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Early Installment Weirdness / Comic Strips

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Uh, Garf buddy, are... are you feeling all right?

  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • Susie Derkins asks Calvin to cheat and give her the answer to a test question in an early strip. In all later appearances, she is depicted as a serious student who resists Calvin's constant requests to help him cheat in any way.
    • In Susie's first appearances, she and Calvin both seem to internally acknowledge that they have crushes on each other underneath their insults and animosity. This soon changes with Susie switching her affection to Hobbes and Calvin panicking over even the thought that Susie likes him.
    • The very first strip features Calvin catching Hobbes in a tiger trap; this was supposed to be how they first met. However, a later strip near the end of the comic's run had Hobbes recall Calvin spent most of his infancy "burping up", hinting he had been with Calvin for much longer. This may actually have been intentional on Watterson's part, as a way to further blur the line about what exactly Hobbes is.
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    • Dinosaurs used to be drawn in a cartoony style like the rest of the strip, with inaccurate anatomy and occasionally interacting with cavemen. After Watterson decided to research them for new story possibilities, he put in much greater effort in depicting them accurately (for his time). They, and other fantasies, also began to be drawn realistically in contrast to the strip's usual cartoony look.
    • Calvin was shown as a member of the Cub Scouts in a few early strips. Watterson originally thought this would provide plenty of interesting scenarios for storylines, but quickly dropped it after he realized Calvin was not the sort of kid who'd ever join up with the scouts. The Running Gag of Calvin's dad taking the family on horrible camping trips filled the same purpose and fit the strip's atmosphere much better.
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    • The series of strips with Uncle Max was intended to open up storytelling possibilities, but Watterson realized how awkward it was to have characters interact with Calvin's parents without ever referring to them by name and dropped the idea; Max never appeared again in the comic's run.
  • Garfield has lots of it.
    • Garfield's wildly different appearance in the early years of the strip: much fatter, more cat-like, and strictly quadrupedal.
    • Jon's claim to be a cartoonist in the very first strip; this is rarely mentioned again.
    • The character of Lyman (Jon's roommate and Odie's original owner) who slowly vanishes entirely without explanation.
    • The early strips' humor also relied more on wordplay (in one early strip, Lyman jokes about watching a movie where a student puts a tack on his teacher's chair because he likes movies where "the guy gets the girl in the end"; another has Garfield calling a diet "'die' with a T") and topical references (early strips reference Brigitte Bardot, The Mickey Mouse Club, Labor Day, college football, and Weight Watchers, among other things). Jim Davis gradually phased out wordplay and topical references in order to make the strip more marketable in other countries.
    • Several early strips used more than three panels, which rarely happened again after the first year or so.
    • One early strip features Jon ogling a centerfold in a bachelor magazine; Garfield doesn't appear at all, nor is he even mentioned.
  • Dilbert was initially focused on the personal life of Dilbert and Dogbert, and was largely Garfield except with a dog who can talk. The office-based strips came a few months later and even then only occasionally appeared. They more or less took over a few years later.
  • Thimble Theater used to be about Ham Gravy and his manager until they hired a certain sailor named Popeye.
  • Rick O'Shay was a humor comic set in the 1950s and 60s until it transitioned to the 1860s and, while still having comedic elements, turned into more of a western adventure/drama strip with more realistic art.
  • Peanuts had a very different art style (far more 3/4 angles as opposed to the strip's signature style of only ever showing people from the front or side), far lighter humor, and a mostly different cast of characters (Shermy and Patty, not to be confused with Peppermint Patty). Charlie Brown was very different from the self-hating loser he'd later become: he was a cheerful kid who liked to play pranks on others and boasting about himself. Snoopy was just a normal dog, and he wasn't Charlie Brown's pet. Linus and Lucy didn't exist. (And even when they were added, Linus was a super-smart little kid as opposed to an Innocent Prodigy, and Lucy was a wide-eyed Cloud Cuckoolander toddler before becoming her Jerk with a Heart of Gold self.)
  • Early on, FoxTrot was a lot more realistic and down-to-earth family strip that stood out with a still somewhat believeable dash of "nerd" humor. Throughout the 1990s, it began gradually shifting more and more toward a less reality-based strip with greater emphasis on "nerd" humor, pop culture references, satire, and increasing damage to the fourth wall. The art was also a lot looser and more sketchy, as opposed to the stiffer, more "geometric" style the strip has had since roughly the mid-90s.
    • Before Jason was established as a high achiever who loves school and is oblivious to sports, he was shown in one strip joining Peter and Paige in groveling to the parents on report-card day. In another strip, both he and Peter bring their mitts to a baseball game in hopes of catching a foul ball, and both are heartbroken when the ball they were straining for lands in Paige's popcorn. (Furthermore, Paige is indifferent to the TV cameras aimed at her.)
    • One very early strip before the addition of Jason's Black Best Friend Marcus has Jason playing Dungeons & Dragons with Peter, something which Peter would never do once his character got more established.
  • In the early Zits strips, the art was less polished, and some characters were different. Jeremy's band had a black drummer named Y.A., who never really developed and quit the band early on; he was replaced by Pierce, who quickly became an Ensemble Dark Horse. Jeremy's mom was supposed to be a child therapist, but it was only brought up a couple times. His older brother, Chad, was originally a stereotypically "perfect" guy whose face was always blocked by word balloons, before being retooled into a more "normal" character who looked much like an older Jeremy with a goatee. A few early strips have Jeremy as The Narrator, a trait which was quickly dropped.
  • Bloom County evolved massively. Early on, it was a bunch of people living in a boarding house, with Milo as the main focus. Over time, many details were fine-tuned, many characters were dropped, and the strip shifted to the main focus of Milo, Binkley, and Opus the penguin. (Berkeley Breathed himself has said that he felt the strip didn't really find its focus until Opus became a regular.) The art style was also very blobby and unrefined, with a different lettering style.
  • When it started out in the 1960s, The Family Circus had a radically different art style; PJ didn't exist yet; and the dad was more of a stereotypical deadbeat dad/buffoon type who smoked, drank, and ignored Thel. His personality was overhauled to a more sympathetic figure, and the art was smoothed out come the 1970s.
  • Beetle Bailey:
    • The strip started as a comic about college students. When it didn't take off the characters enlisted in the army on a whim. Sixty years later they have yet to graduate from basic training.
    • Sergeant Snorkel started out as long-faced and only mildly overweight, and he acted like an actual drill sergeant should. Most notably, during this period he never acted violently towards Beetle, instead issuing various standard army punishments, like peeling potatoes.
  • In Get Fuzzy, Rob's eyes were almost always covered up by a pair of giant sunglasses in the strip's early years, if not hidden by other means.
  • Early on, Pluggers was drawn and written by Jeff MacNelly, creator of Shoe. After a few years, so many readers began submitting gags to him that he made the gags entirely user-submitted, and later handed art duties to Gary Brookins (who also took over on Shoe after Jeff's death).

Alternative Title(s): Newspaper Comics


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