Number 95, like many of the hoaxes that will appear on this list, happened on April Fool’s Day.
On April 1, 1997, syndicated comic strip writers conspired to confuse readers by swapping characters. From the Baby Blues Scrapbook:
A couple of years ago, Rick and Jerry had the idea to have the cartoonists in the papers switch with other cartoonists and draw each others strips. Rick sent out letters to find out if any of the cartoonists would be interested. He was surprised at how many thought it would be fun to do!
In order to be as efficient as possible and to save precious time, Rick decided to computerize the responses with some new software he found. Naturally, with such high-tech help, the entire process of matching cartoonists up with one of their top ten choices ended up taking roughly five times longer than it would have if we’d used a handful of index cards and a bulletin board. The matching-up process also would have taken much less time if we had simply let everyone draw their first choice of strips. And, in retrospect, it might have been funnier to open the paper on April 1st and see forty-six different versions of Dilbert.
Anyway, after a few weeks of agony (mostly for Rick since all of this was on his computer), the mishaps were complete and we sent out the assignments with careful instructions for the cartoonists to follow, and much of the next few weeks were taken up with fielding phone calls re-explaining the whole thing to cartoonists who don’t read careful instructions.
After a ton of telephone interviews, (thanks to all the cartoonists who took time out of their schedules to help field some of these), the Switcheroonie went off without a hitcheroonie. The results were funny, readers got an unexpected treat, and the comics got a little publicity for a change. All in all, not a bad outcome.
After many hours of organizing and numerous reminder phone calls, the great 1997 Switcheroonie was printed in newspapers all across the United States on 1997 April Fool’s Day. The responses were varied. Most people thought it was a great gag to do on 1997 April Fool’s Day. No syndicates were harmed by this stunt.
Here are some examples. Enjoy and Happy Friday!
See a list of hoaxes counted down so far after the jump.