Comic strips - they’re usually happy, fun, lighthearted places (unless you prefer the likes of Rex Morgan. But behind the smiles sometimes lie sinister secrets- the mysterious and questionable disappearance of characters! OK, I’m being a bit dramatic - just consider me in the Halloween spirit, and enjoy these four characters whose faces you might spot on a comic strip milk carton.
Who knew Charles Schulz had a Charles Addams sense of humor? He may not have exhibited it often, but it definitely came out when he killed off one of his Peanuts characters - literally. Charlotte Braun was Charlie Brown’s counterpart in the early days and was kind of a mix in personality of Charlie’s little sister, Sally, and his nemesis, Lucy. She only made about 10 appearances in Peanuts before Schulz decided to get rid of her undeveloped character, but when a young Miss Elizabeth Swaim wrote him suggesting that he erase Charlotte from the comic, he decided to have a little fun with her. He responded and agreed to do it, but said, “Remember... that you and your friends will have the death of an innocent child on your conscience. Are you prepared to accept such responsibility?” He finished it off with a drawing of Charlotte Braun with an ax in her head. Comic from Jim Hill Media.
For about five years from the late ‘70s to the early ‘80s, Jon Arbuckle had a roommate by the name of Lyman. In fact, Lyman was the original owner of slobbery mutt Odie. Before Garfield evolved into the companion he is portrayed as today, Lyman was there so Jon consistently had someone to have conversations with that would escalate the storyline. As Garfield grew up and he and Jon seemed to sort of understand each other, Lyman wasn’t really needed anymore. Instead of writing him out of the comic strip and giving him some sort of send off, Jim Davis just simply stopped drawing Lyman in the cartoons and offered no explanation. He showed up a couple more times - once in the 10th anniversary strip in the title panel, and once in a flashback. Eagle-eyed fans also spotted him in Garfield’s Halloween games Scary Scavenger Hunt and Scary Scavenger Hunt 2 - in the first one, Lyman can be found chained to a wall in the basement and in the sequel his head turns up in an oven. Jim Davis hinted at Lyman’s untimely demise once - when asked what happened to Jon’s roommate, Davis replied, “Don’t look in Jon’s basement.” He later said he was kidding and that Lyman’s official plot line, even if it didn’t appear in the cartoon, is that he joined the Peace Corps and was never heard from again. Comic from Garfield Et Cie Blog.
Remember Calvin’s Uncle Max? You know, from Calvin and Hobbes? No? Well, you’re in good company. He was only around for about a week’s worth of comic strips, just long enough for a visit to Calvin’s house. Apparently Calvin and his uncle had never met before (or perhaps they met when Calvin was an infant) because Calvin couldn’t recall meeting him and speculated that he had most likely been serving time in jail. Uncle Max ended his visit by telling Calvin that he was welcome to visit anytime he wanted, but we never saw or heard from Uncle Max again. Why the permanent departure? Bill Watterson later explained that because Calvin’s parents were never given any names other than “Mom” and “Dad,” it was getting increasingly difficult for Uncle Max to have conversations with his brother and his sister-in-law. He had to go - so, he went. Comic from Calvin and Hobbes Info.
Denise was the girlfriend of Peter Fox from FoxTrot. If you’re a fan, you undoubtedly remember her - she was one of the only blind characters in comic strips at the time (not that there are that many today). Peter started dating Denise in the strip’s very first year - 1988 - and they only broke up once in 13-14 years (that’s real time, not comic strip-time). For some reason, though, Denise disappeared from Peter’s life in the early ‘00s with no explanation at all. Maybe Bill Amend just wanted Peter to be free to play the field. Comic from The Unofficial FoxTrot Site.