Sunday, December 25, 2011

March 14-19, 1955: ALL RIGHT, THAT'S ENOUGH

March 14
Lucy sticks with this fussbudget thing for a good while.  I don't think she ever gets it into her head that her mother wasn't complimenting her.

March 15
Back in the first fussbudget strip, Charlie Brown seemed like he understood that Lucy's mother was complaining when she called her daughter a fussbudget.  It's not as obvious here if Charlie Brown is in on the joke.  He's either forgotten, or he's exceptionally straight-faced in his sarcasm.  It could really be either -- there are other strips in which Peanuts characters say sarcastic things without breaking expression even slightly.  When I saw the fussbudget strips as a kid, I didn't get that the joke was on Lucy.  (And to this day, I'm not sure on the origins of the word, or even how it's said.  Is it really "fuss-bud-jet"?)

March 16
Snoopy seems awfully pleased about his pink collar.  I dunno, it doesn't seem really like a Snoopy sort of color.  

March 17
Schroeder's mania continues.  His Beethoven fixation is slowing being made an object of fun, which culminates, I think, in his carring around signs informing people as to how many shopping days it is until Beethover's birthday.

March 18
Why is Charlie Brown sighing here?  Should that be coming from Schroeder instead?

March 19
I think this is the first time Lucy really, really rags on Charlie Brown, which of course becomes a common event in the strip.  It's a chase strip, but going by the rather silly and idiosyncratic rules I've made up, not really a turnabout strip.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sunday, March 13, 1955: Charlie Brown's going to regret that "kind of dumb" remark

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Charlie Brown and Schroeder must have like no depth perception.  And that's gotta be a pretty strong wind to support a kite that small.

How does Lucy's intelligence matter to how high she can fly a kite?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

March 7-12, 1955: Candy and bugs

March 7
Snoopy's candy detecting powers at work again.  We've already established that Snoopy has a much longer detection range than this.  Note: both of them are probably inside here.

March 8
I've said it multiple times before but it really should be driven home: chocolate is toxic to dogs.  If we can bring ourselves to overlook that little thing, we can notice that chocolate creams are the default "good" candy of Peanuts.  Come back in two days to find out the default "bad" candy.

I seem to remember Snoopy doing the "mmmm" thing later on, and it annoying people.  I don't have a clear recollection of it though, it could be something else.

March 9
Linus is doing his googy face again.  It still looks funny to me.  I suppose this is the expression he makes when he sucks his thumb, but without his thumb in the way to obscure it.

March 10
Charlie Brown hates coconut.  Apparently, so does Snoopy.  (Their opinions on the issue closely mirror my own.)  In both this strip and March 8, the girl is used entirely as an observer, someone to which Charlie Brown can talk without seeming like he's talking to himself, or directly to the reader.

March 11
Lucy is at that magical time where she can say something that looks like pure glurge, but then turn it around 180 degrees in the last panel.  Charlie Brown exists in this strip to tip off the reader's reaction.  The second panel could be taken straight (it's a lesser reading, but possible), so Schulz put him in there to let us know it's supposed to seem sappy, and so we'll be able to see how loud Lucy is being in the last panel.

That disgusted look on his face in the second panel is not a standard Peanuts expression, I notice.

March 12
Somersault!  Aaugh!  You know, I think this might be Peanuts' very first "Aaugh!"

Bugs are not a part of the balance of Charlie Brown's back.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunday, March 6, 1955: Modern times demand a modern blanket

A simple but effective Sunday strip.  Linus hasn't yet developed loyalty towards a specific blanket, I note.  Snoopy uses speech bubbles in his recent rhinocerous imagination sequence, so this is not yet indicative that Linus is speaking in full English yet.

Friday, December 2, 2011

February 28-March 5, 1955: Everybody look down, it's all in your mind

February 28
The phrase "Good Ol' Charlie Brown" was used in the very first Peanuts strip, and continues to show up from time to time.  For a long while it shared the lead panel with the title.

