Sunday, February 28, 2010

June 20, 1952: How does a little kid get so down on himself?


This is a major shift towards Charlie Brown's later personality.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

June 19, 1952: They grow up so fast


A momentous strip: Lucy has lost her eye-circles then facing forward! And she's talking just like everyone else! And she isn't referring to herself in third-person anymore! And it reveals a glimmer of the raging inferno beneath the surface too! Oh, it's also a funny strip.

(Note that there is a Sunday strip coming up where she has eye circles. And in a couple of months she refers to herself in the third person one more time. This doesn't mean Lucy's early self is entirely banished just yet....)

Friday, February 26, 2010

June 18, 1952: Rules for Dog Word Bubbles


- If the bubble contains English text, that is letters that are not meant onomatopoetically then it must be a thought bubble. Animals cannot talk.

- However, animals can "say" the sounds they ordinarily make. So, Snoopy can say "Arf" or "Ruff" or even "Bark."

- As we see here, Snoopy can also say punctuation. Here I believe the intent is just to show a mood. Snoopy isn't actually saying anything, it is just showing his mental state. The word balloon is technically extraneous here.

- Once in a while you'll see Snoopy say something that is borderline between the two. Some time ago he said "Heh heh," which is hard to adjudicate. Dogs can't laugh, but presumably they can make sounds like being amused, so I assume that was Schulz's intent.

- Then there was that strip in which Snoopy had a sheet over his head and said "Boo." The joke in that one was from being inexplicable.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

June 16, 1952: A reasonable request


There is a whimsicalness to early Peanuts that I find appealing. It's not just that Lucy washed her hands in Charlie Brown's glass of milk, it's that she asked nicely first like this is standard Lucy protocol.

Turnabout strip!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sunday, June 15, 1952: I know people who do this during DVD movies


Schroeder still hasn't said that many words. I get the feeling that Schulz intended his lack of verbosity to be a part of the character. Or maybe it's just that he doesn't want to talk over his own music so much?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

June 13,1952: The shame of it all


Subtly revealing of Schroeder's personality. He's not just a musical genius, he's a picky genius.

Monday, February 22, 2010

June 10, 1952: Some of us take our flavors seriously


Why did Charlie Brown even offer the red ones then?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

June 9, 1952: Wishy-washy!


Mostly this one is just cute, but it is a foreshadowing of one of Charlie Brown's most-mentioned character traits, his wishy-washiness.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sunday, June 8, 1952: Someone get that kid a helmet


Now imagine this kid pitching a baseball. At YOU.

Friday, February 19, 2010

June 7, 1952: Violet has mood swings


Violet is one of the more generic Peanuts characters in the classic era, but in the early period she seems to be purposely more moody than her counterpart Patty. This is not the first time a joke like this has been used for her, and it won't be the last either.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

June 6, 1952: The dangers of accepting random bugs


Kind of an anti-climatic last panel here. Most of the joke, to me, comes from the idea that Lucy just thought Charlie Brown would want a bug at all. Later on, she takes to stomping such insects with exaggerated force.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

June 5, 1952: Standing on one foot


Lucy's monomania is developing in this strip, but I link it mostly because you get a really good look at her clothes in this one.

Lucy wore two primary outfits that I know of in Peanuts' run. This shows her earlier outfit and the one she wore during most of the classic period, a slightly formal number with a bow in the back, and colored blue on Sundays. Here the skirt is fairly normal, later on it would become highly stylized and stick out almost at right angles to her body. In later years, probably as a nod to changing fashions, Schulz would adopt a kind of jumpsuit for her attire, which made her look vaguely more athletic.

She still has the round eyes here. I never get tired of pointing them out. They won't be here much longer. When Linus shows up, which is in a month or two I think, he has the same eye style as Lucy but from the start he has her parenthesis, or "Binkley," eyes.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

June 2, 1952: Sore Winner


I imagine that Puerto Rico would drive the poor girl insane.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sunday, June 1, 1952: Don't let him bluff you!


