Monday, March 29, 2010

August 6, 1952: Charles Brown


Almost as if Schulz himself noticed what it looked like when CB preemptively complained about Snoopy's begging for candy a couple days ago, here he does it with a human character who can audibly express her displeasure.

And Violet now, firmly, finally seems to be done with mudpies.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

August 4, 1952: He still can't stand it


Charlie Brown's joy getting stomped on by another, unthinking character is becoming a common theme for strips. Just three days ago Snoopy "fetched" CB's golf ball in play, and Charlie Brown couldn't stand that either.

Could it be that Snoopy's disdain for the candy here results from Charlie Brown's harping and hawing over the idea that Snoopy will beg for it? The dog has some pride after all.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sunday, August 3, 1952: I can taste that ice cream now coursing through my veins!


I love the second panel for this one. Simultaneously delicious and disturbing.

Lucy's confused copying of Patty and Violet, to me, are an unexpectedly important part of this strip. It's a mocking echo of Charlie Brown's torment! She is become Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos! Ia! Ia! ...

Oops, sorry about that. I should probably tone down the Lovecraft references, heh.

In the next-to-last panel, it is weird to see the girls hiding from CB's wrath. There isn't even any lead up to it; the girls are suddenly in the background behind those trees. Then in the last panel they're instantly back.

Oh, and how about that look on Lucy's face in the first panel? She really seems to be into that wagon.

Friday, March 26, 2010

August 2, 1952: Lucy Channels Prometheus


Lucy discovers that skill which is forbidden to the very young: the awesome ability to get out of the crib by herself. This is, I think, one of the last strips in which Lucy interacts with her unseen father. Linus is showing up very soon, freeing Lucy for use in other capacities.

Lucy's eyes are still part-way between their evolution from circles with dots inside them to full parenthesis. Of all the major characters in Peanuts, only Lucy, Linus and Rerun have parenthesis around their eyes. This gives them subtly stronger powers of expression than the other characters, since we can always see the assumed corner of their eyes, instead of only when characters are looking in a direction other than they're facing (which produces eyes-as-apostrophes).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

August 1, 1952: Snoopy wants to play


This is a cute little strip, cute enough to overcome my usual aversion to sports jokes. Poor ol' Charlie Brown. But then, I'm pretty sure dogs aren't allowed on golf courses, so doesn't CB only have himself to blame? It is in dogs' nature to fetch. To bring Snoopy onto a golf course is to invite disaster.

The last panel gives us one of the earliest examples of Charlie Brown exhibiting dismay. "I can't stand it" is one of Charlie Brown's unofficial mottoes, along with "Good grief!" and "Rats!"

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

July 31, 1952: The Doll Doctor


This strip looks a little familiar to me, like I've seen another strip like it, and recently.

A lot of this strip depends on technique. The punch comes from Patty's setting up the reader for expecting an actual medicine with a fancy, scientific name in the third panel. It's all but required that they be multi-syllabic words, so Charlie Brown can foil those expectations in the last panel with his single-syllable retort of "Glue!"

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sunday, July 27, 1952: You-you-you-GIRL-you


Patty pulls off what, later, would probably be a Lucy move.

We get a rare glimpse here of a really angry Charlie Brown, who hadn't yet learned to internalize life's slings and arrows.

To little things are particularly interesting here. Schroeder's expression is, except for a bit of a sad look in panel 5, neutral for the rest of the strip. He serves as a norm that sets off CB's anger. And Patty's expression in the last two panels is also neutral; she doesn't feel ashamed for her act, and neither does she gloat about it. All the emotion in the last half of the strip belongs to Charlie Brown.

Few cartoonists made as much use out of neutral expressions as Charles Schulz did. His kids could really play a scene down.

Monday, March 22, 2010

July 24, 1952: Lucy and Snoopy


1. Lucy's edging still-closer to the position of strip bully. That's rather a weird choice, I'd think, for a character who was introduced as one of the youngest of the cast, and a girl at that.

