Growing up outdoors with Frank and His Friend
Is it possible to offer kids today the kind of childhood seen in our favorite comics?
These days, it seems like kids spend a lot of time indoors, and what little time they get outside is pretty structured. If the characters from Frank and His Friend were around now, would they be able to spend the same amount of time wandering outside today, with no responsibility and no adults? Probably not.
Forgetting for a moment that the wide expanse of wild outdoors that set the stage for so many of their adventures has probably been turned into a housing development (if it even existed at all in artist Clarence ‘Otis’ Dooley’s time), what adult would let them roam around out there? If it were private property, it would be bounded by a threatening fence promising to prosecute all trespassers, and if it were public it would be littered with trash and tamed with that springy stuff they use for playgrounds. Either way, Frank and His Friend would be strongly discouraged from heading out there – certainly not alone.
But most importantly, what kid would have that kind of time? Kids are so scheduled these days, from soccer practice to therapy sessions, that time to just laze in the grass looking for shapes in the clouds has disappeared. A child that age would be in pre-school or day care or at the very least would be always within sight of a parent, nanny or babysitter.
And all of this might have already been fantasy by the time Dooley created the comic as well, but adults at the time would have recognized their own childhoods in the pages of Frank and His Friend. And for those of us who didn’t grow up with such idyllic days growing up outdoors, maybe Frank and His Friend can offer us nostalgia for the childhood we never had.