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!
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.