Friday, July 31, 2009

August 28, 1951: Snoopy's birthday


Should this be considered Snoopy's official birthday? I don't think Schulz planned out his characters' backstories in that much detail, really. Does it seem strange to sing "Happy Birthday" for a dog?

Snoopy is a dog of many emotions: surprise, tearful gratitude, and anticipatory happiness.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

August 27, 1951: Baby vs. Dog


A funny strip, though a variant of the ball throwing one from a few days ago. How about Schroeder's "talk to the hand" gesture in the second panel?

Notice that, to signal the characters eating, Schulz resorted to word balloons saying "chomp chomp" and "smack smack."

Also, it's not their first appearance by any means, but check out the fancy question-marks in the second and fourth panels, which were kind of a Schulz trademark in the early days.

And: scribble of ire!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

August 24, 1951: The Pitcher's Mound


This seems to be the first instance of Charlie Brown pitching. I can forgive the umpire sitting behind the pitcher for the chance to see Snoopy, in one of his earliest fully-intelligent moments, declaring a ball to CB's consernation. A funny strip!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

August 23, 1951: Snoopy is overexcitable


Nice drawings of Snoopy here, especially tired out in the last panel. I think this is the first time we've seen that look on him.

Monday, July 27, 2009

August 22, 1951: That's a mean baby


The look on Schroeder's face in the first panel is fairly unique for him. Also, behold the return of the scribble of ire!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

August 21, 1951: King Neptune


This is one of my favorite early strips. Heh heh heh!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

August 20, 1951: It's not good to sit on a dog, anyway


Schroeder is the default baby character again here, filling in the same kind of role that would later be filled, in turn, by Lucy, Linus, then Sally. These kinds of baby jokes would decrease in number over time, presumably as Schulz's own connection with infants (such as his own young kids) diminished over time. I barely remember seeing much of Rerun's infanthood, he just sort of settled into being the preschool character.

Friday, July 24, 2009

August 16, 1951: Those immortal words


It's the first time a character is called a "blockhead."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

August 15, 1951: Silhouette


It's the first time the characters have appeared in silhouette.

One measure of the quality of a comic character's design is how recognizable is its outline. It's easy to tell Charlie Brown apart from Patty here in panel three. (John Kricfalusi had a blog post about this a little while back, but I can't find it at the moment.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

August 8, 1951: Origin of the birdbath


It's the first appearance of the birdbath, later site of many furious hockey games between Snoopy and Woodstock. It seems to be in Violet's yard.

Monday, July 20, 2009

August 6, 1951: Snoopy's evolution


Look at Snoopy in the first panel. He's bigger, and his smile here seems more middle-era Snoopy than before. He's come some way from his origins.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

August 3, 1951: Soup!


The joke is made more effective because the punchline is a single syllable. It doesn't hurt that it's a naturally funny word. Soup!

I like this one especially for the relatively detailed background, which was uncommon even in the early days. Doesn't a picnic in the woods seem like a grand idea?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

August 2, 1951: Dogs are not sporting equipment


Snoopy is cute again. The look in his face in the last panel is great, as is how he holds his tail straight out, a nice touch.

Snoopy's appearance in the third panel is subtly closer to his intermediate-era appearance. There are three phases Snoopy's appearance goes through. So far we've seen him in his early look, where he's always on all-fours, is sometimes drawn in three-quarters' perspective, and he is obviously a puppy. It corresponds to the first few years of the strip.

After that, moving into the late 50s to 60s, we have middle-era Snoopy, where his body is longer, he sometimes goes about of two legs (and gets his weird foot-bouncing dance), his thought balloons become integral to the character, and he has much deeper relationships with the other characters. This is also when he picks up his prodigious imagination.

The modern-era Snoopy is when his snout thickens, his nose sticks out even more like a clown nose, and he becomes a creature almost unlike a dog, and is how the character is mostly remembered today.

Friday, July 17, 2009

August 1, 1951: Charlie Brown and his Dad


This is not the first strip in which CB's empathic relationship with his father comes out. It only rarely comes up in the strip, but Charlie Brown greatly loves his father, and it's rather heartwarming, and I don't think in a saccharine way since it's often used as a subtext for a joke, when his expressions of affection come up.

Charles Schulz's father was a barber, like Charlie Brown's, who struggled to support his family through the Great Depression. After Charles Schulz's mother died shortly before he entered military service, he had to rely on his father for a period after he returned home. The two would pore over the comics pages of the newspapers each Sunday; they subscribed to two St. Paul papers, and Sparky would also pick up two Minneapolis papers from a drug store so they had four comics sections to go through.

