Wednesday, June 30, 2010

December 18-19, 1952: Now that's a sad kid


Schroeder in the third panel is rather sadder than the average. His expression is maybe a little overdone? Anyway the kid is probably four or five right now, that's rather young to be obsessed with playing the big room.


He's not sad at all here.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

December 16-17, 1952: Charlie Brown writes to Santa



This is a very Calvinesque pair of strips, as in, Watterson got a lot of mileage out of Calvin's letters to Santa. I especially like the second one, I find it hilarious.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sunday, December 14, 1952: Sandwich histrionics


Lucy remarks about Charlie Brown's annoyance with her asking him to do something. This is another case of a character's personality becoming defined from another character's verbal recognition of it.

That happens because comics use exaggerated behavior as a way to communicating effectively to the reader. To show anger, you show a character actually kicking the thing he's angry at, even though a real person would not usually do such a thing. It illustrates anger effectively however, and I think readers subconsciously recognize this and adjust their expectations. But it also means that, to actually establish a character's personality, you have to describe it explicitly somewhere, and in a strip that doesn't (generally) use narration like Peanuts you have to do that by putting that description in the mouth of another character.

Schulz would become quite masterful about adjusting reader expectations. His characters are able to act out theatrically when necessary, but can also play it very far down at times.

I also like the serif lettering on "RATS!" in panel 7.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

December 13, 1952: Lucy offhandedly remarks


I could remark something about her incredibly Lucy rage, but Charlie Brown's already done this in a previous strip. Lucy has too.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

December 11, 1952: Zombie Linus!


Look at it in the wrong frame of mind and there's something gruesome about the last panel here. Be careful around TV kids, it'll transform your eyes into circular scribbles.

Friday, June 25, 2010

December 9, 1952: It's the classics for Schroeder


It is worth reminding the reader that light piano jazz would become inseparable from the animated adaptations of Peanuts, so we must assume that Schroeder's not speaking on behalf of Charles Schulz in this strip.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

December 8, 1952: Charlie Brown changes his shirt


It is rather a long time to go on wearing the same shirt. But the other characters have their own distinctive looks, including Violet, so it's really unfair to pick on the kid for this.

I wonder what it was that caused Schulz to decide on that distinctive zig-zag pattern, which is not a style of shirt that I am aware of as ever being popular, or at least not other than in the sense of referencing Peanuts.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

December 6, 1952: Delayed reaction


I think it's just the idea of "BOO" that startles Charlie Brown in this strip. A philosophical horror at the nature of the word.

I think it's almost funnier that Lucy's so confident that her trick will work.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

December 3, 1952: Linus and the ball


Schroeder and Lucy have grown too much to be the strip's baby, now it's Linus' turn to have hapless infant adventures. After Linus grows to be the same age as the other characters, the strip doesn't get another new infant until Sally, and then she's the last one until Rerun, who doesn't show up for a long time.

Monday, June 21, 2010

December 3, 1952: WISHY-WASHY


This is the first time the term "wishy-washy" has been used in Peanuts, and the first time it is used to describe Charlie Brown.

As a kid, I wondered what it was about the term that made it so bad to be that. I'd say it has less of a negative connotation now, which may be why the later decades of the strip stopped using it.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday, November 30, 1952: Lucy and Schroeder, before the strife


Lucy and Schroeder are two characters who have yet to interact much. I think this may be the first time they have spoken to each other. The next year is the one in which Lucy develops her crush on the beleaguered musician.

Snoopy's ears demonstrate amazing utility throughout the strip. He appears to be able to manipulate them through muscular action, which must mean he has some freak mutation that allows him to do this.

November 28, 1952: No one said you had to stay and listen


This is an extremely Calvin-like move on Charlie Brown's part, right down to the happy look on his face as he walks away.

Friday, June 18, 2010

November 27, 1952: Snoopy's Thanksgiving


Snoopy gets another thought balloon... one that contains a "sigh," oddly. He knows Charlie Brown's name in this one, a fact that he forgets in upcoming years, referring to him as "that round-headed kid."

We can put the script in the "Happy Thanksgiving" bubble down to cartoonist enthusiasm.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

November 24, 1952: Linus' shirt


This strip is a continuation of the gag of Snoopy's hypersensitivity towards potential sources of treats, but it's also the first strip in which Linus wears his familiar striped shirt, or indeed a shirt of any kind. He's also out of diapers.

