These days it’s easy to change the height-to-width ratio of a comic strip to fit whatever space is available in a newspaper, which personally I find extremely annoying. In an earlier post about widescreen movies I said some comic strips were once cropped to fit.
Above is an example: Dick Tracy, from 1943. Click the picture to see the full strip. I’ve added a line to highlight how the bottom quarter of the panels is filler. Photostats were sent to newspapers in two versions — one full-height, and one trimmed.
When Peanuts was introduced in 1950, Charles Schulz was told to keep his panels square, so the strip could be sold as a flexible “space-saver.” Instead of trimming the panels, they could be arranged in several different ways; straight across, vertically, or two on two, as seen in the reprint books.