I suppose to question the inspiration of 1950's graphic designers is to not appreciate the influence of the three-martini lunch on their craft.
But what is with the dog in the top hat?
My only conclusion is that this particular junior artisan was on a quest to make this dog the Microsoft Bean Man of its day.
He would not be dissuaded. Because this dog in a top hat was a character, see? And perfect for every situation, see?
His co-workers groaned every time he pulled out Dog in Top Hat for a client meeting. Thankfully, Powerpoint hadn't been invented yet. Having to draw freehand slowed him down at least.
Eventually, his project manager put him in the office the size of a coat closet and gave him the American Red Cross Water Safety account. "I don't understand it but they love Dog in a Top Hat," he grumbled. "So, draw." And Smithers happily doodled the rest of his career for the Red Cross.
Of, maybe I'm reading this wrong. Maybe this was a water safety course FOR DOGS. In top hats. Where they had to learn the "human stroke" since they already knew how to doggy paddle, because, duh. They are dogs.
Maybe it was an underground movement led by the dogs themselves to appear more human! "Here Fifi. Wear this top hat. And these swim shorts. No one will suspect you!"
Those were the only two possible explanations that I could think of. Any others?