Saturday, October 31, 2009

January 9, 1952: Mush! Mush!


It took me a little while to make sense of this one. At the size the strip is rendered by default in my browser, it was hard to tell Shermy apart from Charlie Brown. CB is the one driving the sled, not Shermy.

Beyond that, I think the word "mush" is interpreted by Shermy as short for "mushy."

Snoopy sure looks happy to be pulling Charlie Brown's sled. His question mark in the last panel adds a slight extra punch to the joke.

Friday, October 30, 2009

January 8, 1952: Schroeder steps out


Schroeder's first strip outside. No mention of music here. I notice that the baby Schroeder has a much better throwing arm than Violet. Maybe all that piano playing strengthened his arm muscles?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

January 6, 1952: The First Sunday


And here we have the very first Sunday strip of Peanuts' 49 year run.

Already we see the effects of the unique format requirements of the Sunday edition. The top panels of the strip must not be essential to understanding the whole, since some newspapers don't run those to save space. Since the first panel can't be too important to the story, later Schulz would play around with clever bits of stylized art in the first panel, but here it's just used to extend the lead-up.

The characters look a little funny here, possibly due to their being rendered a bit larger than usual.

Notice, four of the five characters are named in this strip! Could this have been a concession to papers that only ran Peanuts on Sundays?

I like the quotes around "Tag" and "It" in all the panels. Especially "It," I'm going to start using scare quotes around all my pronouns! Not really

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

January 3-5, 1952: Three strips of winter

Three strips in a row here, I'm going to condense them into one post to help keep things moving.







Tune in tomorrow for an important strip indeed.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

January 2, 1952: Dreams of the Round-Headed Kid


Slick joke by Patty here, and there's also some nice non-standard poses for her. The art in panel 3, however, is kind of weird. It looks like there was either a printing error, a hasty erasure, or maybe Schulz just forgot to ink in the front of the chair.

Monday, October 26, 2009

New Year's Day, 1952 : I think I see why Patty hates Charlie Brown now


I think Patty is fully due that Scribble Of Ire in the last panel.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

New Year's Eve, 1951: Well, I hope so!


The last strip of 1951, and a funny one at that.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

December 29, 1951: Where did he get tinder?


The icicle-dripping word balloon in the second panel is nice.

Let's talk for a moment about the Peanuts characters' repertoire of expressions.

1. Neutral: No mouth at all when viewed in profile, a small dot or dash when viewed from the front

2. Mild Surprise/Interest: Neutral, but with small, upside-down-U eyebrows over the eyes. See Violet in panel four here.

3. Happy: Triangular mouth in profile, standard smile from the front or a faked profile triangle.

4. Angry: Eyebrows drawn as one long line from the front ("unibrow"), diagonal eyebrows going down towards nose when viewed in profile. Mouth is Neutral if mild anger, or a horizontal line if stronger.

5. Worried: Similar to Angry, but with slanted eyebrows arcing up at the nose line. Also, no unibrow. Mouth as in Neutral. Charlie Brown in all frames here, also Violet in panel three.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Decembet 27, 1951: Schroeder, not Snoopy


Not one of the funnier strips, but worth linking for the image of Snoopy sleeping in three-quarter perspective in the first frame, and his angry look in panels three and four.

Oh, and for the record: Parcheesi sucks.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

December 26, 1951: Charlie Brown has lips!


Doesn't Charlie Brown's mouth look funny in the first panel?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Christmas Day, 1951: Singing In Type


Sure it's mostly sentimental instead of funny, but imagine how long it must have taken Charles Schulz to render the typeface in the fourth panel.

Note: Snoopy runs with Shermy in the first panel. The mystery of his ownership continues!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Christmas Eve, 1951: Please Deposit Presents On Doormat


This is another Calvin-like scheme, but more importantly to us, this joke prefigures some of Linus' obsession over the Great Pumpkin.

Monday, October 19, 2009

December 22, 1951: And A Bite For Beethoven


The teddy bear in panel two is only there to make sense out of his inclusion in Patty's words in panel three.

Although this is a baby joke strip, Schulz still slipped in that Beethoven reference in there.

Charlie Brown gets no respect.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

December 21, 1951: Who is that?


Snoopy looks a little closer to his classic appearance here. He's subtly larger than before.

But the real reason to link to this one is... who is that kid on the left-hand side of panel three? It's not Shermy, and Charlie Brown's already in this panel. It could be Schroeder, but the last time we saw him he was still an infant!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

December 19, 1951: Words of Flattery


This strip seems to me to be more like the "classic" Peanuts era, as opposed to the "early" era we've seen so far. It seems to me to be more about examining Charlie Brown's personality than something that kids do. The characters have been mostly placeholders up to this point, but this seems to say something about a specific little boy, instead of a Platonic archetype.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

December 15, 1951: Doghouse Roof


At what point did Patty stop hanging out with Charlie Brown, and go to being more, along with Violet, of a co-antagonist?

My theory is it was about the time that Linus aged to the point of being CB's primary friend. Maybe it was something nagging at Schulz, how the main character of his strip, despite being around six or seven years old, seemed to be spending most of his time with girls. Shermy, for whatever reason, never seemed to relate to him the same way.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

December 14, 1951: She throws like a...


