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Goofus and Gallant

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Goofus and Gallant
Goofus and Gallant - October 1980.jpg
Goofus and Gallant from the October 1980 issue of Highlights for Children
Author(s)Garry Cleveland Myers
Current status/scheduleRunning/monthly
Launch date1940; 79 years ago (1940)
Genre(s)Educational comics

Goofus and Gallant is an American children's comic strip appearing monthly in Highlights for Children. The comic contrasts the actions of the titular characters, presenting Gallant's actions as right and good and Goofus's as wrong and bad. Created by Garry Cleveland Myers and first published in Children's Activities in 1940, Goofus and Gallant moved to Highlights for Children when the magazine was founded in 1946.

Throughout its history Goofus and Gallant has been interpreted as an effective didactic comic. It has been used in several studies as a stimulus to prompt children to identify kind and unkind actions, and the characters of Goofus and Gallant, as archetypes of badness and goodness, have been referenced in several works by philosophers.


Goofus and Gallant was created by Garry Cleveland Myers and was first featured in the magazine Children's Activities in 1940. According to family legend, the grandchildren of Myers and his wife Caroline, Kent Brown and Garry Cleveland Myers III, inspired the characters Goofus and Gallant respectively.[1] At first, the comic's characters were depicted as elves. In 1946, when the Myerses founded Highlights for Children, they brought Goofus and Gallant with them to the new magazine. By the 1950s, the strip's art style changed and Goofus and Gallant turned from elves to human boys.[1] Throughout Goofus and Gallant's history, numerous artists have drawn for the strip, including Marion Hull Hammel, who illustrated the strip for 32 years beginning in the early 1950s.[1][2]


The comic, published monthly in Highlights for Children, consists of two panels depicting the actions of two children, Goofus and Gallant.[a] Gallant's actions are always virtuous and respectful, in contrast to Goofus's, which are always rude and selfish. They are presented side by side with a brief caption (e.g. "Goofus turns on the television when there are guests; whenever guests arrive, Gallant turns off the television at once.") though the direct results of their actions, good or bad, are never depicted.[1] The strip's protagonists have varied in age and appearance over time, variously shown with long or short, or dark or light hair and aged twelve or eight or five years old. Goofus and Gallant have never appeared in the same panel of the comic.[1]

According to Brown, who was Editor of Highlights for Children, "Without Goofus, Gallant would be bland and no one would pay attention. But kids see parts of themselves in both characters. No one is as good as Gallant, and no one is as bad as Goofus. But being more like Gallant is something to strive for."[1] For many years, a short line of text reading "Gallant shows correct behavior" was included at the bottom of the comic.[3]


The children's author and philosophy professor Claudia Mills wrote that Goofus and Gallant is heavily didactic and engages in "simple moralizing" without "engag[ing] children philosophically" but is nonetheless effective at imparting its lessons to children.[4][5] According to author and professor of literature and pop culture Harold Schechter, "though Goofus is clearly meant to be obnoxious, even destructive–a bundle of unbridled aggression–he generally seems more appealing than the do-gooder Gallant", which Schechter believed necessitated the explanatory caption below each strip to confirm which character children should be emulating.[6] Alan A. Block wrote that Goofus and Gallant presents uncritical assumptions about what constitutes right and wrong, and rarely or never interfaces with situations of real-world prejudice.[7]

Other uses[edit]

Goofus and Gallant strips have been used for research purposes. A 2006 study gauging the development of ideas of respect and disrespect among American children used strips from the comic as stimuli to which the subjects could provide qualitative responses regarding why they believed Goofus's or Gallant's actions were respectful or disrespectful.[8] A 2012 study used the strips to prompt autistic and allistic children to identify whether the depicted child (either Goofus or Gallant) was behaving badly while researchers used an fMRI to measure the neural networks used in reaching their conclusions.[9]

The concepts of Goofus and Gallant have also appeared in contexts divorced from the comic. Philosopher Theodore Sider used the characters in an argument against the notion of a binary Heaven or Hell conception of the afterlife.[10] Sider conceived of Goofus and Gallant as near-equals, with Gallant only marginally better than Goofus, in arguing that sending the former to Heaven and the latter to Hell is antithetical to God's justice.[10] Other philosophers such as Matthew Konieczka and Casey Swank have also called upon Goofus and Gallant as archetypes of bad and good when formulating arguments.[11][12]


  1. ^ Harold Schechter and Jonna Gormely Semeiks describe Goofus and Gallant as twin brothers.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Zorn, Eric (November 4, 1993). "Goofus, Gallant–the inside story". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on April 20, 2016. Retrieved December 22, 2016. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  2. ^ "Biography". The Art of Marion Hull Hammel. Virginia Commonwealth University. Archived from the original on May 1, 2006. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  3. ^ a b Schechter, Harold; Semeiks, Jonna Gormely (1980). Patterns in Popular Culture: A Sourcebook for Writers. Cambridge, MA: Harper & Row. p. 25. ISBN 0-06-045761-9.
  4. ^ Mills, Claudia (2014). "Introduction". In Mills, Claudia (ed.). Ethics and Children's Literature. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company. pp. 1–12. ISBN 978-1-4724-4073-0.
  5. ^ Mills, Claudia (2012). "Beyond Goofus and Gallant: Morally Charged Choices in Morally Complex Children's Literature". In Israeloff, Roberta; Lone, Jana Mohr (eds.). Philosophy and Education: Introducing Philosophy to Young People. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 69–77. ISBN 978-1-4438-3979-2.
  6. ^ Schechter, Harold (1980). The New Gods: Psyche and Symbol in Popular Art. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green University Popular Press. p. 40. ISBN 0-87972-868-X.
  7. ^ Block, Alan A. (2000). "Leer revistas infantiles: cultura infantil y cultura popular". In Steinberg, Shirley R.; Kincheloe, Joe L. (eds.). Cultura infantil y multinacionales: La consctrucción de la identidad en la infancia (in Spanish). Madrid: Ediciones Morata, S. L. pp. 153–162. ISBN 84-7112-439-4.
  8. ^ Shwalb, Barbara J.; Shwalb, David W. (2006). "Concept development of respect and disrespect in American kindergarten and first- and second-grade children". New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development. 114: 67–80. doi:10.1002/cd.176. closed access
  9. ^ Carter, Elizabeth J.; Williams, Diane L.; Minshew, Nancy J.; Lehman, Jill F.; Zalla, Tiziana (2012). "Is He Being Bad? Social and Language Brain Networks during Social Judgment in Children with Autism". PLOS ONE. 7 (10): e47241. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047241.
  10. ^ a b Sider, Theodore (2002). "Hell and Vagueness". Faith and Philosophy. 19 (1): 58–68. doi:10.5840/faithphil20021918. closed access
  11. ^ Konieczka, Matthew (2011). "Hell Despite Vagueness: A Response to Sider". Sophia. 50 (1): 221–232. doi:10.1007/s11841-009-0115-6. closed access
  12. ^ Swank, Casey (2000). "Epistemic Vice". In Axtell, Guy (ed.). Knowledge, Belief, and Character: Readings in Contemporary Virtue Epistemology. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 195–204. ISBN 978-0-8476-9653-6.