Tuesday, August 25, 2009

October 1, 1951: Visual Splendor

Peanuts

I like this one, mostly, because of the quality of the background art. Usually Peanuts didn't lavish that much attention to it (rightfully focusing on the characters), but earlier on there were some nice scenes. Scenes like these.

While we're here, let's take a moment to look at how the characters post in the frames. One of the things about cartooning is that there's really not a huge number of ways to draw each character, and in Peanuts this is often exacerbated by the extreme stylization of the characters.

There are only three poses in this whole strip: walking, standing, and arms-outspread. What's more, three of the panels the characters do nothing more than walk, and two of them would be identical in graphic content if it weren't for the backgrounds, and the fact that they're at the opposite point in their stride (check panels 2 and 4). Later in Peanuts' history the characters would lose some of this flexibility, so Schulz will provide the visual interest in other ways, like zooming in on one character as they sit beneath the Tree, or by having walking characters visit the Wall for a panel.

The stride is an oft-used cartooning trick to show walking: the character at side-view, slightly in the air, one leg out front and the other behind, the arms positioned opposite. But in panel 1, Schulz uses a three-quarters stride, which is rather uncommon.

The explanatory arms-outstretched post in panel 3 I like. Why does this pose seem natural to us?

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