Tuesday, June 30, 2009

July 2, 1951: Waka-waka-waka

Charlie Brown's got that Pac-Man fever.  The question-mark over Snoopy's head is a nice touch.

Monday, June 29, 2009

June 23, 1951: Patty and Violet like Charlie Brown

These two little girls' opinion of Charlie B. seem to decline over time.  I remember, as a kid reading Peanuts compilations, thinking Patty and Violet often seemed incredibly cruel to him.  This, of course, is before the diabolical Lucy came on the scene....

Sunday, June 28, 2009

June 22, 1951: Nyuk nyuk nyuk

Patty gets back at Charlie Brown for past chase strips.

Two things:
1. Charlie Brown's mouth looks a little weird in the last panel.  Ever see Grim Fandango?
2. It's a bit less funny when it's a boy chasing a girl after a bad joke.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

June 20, 1951: Nooooooo (#1)

Violet falls off the wagon.

Friday, June 26, 2009

June 19, 1951: Why call the lifeguard to save a beachball?

Another meta strip where Schulz makes fun of his own art style.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

June 18, 1953: "And soon I'll know the wonders of the sunken city."

There is an unexplained gap in Comic.com's archives over June 10-17.  I should have a look in Fantagraphic's Peanuts compilations to see if strips are missing or if Peanuts was on hiatus during that period.

This is a vaguely creepy strip.  If the eyes aren't Charlie Brown's, whose are they?  And why is he hanging out in the sewer?  My vote goes to a suburban Deep One. (That's right, Peanuts and the Cthulhu Mythos, baby!)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

June 8, 1951: I name thee Laughing Dog

I feel like I'm beating a dead horse here, but again, it's odd to think of a time when the characters didn't know if Snoopy could understand what they're saying.

Other than the laughing post in the first frame, Snoopy is very dog-like here, just blankly staring forward.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

June 5, 1951: They start so young

There are three broad categories of Peanuts strips from this time: kids acting like kids, kids acting like adults, and kids displaying precocious knowledge of adulthood. (There are other types, but these seem to be foremost.) This strip falls into the third category, with Violet speculating about later getting a date with a human being who's not yet old enough to talk.  Notice, by the way, Schroeder's dubious look in the second frame.  That expression is not essential to the joke, but Charles Schulz put it in anyway.  This is one of the joys of early Peanuts for me, noticing those little things Schulz just threw in.

Schroeder was an Archetypal Baby in this one.  Enjoy it while it lasts kid; it won't be long at all before you become the Archetypal Musician instead.

Monday, June 22, 2009

June 4, 1951: Man of the earth

Notice the difference in Charlie Brown's mouth when seen in three-quarters' perspective (second panel) and nearly full-on (fourth panel).  On the first we get a relief line, the second just a mouth outline.  If Charlie Brown were seen straight-on, Schulz would have had to figure something to do with his nose, as his U-shaped noses would have to pick a side to be seen from then.

100 posts!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

August 7, 1951: Background detail


Panel two has one of the most detailed backgrounds seen so far. Just look at it. It's almost un-Peanuts-like.

June 1, 1951: Schroeder's third appearance

Schroder's third strip, and with this one we'll stop noting them.  At least in this one he does something other than sit there and smile.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

May 31, 1951: More Schroeder

Schroeder's second strip.

Friday, June 19, 2009

May 30, 1951: Schroeder's first appearance

He doesn't have his piano yet, doesn't have his striped shirt, barely has any hair, his personality consists of  blank stare, and can't even talk, but it's the same Schroeder who would later idolise Beethoven and fend off Lucy's advances.
Oh, how much this strip changed over the years.  Most comic strips, those that were ever any good, start off great and trail off over the years, as the need to continue bringing in an income overrode any considerations of quality.  Peanuts went the other way, starting off sharp but gaggy, then gaining profundity.  Its characters changed so much since 1951, they're like different people.  (I had to stop myself from saying "between then and now," it's hard to believe that Charles Schulz has been gone for over nine years.)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

May 22, 1951: Suppertime: A love affair begins

Man, that's one irate dog.  Until the magic word is spoken, of course.  This is the first time Snoopy reacts to the word "suppertime."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

May 21, 1951: Those were the days

Here's another example of how times changed since Peanuts began.  We haven't had a draft in the U.S. since Vietnam.  (Mind, there was no draft going on at the time this strip saw publication, either.)

Note: Vooodooo84 notes in comments that there was a draft at that time, for the Korean War. My mistake.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

May 18, 1951: Prototype of Calvin

Charlie Brown breaks the fourth wall.  To answer his question, yes, we would.

Bill Watterson has listed Peanuts as an influence on Calvin & Hobbes, and the similarity is remarkably close here.  This is exactly the kind of thing Calvin would do, right down to gloating about it to the reader.  It seems to me that early Peanuts is probably a greater influence on Calvin & Hobbes than later strips.

