Monday, November 30, 2009

OFF-TOPIC: Beanworld Book 3

Hoka-hoka-hey! The long drought is finally over! Beanworld Book 3 has arrived from Amazon! I've been obsessed with Beanworld for months now, and to actually have not just one, but a thick book of new stories, it seems almost like too much. It is wonderful! This post from Scott McCloud's blog explains why, and also provides some art examples from the new book. (S.McC. has a letter in one of the earliest Tales Of The Beanworld comics, as does Bob Burden of Flaming Carrot!)

It may seem at first to be night-and-day different from something like Peanuts, but the heavily-stylized art styles are fairly similar. Peanuts are a kind of legume after all!

February 14-17,1952: Three strips about perception

February 14 (Valentine's Day):

February 15:

February 16:

All of these strips are about a character's perceptions being shown to be wrong, but in a way they appreciate.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

February 13, 1952: Charlie Brown Must Be Oblivious


We've been going through nearly every strip lately, but there's been a lot to talk about!

The reason I bring up this one is that I think I see in it an early version of the Charlie Brown Messes Up strips of the years to come. The payoff of this strip is unusual. The main comedic punch is in the third panel. If all Schulz cared about was that joke, he really only needed that panel. The others may be dispensed with wholly.

But I don't think Schulz was just concerned with the main joke here. The joke isn't about a clueless kid, it is about the kid's well-meaning observation being shown to be mistaken, and his embarrassment about this. About his realizing that he really should have noticed that he was standing on Snoopy's tail. In other words, this strip is about inadequacy.

Even now, most comic strips would just point and laugh and say, in essence, "That stupid kid! He is stupid! Isn't that funny? Ha! Ha!" By pointing at the stupid person doing something stupid and laughing, it helps to reassure ourselves that we are smart. Peanuts empathizes with the stupid kid, and in the process reminds us that we are all stupid, sometimes.

This is why Peanuts is a great comic strip.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

February 12, 1952: Building a Skating Rink


What is it with the kids' cavalier attitude towards other people's property? Someone must have put those fences up for a reason, presumably in order to keep kids from building skating rinks on them. And how about freezing the water?

I guess what I am saying is, there is a certain lack of realism in this comic strip. I wish Schulz would dispense with this nonsense and get back to little boys playing concerts and dogs living in hotels.

Friday, November 27, 2009

February 11, 1952: Cooking With Violet


In today's episode, we discover that questionable dirt-based desserts are only one of her specialities.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sunday, February 10, 1952: Treace Peaty


The main reason this one is here is because it is the first strip appearance of the famous Peanuts logo in the first panel. Later on it'd get the words "Featuring 'Good 'Ol Charlie Brown'" beneath it, but those are a long way off.

In the intro panels, Charlie Brown seems a fair bit more affectionate towards Snoopy than you'd expect a non-owner to be. Concerning the content, well, these were the days before political correctness. At least Patty is allowed in the game.

Also seen here is one of the relatively few childish mispronunciation gags in Peanuts. I am referring to Charlie Brown's mentioning Shermy and Patty wouldn't be interested in a "Treace Peaty." This Sunday strip is, like some of the other Sundays we've seen so far, basically a collage of jokes erected to pad out what would ordinarily be a weekday strip. Schulz doesn't seem to have yet learned how to pace these longer comics.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

February 9, 1952: Hut Times Any Other Number Is Hut


While not an exceedingly funny joke, this is the first inside-classroom strip, and the eventual site of Peppermint Patty's long struggle against academia.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

EXTRA: The least-accurate depiction of Charlie Brown ever drawn

His shirt is much less stylish (and much more cloying), but at least the kid finally grew some hair!

Don't believe me that this is actually a drawing of ol' Chuck? See for yourself. Found on musical oddities site Way Out Junk, it's from the cover of a rendition of the music from You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown.

Evidently they got the rights to the music but not the strip, so I'm guessing they had to purposely draw characters that looked nothing like the kids we all know.

February 8, 1952: Beware the Wrath of the Prodigy


Can't really blame Schroeder for getting angry over this one!

Two things. First, Peanuts characters seemed to mellow out a lot over time. Even the mighty Lucy rarely seemed to wear an expression of this ferocity. Second, the rules concerning the depictions of adults and their communications was much less in force here. In many later strips, you wouldn't have seen a word balloon over the radio, and the joke probably would have had to be reworked into a conversation between two of the kids.

Monday, November 23, 2009

February 7, 1952: Snob Dog


Oh come on now.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

February 5, 1952: Lather. Rinse. Repeat.


I've done this very thing, although in my defense I was in the kitchen at the time, and not standing out in a field far away from a stove with which to heat the can's contents. What is required here is another application of the Yossarian School of Philosophy.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

February 4, 1952: Albert Payson Terhune


Albert Payson Terhune. He wrote about collies.

Daily reading time for a dog? Very cute drawings of Snoopy here by the way. Especially in the third, although it looks vaguely un-Snoopy-like.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sunday, February 3, 1952: G.R.O.S.B.


