Characters in the syndicated comic strips Blondie, Dennis the Menace, and more are set to go without pants in tomorrow’s newspapers to celebrate No Pants Day, a joke holiday started by college students which has gained some mainstream acceptance in the U.S. and a few other countries. While the holiday started as a lark, these cartoonists are embracing an idea that has grown along with the mainstream awareness of No Pants Day — using it as an attention-getting awareness campaign for charitable causes. Cartoonists will encourage readers to donate used clothes to thrift stores and secondhand stores impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Originally the brainchild of the Knighthood of Buh, a small campus club at University of Texas at Austin, it was then just a stunt done on campus to celebrate the end of the semester. After years of doing it informally, the Knighthood began promoting it as an event in 2000, and media coverage generated by making it “official” has expanded its awareness and appeal well beyond Austin. Currently, No Pants Day is celebrated by people in various states around the country as well as in parts of Canada, Fance, Sweden, Australia, Finland, and Britain, according to a 2006 Canadian news story.
“This was a great way to help bring communities together but also have a little bit of a laugh,” said Tea Fougner, comics editor at King Features Syndicate, in an interview with the Associated Press. “Just the idea of No Pants Day, I think, is something that everybody can feel a little bit closer to this year than in previous years.”
To get everyone on the same page, the heads of various syndicators and distributors were in communication, according to the AP story.
“We may be business competitors, but we’re all part of the same family,” said Fougner. “We all love comics and we love our communities. And, at the end of the day, that’s really what cartooning is about. So we want as many cartoonists as possible to take part in initiatives like this.”
In addition to Dennis the Menace and Blondie, the No Pants Day festivities will include Zippy the Pinhead, Shoe, Arctic Circle, Mallard Fillmore, and Rhymes With Orange.
“You’ll see a variety from some cartoonists who took a really direct approach where they have their characters in the comic donating clothing to people,” said Fougner. “And some folks just depicted the characters not wearing pants or put a little happy No Pants Day message in the comic.”
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