Which Peanuts character is a SECRET TREKKIE – and why has it been covered up for decades?

General
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If you’ve read through a lot of Peanuts books reprints strips from the 1970s, you’ve probably come across installments where, in the final panel, Snoopy’s brother Spike is watching Hogan’s Heroes:

August 20, 1975
Spike on a beanbag chair, watching Hogan's Heroes
July 21, 1978
July 31, 1978

Yes, these would be comic strips drawn by Sgt. Schulz, the World War II veteran turned cartoonist, depicting dialogue coming from Sgt. Schultz, the befuddled World War II POW camp officer of Hogan’s Heroes. Now, the first of those strips appeared in 1975, but the last two ran in papers in 1978, and when they did so, they actually ended like this:

That’s right: Spike is a Trekkie!

But why was this utterly valuable information covered up for so long, with the Hogan’s version showing up in every time the strip has been reprinted (from 1979’s And a Woodstock in a Birch Tree through to 2010’s The Complete Peanuts: 1977 to 1978)?

With a little research, I managed to make the mystery even murkier. The Charles M. Schulz Museum owns the originals to all three of these strips, and on those last two, the Star Trek reference is actually a paste-up. So this means that the strip was originally drawn with the Hogan’s Heroes reference in place, photographed for the version that showed up in the reprint books, then the dialogue was changed, it was re-photographed for the newspapers. Why?

I don’t have a definitive answer, but a few facts certainly suggest a reason for editing the dialogue.

NOTE: THE THEORY DESCRIBED BELOW HAS SINCE BEEN SUPERSEDED BY A MORE COMPELLING ONE THAT SHOWS WHY SCHULZ BASICALLY HAD TO CHANGE THE DIALOGUE, WHICH YOU CAN READ HERE. This post remains for the historical record.

During this era, a series of Peanuts animated features were appearing in theaters.

  • By 1978, when these strips appeared, the first three of the films had already been through theaters, A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969), Snoopy, Come Home (1972), and Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown (1977)
  • Those first two films were released by Cinema Center Films, which was the theatrical arm of CBS television.
  • The third film was released by Paramount, who would also go on to release Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don’t Come Back!) in 1980.
  • Hogan’s Heroes was a CBS co-production
  • Star Trek was co-owned by Paramount, who would release Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979.

So perhaps someone at the syndicate said “Hey, Sparky, we love the strips, but how about instead of plugging our old pals at CBS, we plug our current pals?” Schulz was certainly aware of Star Trek, as he’d had Snoopy pretend to be captain of the starship Enterprise back in 1972.

As for the question which versions of these strips should be considered canon, that’s for someone else to decide. I’m perfectly willing to accept that at times he was watching both of these 1960s TV shows, as they were staples of the 1970s rerun market.

This article first appeared in Hogan’s Alley, the fine and wild magazine about the cartoon arts. To read more articles and maybe pick yourself up a subscription, head over to www.cartoonist.com.

The AAUGH Blogger would like to thank Tim Chow, who provided the scans of the originally published versions of the strip, and Derrick Bang, who first told him of the Star Trek versions.

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