This one is a little stereotypical I guess. It is a general Peanuts fact that the female characters are the equal of the male characters concerning strength, so they could have at least helped. (Lucy may be the same usually, but her FURIOUS ANGRY RAGE gives her super powers. Peppermint Patty is simply a mutant.)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

February 2, 1952: The Rapids Under The Bridge


It helps one feel a little bit better about Patty and Violet in their cruel years to think that they have such a short attention span that they can't remain angry at Charlie Brown for more than three panels.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

February 1, 1952: And I'll Rock You Away To That Sugar-Plum Tree


Isn't it just a tiny bit hard to believe that songs like this were ever popular? I think this joke is actually a little bit funnier now because of that.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

January 31, 1952: Dog On Skates


It strikes me that, right now, we are about halfway between the original look for Peanuts and the "classic" style of the strip's heyday. Charlie Brown still has an oval head and solid black eyes, but his proportions are a bit less stylized. Snoopy is still relatively small compared to the other characters, but he is a bit longer. (He's still far away from the balloon animal-like look he had in Peanut's later years.)

Oh, the strip itself? There have not been a huge number of funny-cause-he's-a-dog strips so far. (The one with the TV antenna atop his doghouse has been the funniest of that lot.) Thing is, as Snoopy's personality becomes better-known and he becomes less like a normal dog, these kinds of jokes become less effective. I remember, as a kid, seeing some old compilations of Peanuts strips with Snoopy jokes and not quite "getting" them because the humor was tied up in Snoopy doing non-doglike things, when most of my experience with the character came from the days when he had almost given up dogliness altogether.

Just today I saw a copy of one of the old Fawcett Peanuts collections, flipped through it, and found the strip in which Sally laments that she can't go to school because she's not old enough. Snoopy responds in a thought-balloon that you also have to prove you're a human. I remember that strip from reading it in 1st grade and not finding it especially funny. I like it a lot better now.

Monday, November 16, 2009

January 30, 1952: Schroeder gamely fights typecasting


We know it's Schroeder because of the musical notation in the first panel, but this is a side of the kid seldom seen.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

January 29, 1952: Snoopy's Pride


Snoopy doesn’t stoop to begging for treats... unless someone else might get it instead.

What kind of candy is this that it’s equally suitable for kids and dogs?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

January 27, 1952: Blind Man’s Bluff


I expect a lot of kids today have never heard of this game, either.

I just like this one, it’s mostly a collage of smaller jokes, like “At least I’ll be near home!” and “What trees?”

Friday, November 13, 2009

January 25, 1952: Charlie Brown figures it out


That is an excellent point. Special deals provided by companies tend to be cunningly arranged so that they sound great but only a tiny portion of respondents will ever be able to cash in. Those boxtop deals were fairly common at the time, but only bulk buyers would be able to take advantage of them. Most of them had no use for a tricycle, or whatever else was being offered, either.

Just so you know, I had to restrain myself from making a reference to the movie Punch Drunk Love here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

January 24, 1952: Hammer-Klavier


German is a funny language when you think about it. I guess it is somewhat less funny when you try to spell something in it.

Schroeder gets annoyed with the other kids fairly often. ‘tis the curse of the misunderstood genius, I guess.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

META: (last one I hope) Image fixing done

RSS will be back on in a short while. Have a look around if you like to reassure yourselves the strips are here. Sadly there was no way I could discover for saving the number of post flags (like interesting, funny, weird) and all those counts have reset to zero. At least all your comments have been saved, and no one needs to refollow!

Someone suggested uploading the strips to the blog, but that makes me a bit more nervous from a legal standpoint. explicitly makes the strips available via embedding, so I figure I'm safe there. Still, if this happens again I probably will start hosting them locally; they don't seem to have gone after the Comics Curmudgeon.

META: Warning to RSS readers, image fixing about to begin

This is to warn everyone reading via RSS that I'm about to do the image fix. To try to reduce the number of duplicated feed entries, the feed will be off for maybe half an hour or so. If tomorrow night rolls around and you don't get a new comic them Something Went Wrong and you should resubscribe.

In any case, there will be some duplicated feed entries. Unfortunately, I do not know of a way to prevent Blogger from reposting those once the feed is turned back on.

Here we go!

META: More on the Image Break

I have figured out a way to fix all the links in one fell swoop. However, it is fairly drastic mojo. It will likely remove any flags (funny, cool, interesting, etc) that have been set on posts. Trial runs have indicated that it probably will not erase comments, but it might result in some strange feed behavior. I am not doing it immediately, but will probably do it in the next few days.

For those of you interested in what this entails....

A quick Google search didn't turn up many promising avenues. An Ask Metafilter thread from 2005 said it might require hacking the Blogger API to implement changes of this magnitude.

It turns out that it doesn't require going quite that far. It is possible to export all of the posts of a Blogger blog into an XML file, and then import it later either to the same blog or a different one. While it is on the local machine passing it through a quickie Python script easily fixes the links, once I get the old URL format solidly recognized (for the record,'s new URL system is rather simpler than the old one). It turns out that even comments get exported to the archive file.

