Written and drawn by Jerry Dumas, Sam and Silo chronicles the comic misadventures of a small-town sheriff and his deputy.
Sam and Silo are characters in the classic mold. They don’t attempt to solve the secrets of the universe. They don’t have profound ideas about politics or the economy or the communications revolution. They just aim to brighten their allotted space in the newspaper each day with a laugh or chuckle.
There is much nostalgia in Sam and Silo, which made its newspaper debut in 1977. The backgrounds often show tree-shaded streets, the town hall and the courthouse, all beautifully drawn. The scenes depict a way of life that is warmly remembered by millions of city folk who grew up in places much like Upper Backwater, the strip’s setting.
Dumas was born in 1930 and started drawing when he was 9 years old, continuing to cartoon when he was in high school in his native Detroit.
"I used to get on the bus and go into downtown Detroit and sell cartoons to Teen magazine for $2," he remembers. "I really thought I had made it. I was aiming for The New Yorker and Saturday Evening Post." He finally was published in the Saturday Evening Post at age 26 and The New Yorker at 29.
After finishing high school, he joined the Air Force and was stationed in Arizona. He remained in the Grand Canyon State to attend Arizona State University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in English literature in 1955. Fifty years later, he was invited back to speak at commencement.
In 1956, Dumas decided he wanted to be a writer, a cartoonist or both. He went to New York, where he eventually met Mort Walker through a mutual friend. They have worked together for more than 50 years.
Dumas has published "An Afternoon in Waterloo Park," a memoir, and "Rabbits Rafferty," a children’s novel. His prose and poetry have appeared in The Atlantic, Smithsonian, The New York Times and The Washington Post.
He has been the handball champion of Greenwich, Conn., more than 20 times since 1956. He won the state championship in 1971 and 1976, and the New England title in 1971.
He lives in Connecticut with his wife, Gail. The Dumases have three sons, Timothy, David and John.
Sam is the small-town sheriff of Upper Duckwater. The town is so small, in fact, that the entire police force is comprised of two people: Sam and Silo! When patrolling the shady and safe streets of Upper Duckwater, Sheriff Sam in his trademark porkpie hat believes the best defense against crime is a nap and a hearty lunch.
Silo is Sam’s right-hand man in small-town law enforcement. Every comic strip needs two or three main characters, who can bounce ideas at each other; Blondie has Dagwood, Calvin had Hobbes, Beetle has Sarge, and Sam has Silo.
While criminals in Upper Duckwater are few, Sam and Silo often have a nemesis in the town's sole politician, Mayor McGuffey. Whether he's seeing crime where there is none, or inventing bureaucratic red tape just for the fun of it, Mayor McGuffey sometimes makes life sticky for our heroes. And that's too bad, because Sam and Silo would rather do nothing more than sit behind the billboard in their squad car and sleep.
This counterwoman at the local diner dispenses one-liners and lots of affection along with breakfast, lunch and dinner. If truth be told, she's the real mother of Upper Duckwater.