March 1
This is the beginning of a sequence in which Charlie Brown pretends to be a spaceman.  I like the retro-look of the helmet, I might have to use that somewhere.

March 2
An often under-noticed problem with wearing glass space helmets on planets with both atmospheres and mischievous little girls.

March 3
One of my favorite things about the spaceman sequence is the straight face Charlie Brown keeps through most of it.  We have another example here of a character looking slightly silly when they look directly up.

March 4
Well, almost all of it.  Charlie Brown takes a lot of guff all because his head is styled a little differently from the others.

March 5
This repeated strip is probably a problem with's archive.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sunday, February 27, 1955: Phooey to you, Beethoven

This is one of my favorite Peanuts strips of all time.  I actually didn't know that it showed up so early in Peanuts' run; I thought it was an early 60s strip.

Lucy is rapidly developing into her full horrific powers.  She just smashed up Schroeder's bust with a <i>baseball bat</i> in his <i>own house</i>.  And yet, Schroeder was fully prepared for it.  Wow.  And Lucy still hasn't really had many strips in which she's been infatuated with Schroeder -- in fact, I think this strip does a lot to solidify that crush as strip "canon."

It's interesting to note the contrast between Lucy's anger, violence and triumph to Schroeder's plain-faced endurance.  The kid doesn't break expression the whole strip, except in panel 8, which is quite a weird look for the kid indeed.  It's not quite anger and it's not quite sadness.  There is almost something <i>pacifistic</i> about the way Schroeder handles Lucy here. It's really something.

Oh, and the strip is hilarious too.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

February 21-26, 1955: Beware the Rhinoceros

Schroeder gets out of the house some.  Playing ice hockey on a frozen pond is sort of a winter analogue for vacant lot baseball. I wonder how much this happens anymore.

The second time Snoopy uses his imagination leads off a week-long sequence, and I think this is the bit that really causes it to "take."  They're a good opportunity to expand the character into something unique, and they have the additional virtue of making possible a lot of really fun drawings.  Snoopy's open smile upon finding his victim is my favorite part of this one.

February 23
In these early strips Snoopy usually restricts himself to being some kind of animal.  A rhinoceros is an interesting choice -- not a lion or a bear an elephant or something more usually recognized as a strong, powerful animal.  Not that rhinos are slouches of course -- just that I'd think they would be thought of iconically by their horn, not their strength and size.

Charlie Brown seems worried that Snoopy actually thinks he's a rhinoceros.  But how would he have been able to figure out what Snoopy was pretending to be?

February 24
WHOOPS!  I think this is the first time Snoopy has actually attacked anyone on-panel.

February 25
Some rhinoceroses are self-conscious about their appearance.  Anyway, a real rhino bump would be nothing to joke about.

Up until now Lucy's crabby personality has manifested in three primary ways: by reputation (her mother calling her a fussbudget), her dealings with Linus, and in defending her strange opinions against Charlie Brown.  Here is a fourth: the bucket of cold water on Snoopy's head.  It's also the first instance of her physically standing up to another character, here in the second panel.

I really love the goofy grin on Snoopy's face in the first panel.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sunday, February 20, 1955: Lucy's not the most discriminating thinker

The recent gags about Lucy believing weird things, to Charlie Brown's dismay, have led up to this brilliant strip.  <small>THE WORLD IS MADE OF SNOW</small> is truly a battle-cry for a proudly gullible age.  I'd be surprised if there wasn't a Faucett collection of Peanuts strips with the title "You're Out of Your Mind, Charlie Brown!"

The things that really make this strip though are Charlie Brown's expressions.  Lucy is solidly settling into her roll as the kid's personal tormentor.  Although I note Violet is also a pretty strong foil.  Here Lucy is the volleyball, but Violet is the one who spikes it back over the net.

META: On Blogsy

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Monday, November 21, 2011

February 14-19, 1955: Snoopy hates that balloon

February 14
Sight gag.  Did kids of Charlie Brown's age play hockey?  I think he's around seven at this time.