The problems arise from the fact that, while I can restore the blog posts to a new blog then change its address to match the old one, not all of the old blog's settings get restored. The kinds of issues this produces ranges from minor (having to reupload the banner) to somewhat harsh (anyone following the blog will have to refollow).

The alternative is to delete all of the posts on the current blog and reimport them from the hacked backup. This should be safe since I have the blog backed up. It will keep all of the settings and followers, but I don't know if it will do something nutty like resend all of the pages as new RSS entries.

Will probably take action on this in a day or two.

January 23, 1952: Schroeder’s first multiword utterance is in German


Schroeder gets way into his playing in this one. His holding out his arms in the last panel is hilarious.

Also, I laughed out loud when I noticed how Schulz signed this one.

META:'s continuing confounding

A comment on the last post notes that the images have stopped working again. And lo, the reason for this seems to be that has changed their image hosting, thus breaking all the links of anyone who uses their old embed code.

I could (and for now, will) just use their new embed code, but this poses a problem. What if decides to do this again in the future? And what am I going to do about all the posts that I have already made?

I have found that the new code is the same as the old code, just with a different URL. I have figured out how to change the address from old to new with a simple paste. But the site has almost 250 strips already, and each one of those is its own paste. That is basically a whole afternoon down the tubes, with no guarantee that they won't do this again at some later date.

I am looking into solutions. For now, I have fixed the last two posts and the few that are in the queue. I'll see what I can do about the others later....

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

January 22, 1952: I bet she has a darkroom too


Overall the early Peanuts strips hold up fairly well. But there will eventually come the day when most people won’t know of the sometimes complicated decisions needed to take a physical photograph.

Monday, November 9, 2009

January 21, 1952: Dogs don’t care about originality


I got another one for you: “It was a dark and stormy night....”

A little kid complaining about the triteness of his world. Slowly, Peanuts is becoming something special.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday, January 20, 1952: I don’t think the Guinness people will consider his achievement


Again note the leadup in the top panels which, again, must be designed considering that some newspapers remove them. One way to allow the strip to survive this is to extend the setup for the story. Another way is to present a self-contained joke in those panels. A third way, used frequently in Peanuts’ later days, is to simply provide some thematic, abstract art in the large title panel, which won’t be missed if the panel is excised.

This strip further develops Snoopy’s personality. In about a year, if memory serves, Lucy will be involved in a sequence involving bouncing a ball for nearly a week.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

january 18, 1952: Beethoven!


It is weird to think of the girls pining away for the just-out-of-infanthood Schroeder. Of course, he only has eyes for the big B. This attitude would eventually cause Lucy no end of consternation.

What is such a young kid doing carrying a wallet anyway? One with pictures in it?

Friday, November 6, 2009

January 17, 1952: More wavy lines


Although he still barely speaks, Schroeder is out and about! An important step towards his becoming a full character. Notice his bed in the corner in the third and fourth frames; it is a weird quasi-crib with low rails.

The post title comes from the aura around his head in the third frame, which we also saw used yesterday to denote embarrassment.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

january 16, 1952: But he CAN read music?!


The wavy line around Schroeder’s head is an interesting idea for showing embarrassment. Imagine what the frame would look like without it. The joke seems like it would be just a little flatter with just his blush, hands and expression illustrating his reaction.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

January 15, 1952; Snow-cial Injustice


There’s even a frowning face on the dejected snowman.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

January 14, 1952: And I thought I was the only kid who read that stuff.


Schroeder should have been more specific. At least he’s talking, and isn’t on that piano.

Monday, November 2, 2009

January 12, 1952: Putt putt putt


I like Charlie Brown’s driving cap and how his name is printed on his go-kart. That’s remarkably accommodating of Snoopy too, especially considering I don’t know any dog that would willingly make a noise like “putt putt putt.”

Just want to take this opportunity to note that, as I was clicking the Embed link on's site for this one, I accidently clicked on one of the teeth-whitening ads on the side of the page. Before I could do anything about it, a new window had opened filled with dense text trying to convince me to buy Ill-Advised Internet Product #763. Especially hateful is the fact that, when I clicked the X button to close the window, the page opened a "are you sure" dialog warning me that this special offer won't be around for long.

Maybe I'm just high-strung, but things like that make my eyes glow red, my head spin around, and my mouth utter involuntary invocations to Yog-Sothoth. As astoundingly obnoxious advertisement.

Oh well, at least a woman in lingerie wasn't trying to get me to play Evony.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

January 11, 1952: Thanks for the SLACKS, girls


Although this one is funny (and reminds me of a certain young movie-watching inventor/janitor trapped in space giving one of his robot creations pants as a gift), I mostly linked to it because it's oddly broken and faded. Some of these strips are hard to find, I suppose. Still, it was published in newspapers... I'd think Universal Features would be able to get an undamaged complete copy off a microfilm in a library somewhere.