Dadgummit, I was so proud of my theory why those two July 1978 strips were originally drawn with Spike watching Hogan’s Heroes, yet were edited and run in newspapers with Spike watching Star Trek instead. The dates! The companies! It all fit together!!!
But sometimes Occam whips out his razor and cuts you to the bone. AAUGH Blog reader Walter remembers when these strips came out, says he even saw the same strips running in different papers with different final panels, Star Trek in one, Hogan’s Heroes in another. Even wrote to The Buyer’s Guide to Comics Fandom about it, and if anyone has issues of that from August or September 1978, we’d love to have a reference scan. And in the moment, the reason for the change was much more obvious.
Schulz drew Peanuts with about a three month lead time, so these late July strips would have been drawn in April. So, what could have happened between April and July that caused him to change the strip? In fact, any change was probably well into that period; if different papers ran different strips, that would mean that the stats had already gone out to some papers, perhaps a replacement set was sent out that some papers had missed.
On June 29, 1978, actor Bob Crane, the titular Hogan of Hogan’s Heroes, was found murdered, bludgeoned to death in a Scottsdale, Arizona apartment where he was living while performing locally on stage. This grisly crime remains unsolved to this day.
So, less than a month from the death, the use in the strip would’ve been of questionable taste. And thus Mister Spock was brought in to take Colonel Hogan’s place. It’s only logical.