Augustus J. Mutt, tall, thin, meek, dishonest, and poor, is always betting on losing horses. Edgar Horace Jeffries, known as Jeff, half-sized, dim-witted, bald, and a little insane, plays along with Mutt only to mess things up. Both pretend to have winning hands, and as they are never as bright as they imagine they are easily foiled by their incompetence.
The archetype of mismatched friends, Mutt being tall and Jeff being short, stick together, filter our perceptions, meet our expectations and surprise us, even though, in the two of them, we are only looking at ourselves.
Little Nemo, Flip, and Impie swat down and chew the letters for the title of their story. Jeff isn’t crazy when he excuses himself because he says his cartoonist couldn’t think of anything better. Cicero’s cat is stymied when the mouse escapes to sit on the top line of the panel. Endemic among comic strip characters is awareness of both cartoonist and reader and their special existence on the page.
Do characters in a comic strip have their own lives off the page? Have their lines and Ben-Day dots achieved a living mass? * Mutt and Jeff go from panel to panel, as if we were watching them on the sidewalk outside our windows, wanting to see what will happen next. * We invite them into our homes and love them as our own but without criticism or complaint because they excuse our crazy dreams. * After the comedic conclusion, they pick themselves up, dust themselves off, scratch their heads, and head home for dinner and a shower.