The splash lines around Charlie Brown's head are very effective.  If I have occasion to draw a splash, I find I do it the same way.  I probably picked that up from Peanuts.

February 15
Modern times.  If this strip were updated for the present day Charlie Brown's farm would probably be industrial agribusiness.

February 16
Brutal honesty.  More cartooning banter between Charlie Brown and Schroeder.  What is it about Schroeder that makes him a good test audience for C.B.'s work?  It might have to do with him being the mot artistically-developed of Schulz's personalities.

February 17
Turnabout.  That is a very angry Snoopy there in panel three.  On panel two though, in my experience deflating balloons don't go swish.  Instead they make a noise that is charitably referred to as a raspberry.  I wonder if this has to do with a change in balloon construction in the fifty-five years since this strip.

February 18
Unexpected honestly mixed with ignorance.  This is the first time any of Schulz's characters has really engaged in writing. While the  intellectual development of the characters is fluid depending on the needs of the strip, there does seem to be a sort of consistency to it.  To my knowledge Schulz doesn't use Lucy for jokes about school reports, like he does for Peppermint Patty or Sally, which sort of implies the character is a good writer just from the absence of examples of her being bad at it.

And can't you just imagine Lucy writing a newspaper column?  Probably "Diary of a Fussbudget" can be found on the Opinion page.

February 19

Another sight gag.  More lines like the surprise lines in the first strip.  Sometimes Snoopy is disdainful of being expected to perform dog-like activities, but sometimes he goes along with it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

February 6-13, 1955: Square Balloons and Valentine's Day

We have a fairly uninteresting Sunday strip to lead off, so I included the following week with it. And then just to go that little bit farther, I included the next Sunday strip in with it.

Sunday, February 6

Well, they can't all be winners. Although the sight of a snowman with extremely long arms is kind of amusing. Next!

February 7

More of Linus' square balloons. This does make it a lot easier to store them. By the way, I like how the cartoon convention that blown-up balloons automatically float upward is ignored here. People don't typically exhale helium dammit.

February 8

I wonder if Charles Schulz drew this one in response to letters asking Violet's question.

February 9

This is a good example of something Schulz is good at, taking an absurd premise and elaborating upon it entertainingly. I believe it's not impossible to create a balloon that would blow up into a cube, but I don't know if you could do it with just latex.

February 10

We've seen Lucy at the piano before, and we've seen Schroeder cut her down, but this, I think, is the first time when the setting retreats into the background and it's really settled into the Schroeder/Lucy formula. This strip could just as well shown up ten years later.

February 11

Chagrimace. More willful ignorance from Lucy. I guess some skepticism is healthy, but what a thing to be skeptical of.

February 12

Every year, thousands ones of children accidentally construct cages around themselves using building sets. Won't you please give today to the cause of outlawing these horrible toys?

Particularly noteworthy: this is the first time Linus makes an utterance that isn't obviously either baby talk or an internal monologue. From here, it's only a matter of time before he starts quoting the Old Testament.

Sunday, February 13

That car in the first two panels is entirely a throwaway, but it helps to underscore just how much the world has changed in the years since 1955.

That's an uncharacteristically mocking attitude from Schroeder in panel 2.

This is the first strip that focuses on Charlie Brown's problems with Valentine's Day, I think. Although the object of his affections isn't the Little Red-Haired Girl, this is definitely the kind of silly mistake he'd make with her later.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

January 31-February 5, 1955: Charlotte Braun terrorizes the neighborhood

January 31, 1955

Charlotte meets Linus. This may actually be the only strip that features the two of them. Unlike Pig-Pen, who has a similar kind of gimmick attribute, Charlotte doesn't stick around for that long. This may be her last hurrah in fact.

February 1

The problem with Charlotte Braun is that she doesn't have much of a personality beyond loudness. Pig-Pen is so comfortable in his own skin that he kind of transcends his gimmick. Charlotte's gimmick lends itself to obnoxiousness though, so as Lucy becomes bossier she kind of steals Charlotte's niche.

