Friday, September 24, 2010

April 18, 1953: Stylish Snoopy


The construction of the punchline of this joke is pure comedy 101. For some reason, I consider, it is important that the reader sees the punch of this kind of joke, that it's a sight gag, instead of reads it out of a word balloon. This lets the humor value of the drawing of Snoopy with a haircut assist the main joke (that of a dog, an unlikely competitor, beating Shermy to getting the first haircut of the summer).

It is important, I think, that the payoff be a sight gag, but I'm not exactly sure why. It might be because the rest of the strip is primarily verbal, so it needs the sight gag for variety. Or it might be because Shermy's reaction is spoken, and having two characters speak at the essential moment of comedy would be unwieldly. It might just have to do with that nebulous comedic concept, timing. Or maybe, if the punch moment of the strip were told instead shown, it'd seem arbitrary and forced.


  1. In any other strip, the characters might have expressed surprise that a dog would get a haircut. Shermy's reaction is one of irritated annoyance at being one-upped by someone who regularly one-ups everyone.

    This is another early hint that Snoopy is the coolest, hippest trend-setter in the neighborhood: something that later becomes one of his signature character notes.

  2. and poor Charlie Brown... he would NEVER get a short haircut!

  3. I remember this strip from the paperback compilations. When I read it back in the early '70s -- when long hair for men was the fashion -- I thought it odd that a boy would be excited about getting a short haircut. In the '70s, the only reason boys got short haircuts was because of head lice...