. He was a psychology major, graduating in 1978.

After a meeting in 1974 Mad magazine cartoonist, Mort Drucker, encouraged him to consider cartooning as a career. The following year he began work on Joe Simon’s humor magazines. Along with pages for Marvel Comics, John did freelance advertising art, humorous illustrations and political caricatures. In 1984, he was an assistant to Mort Drucker on the comic strip Benchley, which Jerry Dumas and Mort created to satirize the Washington political scene.

Reiner commented, “We get ideas for The Lockhorns from everyday observation, from interesting people, funny situations, driving or even at dinner.”

John received the National Cartoonists Society’s Gag Cartoon Award in 1994.