Monday, January 31, 2011

October 4, 1953: Snooopy vs The Yard: Another Realistic Bird


Unlike previous bits of suburban malice directed at the poor beagle, this one has the mental capacity to actually be contemptuous.

Those are some very good bird drawings, and Snoopy himself looks great in the second frame. Isn't that branch awfully low to the ground though?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

October 3, 1953: Lucy's continued problems with the number line


If you'll remember, Lucy has had trouble before with getting her numbers right. It's not that she's reciting randomly, she just knows them by other names.

This actually makes it possible that her 6,000 game winning streak at Checkers against Charlie Brown might really be much shorter than we think. (Or, it could be much longer.)

How about Charlie Brown's old-style football helmet?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

October 2, 1953: Three Years


It's nice to see a kid who cares about effective word usage, but Charlie Brown probably lets it get to him a little too much.

This strip marks the third anniversary of Peanuts debut.

Here is the strip from that day the year before:

Here is the strip from October 2, 1954, one year after this one:

Over the past year, Linus grew out of diapers. Snoopy thinks a little more often, but is still usually used mute. Lucy's growing, in slow stages, into her tyrant persona. Charlie Brown's cockiness is fading a bit, replaced by insecurity. And we've seen the beginnings of Lucy's crush on Schroeder and her star counting bit.

In the next year, we'll see the first mention of the kids going to actual school, as opposed to nursery or picnic school. We'll also get the first in-school strip, which would become a staple of the later years. We'll get the first strip where Schroeder gets upset with Lucy's attentions. We'll see Linus' first real dialogue. Lucy's rancorous personality settles in a little further. And later on we meet the first of Peanut's many secondary characters, who's also the one who lasts the longest, pretty much surviving the entire run of the strip.

Friday, January 28, 2011

September 30, 1953: You won't know for sure until you count them


This strip marks the beginning of one of Schulz's longer-running jokes in the days of early Peanuts: Lucy counting the number of stars in the sky. She keeps that up for years.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

September 29, 1953: Snoopy vs. The Yard: The leafpile


At least Snoopy isn't being splashed, tumbled, knocked about or chased this time. Just confused.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

September 28, 1953: Things haven't changed that much since then


People ridiculing things they don't understandd! If you want the modern-day version of this, just turn on Fox News.

Charlie Brown shows strange insight into the motivation behind his own behavior. That's kind of creepy.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sunday, September 27, 1953: Snoopy vs. The Yard: The Slide


There's not an awful lot in this neighborhood that doesn't have it in for Snoopy.

That's a good question mark in the second panel. Schulz had a kind of ornate style to his type-inspired iconography: serif Zs, fancy question marks, tapered exclamation points. It's one of the little tells that the simplicity of the rendering is an artistic choice and not a cheat.

I've mentioned before that the top row in a Sunday strip are designed to be removed at an editor's option, say to make more room on a crowded comics page. Usually Peanuts will use these in a throwaway joke or just to lengthen the buildup a little, but here I think it actually harms readability a smidge to excise them. Without the top three panels here, we don't have it established that this is Snoopy's first slide, and without that knowledge his Slide Malfunction seems more like an accident than an element of his lack of slidal* experience.

* Not really a word.

Monday, January 24, 2011

September 26, 1953: That's the way it goes


Second time Charlie Brown has said "That's the way it goes" in a week.

Shermy gets a taste of the lovelorn longing that CB would adopt later. One interesting thing here is the subplot, concerning Snoopy and a Scribble of Ire, which is rather rare in a four-panel strip. It serves as a commentary on the main plot, yes, but it isn't what I'd call important. For the record, dogs don't really make good arm-rests.

Snoopy goes through the Four Stages of Annoyance here: Observation, Recognition, Exasperation and Rejection.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

September 25, 1953: Lucy, behind the davenport, with the pop gun


This is one of the few pre-crush strips which deal with both Lucy and Schroeder, and the piano kid isn't even in this one.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

September 23 & 24, 1953: Charlie Brown and Violet, the slow decay of a friendship

September 23:

September 24:

The cracks are showing. In that second strip BTW it's kind of jarring how cocky Charlie Brown is. Look at his posture throughout it; from sleeping, to yarning, to that propped-leg pose. Scribble of ire, indeed.

CB's expression in the last panel is not a chagrimace, but it's a similar expression.

The MIGHTY PEDE informs us that "Cocoanut" is an old-fashioned spelling of the word.

Friday, January 21, 2011

September 22, 1953: Hey, goodnight kid!


Schroeder's awesome. (Although it does look a bit like his piano has an oversized hood ornament.)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

September 21, 1953: NOT FOR ONE MOMENT!


When I was a kid I checked out every Peanuts compilation in our elementary school's library. Some of the jokes I got; almost anything having to do with Snoopy is written pretty broadly. Sometimes I was left scratching my head.

One of the things I didn't get had to do with Lucy's proud claims to be a "fussbudget." Not having ever heard of the term (in fact I wasn't even sure if I was pronouncing it right), I had no way of knowing that Lucy was taking inadvertent pride in an insult. None of the compilations I had read published a strip in which it's revealed that Lucy's mother had called her that, or with a comment from Charlie Brown like the one here tipping off the word's meaning, so I had insufficient context for understanding the strip.

