Monday, February 28, 2011

November 2, 1953: The day-after joke

Strip in question:

This is a gag that Schulz will return to in later years, the character who is a day late in celebrating a holiday. April Fool's is a particularly fun day to do this with, since victims tend to be off their guard.


For the time being, I'm going to just link to the relevant page for the comic under discussion. I might inline them from a local copy eventually, which I think would be provided for under fair use, and anyway doesn't seem to have hurt the Comics Curmudgeon any. But maybe there's some aspect of his situation I'm not aware of. Certainly hosting the images from this site makes bandwidth a bit more of a concern.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

META: Uh-oh

"Peanuts no longer appears on"

This is a problem guys. Not only does it mean I can't use my normal procedure to update the blog while in-lining strips, it also means there is a chance that all the links on the previous strips are going to suddenly break again like they did some time back. At over 700 strips up now, that would be a large amount of time to fix, even if I could find a drop-in replacement for the links. I don't know if my mad Python skillz could fix such a problem again, and even if it did all the "funny/cool/depressing/weird/etc." votes that have accumulated since the last time this happened would get reset again too. (That's a fairly minor thing, true, but I pay attention to those.)

I am quite peeved at now. To think they had finally gotten that loathsome "TV Pigs" link off of every damn page on the entire site, then they do this. I can only assume they lost the rights to Peanuts, but a little advance warning wouldn't have hurt.

Peanuts seems to be hosted at now, and I don't yet see in-lining instructions. I'll keep you posted as to what this means for the blog.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sunday, November 1, 1953: 7,000 games


1. How cool is it that Schulz has kept increasing the number of games Lucy has won? This is one of the first definite signs of continuity, other than character introductions, in the strip.

2. Nice abstract intro panel. You can tell the smiling faces are Lucy because of the parenthesis around the eyes. You can tell the CHAGRIMACEd face is Charlie Brown because of his twirly hair thingy.

3. To the show the shock of realization in panel 5, why did Schulz decide to show Charlie Brown standing in tall grass?

4. This, I think, is the first solid depiction of Charlie Brown's loser personality. The key revelation here is that Charlie Brown is noticing that he's actually not very good at a number of things, and that he's not happy about this fact.

5. But still, seriously, seven thousand games? He maybe should move on to Bridge.

6. I can't wait for the day the total gets up to 10,000.

P.S. Thanks for the donation, Michael!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Halloween, 1953: He should have gone as the ghost of a mattress


This is more of a general comic strip joke than a specifically Peanuts joke. A kid does something based on ignorance that turns out badly for him. I could imagine Sluggo making this mistake. (Not that there's anything wrong with Sluggo!)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

October 30, 1953: We may call this the "Lucy Loophole"


I love this one.

The Lucy Loophole:
When considering how useful a specific thing is for a purpose, do not forget how useful it is as a general thing for that purpose but used in an unexpected way.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

October 29, 1953: Lucy is indignant


If you wonder where the point was that Lucy went from being an innocent little girl to Cthulhu in a dress, well, there is no exact point. It's not even a sliding scale between the two; they exist in quantum superposition, sometimes she's one and sometimes she's the other. This one does seem to be partway between the two though. At least she's not saying "Poor Lucy" anymore!

(I've been known to deliver pizza sometimes, and want to say that Lucy's attitude and power to change things exactly mirrors my own when stiffed for a tip.)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

October 28, 1953: Creeping up on Halloween


I had no idea that Peanuts merchandising got started so early.

Surprised that Snoopy can say "Boo?" You shouldn't be. It's about the only English word he can say though.

Scribble of ire!

Monday, February 21, 2011

October 27, 1953: Addressed to Abu Dhabi


The stamp pressed directly upon Lucy's head like that reminds me of the old Garfield strips where he'd attempt to ship someone he didn't like (usually Nermal) to Abu Dhabi.

This is another of the sequence of strips where Lucy demands something of Charlie Brown, but goes too far in her demands resulting in some act of sudden rebellion. Interestingly, the act is never depicted itself; you only ever see its results. I would term these strips turnabout strips; it doesn't necessarily mean a chase is involved.

This kind of understatement is everywhere in Peanuts, once you start looking for it. It's not that Schulz doesn't or can't show the violent act, just that A. as with the chase strips, it's often more effective/less upsetting if the result is left unshown, and B. it makes those moments where the violence is shown (Lucy pulling away the football, Snoopy grabbing the blanket, Lucy slugging someone, Charlie Brown hit by a line drive) more effective.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

October 26, 1953: The mystery of Snoopy's snout


Snoopy's head is one of the most problematic entities, artistically, in Peanuts. From the side it's great, but from a three-quarters perspective it is weird. His cheeks round out a bit, to give his mouth more room for expression.

It's still less of a cheat, in my opinion, than late-era Snoopy, which rounded out his head in profile but is more problematic in terms of eye and mouth placement. (Of course, there's no law against cheating, especially if most people never notice the cheat!)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sunday, October 25, 1953: A caper like this needs a good cart-man


Schulz is still learning to write effectively. Panels six and seven are kind of drawn out, with the characters merely intensifying how much they need Charlie Brown. This is a good strip though. My favorite part is the first panel, which is almost like a model sheet for Charlie Brown. His first expression there, by the way, is the only time I can remember the kid looking that happy. I'm pretty sure I've never seen him with exactly that kind of smile anywhere else.

Friday, February 18, 2011

October 24,1953: Dottie


"Dottie" could be taken for either "daddy" or "doggie," right? I don't get the cookie angle, though.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

EXTRA: Early Peanuts newspaper ads

Found skimming through Reddit's Comics discussion, Comics Alliance found some early newspaper ads used to popularize Peanuts in the early days.

Some basic character illustrations.  That goofy grin on Shermy's face might be the most personality that character ever displayed.

