Sunday, April 12, 2009

January 3, 1951: Why you little!

This is the beginning of a particular strip formula that would be used a lot in these months, especially between Charlie Brown and Patty.  The first three frames present either a bad joke or one that insults one of the parties, and the fourth shows the non-joking character's reaction, usually in the form of the joking character knocked down but still mirthful, or being chased.  We'll see this pattern so many times in the upcoming strips that I should think of a name for it.

"Turnabout" strips are the best I've come up with, referring to the sudden, undepicted change of attitude between the third and fourth panels.  The punch from the formula comes from the sudden break between the last two panels.  Notice that Patty hasn't changed expression between the second and third panel of this strip, and we only see the result of her wrath in the fourth.
It's fairly amazing, really, that with all the hostility the Peanuts characters are capable of showing for each other, so much of it is understated or not shown.  It wasn't until crash of thunder Lucy showed up that a character could commonly get away with much wrath depicted directly on the page.

EDIT: fixed formatting.

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