Thursday, March 31, 2011

META: Blogger Dynamic Views and Three

1.  As found on Metafilter, Tumblr blog 3eanuts presents four-panel Peanuts comic strips without the final panel.  The result is bleak and unrelenting, although I can't help but think what would happen if you did that with some other strips.  I think Dilbert would come out fairly well, since it often supplies subjokes along the way to the main joke, or uses the last panel to punctuate a joke that actually happened in panel 3.

2. Blogger has rolled out a new feature, called Dynamic Views.  Because I love you all, it is enabled on this blog.  (Also, it was on by default.)  Have a look!  The sidebar look is most useful I think, and I think that it could very easily become someone's "default" way of reading this blog.

I notice the add comment and rating features are missing from that view; you'd have to go to the main view pages to see those options.  I notice also that ads are not shown in that view, but that's okay.  I'll manage.  Somehow.... 

December 12, 1953: Mitten applications

Why does Patty look so concerned in the last panel?  I think it's less because of Charlie Brown's inventive use for a mitten as the fact that it looks like Snoopy is wearing one of her dresses.  Check it out in the first panel here.

Patty's dress has the same wide-spaced crosshatching that Snoopy's sweater has here.  The pattern of Patty's dress is of course covered up by her coat, which is why Schulz can use it for Snoopy's attire; otherwise the reader would be left wondering if there was some point of connection between the two.  I think it looks very nice on the dog, as it gives his sweater a kind of quilted look.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

December 11, 1953: World-shaking calamity

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This is a bigger deal to Charlie Brown than the rest of us because such a large percentage of his hair is disarranged.  (75%, that one on the back of his head passed unmolested.)

This does seem to make it clear that Charlie Brown has exactly four hairs.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

December 10, 1953: Limits to Lucy's fussiness

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Here Schulz subverts the pattern he's used several times, where Lucy finds fault with some kindness of Charlie Brown's and he upends something on Lucy's head in response.  Thing is this time Lucy has a point, but puts up with it anyway if there's no alternative.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sunday, December 6, 1953: Snoopy appreciates the source of beta-carotene

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It's amazing how much care Schulz put into Peanuts' backgrounds in the old days.  Look at all the different kinds of tree, the houses, the snow and the path.  Patty has a couple of very nice poses in this one too, especially with her shovel.  Charlie Brown running up to see her in panel 4 is also very good; panel 4 overall is one of the most beautiful of the whole strip's run.  The characters, despite their stylistic deformations, are realized in three dimensions very well.

Of course dogs will eat just about anything, but is it weird that Snoopy likes carrots so much that he'd swipe one off a snowman? 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

December 5, 1953: Reciprocal slobber

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There are a few strips that notice a basic similarity between the behavior of very little kids and dogs, and by my reckoning this is the first.  I seem to remember a few strips that played this up when Sally comes on the scene, when she and Snoopy team up to steal Linus' blanket.

Why is the noise of Snoopy licking depicted as "smack," and why is it in a word balloon?

When characters stoop over, like Lucy is in panel three, it seems easy to imagine them unfolding their legs and ending up much taller than they should be.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

December 4, 1953: Winter in Peanutsland

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This strip has some very nice backgrounds in it.  Later on Schulz, for whatever reason, would largely abandon tying to depict his characters' world in such detail, so let's enjoy it while it lasts.

Friday, March 25, 2011

December 3, 1953: Some light cast on Violet's disdain for Charlie Brown

I suppose this shows us a reason Violet throws Charlie Brown out of her house sometimes; he won't keep quiet during a show.  Of course, it seems that Violet won't herself either.

I'm sure some form of time compression is at work here, but even so, it is difficult for me to see how she could find enough things to tell Charlie Brown not to do that it'd fill up a whole half-hour.

I think Violet's pigtail-look has pretty much vanished entirely by this point.