This one uses the earliest style of character art.  I like how the "PEANUTS" logo is largely the same as it was used even towards the later years of the strip.  Have any of you been captured by their cuteness and amazed by their antics yet?  Remember to WATCH FOR THEM beginning (date)!

There's more at the original page:  I might inline them later, but until them I encourage you to check the out at the original site.

Well, go on!  Encourage, encourage!

October 22, 1953: Linus nearly kills himself three times


Stylistically this is interesting for being composed of eight panels. It also ends with that frequent (although at this point still rarely-seen) concluding word "*sigh*".

Linus is physically uncoordinated enough that he can't safely step on or off a curb, but he's psychologically adept enough to feel despair for his inability.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

October 21, 1953: More mystifying Snoopy attributes


We know that his ears are made of imitation leather. Now it seems that the contents of his head are an excellent sound transmission medium.

Later on we have the "Cheshire Beagle" trick and, of course, the Whirlidog. It'd be fun to work up a cross-section diagram, Baxter Building or MST3K Gamera style, showing where all the devices and mechanisms reside that give Snoopy his powers.

Unless he's actually an amorphous, magical, Shmoo-like creature. He's almost the right color for that!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

October 20, 1953: What were they doing in there?


Is this the site of the meetings of their "Doing Things Without Charlie Brown" club? Because that's about the most charitable explanation possible for what these four kids and Snoopy were doing in that pile of leaves before CB jumped in.

Monday, February 14, 2011

October 19, 1953: Withers under questioning


When Charlie Brown begs for a piece of candy, he hints and is often disappointed.

When Lucy wants a cookie, she interrogates and demands.

It has to be noted, Lucy probably has a higher success rate.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday, October 18, 1953: The football, off the other foot


Well after all, she is just a little girl, you know. Riiiiiight....

This is pretty much just a silly strip, although it explains why Charlie Brown has to play by Lucy's rules to kick a football: it's her ball!

Can anyone imagine Lucy as star fullback of nursery school?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

October 16, 1953: Er, how long have you been sitting there?


These strips where one character is doing something imaginative or outlandish and another character is revealed to be watching, and smiling, leaving the acting character to walk away blushing, are rather common. I can't help but speculate that maybe Schulz experienced an occasion like that when he was young?

(Still a bit slow, should be remedied in a couple of days.)

Friday, February 11, 2011

October 15, 1953: There is such a thing as being too self-effacing


At least Charlie Brown isn't claiming to be perfect anymore.

This is more like the CB we know, and it also points to what we might call a later personality problem with him. His sense of self-consciousness about his failure kind of sabotages him sometimes. Remember the sequence where he's at camp with a paper bag over his head, and becomes successful and popular? My guess would be it's because, under the shield of anonymousness, it means he can focus more on what he's doing, rather than what he's observing about what he's doing.


(Sorry for the lack of updates over the past two days, internet is intermittent right now.)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

October 14, 1953: The inner life of animals

Okay, stop for a moment and imagine if you didn't know Snoopy was particularly weird. Back in the day Peanuts was still a young strip and we didn't yet know that Snoopy was a dog in name only, a bizarre creature whose imagination was so rich and powerful so as to have reality-warping powers. And then you run into this:


What is going to become of that dog, indeed. Note that, despite some hints, it's still not certain who owns Snoopy. He's still just a neighborhood dog at this point. The Daisy Hill Puppy Mill Farm backstory of the later years of the strip is still some time off.

Monday, February 7, 2011

October 13, 1953: Stepped right into that one


I bet they said the same thing about a young George W. Bush.

Seriously, that's a pretty sharp wit the girls show there. I never think of those things on the spur of the moment like that.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunday, October 11, 1953: The CROQUET GAME


This is quite an interesting strip. In addition to carrying an extra title other than just "Peanuts," there are several different jokes competing for space in these eight complex panels.

- Every character appears except for Linus. However, Schroeder's only in the first three (in the third he hiding behind the tree), Shermy's only in two of them, and Snoopy's relegated to one.
- Although the major gag of the strip is Lucy's trying to bounce a croquet ball, the most interesting exchange is between Patty and Charlie Brown, which is a fairly good depiction of the direction Schulz is taking the round-headed kid. Patty's blunt statement is rather shocking; one can imagine her intent is to reassure Charlie Brown that it's not personal, but when put that way how could one take it as anything but?
- Lucy shows greater appreciation for experimental evidence here than she does in many later strips.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

October 10, 1953: The costs of having a kid


Lucy examines the question of her existence in terms of economic transactions.

Panel two shows Lucy with a non-typical "making a point" post, and panel three has Violet sitting on a sloped surface, both kind of unusual poses. That second panel, her pose more resembles later Lucy, say, behind her Psychiatrist booth.

Friday, February 4, 2011

October 9, 1953: A brief glimpse of the larger world


There are few times when adult-sized objects are brought into the kids' world, but here's one of them. By the way, notice that both here and back in the Charlie-Brown-loses-his-shoe strip from a couple of days ago, they're using more modern helmets, instead of the ones with ear flaps from the prior strip.

EDIT: Fixed the strip.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

October 7, 1953: Fact: Charlie Brown HAS kicked a football


Although his shoe and sock came off with it, and it didn't go very far.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

October 6, 1953: The marbles shark


Charlie Brown sucks at checkers, now it's time to demonstrate how bad he is at marbles.

I notice that his persecutors are exclusively female. Shermy, despite his harsh words in the first strip, is the least antagonistic character towards him of the cast. Lucy and Patty dispense game beatdowns, Violet throws him out of her house on a whim, and Snoopy is a mocking presence.

And yet the characters don't seem to notice yet how put-upon CB is, so it doesn't really register to us, yet, as a genuine phenomenon.