Thursday, September 24, 2009

November 15, 1951: The Girls of Wrath


It's been less than a year since sweet little Violet was introduced, and look at how well she hates Charlie Brown now.

Funny, if Violet and Patty didn't pick up their disdain for CB, then maybe it would have seemed less cruel over time, but probably the strip wouldn't have picked up the depth with which it is remembered for today. Little kids doing funny things day after day is funny, but it's not going to be remembered.

There are plenty of comic strips out there, some as old or even older than Peanuts, where the characters just sort of bumble along amiably. Blondie, Beetle Bailey, Snuffy Smith, Garfield, which characters in those strips really hate each other? Which characters experience unrequited love? These are the aspects of Peanuts which are rarely copied. Everyone instead goes for Snoopy.

I recognize that there may be some selection bias in here. It might not be so much that people don't attempt to attain some of Peanuts' emotional depth, but more that those strips are less likely to be picked up for syndicates who care more about merchandising rights and greeting card sales than complex characters. In a way, part of Schulz's genius is that he was able to get it into papers. If Peanuts had started out the way it would become a few short years later, would Universal Features Syndicate have still bought it?

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