Monday, June 15, 2009

May 16, 1951: Beware of dog

Snoopy's a nice touch here, although is it just me or does he look like was added as an afterthought?  It has to do with his mouth overlapping the ice cream in the last panel.

One of the more pernicious influences of Peanuts is a number of cartoonists who think it's acceptable to make clip art of their characters in all their poses and just paste them into the document. Schulz was far too much of a craftsman to resort to this, but he did admit that he had a number of stock poses he'd most often draw the characters in.

Snoopy's appearance in the last panel here looks like it was just overlaid upon the frame, but I think it's more likely that Charles Schulz just lightly inked the overlaying portion of the cone. If the cone were drawn to the point where Snoopy's snout directly overlaid it it'd be harder to read. You can occasionally see the light inking idea in other strips in the early era, when a character is standing in front of another, for example.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

May 15, 1951: Oh he's a clown, that...

Charlie Brown's looking mighty expressive here.  Later on, he'd be more likely to just suffer with a sigh instead of complaining about it.

CB's name has been, by far, the most mentioned among the strip's meager cast so far, which is weird because it's the longest.  It's interesting that now, over 50 years after this strip's original publication, you could use "Charlie Brown" as an insult and people would generally know what you meant.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

May 14, 1951: No more mud

Ah! Could this be the end of the mud pie jokes? (Hint: no.)

Friday, June 12, 2009

May 5, 1951: Groan

Another chase.  I have to disagree with Charlie Brown in the last panel, that was not really all that notable a joke.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

May 3, 1951: Before "sugar rush" entered the vocabulary

The Snoopy-hears-food pattern is formula; the varition is that Charlie Brown's already eaten all the candy.  Snoopy would even do this much later.

Note Charlie Brown's round eyes in frame 3.  Lucy starts out with those as standard equipment but they don't last long.  The parenthesis around her and Linus' eyes (I call them "Binkley eyes," after the Bloom County/Outland/Opus character) are a remaining vestige of that.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

April 30, 1951: Pennies went farther then

Patty wears a travelling coat in this one, a decidedly 50s-ish touch.

This is the start of a minor running gag, the Peanuts kids often get candy or comics from this particular drug store, and the manager gets annoyed when they don't buy things. (Just think: Peanuts started back in the days when drug stores were still a suitable kid hang-out spot, and ended in the days of the Internet!)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

May 2, 1951: Snoopy likes bananas

This is not actually the first Snoopy-hears-food strip.  In the first, Charlie Brown was eating an ice cream cone.  It's another running gag.

Monday, June 8, 2009

April 27, 1951: First use of a blush

Is it just me, or does Snoopy's tongue being stuck out in the third frame seem a little like it's over-stating his attitude? Schulz usually leaves more to the reader's imagination.  But anyway, it's the first doghouse, or birdhouse I suppose, seen in the strip, so it's worthy of commemoration.  It also marks the first time a character blushes to show embarassment.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

April 26, 1951: Strength in numbers

A decidedly Lucy-like maneuver.  Patty and Violet seem to get more cruel when they are together.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

April 25, 1951: As a kid, this is what I thought golf was

The first use that I've noticed in Peanuts of thick, outlined letters, here in a word balloon.

Notice that Charlie Brown's shirt is missing its stripe in the second panel, probably because it wouldn't read well with his arms and club in the way.

Friday, June 5, 2009

April 21, 1951: Frieda would love this


Good poses for Snoopy here. Shermy's apology to an annoyed Snoopy is a nice touch.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

April 20, 1951: Team sponsorship

The mud pie strips have been leading up to this, which wouldn't have been as funny without them. It's not the last one, though.
But this strip is notable because it's the first in which Charlie Brown plays baseball!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

April 19, 1951: A dog without gravity

Later on, Snoopy would lose his ability to experience, or express, this kind of enthusiasm, although he'd pick up other means. But we do get another three-quarter perspective leap out of him while he's still capable of it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

April 17, 1951: The bird's a solo act

No thought balloons yet, but Snoopy's dealings with a decidedly non-Woodstock bird are looking more human.  Something to notice: when Snoopy's head is facing the "camera" in three-quarters perspective, his eyes are a little closer together than in previous strips. Earlier he looked almost fish-eyed, but they've begun to migrate to the front.  Over time, all the characters' eyes would move closer together, which helped to give them a more mature appearance as the situations became more complex.

Monday, June 1, 2009

April 16, 1951: Snoopy chases bird down stairs

That bird is back, and so is the scribble of ire.

Eventually, it's either this bird or one that looks a lot like it that builds a nest on Snoopy's stomach while he lies atop his birdhouse EDIT: dammit doghouse, and it's one of the birds to be born from that nest who would become Woodstock.

Woodstock would pine, around Mother's Day every year, for his mother. Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography notes that Charles Schulz's mother was rather cruelly taken from him within a week of his going overseas to fight in World War II (her funeral was the day before he shipped out), a blow it seems he never recovered from.

But anyway, it's weird to think that the unobtainable love and affection that Woodstock sought from his absent mother all those years may be right here, in this very bird.