Setting aside the question of whether Violet's throwing range is realistic, this is a good example of the kind of strip that fueled Peanut's early popularity. It's just funny. Everything about it. The surprised pose from Charlie Brown in the first frame, the determined look on Violet's face throughout, the wide smile on Charlie Brown's face in the end, and the frustrated reaction from Violet.

There are a lot of funny strips coming up....

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

December 13, 1951: Dogcicle


Another strip to fuel the who-owns-Snoopy fires. Mostly I just think this one's funny.

Monday, October 12, 2009

December 12, 1951: Sleeping In The Snow


Snowman shenanigans is another thing Peanuts has that Calvin and Hobbes appropriated. Although to be fair, Watterson took it to lengths that approach the sublime. Peanuts could get quite dark, but Charlie Brown never did anything like the uproarious Snow Goons sequence, or any of the one-off snowman chamber of horrors strips.

EDIT: Argh, forgot the embed code. Fixed now. Thanks Eric J for pointing this out.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

December 11, 1951: Snoopy Lives His Dream


Snoopy can't talk. He hasn't even gotten thought balloons yet. So, how does Charlie Brown know that Snoopy always wanted to live in a trailer? At least the barely-verbal Schroeder can play Beethoven.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

December 10, 1951: Revolutionary


This one seems kind of pointless until you recognize it as a U.S. Revolutionary War slogan.

(If you were confused about the comment on yesterday's post, the wrong strip got linked. It's been fixed now.)

Friday, October 9, 2009

December 7, 1951: That's going to make a mess


It's the first time anyone in the strip has played hockey, which is one of those pasttimes Snoopy and Woodstock engage in later on.

EDIT: The strip from the day before was showing up. Fixed.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

December 4, 1951: Dog At The Wheel


This one's funny too.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

December 3, 1951: Beware the Wrath of the Irate Prodigy


This is just a funny cartoon. Go, Schroeder!

The marks in the last panel used to show dazedness are interesting. A question mark, two stars, a dizzy spiral and motion lines. It actually seems a little overstated, now that I look closely at it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

December 1, 1951: Pork Chops vs. Stew


Not really a lot to talk about here, except for the ground in the third panel which is, unusually, blocked in solid black. Notice that you can only tell the outlines of Charlie Brown's pants there because of the incomplete shading applied to them at the edges.

Monday, October 5, 2009

November 30, 1951: However....


This strip is a kind of mirror of the first Peanuts strip, in which Shermy, in panel 3, said "Good ol' Charlie Brown" right before adding "Oh, how I hate him!"

Funny, lots of later retrospectives of Peanuts make it a point to show that first strip, but then skip over the first couple of years, the ones we're going through now. That first strip, though in the original art style,

If you pay attention, this strip marks a slight change to the characters. They've been changing slowly this whole time of course, but they're subtly taller here than before, or so it seems to my eye anyway. It might just be because they're sitting down in all the panels; usually Schulz has to cheat a little when characters are shown sitting, since the lengths of their arms and legs make it difficult to show them bending cleanly.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Noveber 29, 1951: Comic books!


The kids' love of comic books is a staple of the early years of the strip. Part of this may be due to the fact that Universal Features Syndicate published comic books in those days, in which many of their newspaper strip characters, including the kids of Peanuts, would feature. I saw an issue of their classic title Tip Top on a dealer's shelf while at DragonCon a couple of weeks ago. It was selling for around $200 dollars, if I remember correctly.

Noteworthy is the fact that, as the decades rolled by and comic books lost their prominent place in kid culture, that nothing really moved in to replace them, except perhaps television. (As we've seen, in the earliest Peanuts strips the kids listened to radio instead of sitting watching TV.) Since then there's been rock music, action movies and video games, but the kids never really caught on to those things. One can only speculate what Schulz thought about those strange advents.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

November 26, 1951: Some Advice: Before Hiding, Make Sure You're Playing


How do mistakes like this even happen?

Check out the halftone in the second panel. You don't see that a whole lot in Peanuts.

Friday, October 2, 2009

November 25, 1951: Let Play the Fanfare


It's the first appearance of Schroeder's famous bust of Beethoven! Also, the first time he's said "Beethoven." It's fun to say Beethoven. Beethoven!

Technically that bust breaks the rules about depicting adult figures, but it is just a knickknack, and it's nice to see that Charles Schulz could render realistic faces too. There's so much character in that face. I think half the humor in this one comes from the different art style used to render that bust.

It seems to me that, over time, the characters get bigger. I think it comes from the slightly more mature proportions and the decreasing thickness of the lines. There's usually nothing to compare scale with other than the other characters, but Schroeder's piano and Beethoven bust give us something to judge scale by. Here the bust is bigger than the piano, and juts out over the top. Lucy wouldn't have any room to lean here. Later on the bust fits entirely on the piano, implying that either the bust is smaller or the piano is bigger.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

November 24, 1951: Cute, Too


Rather a strange thing for Charlie Brown to be jealous about. The exclamation point over Snoop's head is a nice touch.