Friday, February 26, 2010

June 18, 1952: Rules for Dog Word Bubbles


- If the bubble contains English text, that is letters that are not meant onomatopoetically then it must be a thought bubble. Animals cannot talk.

- However, animals can "say" the sounds they ordinarily make. So, Snoopy can say "Arf" or "Ruff" or even "Bark."

- As we see here, Snoopy can also say punctuation. Here I believe the intent is just to show a mood. Snoopy isn't actually saying anything, it is just showing his mental state. The word balloon is technically extraneous here.

- Once in a while you'll see Snoopy say something that is borderline between the two. Some time ago he said "Heh heh," which is hard to adjudicate. Dogs can't laugh, but presumably they can make sounds like being amused, so I assume that was Schulz's intent.

- Then there was that strip in which Snoopy had a sheet over his head and said "Boo." The joke in that one was from being inexplicable.


  1. Today, I'm Learning To Share posted an interesting selection of illustrations from Schultz's church-themed book for second, third, and fourth graders, Two-By-Fours.

    Maybe more interesting, though, is that post's link to an earlier entry about Young Pillars, another church-themed strip about what looks like teenaged versions of the Peanuts gang.

  2. Just to test the hypothesis that hypothesis that it was extraneous, I edited out the punctuation bubbles to see the difference. I think it loses a very small amount of je ne sais quoi without them there:

    What does everyone else think?

    (I think this qualifies under fair use for the purposes of critical analysis; no intent to infringe upon Mr. Schulz' 50 years of excellent work)

  3. Johnny: Those are very interesting! Almost Metafilter-worthy really. I've considered doing a MeFi post on Schulz's other work, like those two things and his other strip It's Only A Game.

    infi: I meant that the bubble itself, the outline, was extraneous; you've removed both the bubble and its contents. (And the punctuation would also have to be moved closer to Snoopy to indicate that it is emanating from him, since removing the balloon would also remove its tail, which provides attribution information.)

    I wholehearted approve, by the way, of these kinds of experiments!

  4. I always imagine little Scooby-Doo-esque vocalizations when Snoopy has an exclamation or question mark.

  5. As a side note, in the novelization of the old Doctor Who story "The Leisure Hive," author David Fischer uses "?" as a line of dialog. I always wondered what he meant by that. Probably "huh?" or the more traditionally English "eh?" but it always struck me as an odd quirk.

  6. In Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan book, he uses "..." as a line of dialog, which I've always thought is a really great idea and should become a standard convention.

  7. "..." as dialogue is a video game convention that started in Japanese Famicom games and has spread from there. "?" as dialogue could be interpreted as a questioning look.