Jan, Jill and unidentified boyfriends. Artist: Dick Brooks.


Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: McNaught Syndicate
First Appeared: 1950
Creator: Dick Brooks
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Teenagers have been a comics page staple since Harold Teen was one. This strip offered a variation on the theme — two identical teens instead of one — but wasn't otherwise …

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… much different. Jan and Jill Jackson obsessed over make-up, clothes, music and the opposite gender, tho not necessarily in that order. Their younger brother, Junior, whom they usually referred to as "Termite", functioned largely as a thorn in their sides. Mom and Dad were nice enough in their own quaint way, but scarcely a part of the "real" world.

Officially, the Jacksons date back to November 27, 1950, when McNaught Syndicate (Napoleon & Uncle Elby, Mickey Finn, The Bungle Family) began distributing their daily and Sunday strip. But a few years earlier, cartoonist Dick Brooks, their creator, had used a very similar pair of twin girls as recurring supporting characters in Elmer Squee, which he'd done for King Features from 1946-48. When he moved to McNaught he simply gave them new names, placed them in a locality called Gardentown (very similar to Archie's Riverdale, and with good reason), and made them the stars.

The day of making radio shows out of comic strips was past, and the Jacksons never got into movies, TV or even comic books. But the strip maintained respectable circulation, and became a small but steady presence in the lives of a couple of generations of real-life teens.

The strip used a continuing story format, rather than an unrelated gag each day. Storylines revolving around a big football game, a cute new boy in school and similar frivolity made up the bulk of its fare. But as the years went by, kids their age — and no, the Jacksons themselves never aged a day — became involved in more and more serious matters. Brooks tried to move with the times, but met resistance. Nowadays, strips that get too "relevant", such as Mallard Fillmore, The Boondocks and Doonesbury, are sometimes shunted off to the editorial pages. But that option wasn't available in The Jackson Twins' day, and if enough readers became annoyed — sometimes by the most innocent-sounding thing, such as the word "tranquilizer" appearing in dialog — papers would simply drop the strip.

This happened at a slow but steady pace from about the late 1960s or early '70s on. The strip folded on March 24, 1979.


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Text ©2003-06 Donald D. Markstein. Art © McNaught Syndicate.