Monday, December 13, 2010

August 6, 1953: The weirdness of Patty's dress


Lucy exhibits surprising self-awareness here.  She loses these introspective powers as she comes into her own as neighborhood terror.

It's worth noting, for a moment, the bizarre attributes of Patty's dress. All the girls typically wear skirts in this phase of Peanuts' development. Some time earlier, when a girl bent over Schulz didn't bother to wrap the skirt around the legs. In this strip, however, he cheats Patty's legs and skirt longer as she stoops down to Lucy's height.

Even more interesting, however... look at the cross-hatch pattern on her dress. Does something look odd about it? It's like the cloth is a shaped hole in the paper, revealing the pattern behind it. Due to the small size of the panels on the page, I think the pattern reads better this way than if it were more realistically drawn.

I love it when comic strips do things like this. A contemporary example, to borrow from outside the artform for a moment, is in the Monkey Island series of computer games. Most of them feature a salesman character named Stan who wears a loud checked sportcoat. The pattern on the coat is applied across the folds of cloth in much the same way as the pattern on Patty's dress. This fan drawing on Stan (taken from here) illustrates the effect:

Recently the series made the jump to polygonal, 3D graphics. The pattern on his coat is considered to be such an integral part of the character that the developers went to special trouble to preserve the effect (source page):


  1. I remember that effect in old cartoons too, like that had the pattern behind the entire scene and the suit cutout just moved across it.

    Oddly enough, I didn't notice it until they stopped doing it.

  2. I never expect to see a Monkey Island reference, but yeah - the unmoving plaid is pretty much a pet peeve of mine unless it's clearly done as a stylistic choice.