2. Snoopy's personality develops a bit too. That's a devious expression he's wearing in the last panel.

3. We also discover another thing he can say, and he can say it in serif lettering!

4. Scribble of ire!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

July 23, 1952: Schroeder vs. Accordions


In case you didn't notice it before, Schroeder hates accordions. We'll see before long that, by extension, this means accordion players.

It is easy to place this opinion as part of Schroeder's character, but is it just me or does this strip also imply that Schulz himself doesn't care for the instrument? Might he be subtly letting us know about his opinion of popular art? What does that say about his own burgeoning career in cartooning? Please write your opinions down in the form of an eight-page essay and bring it to class next week.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

July 21, 1952: Sad Sad Snoopy


I do think I prefer this age of Peanuts, in terms of art style, to all the others. It's true, when Peanuts' art became simplified and iconic it allowed the strip's humor and voice to aim for the stratosphere, but we also come to lose things like Snoopy's expression in the last panel here. Now that's a depressed dog.

This is a bit more confirmation for the idea that Snoopy belongs to Charlie Brown, I think.

Friday, March 19, 2010

July 20, 1952: The wishy-washy of days gone by


Charles Schulz reminds us, in nine panels, about an age of childhood receding into history with astonishing rapidity. This strip is approaching 60 years old....

Thursday, March 18, 2010

July 19, 1952: Dog speech addendum: Heh, heh, heh


Snoopy can also laugh derisively!

A very cute strip involving the dog. His ears, particularly, are adorable here. They're like little wings.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

July 18, 1952: Lucy's family


Peanuts rarely lets us know much about the home lives of its characters except where they relate to each other. This strip shows us that Lucy may be feeling a bit ignored at home. I don't think Schulz intends that Lucy's forthcoming anger issues arise from dissatisfaction with her parents... but it would explain a lot, wouldn't it?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

July 17, 1952: Lucy answers the phone


This is one of those strips that relies on a character being very young and not quite grasping how the world works. These strips gradually lessen in number as Peanuts switches from being mostly about situations to which generic characters are exposed, to being more about characters with definite personalities and the ways they exhibit them.

At the moment, Schroeder is the character that leads the way in that direction. There are not very many generic musical prodigies in the world. Charlie Brown is also developing a definite personality, but there are still few strips using him that couldn't also be changed to feature some other character. Shermy is still (and would ever be) fairly generic. Patty's role as foil to Charlie Brown seems to be subsiding, and other than the occasional mud pie episode Violet doesn't tend to show a lot of individualistic behavior. Lucy, on the other hand, is a real hit and will only become more willful in the months to come.

Monday, March 15, 2010

July 14, 1952: Murmurs of Linus


This is the first hint as to Linus' existence in the strip. He doesn't actually appear for another week or so.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

July 12, 1952: Charlie Brown is bi-lingual


Snoopy can say "Arf." So, apparently, can Charlie Brown, even though he isn't a native speaker.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

July 11, 1952: Gimmie some candy!


Patty doesn't seem to be concerned about her own health, does she?

Friday, March 12, 2010

July 8, 1952: HE SPEAKS


Schroeder utters complete sentences!

Also, he can somehow whistle chords!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sunday, July 6, 1952: Group picture


Lucy still has her round eyes (which look even weirder than usual in the second panel). Snoopy says "Shh!" And it's another turnabout/chase strip, demonstrating that, while Charlie Brown has been seeming depressed lately, he's still got a lot of his old self in there.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

July 4, 1952: Snoopy and Schroeder


The two wordless wonders, together for the first time.

One thing about Peanuts that is right there in the open but is mentioned surprisingly rarely is how some characters never seem to interact with other ones. Schroeder and Linus don't have a lot of interactions. Neither do Lucy and Peppermint Patty (who calls her "Lucille"). Schroeder and Snoopy do have some interactions, but not as many as Schroeder and Lucy, who interact so often in the strip's heyday you could be forgiven for thinking Schroeder must be an imaginary friend of Lucy's.

Hey, is this the first "sigh?"

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

July 3, 1952: Cute little puppy dog


How does someone with a face covered with hair blush?

