These two little girls' opinion of Charlie B. seem to decline over time. I remember, as a kid reading Peanuts compilations, thinking Patty and Violet often seemed incredibly cruel to him. This, of course, is before the diabolical Lucy came on the scene....
There is an unexplained gap in Comic.com's archives over June 10-17. I should have a look in Fantagraphic's Peanuts compilations to see if strips are missing or if Peanuts was on hiatus during that period.
This is a vaguely creepy strip. If the eyes aren't Charlie Brown's, whose are they? And why is he hanging out in the sewer? My vote goes to a suburban Deep One. (That's right, Peanuts and the Cthulhu Mythos, baby!)
There are three broad categories of Peanuts strips from this time: kids acting like kids, kids acting like adults, and kids displaying precocious knowledge of adulthood. (There are other types, but these seem to be foremost.) This strip falls into the third category, with Violet speculating about later getting a date with a human being who's not yet old enough to talk. Notice, by the way, Schroeder's dubious look in the second frame. That expression is not essential to the joke, but Charles Schulz put it in anyway. This is one of the joys of early Peanuts for me, noticing those little things Schulz just threw in.
Schroeder was an Archetypal Baby in this one. Enjoy it while it lasts kid; it won't be long at all before you become the Archetypal Musician instead.
Notice the difference in Charlie Brown's mouth when seen in three-quarters' perspective (second panel) and nearly full-on (fourth panel). On the first we get a relief line, the second just a mouth outline. If Charlie Brown were seen straight-on, Schulz would have had to figure something to do with his nose, as his U-shaped noses would have to pick a side to be seen from then.
He doesn't have his piano yet, doesn't have his striped shirt, barely has any hair, his personality consists of blank stare, and can't even talk, but it's the same Schroeder who would later idolise Beethoven and fend off Lucy's advances.
Oh, how much this strip changed over the years. Most comic strips, those that were ever any good, start off great and trail off over the years, as the need to continue bringing in an income overrode any considerations of quality. Peanuts went the other way, starting off sharp but gaggy, then gaining profundity. Its characters changed so much since 1951, they're like different people. (I had to stop myself from saying "between then and now," it's hard to believe that Charles Schulz has been gone for over nine years.)
Charlie Brown breaks the fourth wall. To answer his question, yes, we would.
Bill Watterson has listed Peanuts as an influence on Calvin & Hobbes, and the similarity is remarkably close here. This is exactly the kind of thing Calvin would do, right down to gloating about it to the reader. It seems to me that early Peanuts is probably a greater influence on Calvin & Hobbes than later strips.
Snoopy's a nice touch here, although is it just me or does he look like was added as an afterthought? It has to do with his mouth overlapping the ice cream in the last panel.
One of the more pernicious influences of Peanuts is a number of cartoonists who think it's acceptable to make clip art of their characters in all their poses and just paste them into the document. Schulz was far too much of a craftsman to resort to this, but he did admit that he had a number of stock poses he'd most often draw the characters in.
Snoopy's appearance in the last panel here looks like it was just overlaid upon the frame, but I think it's more likely that Charles Schulz just lightly inked the overlaying portion of the cone. If the cone were drawn to the point where Snoopy's snout directly overlaid it it'd be harder to read. You can occasionally see the light inking idea in other strips in the early era, when a character is standing in front of another, for example.
Charlie Brown's looking mighty expressive here. Later on, he'd be more likely to just suffer with a sigh instead of complaining about it.
CB's name has been, by far, the most mentioned among the strip's meager cast so far, which is weird because it's the longest. It's interesting that now, over 50 years after this strip's original publication, you could use "Charlie Brown" as an insult and people would generally know what you meant.
The Snoopy-hears-food pattern is formula; the varition is that Charlie Brown's already eaten all the candy. Snoopy would even do this much later.
Note Charlie Brown's round eyes in frame 3. Lucy starts out with those as standard equipment but they don't last long. The parenthesis around her and Linus' eyes (I call them "Binkley eyes," after the Bloom County/Outland/Opus character) are a remaining vestige of that.
Patty wears a travelling coat in this one, a decidedly 50s-ish touch.
This is the start of a minor running gag, the Peanuts kids often get candy or comics from this particular drug store, and the manager gets annoyed when they don't buy things. (Just think: Peanuts started back in the days when drug stores were still a suitable kid hang-out spot, and ended in the days of the Internet!)
Is it just me, or does Snoopy's tongue being stuck out in the third frame seem a little like it's over-stating his attitude? Schulz usually leaves more to the reader's imagination. But anyway, it's the first doghouse, or birdhouse I suppose, seen in the strip, so it's worthy of commemoration. It also marks the first time a character blushes to show embarassment.
Later on, Snoopy would lose his ability to experience, or express, this kind of enthusiasm, although he'd pick up other means. But we do get another three-quarter perspective leap out of him while he's still capable of it.
No thought balloons yet, but Snoopy's dealings with a decidedly non-Woodstock bird are looking more human. Something to notice: when Snoopy's head is facing the "camera" in three-quarters perspective, his eyes are a little closer together than in previous strips. Earlier he looked almost fish-eyed, but they've begun to migrate to the front. Over time, all the characters' eyes would move closer together, which helped to give them a more mature appearance as the situations became more complex.
Eventually, it's either this bird or one that looks a lot like it that builds a nest on Snoopy's stomach while he lies atop his birdhouse EDIT: dammit doghouse, and it's one of the birds to be born from that nest who would become Woodstock.
Woodstock would pine, around Mother's Day every year, for his mother. Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography notes that Charles Schulz's mother was rather cruelly taken from him within a week of his going overseas to fight in World War II (her funeral was the day before he shipped out), a blow it seems he never recovered from.
But anyway, it's weird to think that the unobtainable love and affection that Woodstock sought from his absent mother all those years may be right here, in this very bird.
The text of ROASTED PEANUTS is copyright 2009-2011 by John Harris. No copyright is claimed over the comic strips, which are here under the principle of fair use. Strips presented for review purposes only. We love Peanuts a whole lot, and wouldn't dream of exploiting it. Please don't sue us; we're only trying to love. Thank you for reading this notice.