Thinking about how Charlotte Braun disappears from the strip leads me to brainstorm completely made-up Peanuts characters who have similar one-note gimmicks. Maybe a girl who has really big hair? One who walks loudly wherever he goes?

February 2

I've noticed that this mistake, of assuming the range of one's experience matches that of the breadth of the world, is one that lots of people fall prey to, including myself from time to time.

February 3

This is far from the last time Lucy stomps something inches away from Snoopy's nose. There's a memorable bit later where she cures the common cold by having people cough on the ground, then she smashes the cold germs flat with her feet.

February 4

I think that counts as a chagrimace, but it's wider than usual, which I think is more from Schulz's developing art style than intent. It might be argued that Charlie Brown, after some earlier strips, is due to have a couple inches knocked off of him, but of course the characters eventually take it slightly too far.

February 5

I don't think this is the first time Patty and Violet have teamed up on Charlie Brown, but it's the most egregious example to date, and it only intensifies from here. But: "Charlie Brown lives in a purple house?" That's kind of reaching isn't it?

OFF-TOPIC: American Censorship Day

This is an off-topic post intended to help spread the word about the harmful "PROTECT IP" act moving through the U.S. Congress. To find out more: (EDIT: Removed the code that put the link in the banner.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sunday, January 30, 1933: Tum De Tum Te Da Te Dum ♫

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Put a crayon in Lucy's hand and the world is her kitty.  Comic characters are susceptible to manias that would get real people committed.  Can't you just imagine a Batman villain whose schtick was drawing lines between dots?  "The Connector."  It can't be any less silly than the Riddler, whose gimmick is providing clues by which he can be caught.

Every once in a while Schulz allows himself a metajoke.  The strips in which people make fun of the size and shape of Charlie Brown's head are among these ("Is that a beach ball?"), as are the ones where Charlie Brown can't hide behind a tree because his head is too wide.  One strip Schroeder even threatened to put in a transfer to a different comic strip.  The last panel here is another such joke.

Some time later, Lucy will ask Charlie Brown if he thinks she has beautiful eyes, and, perhaps risking a pounding, Charlie Brown says they look just like little dots of india ink.

The first frame here is one of Schulz's more abstract lead panel designs.

January 24-29, 1955: Snoopy unmoors from reality

January 24

Another early Linus/Snoopy interaction. That's a rather overstated frown in the last panel there.

January 25

A simple gag about a kid not understanding an idiom. Yeah yeah, let's get to the real reason we're here:

January 26

THIS. One of the most important strips in Peanuts' entire run. The first strip in which Snoopy fantasizes about being something else. In these four panels we see the origin of the World War I Flying Ace, Joe Cool, and a hundred World Famous things. They are cute strips of course, but there are strange depths buried there.

This strip is a bit problematic mechanically though. Schulz uses a thought balloon for Snoopy's thoughts in the first panel, but in the second the balloon does double-duty as a thought and speech balloon, which makes it seem like Snoopy is speaking in English.

Charlie Brown's wide, amused smile is, in its way, as funny as Snoopy's snarl.

January 27

Lucy is willfully wrong about something else. Some notes here:
1. The subplot about Charlie Brown's paddleball is a nice touch.
2. The letters asked about and responded with are written with serifs and with little single-quotes around them.
3. Charlie Brown's annoyance that Lucy refuses to believe 'F' follows 'E' in the alphabet is interesting. He seems to care that Lucy get her facts straight, and takes it personally when she refuses to see reality. That's admirable in a way, but will probably cause him problems later in life, for there is no shortage of Lucys in the world.

January 28

When I was a kid, I would read these strips where Lucy is referred to calmly as a fussbudget, and the sarcasm flew roughly two miles over my head. It didn't help that Lucy would then respond without a trace of irony. The humor of Peanuts could be really dry sometimes.

January 29

Violet's smile throughout this strip is vaguely infuriating.