This is one of my favorite Peanuts strips of all. It's just really funny. I've related this one from memory to people on several occasions. Artistically it's pretty good too, the characters don't look like disassociated images that don't relate to each other except by proximity here, which I think is a problem sometimes with Peanuts. Look at Snoopy jumping up on Charlie Brown, and the two running around the tree. I think this is Peanut's first really great Sunday strip. It all works extremely well here. Schulz must have been pleased with it himself, I think, and yet in the cartooning biz there is no time to bask in the glow of a well-made strip; it's always, immediately, on to the next one.

Notice Snoopy gets a thought balloon here containing English words (his second ever), but it isn't the traditional style. It has a tail here. Snoopy's reaction is priceless. "Can this be true?"

And in terms of construction this is also an excellent strip. It's one of the first Sunday strips which tells a complete story instead of a collage of related jokes. Notice how Charlie Brown and Snoopy's positions have become Patty and Charlie Brown's, respectively, in the last panel.

Sunday, February 14, 2010



There is just something very blatant about Patty's commandeering of Charlie Brown's tricycle. He loves his trike and pleads about how he was looking forward to tooling it around, but to no avail. She rides off, the look on her face indicating that she spares not a thought about CB's opinion. She feels no shame, and neither does she feel vicious pleasure. It is a tricycle; Patty likes riding tricycles; anything standing in her way, then, of riding the tricycle is an obstacle to be overcome.

This is really more of a Lucy move, but she has yet to come fully into her infernal powers.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

May 28 & 29, 1952: Two strips about baseball



In the first of these two strips Charlie Brown is catcher and Shermy is (I assume) pitcher, but the curse of CB's team is already beginning to take hold. The other strip is the first record I've noticed that CB's team usually loses, and the first time he's noticeably upset by this.

Friday, February 12, 2010

May 30, 1952: Pride in ownership


Schroeder has expressed fewer words in the strip than Snoopy at this point, and yet he has money to pay off his piano. Hm, and somehow he was able to buy it on installment in the first place.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

May 27, 1952: A new voice is (not) heard in the land


Snoopy gets his first thought balloon that contains English words.

This must have been a hard decision for Schulz. It isn't just that Snoopy is the dog character, it's that, until now, we never found out what he was actually thinking. We usually found out through his pantomime actions: laughing, angry looks, dancing, and so on. Having a character like that can be useful from a joke-writing standpoint. Now, he can just directly tell us, and so if he doesn't the joke doesn't quite work.

And yet, it is obviously a good choice for the character. If we weren't told what's happening inside Snoopy's head, then his later imagination sequences would become a lot weirder. That is to say, his thought balloons are what make those strips comprehensible, and this possible. Those flights of fancy are one of the most distinguishing and fondly remembered aspects of Peanuts. That put this strip here among the most important ones in the entire sequence.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

May 26, 1952: Let's Remember Them When


Many times now I've mentioned how this strip seems like modern Peanuts, or this other strip seems like something Schulz would have drawn years later, or Charlie Brown seems depressed in this one like he does later on, or so forth.

In this strip it is particularly strong, I think. It is the interaction of two characters, one of the exhibiting a personal quirk, and understatedly referring to it in the last panel.

And then, why shouldn't we be having this feeling more and more often right now? Before our eyes it is transforming from early to classic Peanuts. Linus will be showing up before too much longer, who I think is the character who best illustrates the difference. Linus has the same parenthesis-eyes that Lucy has, but he never goes through that phase of having circle-eyes. And Linus's quietly philosophical personality is much in tune with the best qualities of Peanuts. Other comics have Charlie Browns, Sallys, Peppermint Pattys and many, many Lucys and Snoopys (strong characters are easy to write and popular with the crowd), but I can't think of any that have a Linus-like character in them. Often he is serene. Hobbes maybe has some qualities in common with Linus in his more reflective moments, I can't think of others.

