The Comic strip switcheroo (also known as the Great Comics Switcheroonie or the Great April Fools Day Comics Switcheroonie) was a series of jokes played out between comic strip writers and artists, without the foreknowledge of their editors, on April Fool's 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 different syndicated artists participated. Several of these switches were one for one (Mike Peters trading with Lynn Johnston, Scott Adams and Bil Keane, Jeff MacNelly and Mort Walker), while several comics did more of a three-way or multiple swap, and one artist (Kevin Fagan) just swapped hands for the day. Charles 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. There were no "rules" to speak of; each artist was permitted to do what he or she wanted.
The one-day experiment proved to be a success of sorts, 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 a new phenomenon (Dan Piraro's Bizarro does this often, as does Stephan Pastis' Pearls Before Swine), this was the largest of its scale.
While this prank has not occurred again with as many participating artists in newspaper comics (as of 2005), it still lives on, in webcomics, where Internet cartoonists occasionally switch places with one another. Guest character tributes have also appeared since 1997, notably on 27 May 2000 and on 30 October 2005, both tributes to Charles M. Schulz and Peanuts.
On April 1, 2005, Stephan Pastis of Pearls Before Swine, Bill Amend of FoxTrot, and Darby Conley of Get Fuzzy all ran the same comic dialogue in their respective strips, but with their own core characters saying the lines.