Thus, a lot of the entries in the strip's first two years follow the same basic formula: Maggie, anticipating the appearance of a group of stuffed shirts, tells Jiggs that he must be on his best behavior; Jiggs—whether innocently or passively aggressively—foils this request by doing something innocuously "offensive" like appearing in front of company in his undershirt, smoking a pipe or getting caught carrying a bucket of beer into the house. Maggie reacts with a "horrors!" (she's not yet at the rolling pin throwing stage in their marriage, remember), while all the rest of the stuffed shirts look suitably dismayed. Repetitious, yes, though it should be noted that McManus wasn't yet producing these strips on a daily basis, rather alternating them with several other ongoing features, so they might not have appeared as redundant to the regular newspaper reader.
Still, when McManus takes Jiggs, Maggie and daughter (no trace of the invisible son) on an extended trip to Europe, we're grateful for the change in scenery and the amusing Innocents Abroad storyline. Just as intriguingly, when the threesome return to the states, McManus devotes a series of gag strips to the growing news of war in Europe. Though Jiggs tries to avoid getting caught up in the news, he's unable to do so. In this, he could stand in for much of 1914 America.
If "Bringing Up Father" has its formulaic elements, they were well overcome by McManus's art, with its elegant line work, and sharp sense of contemporary fashion and furnishings. One of the early comic strip era's most accomplished comics draftsmen, McManus captures his era with wit and assuredness. The strips are a joy to look at (especially the Europe entries) even if you don't bother reading the word balloons.
Bringing Up Father is the third in a series of early comic strip collections being released by NBM as the "Forever Nuts" (first two in the series: Early Years of Mutt & Jeff and Happy Hooligan). The reproduction is strong, though I spotted one strip where part of the hand lettering had to be replaced by mechanically produced letters, while the art is crisp. McManus's beautifully spotted blacks are particularly well-served: when Jiggs goes out in his suit coat, it needs to be richly black.