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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The text of ROASTED PEANUTS is copyright 2009-2011 by John Harris. No copyright is claimed over the comic strips, which are here under the principle of fair use. Strips presented for review purposes only. We love Peanuts a whole lot, and wouldn't dream of exploiting it. Please don't sue us; we're only trying to love. Thank you for reading this notice.