By the way, unlike the last strip, Lucy again refers to herself in third person here. I suspect Schulz worked on the daily and Sunday strips on different schedules, and so changing character attributes might be a little out of sync between them.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sunday, May 25, 1952: Listen: Lucy Van Pelt has become unstuck in time.


The title refers to the fact that, in this era of the strip, she is still maturing. For behold: she has stopped referring to herself in third person! If all the characters did that, then Charlie Brown would be over fifty in the last strip Charles Schulz drew.

The lettering on the crib is interesting. I can't help but think such a thing must seem awfully melancholy when the occupant grows out of it, and it takes up too much room, and it has sold or donated to charity, and so the named crib remains, forever a mute reminder of the childhood of someone obscure we you'll never meet and for all we know died a century ago.

How many stuffed toys does that girl have?!

In the logo in the first panel, there is a weird extra line between the A and the N in PEANUTS. Do you see where the line comes from? Here's a hint: look at the "b" in the word "by" below it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

May 24, 1952: Lucy is non-repentant


A rather different context for the chase/turnabout formula. This is a solid step along the way to Lucy's later personality. Her expression in panel two is like a shadow spreading over the strip. Lucy's on her way and she's not bring flowers and candy canes!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

May 23, 1952: Snoopy is not weighed down by life


This is a great strip. It has a theme I heartily agree with, it's cute, and shows a hint of Snoopy's developing personality. It could pass for a strip a few years later all except for the art style, which looks even better, I think, with old-style Snoopy doing it.

Notice that word balloons with music notes do not count against Snoopy's no-talking prohibition.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

May 22, 1952: Lucy requires a lot of supervision


Lucy and her long-suffering father again. It'll be nice when she loses those huge eyes.

Two strips seem to be missing from's archive, May 20 and 21. Anyone know what we missed?

Friday, February 5, 2010

May 19, 1952: Snoopy chews out Charlie Brown


A very cute strip. I like that one "ARF!" that's rendered with serif letters.

Charlie Brown takes it so hard that he reflexively holds his hat in his hands in defense!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Suinday, May 18, 1952: FREAKISHLY HUGE EYES


Lucy in the second panel looks rather hideous with her big, circular eyes. The other strips show her from the side where she looks a lot more normal.

None of the kids really have all that good a hiding place. (Schroeder in the waste basket is funny.)

Here, "Rats!" is cemented as the Peanuts world's all-purpose curse word. Like most of these mild oaths it seems king of quaint now, which is something of a shame because there's a lot more variety to these milder versions than the strong examples turned to the most now. (Of course these are kids we're talking about, and not the ones from South Park.)

Lucy's system of counting is strange and non-deterministic. Still, if you're going up to eight million, it's probably better to do it that way.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

May 17, 1952: Blocks have many uses


Lucy gets a lot of use out of her blocks.

The premise of this strip relies on Charlie Brown not noticing Lucy as she constructs her staircase. If he had looked over and Lucy making her ramp he probably wouldn't be scared. So, a subtext of this strip is that Charlie Brown gets deeply involved in books, and Lucy knows this well enough to rely upon it for her prank.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

May 15, 1952: Exit, pursued by girls, stage left


It's another turnabout/chase strip, although the cause this time isn't Charlie Brown smarting off, or at least not on purpose.

What is it about comic characters chasing each other that works? What would they do if they caught him? Inflict violence? Is that funny?

I don't seem to remember Lucy being the chaser in many turnabout strips. Generally, she's probably more likely just to slug someone and get it over with.

Monday, February 1, 2010

May 14, 1952: Lucy in Profile


Slowly over the months, the character's shapes have been edging closer to the modern style.

All of the characters except Lucy have thick eye-dots, solid little ovals of black. Lucy instead has those wide circle-eyes, at least when we see her from the front. Here she's only seen from the side; when seen in profile, or when she's looking at something out of the corner of her eye, Schulz tends not to draw the complete circle, which makes her look a lot more like her modern look.

Thus in this strip, Lucy looks very much like she does in the years to follow.