The death of Schulz's father was possibly the reason Charlie Brown's father stopped figuring in the strips. Schulz seemed to take things from his life and give them a place in the strip. This theory would also explain those characters who would be introduced and even hang around for a long while, even becoming major players, before vanishing never to be seen again. These characters may have been based upon people Schulz knew, and when they left his circle of experience, the inspiration for writing them would dry up.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

July 31, 1951: Party to Insecurity


Back in the day, Charlie Brown's later insecurity was spread more evenly across the cast (except, oddly, for Shermy). I wouldn't doubt that some socialites use this same reasoning when planning their soirées. The expression on Patty's face in panel four is adorable.

Check out the size of the telephone in the last panel compared to Patty. It's huge! It's easy to forget how small the characters are relative to their surroundings until they interact with objects from the adult world.

For any kids reading this: that thing Patty is using is called a telephone. It's like a cell phone, only it's plugged into the wall. Also, it doesn't have push buttons on the front, but a dial that must be spun in order to connect to someone. If it doesn't connect directly to a human operator. Oh, and it's probably owned by the phone company.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

July 26, 1951: Graffiti


An entertaining thing about this strip is how similar the fence-scrawled depiction of Charlie Brown is to the boy himself. And yet, despite his "correction" of the image, Charlie Brown doesn't actually smile in this strip.

The Peanuts characters of this phase of the strip exist in a kind of archetypal comic strip land of childhood that doesn't really exist anymore. Fences on which things are drawn is one aspect of it. Drugstores that sell comic books is another. You expect characters to pop knotholes in fences through which to spy on ball games. It's the same land that Nancy and Sluggo live in.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

July 25, 1951: Conversations From the Sandbox


The characters' playing in the sandbox here is one of those things it's hard to picture the later characters doing, when most things were depicted in profile. Note the three-quarter perspective on Charlie Brown's toy truck.

How big is that sandbox anyway? Are they at the beach? And is Snoopy's grassy hilltop an ancestor of CB's place of perdition, the pitcher's mound?

Monday, July 13, 2009

July 24, 1951: Sis Boom Bah


This is a rather sharp strip that could be taken as critical of the idea of parades. Were Schulz's midwestern sensibilities offended by such ostentation displays of pride? Heck, I'm not from the midwest at all and I consider them overblown.

Mostly though, I linked to this one because I like the third panel.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

July 22, 1951: Borrowed time


Remember, this was an era when parents routinely spanked their children for misbehaving. Seems weird now.

Charlie Brown's smile in the last panel is interesting.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

July 21, 1951: Hey, it's funnier than Jim Cramer


Last strip was an odd one in which Violet suggested that Charlie Brown roughly steal her flowers.

This one's a little stereotypical, but I like it a lot more. In particular, I like the matter-of-factness of Patty's attitude towards the whole thing. She doesn't have an angry expression when she whacks CB with her purse, and the doesn't use any exclamation points in describing her "mad money." To her this is just how the world works, girls smacking boys with their cash.

Friday, July 10, 2009

July 20, 1951: Oh that Charlie Brown! ♥♥♥


This is a strange strip. I don't even think I want to get into this one. Draw your own conclusions, I'm kind of disturbed.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

July 19, 1951: Schroeder's still a baby


It won't be long....

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

July 18, 1951: This would make Wii Golf a lot better, in my opinion.


I'm pretty sure they don't let dogs on golf courses. Something about "digging holes" or something similar. Of course, there aren't many four-year-old kids on them, either.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

July 16, 1951: Snoopy, the refined dog


Snoopy has too much ambition to shoot his mouth off.

Monday, July 6, 2009

July 11, 1951: Schroeder's first words


They are "bye-bye."

Note: NOT "Beethoven!"

Sunday, July 5, 2009

July 10, 1951: Charlie Brown in a baseball game


This is the second reference to baseball in the strip, and the first that shows the kids actually playing. It looks like Patty can really belt the ball, just like her later namesake Peppermint Patty.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

July 9, 1951: Just a dog


Snoopy's cute when he's offended (panel 2). Of course, his excitement dies down a bit in later years.

Friday, July 3, 2009

July 5, 1951: Snoopy victorious


It's an honest-to-goodness fight cloud in Peanuts.

I love the look on Snoopy's face. Also, who'd have thought Patty could be so bloodthirsty?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

July 4, 1951: Oh, those girls!


Ha! Ha! It's stereotypical!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

July 3, 1951: Boo


It won't be much longer before Snoopy starts using thought balloons, and this joke wouldn't work if they were in use. Did Schulz plan it that way, getting the joke used while the using was good?