When the men behind the strip “Barney & Clyde” dreamt up their therapist character, she was a stock figure — a jaded voice of authority. As co-creator and Post Magazine columnist Gene Weingarten says, “We initially thought of her” as a type, like “Dilbert’s” Bad Boss.
That was before a diehard follower of the comic provided a spark of inspiration.
“The Cynical Shrink,” Weingarten says, “first made her appearance in the third or fourth month of the strip, and is a returning character: We’ve done many days involving her sessions with Lucretia.”
This week, however, the Cynical Shrink visually and vocally transforms into an iconic ”Peanuts” character.
“The idea that she is a grown-up Marcie was put into our heads a couple of months ago by Horace LaBadie, a reader from Florida,” says Weingarten, who creates the strip with his son, Dan, and artist David Clark.
“Horace is a friend of mine, and has sort of appointed himself the official curator-historian of ‘Barney & Clyde,’ ” the Pulitzer-winning journalist says. “He runs a ‘Barney & Clyde’ Appreciation blog. In May, he referred to the shrink as ‘Dr. Marcie.’ We had never intended this, but she did seem a lot like Marcie, both physically and in temperament: She might well be what Peppermint Patty’s sidekick matured into. So we went with it.
“Part homage, part good-natured larceny.”
LaBadie says the “Dr. Marcie” idea struck him purely as “a whimsical notion.”
“The first time that I saw her was in some sample strips that Gene sent me. ... ” LaBadie tells Comic Riffs. “When she eventually appeared in print, however, some synapses went off, and I was instantly reminded of Peppermint Patty’s sidekick.”
“The more that I looked at the Doc, the more I was convinced that she was Marcie as an adult,” LaBadie continues. “I posted the idea to the B&C Facebook page, and a few people were taken with the idea. We began calling her Dr. Marcie.”
Gene Weingarten noticed the adopted nomenclature and decided to incorporate the “Peanuts” crossover into the Washington Post Writers Group comic.
“My contribution was basically over with the aha!” says “Barney & Clyde’s” No.-1 fan. “In short, the whole thing is [artist] David’s fault. He drew Marcie in the strip, and I happened to recognize her.
“It was an ‘America’s Most Wanted’ moment.