EDIT: Corrected typo in title

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sunday, November 29, 1953: Charlie Brown should see this

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Lucy's joy at being the best at jumping rope is wonderful.  Panel 2 is a bit strange for its abstract ground, but it works.  Panel 4 is terrific though, even if, when you look closely at it, Lucy's rope jumping isn't as fluid as it appears at first.  It's really several different, unconnected images of her jumping rope presented together in such a way that it scans as a continuous stream.  It does further the illusion of her skipping rope with a forward motion though, which is important since one jumping rope in place cannot come across other people.

He put so much work into this that I almost feel embarrassed to notice there's a small mistake here in the strip construction.  If you remove the top panels (like some newspapers do) the joke becomes much weaker, since Linus reaching 700 jumps isn't as impressive if we didn't know Lucy was so proud because she hit 600.  The boldface on "SEVEN HUNDRED" loses its relevance.  The strip is still understandable in that Lucy's change in demeanor implies that her brother has surpassed her.  I suppose, in that regard, the knowledge that she had reached 600 is extraneous information?

EDIT: Fixed gocomics link.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

November 26 & 30, 1953: Two with Violet

 November 30, 1953

Violet was such a sweet little girl at first, wasn't she?  That seems long ago now, but it's been less than three years since then.

In the first strip here we have another case of Charlie Brown being thrown out of Violet's house.  Until now, usually Violet forgets what made her angry before C.B. is evicted or long gone, but not in this case.  In the second strip she takes naked advantage of Charlie Brown's lack of backbone, and doesn't even have the venom to make an evil smile about it.  It's just a business translation for her.  She wants what Charlie Brown has, so it becomes hers.  Wow.

It's difficult to feel sorry for C.B. in that one.  It's not like she threatened him or anything!

Charlie Brown's hat in the first strip is rather stylish. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

November 25, 1953: Wrath of Dog

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Snoopy only has a limited number of ways of expressing annoyance at this point.  His ears in the last panel are adorable though, in a Mickey Mouse kind of way.

Was it kids' habit back then to eat whole bags of candy at once?  I'm amazed the Peanuts kids didn't all become diabetics.

Monday, March 21, 2011

November 24, 1953: Charlie Brown *still* has a big, round head

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Maybe I should start categorizing these.  This is a type of joke we've seen several times before, beginning with the beach ball strip.  That began as a kind of comment Schulz made about his art style.  This is Lucy's second time making a joke at the expense of Charlie Brown's head.  The "WHEE!" is new however.

This is a chase strip, but it's not a "turnabout" strip because Charlie Brown has a reaction shot in the penultimate panel.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

November 23 & 28, December 31 1953: Sleepy Snoopy

November 23, 1953:
 November 28, 1953:
December 31, 1953:

I'm taking a couple of these out of order to collect some thematically similar strips.  All have to do with a sleeping Snoopy and all have to do with sight gags.

The first strip is another early thought balloon strip, and one that uses the standard tail on the balloon, too!  Schulz seems like he's finally decided to settle on this convention.

In the second strip, is that an indoor bed for Snoopy?  It would seem that would fix him as Charlie Brown's dog, but I don't think we can absolutely say that until a character states it explicitly.

The third strip is one that Schulz would come back to later, and is visually inventive in how it uses the size of the 'Z' to represent the loudness of Snoopy's snoring.  (It's also one of the earliest, though not the first I think, of a large serif 'Z' to represent sleep, which is a very Peanuts convention.)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sunday, November 22, 1953: Yes, Lucy is still beating Charlie Brown at checkers

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8,000 games now.  So, Lucy plays because Charlie Brown takes losing personally, eh?  She does make it to an even 10,000.  That day isn't very far off even.

The background grass seen back when Charlie Brown lost 7,000 games is seen here again, this time behind Lucy in the next-to-last panel.

Nice abstract drawing in the lead panel, although it looks like Schulz is cheating Charlie Brown's arm a little.

Looks like a chagrimace in panel 7.

