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Breaking The Fourth Wall / Comic Strips

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Examples of Breaking the Fourth Wall in Newspaper Comics. Note that there's a common convention in newspaper comics of having a character seem to turn toward the audience in the final panel when the punchline is delivered, as if to say "Can you believe that?"

  • Pearls Before Swine does this more and more as time goes by. The most common instances consist of the characters discussing a situation that results in an extremely lengthy and groan-worthy pun, followed by Rat scolding Stephen Pastis.
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  • Dilbert often utilizes this in order to respond to reader feedback, including the artist drawing himself into the strip. Examples include putting up a survey as the last panel, encouraging readers to vote on whether Ratbert would get whacked with a newspaper, having Dilbert attend a book signing where a "renowned cartoonist" is asked how he can keep thinking up ideas for a daily strip, and having the artist appear to explain that the "Wizard of Oz Dilbert version" concept is a popular suggestion for a strip arc before trying out that arc for the week.
  • Earl in Pickles during a recent Christmas strip looks directly at the readers and wishes them a Merry Christmas. This causes the following exchange:
    Opal: Who are you talking to?
    Earl: Oh, no one. I just keep having this eerie feeling that we're being watched.
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  • This Rhymes With Orange strip.
  • Garfield was prone to this, especially early on. One notable time featured panels of nothing but Garfield sleeping, with him waking up in the last panel to say, "Oh no! I slept through today's strip!"
    • Another time involved multiple strips, when Garfield caught Odie eating out of his food dish, he kicked Odie into next week. Jon asked Garfield if he'd seen Odie around, to which Garfield replied that he was probably somewhere over next Tuesday. A full week after the kick, the strip started with Garfield thinking to himself, "I feel as if there's something I should be remembering..." at which point Odie landed on him, causing him to think, "Oh yeah, I kicked Odie into next week last week."
  • In Frank and Ernest, Frank pulls off a card trick by buying the early edition of the paper to see how it was done.
  • In the May 6, 2002, strip of Beetle Bailey, Gen. Halftrack — confused by a high-tech–related communication from the Pentagon — walked into cartoonist Mort Walker's studio and demanded a new character to help him with computers.
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  • Dykes to Watch Out For did this occasionally, including a sequence where the characters stop the storyline in order so that they can hold a meeting to plot out the strip's upcoming stories.
  • This strip from Big Nate.
  • B.C. by Johnny Hart had one in which ant character Jake has been less than honest with his wife, Maude. In asking his buddy to back up his alibi, he winks, and the word "wink" appears above his head. Maude not only lampshades it, but it becomes part of the plot. "Don't you lie to me! I saw that word 'wink' above your head!" She storms off. Jake addresses the signature in the last panel as if speaking directly to the cartoonist. "Thanks, Hart!" There is a word balloon above the signature, offering an apologetic, "My fault."