It's another strip, too, where Snoopy gets a thought balloon, and one with a thought-tail instead of a word-tail. Schulz still hasn't gotten the convention down entirely though, and in upcoming strips both kinds of tails are seen on Snoopy's thought bubbles.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

November 22, 1952: Lucy shows pity


This is far from the end of the gag; evidently they don't consider this to be a real win on Charlie Brown's part.

Monday, June 14, 2010

November 19-21, 1952: Lucy's winning streak




Lucy's winning streak continues. If you think that's an unlikely number of wins, wait until you see what it gets up to.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday, November 16, 1952: THE FOOTBALL


It's the first of the (eventually) yearly strips where Lucy holds the football and Charlie Brown, for whatever reason, fails to kick it. The WHOMP in the last panel echos throughout the decades; through it, we hear history.

The first time it happens, as we see, there was no malice in Lucy's act, and there's no iconic AUUGGHH either. Charlie Brown's rueful reaction in the last panel certainly seems familiar though.

I've looked ahead a bit recently, and I'm pretty certain that the next year doesn't have another football strip. We might consider it compensation that Charlie Brown ends up on his back twice in this one.

To think, Lucy doesn't consider it a good idea....

Saturday, June 12, 2010

November 15, 1952: Head of the household


1. Did Schulz chafe at the apparently simplistic art style of Peanuts? Did he throw in the realistic closeup of the telephone in the first panel to show he could draw in a more detailed style?

2. Lucy's expression in the last panel is very interesting. Comic strips so often come down to the same basic faces over and over again. People don't tend to think about it, but it's harder to come up with non-standard face expressions than you'd think. Here I think Lucy's expression might be a little overdone, but you can still get the point of the joke from her words combined with the expression, so it's okay.

Friday, June 11, 2010

November 13, 1952: The snowdog


Another strip in which Snoopy's human-like qualities form the punchline. I've said before, some of these strips seem like prototypes for the many snowman jokes of Calvin and Hobbes. (This isn't one of those, though.)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

November 12, 1952: Slanted mouth #2


Here it is again, two days later.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

November 10, 1952: Charlie Brown is easy to convince


Last strip featured some strife between CB and the girls, here things seem to have been patched up fairly well. Well, at least that's what the girls want him to think.

Note the look on Charlie Brown's face in the first panel! That slanted, straight-mouthed expression. It hasn't been used much up to here, but it'll start getting fairly common in upcoming strips.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sunday, November 9, 1952: Not mad anymore


This joke has been made before, and I don't think it's the last time it will be made. Patty and Violet's antipathy towards Charlie Brown are built off of moments like this one, but again, it doesn't last for the length of the strip.

Monday, June 7, 2010

November 7, 1952: Fussbudget


This is the first time the word "fussbudget" has been used in the strip. Now this word is almost impossible to separate from Peanuts. It is always, or nearly always at least, connected with Lucy.

Lucy hasn't been extremely fussy up to this point, but in Peanuts, when another character makes explicit reference to some trait supposedly possessed by another character, that tends to be the point where that other character begins exhibiting that trait as a defining characteristic. In other words, when someone is labeled, the label becomes indelibly part of them.

This is how most Peanuts characters evolved over time, and especially how they gained the traits for which they became memorable.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

November 6, 1952: Snoopy follows the trail


I'm linking this one because there's been a running gag for a little while now, one that intensifies a bit in the months to come, about Snoopy's ability to infallibly seek out someone with some kind of snack treat and beg. He carries this skill to great heights in upcoming strips.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

November 5, 1952: Charlie Brown is a budding cartoonist


The most interesting thing about this, beside the metahumor and Schulz playfully mocking his own pretensions, is that Charlie Brown's work on the comic is rather large. Of course, most cartoonists work at a scale we would consider to be very large, and artists for realistic strips are known to work larger still. But unless Charlie Brown were a serious comics groupie, he wouldn't know that. (Schulz may have been such a groupie himself; he might have known as a kid.)

Friday, June 4, 2010

November 4, 1952: Linus' head is too big, #1


There are a number of these strips that deal with baby Linus' head weighing him down. This is but the first.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sunday, November 2, 1952: I've been tricked!!


A favorite strip of mine! Also a chase, this time after Lucy who is beginning to show her true colors.

November 1, 1952: Happy Day After Halloween


Early Peanuts has a number of day-after-holiday strips. One of my favorites, still to come, is a day after April 1 strip.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Halloween, 1952: Do your worst!


Remarkably cocky of Patty here, but then maybe she knows her opponents.

Scribble of ire!