Friday, March 18, 2011

November 21, 1953: The Trepidation of an Engine

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In those days, comic artists would draw all four panels of a strip, even if nothing much changes between them.  Notice how the scribble of the grass sort of trails off to the bottom-right of the frame.  I think Schulz was going for a stylistic effect there.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

November 20, 1953: "Aus Der Tiefe"

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There are certain personality characteristics that Peanuts characters exhibit.  Here is exhibited one that we might call "mischevious."  Snoopy has it definitely, and Lucy might have some of it.  Charlie Brown used to have to, as we see here, but kind of grows out of it.

Yet another reason to love Peanuts: you have just read a strip about the pronunciation of a German particle.  That's not something you'll typically find in Dennis the Menace.

In panel 2, Charlie Brown is sitting on the far end of Schroeder's toy piano.  That thing must be really heavy to avoid being upended.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

November 19, 1953: Third use of "Fuss-budget"

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Fuss-budget became one of those terms that identified Peanuts, like "good grief!"  It's probably about time to stop calling out every usage, though.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sunday, March 13, 2011

November 17, 1953: Lovecraftian horror!

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Oh it's not Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos; or Shub-Niggurath, Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young.  It's just Linus.  Just little, innocent Linus!


This is a retread of the "girls in stadium boots" strip from just ten months back, although the horror is more vague here.  Notice that it's entirely Charlie Brown who's getting worked up.  Lucy knows exactly what's going on.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

November 16, 1953: You'll like it because it mentions Shubert!

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Another of the "Charlie Brown: Budding Cartoonist" series.  In these strips Schulz pokes fun at his own pretensions, but they also show how engaged he was with his craft.

One thing I really like about all these is that, for all of C.B.'s faults as a cartoonist, he at least knows enough to work large.  Held edgeways, that sheet of paper is as tall as he is, sans head.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sunday, November 15, 1953: The Great Experiment

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More to add to the list of Snoopy's powers:
8. Super hearing
9. Teleportation (induced by hearing candy wrapper)

For his sake, I hope we can add:
10. Immune to canine chocolate toxicity

This strip actually reads better without the two lead panels.  Try it out!  We don't need to be told twice that they're running an experiment.  All the important facts are presented without the optional panels, and they aren't repeated.

Finally, importantly, the strip is just funny.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

November 13, 1953: Excitable, isn't he?

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Patty doesn't mean to drive Charlie Brown to hysterics, but it is kind of frightening to think about.  The space-filling overtelling of one of the characters here is acceptable, as it improves the joke.

It struck me just now that gender relations in Peanuts are already surprisingly equalized.  This is far from stereotypical girl behavior.  Patty gets used more as being a foil for Charlie Brown than for being female.  Maybe girls are considered to be more impish, and that explains why Patty is happy to point out C.B.'s mistake in the first panel; it's hard to imagine Shermy being happy there.

Look at that expression of fear in panel 3.  It's really a kindness that Charlie Brown doesn't realize that he'll actually be in school for 46 more years.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

November 12, 1953

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This is the second instance of the "Snoopy dance" that I count, and it's livelier and more Snoopy-like here.  We can probably add this to his list of powers:
7. Ability to dance (polka, hopak)

More shockingly, it features Schroeder saying something positive about polka!

Snoopy's tongue in panel 2 is strange because it's of realistic length for a dog, that is to say, it's loooong.  Also, the way that his front legs flap about is unusually realistic.  These are very entertaining drawings of early Snoopy.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

November 11, 1953: Schroeder conducts in front of Snoopy, Take 2

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The previous Sunday strip had mostly the same idea, but with a different payoff.

I think this could be taken to show how careful Schulz is to mine his premises well. As I've said before, drawing a daily comic strip is one of the most creatively demanding occupations one could hope to find. Imagine the pressure of having to come up with one joke a day for the rest of your life. Schulz is showing good sense by getting additional gags out of his premises.