While reading strips like this one makes clear to me the point of these strips, it remains that I have never heard the term "fussbudget" applied in a non-Peanuts context.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sunday, September 20, 1953: Photographing Snoopy


We get a lot of funny drawings of Snoopy in this one, as well as establishing the dog's mischievous personality. Bill Watterson would reprise this strip much later, with Calvin in Snoopy's place and Calvin's dad in the role of photographer. I couldn't find a copy of that one on the internet, but one difference between the two approaches to the idea is that Calvin's dad tries to fool Calvin by saying "click" several times, and the strip ends with Calvin's making a funny face; there is no reaction shot at the end.

Monday, January 17, 2011

September 19, 1953: The end of the picnic school saga


Concerning school, none of the characters have been shown in school (pre- or real) yet. It's a little weird considering how often Linus sighed over Ms. Othmar, Sally spazzed-out over impending classes and Peppermint Patty fretted about D-minuses. Technically, I think none of the characters are old enough for first grade, or if they are it's just barely.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

September 18, 1953: Made in Taiwan


Wait, what?! Is Snoopy wearing an ear-wig? And how does he blush through fur? WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU SNOOPY?!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

September 17, 1953: Flimsy reason


Charlie Brown and Patty discuss why they like each other. I think this one is fairly interesting for that. How many of us like someone just because they like you back. Is that enough? Should it be? I actually think that yes, it should be, given that the initial liker isn't guilty of any gross defects that would preclude reciprocal liking. (Favorite phrase of the hour: "reciprocal liking.")

Patty's incidental jumping rope here is interesting because the characters are more realistically-proportioned than in the earliest days of the strip. Schulz doesn't have to distort the length of Patty's arms in order to get the rope around her huge, bulbous head, although she still must hold her arms at an angle that looks a little weird when you think about it.

Specifically, in the first panel. Maybe my knowledge on rope-jumping technique is faulty, but most kids don't hold their arms straight out, or let the rope fold in the air like Patty does. Schulz has to cheat it a little. These cheats are not a sign of artistic defeat, quite the opposite: it shows that he's put thought into depicting these weird little figures and how they could participate in typical childhood pastimes.


Friday, January 14, 2011

September 15, 1953: Well he certainly recovered quickly


This one's interesting because Violet shows some remorse for an awful thing she said to Charlie Brown. She actually hasn't said a lot of hurtful things yet in the strip though; that's a few years down the pike.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

September 15, 1953: Snoopy. vs the Yard: Butterfly II


Be careful what you want!

I like this one for the variety of sounds Snoopy makes in the last one. Especially "fooey." Very descriptive.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

September 14, 1953: Snoopy vs The Yard: Butterfly


It's not yard equipment, but it's the same idea; something in the world confuses Snoopy terribly. It's a light, whimsical strip.

Is that one butterfly in the last panel flying fast, or is it multiple butterflies. Are they defending the first one, or is it just a happenstance swarm? For some reason my initial reading was the former, but now that I look at it I think it's intended to be a swarm.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sunday, September 13, 1953: Three shades of green


Another bit of metaphorical art in the title panel. This is one of my favorite strips, Schroeder's personality comes out very vividly here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

September 11, 1953: Turn your head, Ludwig


I'm rather fond of this one. It's a good example of an idea you simply don't see in other comic strips. What is it about it that makes it possible for Peanuts, but not other comics?

This expression is similar to a chagrimace, but it's subtly different. Charlie Brown's emotion is of amusement, not dismay.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

September 10, 1953: SUPPER'S READY!!


Thanks, Lucy.

She takes another step along the path from sweet-natured little girl to pint-sized Dracula.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

September 9, 1953: Hearing marshmallows


Part of the fun of the character is that Snoopy is both a person and not, and Schulz can decide for himself which he is more like. When one is expected and the other provided, there is humor in that moment.

This is a weird place in the development of Snoopy's visual development. He's thicker here than in the years to come. He gets longer and leaner for a while, but afterwards seems to pull back a bit into the "balloon animal" shape of the later years of the strip.

I might have missed one or two, but this is the first time I can recall seeing a single, serif Z representing sleep. Such Zs become an important part of the strip's comic language.

Friday, January 7, 2011

September 8, 1953: Two bears fighting


Here, Charlie Brown and Lucy's roles are neatly reversed from their later personalities. That look in Lucy's face in particular is one she never seems to adopt later. It's an expression that only rarely shows up in Peanuts, but it does happen once in a while.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sunday, September 6, 1953: MAYBE


This one's awesome for that last panel, and that note of concern you can hear in Charlie Brown's voice. Yes I said hear. I know they're just words on the page, that doesn't mean I can't hear it.

This does put the uncertainty back into just who is Snoopy's owner. It still has not been conclusively said at any point, it's just been implied from time to time.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

September 5, 1953: More on Lucy's picnic school career



I still don't know what the heck picnic school is. Nice fence, though.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Monday, January 3, 2011

September 2, 1953: Why, I never!


Never trust a girl who speaks in serif lettering.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

September 1, 1953: BIRD


I've seen this happen to cats. Probably on YouTube. It's really kind of a plain strip though. The premise is really just "Birds can dive on things that annoy them."

It is another step along the road to Woodstock, though.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

August 31, 1953: Teaming up


Violet can be something of a copycat, can't she?

Complaining that CB is crazy or talks too much I guess I could possibly understand, but how could the kid do anything about his face?