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Old 03-20-2020, 11:31 AM
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Effective rate of comic strip child aging?


Most comic strip characters exist in a perpetual present that lasts forever. Blondie and Dagwood, Beetle Bailey, etc. But other strips have had their characters- especially children- age at a rate that is slower than real time but not a perpetual stasis. For adults it usually just means starting out as young adults, marrying, having children who grow up, and going a bit gray at the temples (Doonesbury has been more honest about the main characters aging). But for children the age changes are more noticeable. Luann started out as a junior-high student and is now in community college. Hillary Forth is now officially 13 having started as a grade schooler (at one point they even joked in-strip about how many times she'd finished 6th grade). "Baby Blues" has now had their third baby advance to toddlerhood and starting to speak, so their oldest has to be at least seven or eight. Judge Parker's Sophie is now post-high school. Anyone care to hazard an opinion on the ratio of "comic strip child growth" years to real life years?
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Old 03-20-2020, 11:40 AM
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Missed edit window: I'll add that Jump Start seems to have bucked the trend, at least for now: The main husband and wife characters have had a daughter, a son, then fraternal twins, and now seem to have stayed there with the twins as pre-toddlers.
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Old 03-20-2020, 11:50 AM
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The optimal effective rate depends completely on what the cartoonist is attempting to convey. It could be zero, but it may also be much faster than "real time" in the case of a multi-generational story.
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Old 03-20-2020, 12:06 PM
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It really depends on the strip. For Better Or For Worse aged the characters a little more slowly than real-time, until everyone noticed that no matter how they explained it, Farley the dog was something like 18 years old.

Funky Winkerbean didn't age the characters, then established they graduated from high school in 1988, then jumped the strip 10 years into the future. They should be in their mid-60s in the original timeline, or about 50 in the 1988 timeline. I'm not sure, but the core characters seem to be somewhere between the two.

Gasoline Alley has been aging the main characters in real time for more than a century. This has led to the patriarch, Walt Wallet, now being 115 years old (his wife died at age 105), and Walt's son Skeezix, being in his 90s. Some of the secondary characters, however, have been the same age since the strip started.

Last edited by Kent Clark; 03-20-2020 at 12:07 PM.
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Old 03-20-2020, 12:18 PM
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One thing that's easy to miss: A lot of times the adult's 'number of years old' stays the same, but their age based on historical markers goes up by a bunch. In the 80s it was common to have a parent of a small child who had experience worring about the draft in Vietnam or who grew up with disco, but today the someone who was 18 in 1973 would be 65 years old and ready to retire, not exactly typical 'new parent' age. A good number of comic strip characters have bits of their history that mark them as much older than their 'real' age.
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Old 03-20-2020, 12:44 PM
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You mentioned Blondie and Dagwood. Their kids, Cookie and Alexander, have gradually aged from infants into teenagers.
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Old 03-20-2020, 01:49 PM
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The characters in Peanuts (1950) essentially stopped aging around 1960, but Linus had already gone from being a baby to becoming a second grader, and it would take Sally Brown a few years more from being born to entering kindergarden.
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Old 03-20-2020, 02:04 PM
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Least I Could Do had a week's worth of strips a few years back where they announced to the characters that as of that date they would all age in real time (except Baby and The Urchin). Made for a bit of a start when they started doing strips about Ashley again and she jumped from an adorable moppet to a snarky teen everyone was afraid was doing the marijuana.

Last edited by silenus; 03-20-2020 at 02:04 PM.
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Old 03-20-2020, 11:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terentii View Post
The characters in Peanuts (1950) essentially stopped aging around 1960, but Linus had already gone from being a baby to becoming a second grader, and it would take Sally Brown a few years more from being born to entering kindergarden.
Related, when Schroeder was introduced, he was a nonverbal (but musically precocious) infant, at least five years younger than the established characters. He soon aged up to be their contemporary and Lucy's unrequited love-interest.
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Old 03-20-2020, 11:19 PM
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Related, when Schroeder was introduced, he was a nonverbal (but musically precocious) infant, at least five years younger than the established characters. He soon aged up to be their contemporary and Lucy's unrequited love-interest.
Yep. At the beginning, Charlie Brown and most of the other kids (Lucy, Patty, Violet, Shermy) looked to be about five. They never got any older than eight.
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Old 03-20-2020, 11:50 PM
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Orphan Annie aged in her own comic strip just a bit, then in a revival of the strip she was portrayed as a teenager, and finally when her strip was folded into the Dick Tracy strip she was de-aged back into a young kid.
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Old 03-21-2020, 12:48 AM
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In For Better or For Worse, the characters aged in more-or-less real time. Over the course of the strip's original run, the kids grew up, with the two older kids (Michael and Elizabeth) both getting married, and Michael having kids of his own.
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Old 03-21-2020, 11:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Ekers View Post
Related, when Schroeder was introduced, he was a nonverbal (but musically precocious) infant, at least five years younger than the established characters. He soon aged up to be their contemporary and Lucy's unrequited love-interest.
Lucy herself was originally a toddler. She aged up to be the same age as Charlie Brown.

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