Thursday, December 17, 2009

EXTRA: Old-school Peanuts figures

Thanks to RAB of Estoreal for pointing me to these figures Dark Horse is putting out of Peanuts characters then and now.

Of course there is nothing wrong, exactly, with the modern representations. But there is a charm in the old depictions that is missing in the newer ones, and that's especially evident in Old-School Snoopy.

The evolution of a comic strip is an interesting thing.  The Garfield of today is unrecognizable compared to the Garfield of the strip's beginnings, and that was in 1978.  In that case, they began as remarkably unattractive characters, enough so that one can only think they were intended to be ugly.  Peanuts went the other way; strikingly composed and sharply designed characters, over the first few years of the strip, transitioned into slightly more realistic, yet definitely less attractive realizations.

Why would Charles Schulz move towards lessening the cute-factor of his characters? My theory is to stave off a perception that his work was kid's stuff, which would be especially important as the strip began to lift off to philosophical heights and cultural relevance. Of course, you may have different ideas.


  1. I think he made the characters more realistic so that the readers would be more willing to attribute realistic emotions to them.

  2. Oddly enough, I kind of prefer the "Then" Snoopy to the "Now" version, I think it's the face.

    Unless, of course, he's dressed as the WW1 flying ace.

  3. It's true that Garfield had a very different almost Kliban-like appearance in the first strips, but he pretty quickly (weeks or months, if I remember properly) developed into the "cuter" appearance he has today. Snoopy's metamorphosis took much longer.

  4. The first compilation of Garfield strips goes from the early tiny-eyed weird look to a version similar, but not the same as, the modern look. The eyes are perfectly round instead of oval for instance. It took a few more years of development to get all the way to the current style.