Marcie Johnson is Peppermint Patty
's best friend (she is also rumored to be her lesbian lover
, but I'm going to bite my tongue on that for the moment). The two met at camp
; June 18th, 1968, to be exact. In that strip, oddly enough, she had pupils, which were later to be obscured by what are most likely opaque
(and thus useless) glasses.
Her first major appearances can be seen in the strip collection Ha Ha Herman
Besides the glasses, Marcie wears a red shirt, and the usual black Peanuts shorts (like her friend, Patty, she is one of the few Peanuts girls to go dressless). Her hair is matte black and chin length. Like Patty and Franklin, she lives in "the other neighborhood", and she's about the same age as most of the other characters. She likes going to classical music concerts, and while Patty forces her to play baseball and football, she's really terrible at them.
At first glance, Marcie's main character traits seem to extend as far as her role as Peppermint Patty's straight man, and while she has something of a catchphrase (she calls Patty "sir" constantly, ending nearly every talk bubble with it), it just doesn't have the same punch as "Don't have a cow, man" or "I'll be back". She's not ridiculously erudite, like Linus, or a musical prodigy, like Schroeder, or a big, flaming loser like Charlie Brown, so she tends to fade into the background. However, while far from flamboyant, Marcie does have her charms...she's incredibly deadpan and passive-aggressive.
Now, I certainly didn't pick up on this as a kid. It was 1987, and I had yet to be trained in the ways of sarcasm by Dennis Miller, Daria, or The Simpsons. Also, I was 3 years old. While I was a very bright 3 year old, I understood Marcie's style of humor about as well as Linear A. I slept with a Snoopy doll, "read" Snoopy picture books, snuggled up under Snoopy quilts, ate Snoopy sno-cones, and really couldn't give a damn about any of the other Peanuts characters beside Snoopy. Thus, I regarded Marcie as boring and rather stupid.
Flash foward to 2003. Here I am, rediscovering Peanuts. I'm not sure how I began to get hung up on Marcie, but it probably involves some lame lesbian joke (I'm still biting my tongue on that). In any case, I went back to the strips, and was surprised by how much a few years (decades...) can change your perspective. Rather than stupid, Marcie was revealed to be sly and stealthy, and, indeed, if anyone's playing the straight man, it's "Patricia".
Many sites go on and on about how "innocent" Marcie is, and how she looks up to Patty, but, please, consider this: Peppermint Patty spent the entire decade of the 1970's saying "Don't call me 'sir'". That's 10 years worth of sir saying, folks, and each time, Patty was pretty damn pissed off about it. 10 years of being told NOT to call Patty "sir"...just think about that for a moment. The very thing that Patty told Marcie NOT to say became Marcie's catchphrase. From this, we can conclude that Marcie's use of "sir" was not respectful, or even out of confusion about Patty's gender, but a deliberate attempt to annoy. We can only wonder about the roots of such sadism, and you don't have to look far for more examples of it: Marcie throwing a football on to Patty's head, after being told, at length, not to throw the fucking football at her head, Marcie pointing out that Patty got all of the questions on her test wrong after Patty expresses some hope. There's certainly a lot of passive-aggression evident. Some might argue that Marcie was merely lacking in the social skills needed to not throw a fucking football at someone's head, but I prefer to think of her as a latent dominatrix.