Wednesday, September 29, 2010

April 23, 1953: Schroeder scoffs


One thing Schulz does, it seems to me, in the early days is repeat information unnecessarily. Schroeder's words in the last two panels are practically the same.

Here at Roasted Peanuts, we don't rest until we've dissected and bean-plated* each strip until all humor has been annihilated.

So, is there a way to have written this strip that could eliminate duplicating most of the text in the third panel? The obvious change, I suppose, would be to change Schroeder's words in either the third or last panel to something like "That's ridiculous!" Since the comedic point of the strip is Schroeder's lack of realization that (to spoil the joke completely) his playing Beethoven on his toy piano is just as ludicrous, it doesn't seem to me like anything is lost through this change.

This isn't meant to denigrate Charles Schulz's abilities as a writer. He was still developing at this point, but the comic itself is great. The fact that it does leave unstated the disconnect between Schroeder's statement and his actions, refusing to point to it outright and trusting the reader to make the observation himself, is a sign that he's already an excellent gag man. Most other comics would explicitly state the point of the joke and wreck the comedy almost as badly as I have, here, in explaining it.


1 comment:

  1. I don't consider this overthinking -- but then, I wouldn't!

    There have been a number of early strips you've covered here in which Schulz didn't seem to know when to stop, and kept throwing in extra asides, sound effects, et cetera, to the detriment of the central gag. This isn't nearly as bad as those, but he was obviously still learning. What might have worked best is if the last panel was instead completely silent, with the preceding stuff exactly the same.