Looking at Violet walking here, she looks very similar to the style of the characters for the next few years. She's almost at the proportions of classic Peanuts now. Charlie Brown is the human character who still looks the most like the original, with his oval head and thick eye-dots. And Snoopy takes still more time, and doesn't get to the familiar look for many years.

Turnabout strip! What does it say about the Peanuts world that chasing someone, presumably to inflict violence, happens so often?

Monday, March 8, 2010

July 1, 1952: "I won..."


Charlie Brown's losing streak in nearly all games has yet to be firmly established, but it's coming. He somehow loses thousands of games of Checkers against Lucy in the coming months alone.

The storytelling in this one's excellent. Charles Schulz uses repetition in Peanuts in a way that no other comic strip, that I can think of, does. It's a really complex idea to get across in four panels too, of Charlie Brown getting beaten down by Patty's dismissal of his victory, yet I don't see the strip making its point more effectively with more panels.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

June 30, 1952: Lucy and the balloon


The thing that confuses me about this strip? Lucy can't fill the balloon with air, right, so she drags it along the ground. But what if she had been able to blow it up, what then? She isn't breathing helium after all; the balloon would still be earthbound.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sunday, June 29, 1952: Patty, Marbles Champion


It is interesting, and somewhat heartening, to see the girls in Peanuts take part in the same kinds of activities as the boys. Patty has played Cowboys and Indians with Charlie Brown and Shermy before, and here she slaughters him in marbles, and not for the last time. It is enough to bring one to mind the other Patty, although she won't turn up for years yet. And of course, Lucy eventually becomes the terror of the neighborhood.

How goes the plight of the little girl these days? Is it just me, or is gender norming as strong as ever now?

Friday, March 5, 2010

June 28, 1952: All is vanity


Schroeder has said a word in English before, but it's rare for him. Notice that Schulz considered that Schroeder's musical talent was well-known enough by now that he didn't have to establish it.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

June 25, 1952: On the links


Generic sports strips like this I usually don't consider worth linking, but it is important to note that Charles Schulz eventually starts up a second, short-lived strip called It's Only A Game. Warning: link contains adult figures drawn in the Peanuts style!

It's Only A Game was a shallower gag strip devoted to various types of sports, including more cerebral ones such as Bridge, to which Schulz was devoted. The supplied link is to a discussion of the strip and its history, along with Schulz's assistant/eventual ghost artist for the strip, Jim Sasseville. The article is a bit of an eye-opener; Charles Schulz could be kind to friends, but apparently he could also cut them off at a moment's notice.

(Thanks RAB for the link to that one, from some time back.)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Juhe 24, 1952: Schroeder in German


He's said more words in German now, probably, than English. You can tell it's German because the letters are fancy, natch. (Schulz signs the strip in that script too, again.) Schroeder's lingual forbearance doesn't last too much longer though.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sunday, June 22, 1952: For the Kiddies


I love this strip! I saw it when I was a little kid in an early Peanuts compilation and it's stuck in the back of my mind ever since. The "For the Kiddies" in funky script at the top drives the joke home.

Check out all the names: Mangle, Slaughter, Throttle, Jab, Terror, Choke, Crush, Run (something), Mob, War (twice), Thrill, Smash, Murder Comix, Killer, Hate, Ouch!, Hit!, Mur-something (maybe Murder again), Terror, Gouge, Stab!, Kick Komics, something I can't make out, Kill Komics, Murder Comics, Smash, and Blast Comics.

In addition to some rarely-seen cultural commentary from Charles Schulz in the form of those titles, we get Charlie Brown professing to being discouraged here. And the Druggist is basically an unseen character here.

Drug stores used to be an important center for the community. How far they've fallen since those days. I have never seen an operational soda fountain in a drug store in my life.

EDIT: Fixed comic.

Monday, March 1, 2010

June 21, 1952: Further development of the monster


Charlie Brown handles this a lot better than he does all those footballs later on. This is also the first "POW!" I remember seeing in the strip. POW is a word often connected with Lucy....

I've looked ahead a few months, and I have to say there are some excellent strips coming up. Linus makes the scene before long!