April 1st, 2013

The Great Comic Strip Switcheroonie of 1997

by Rick Kirkman And Jerry Scott

©1997, Jim Davis, Dean Young, Greg Evans, Mort Walker, Dik Browne…I can’t really keep it all straight…©1997, the respective copyright holders of Blondie, Garfield, Hi and Lois and Luann.

In 1997, we organized what, to date, was the largest comics crossover in history. It was perpetrated as an April Fool’s Day prank. Forty-seven comic strips participated mostly by swapping strips for the day. Amazingly, it was a well-kept secret until the day it launched, surprising and confusing comics readers across the country. The web site Museumofhoaxes.com, ranks it at #32 of their Top 100 April Fool’s Day Hoaxes of All Time.

It started in October 1996, and by the end of January 1997, all the art was set to go. It was almost four months of work complicated by computer issues (including a burglary), recalcitrant cartoonists,  cartoonists who needed coaxing or cajoling. And cartoonists who kept misplacing the instructions. In all, par for the course working with cartoonists (and I include myself in that group). And it was completely worth it.

The idea of being organized for anything goes against the very fiber of most cartoonists. But in the end, those cartoonists made the biggest comics prank happen, and came through with great crossovers and clever tricks, giving readers a huge comics treat.

Even so, sixteen years later, the pain of organizing the prank is still too fresh in my memory to consider doing such a thing again.

You can see more of an explanation on the Wikipedia page devoted to it, which has a complete list of all the comic swaps.

You can also photos from a newspaper of the comics page that day here.

The Baby Blues web site has our account of it along with the Sherman’s Lagoon strip we did and Stephen Bentley’s Herb and Jamal version of Baby Blues he did.


An example of the Filemaker Pro entry for Bil Keane’s switch.




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