The comic strip switcheroo (also known as the Great Comics Switcheroonie or the Great April Fools' Day Comics Switcheroonie) was a massive practical joke in which several comic strip writers and artists (cartoonists), without the foreknowledge of their editors, traded strips for a day on April Fools' Day 1997. The Switcheroo was masterminded by comic strip creators Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott, creators of the Baby Blues daily newspaper comic strip.
According to Brian Walker's book The Comics: Since 1945, forty-six syndicated artists participated. Some of these switches were one for one (Mike Peters trading with Lynn Johnston, Scott Adams with Bil Keane, Jeff MacNelly with Mort Walker, etc.), while several comics did a multiple swap (including a thirteen-way swap). Also, one artist (Kevin Fagan) just swapped hands for the day, while the writer & artist for Sally Forth swapped roles for the day. Charles M. Schulz (creator of Peanuts) and Patrick McDonnell (creator of Mutts) were slated to do each other's strips, but backed out because one of them didn't think it was a good idea. Each artist was permitted to do what they wanted.
The one-day experiment proved to be a success, garnering some publicity and being a harmless yet amusing prank played on the newspapers, the readers, and the comic syndicates.
While characters making guest appearances in other comic strips is not an unusual occurrence (Dan Piraro's Bizarro and Stephan Pastis' Pearls Before Swine do it often), this was the most ambitious in scale. As of 2005, the phenomenon persists in webcomics, where Internet cartoonists occasionally switch places with one another. Guest character tributes have also appeared since 1997, notably on May 27, 2000 and on October 30, 2005, both tributes to Charles M. Schulz and Peanuts.
On April 1, 1998, Jimmy Johnson published an Arlo and Janis strip in which the first two panels were blank, with the last two panel having Arlo imply that they were going to swap with Dagwood but there was a misunderstanding.
On April 1, 2001, a few years after the 1997 Switcheroo, Bill Amend (FoxTrot) made a Sunday strip in which Jason Fox, Andy Fox, Roger Fox, and Peter Fox exchanged looks. The referenced strips: Cathy, Hägar the Horrible, The Boondocks, Doonesbury, Baby Blues, and Calvin and Hobbes (which had ended roughly 15 months before the original Switcheroonie).
On April 1, 2005, Stephan Pastis of Pearls Before Swine, Bill Amend of FoxTrot, and Darby Conley of Get Fuzzy all ran extremely similar comic dialogue in their respective strips, but with their own core characters saying the lines.
On April 1, 2016, at least fifty webcomics, including Cyanide & Happiness, The Awkward Yeti, and Poorly Drawn Lines all ran the same comic dialogue in their respective strips, akin to April 1, 2005.
On April 1, 2021, Olivia Jaimes of Nancy and Steenz of Heart of the City swapped strips for the day.
The comics of April 1, 1997, were swapped as follows: