In 1962 Stan and Jan Berenstain took a new book concept to their publisher, Random House. The story featured a family of bears. Their editor,Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss.) loved it. It was published and to great success. Thus the Berenstein Bears Series was born and continued for 40 years. It became one of the most popular and lucrative franchises in publishing history.

Jan and Stan Berenstain in their studio.

Both served their country in WWII, Stan as a military medical illustrator and Jan as a draft artist for the Army Corps of Engineers as well as working in an aircraft factory. After the war, the Berenstains worked as a cartoonist team. It was a time when one-panel gag cartoons were in demand. Magazines enjoyed large subscription bases and plenty of rack sales. And the magazines published hundreds of gag-cartoons every month. The Berenstains were popular and in 1956 they started a series “All In the Family” that appeared every month in McCall’s. Typically there were 8-10 gag cartoons centering around family themes like allowances, halloween or vacations.

Here’s a sampling of that humorous early work that recalls a simpler era when life centered around the family.

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