|Author(s)||Bill Hoest (1968–1988)|
Bunny Hoest (1988–present)
|Illustrator(s)||Bill Hoest (1968–1988)|
John Reiner (1988–present)
|Launch date||September 9, 1968|
|Syndicate(s)||King Features Syndicate|
The Lockhorns is a United States single-panel cartoon created September 9, 1968 by Bill Hoest and distributed by King Features Syndicate to 500 newspapers in 23 countries. It is continued today by Bunny Hoest and John Reiner.
The married couple Leroy and Loretta Lockhorn constantly argue. They demonstrate their mutual deep-seated hatred by making humorously sarcastic comments on each other's failings as spouses.
The strip initially was titled The Lockhorns of Levittown, and many of the businesses and institutions depicted in the strip are real places located in or near Huntington, New York, on the North Shore of Long Island. "When we use names, we get permission," Bunny Hoest said in 2019. “Dr. [Harold] Blog was our doctor for many years. He passed away. We still use him. He stays alive in the comic." Anticipating national syndication, Bunny Hoest suggested shortening the title to The Lockhorns.
It began as a single-panel daily on September 9, 1968, with the Sunday feature launched April 9, 1972. The Sunday feature employs an unusual layout that ganged together several single-panel cartoons. Comics historian Don Markstein described the couple's battle of wits:
It focused just on the couple themselves — no children, no next-door neighbors, no boss, etc., except to the extent others were occasionally needed as props. The entire raison d'etre of the series is to show Leroy and Loretta trading caustic one-liners. They fight about his roving eye, her cooking, his earning power, her excessive shopping, condescending remarks during parties at neighbor's homes, sarcasm during police stops, and the fact that both are middle-aged and dumpy-looking. ... There are a few other recurring characters, such as Loretta's mother (so they can argue about her visits), their marriage counselor (so they can argue in front of him) and Leroy's favorite bartender (so they can argue about his drinking). But the entire focus is on Leroy and Loretta themselves. ... If either of them has a lovable quality, readers never see it. And if they wouldn't want to part, it can only be because their greatest pleasure comes from keeping each other on edge.
Bill Hoest died in 1988. His widow, Bunny Hoest, continued the strip with Bill Hoest's longtime assistant, John Reiner.
At least nine Lockhorns collections were published by Signet between 1968 and 1982. Tor reissued the first in the series as The Lockhorns: "What Do You Mean You Weren't Listening? I Didn't Say Anything" in 1992.
Canterbury Ales, a restaurant Bill’s son, Billy, used to own, still appears in 'The Lockhorns,' along with Long Island locations Bunny Hoest loves, such as Aboff's, the paint store, and Huntington's Book Revue and Bistro Cassis, where panels grace the walls.