Monday, March 7, 2011

November 9, 1953: Get yer dog off the football field

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I think this one may be a bit too abrupt. It'd probably be more entertaining to watch Snoopy get tackled in the third panel, rather than obscuring the collision behind that huge POW splash.

I am putting this strip down as containing Charlie Brown, Schroeder and Shermy, but only because those are the only three human male characters old enough to play football.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday, November 8, 1953: Get yer dog away from the orchestra pit

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Schroeder's the one demonstrating his imagination here.

Scribble of ire!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

November 7, 1953: More on the mobile ears

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Snoopy's powers:
1. Human thought.
2. Ability to say "Boo!"
3. Ability to blush through fur.
4. Ability to move his ears around like limbs.
5. Ability to understand English.
6. Bizarre "true form." (Also, ability to say a scribble of ire.)

Well-known powers not yet displayed:
Surreal imagination.
Surreal imagination that sometimes leaks out into reality. (Demonstrated by his ability to get Marcie to play along with him.)
Ability to stand on hind legs.
Ability to operate human machinery like typewriters.
Ability to play sports.
Ability to communicate with birds.
Transcendentally-spacious doghouse.

Friday, March 4, 2011

November 6, 1953: Two sick kids

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I seem to remember this strip concept before, of someone walking up to Charlie Brown and making some remark about themselves, which causes Charlie Brown to launch into a self-centered examination of his own life, eventually causing the original kid to walk away. I want to say we've seen it with Schroeder before, and I think we've also seen it with Violet. Don't have the time to search through the archives right now though.

Final sigh!


Concerning the images on the site, there remains the problem with the archives, which continue to point to the strips hosted on and will probably go dark any moment now. Uploading all those strips, over 700 to date, using Blogger's interface is not something I relish doing. I might just end up letting those images be broken for a while. Maybe I could figure out a way, similar to the last fix, of hacking a blog archive so at least those pages will point to gocomics' pages for the strips? I will look into it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

November 5, 1953: Lucy speaks under the advise of her lawyer's page for this strip.

Quite knowledgeable of the little girl. Most precocious children gags are basically the same kind of joke, so just doing them repeatedly gets old without pushing the envelope. Later on Schulz would mostly drop precocious children strips except for a few long-established examples such as Schroeder at his piano.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

November 4, 1953: He went that way

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Snoopy's versatile ears again prove their agility. Also, I like to speculate as to why Patty and Charlie Brown are so happy here. I assume they're playing Hide & Seek.


So, we're going to try just uploading the strips and hoping for the best, which at least seems to be the usual case out in webland. I'm not sure what I'm going to do when the archive images break, as this seems to be something beyond the power of a simple Python hack to fix.

Hey Universal! If you're seeing this, know that I'm not trying to exploit the strip. We love Peanuts! We're presenting them here as an aid to discussion. We don't link to every strip, just the most interesting ones. He're hoping you won't mind.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

November 3, 1953: Snoopy vs. the yard: Attacked by leaves

Click through (opens in new window):

That's a nice drawing of Snoopy lying down, which is a pose that modern Snoopy could never hope to assume. It does make him seem a bit larger than usual.


So I'm currently supplying a link to the gocomics page of the strip in question. I'm including a target="_blank" attribute on the link that causes it to open in a new window by default, so at least you won't leave the blog each time you want to look at a strip.

But this causes me to think: shouldn't it be possible to do this automatically? And maybe not have it open in a new window, but inside another HTML element, or something? Didn't there used to be, long ago, an ancient website entity, something called a frame, that this page could be opened in?

But I'm not thrilled with the idea of making a site with frames in 2011. If we assume that gocomics is going to persist in their no-inlining policy until the end of time, though, then I think it's evident that we're going to have to do something to make seeing the individual strips easier. At least loading their site in a side frame would count as a page view on their site, wouldn't it, giving them the opportunity to make ad revenue off the load.

Still trying to puzzle this one through. I'm open to suggestions.