Wednesday, February 29, 2012

May 9-14, 1955: That's the way it goes

Note: Although this is still solidly Peanuts' classic period, there are sometimes strips of which there isn't much interesting to say. It has never been the aim of this blog to cover every Peanuts strip, just the most interesting ones. This doesn't matter for this post, but in the future I will start skipping over uninteresting strips again. This is so that A. I don't spend the rest of my life maintaining this blog, and B. because legally, we'd be on more unsteady ground if we ended up effectively mirroring gocomics' entire archive.

May 8, 1955, a Sunday strip, is missing from gocomics' archives.

I like the injection of a little horror into Peanuts' gag-a-day world. Would we be creeped out by mailman-shaped dog biscuits? I don't know what it is about serif lettering, such as used in Snoopy's "SHUDDER!," but Schulz uses it a lot in this stage of the strip.

This is a very interesting strip. Who decided who plays what? We're left to assume it's Patty. Keep in mind, this is still solidly the 50s we're in, so we're probably left to assume that queer readings of this strip are unintended.

In any event, it probably doesn't matter much to their game who is who. I'm surprised one of 'em isn't Davy Crockett or some such.

More marbles. Decades from now, when the game of marbles has long vanished from the strip, I like to think of its legacy living on in the name of one of Snoopy's brothers, Marbles.

Cats will regularly do this at any excuse, and sometimes even without one.

We aren't privy to what Charlie Brown and Violet are arguing about. Actually, we don't know whatever it is is in the newspaper at all -- C.B. is holding a book.

Once you wind Schroeder up, it takes a while for him to run down. It must be nice to be able to lose one's self in a memory like that.

Even Snoopy's vaunted candy-detection abilities have their limits. Serif Z! Also, a serif'd "sigh," in lowercase.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

May 2-7, 1955: Lucy the Environmentalist

May 2
We could take a bad message away from here if we were to relate Lucy's silly concerns with those of the then-nascient environmental movement. Lucy's had enough weird notions in that head of hers from previous strips, however, that I find it possible to ignore that reading.

May 3
This is Peanuts' first "full" story, consuming every weekday strip for the week. The whole thing is her imposing her concerns upon her friends. I note that the only value judgement made by any of the cast members on her concerns is made here, by Charlie Brown. All of the other reacting characters wear Peanuts Expression #24, "blank observation." Her face in the first panel is vividly rendered. ("Good grief" sighting.)

May 4
It's easy not to notice that Pig-Pen is in this strip, but without his trademark dust cloud, perhaps because it would confuse the gag of the strip.
May 5
This strip and the previous this one are the same general joke, and they have exactly the same punchline. It feels like Schulz is padding out the story here.

May 6
It's not just that Lucy believes her friends are eroding the Earth, it's that she's vividly imagined it as becoming the size of a basketball, an image worthy of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

May 7

This isn't the first time Lucy has responded to a direct refutation of her beliefs with a non-sequitur counterattack. Lucy's not the sort to waste too much time on introspection.

Comic images from


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

EXTRA: Charlie Bro

Via Progressive Ruin, from an entertaining post on Rubber Cat Productions.

Take the drawing of Charlie Brown on the cover of the first Fantagraphics Peanuts collection and turn it upside down. Presto:

It takes a second for your brain to adjust to the new mouth and eyebrows, but then he turns from an upset young boy into an insufferably smug, big-chinned guy with a goatee. IT'S CHARLIE BRO.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

May 1, 1955: Silly Snoopy, rope-jumping is for kids

Read this strip at

A wonderful strip, mostly for the expressions on Snoopy's face. It's a difficult strip to visualize in motion though. Schulz is depicting the dog jumping rope as a (soon to be) standard Snoopydance, but it looks like he's skipping in a lot of little hops, if his hind feet are technically leaving the ground at all.

I think the strip works a little better with the lead-up panels giving Snoopy's enthusiams a little time to warm up, rather than just having him jump in after watching Lucy for a single frame.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

April 25-30, 1955: I'm Well Read

At least it wouldn't all melt before she could eat it. The word "Boy" in the third panel is both serif'd and contains lowercase letters.

Once in a while Schroeder says something that indicates there's a slight change he could end up reciprocating Lucy's crush someday. It's quite rare, but it happens once in a while.

As has been remarked in the comments before, there really aren't a lot of Pig-Pen strips when measured as a percentage of all the Peanuts strips Schulz draw. He's fairly common in this period though.

Somewhat uncharacteristically, Pig-Pen gets angry at the way people refer to him here. It's a bit difficult, through all the grime, to read his expressions of ire. I'm not quite sure I get this strip though -- I sense there's something about it, maybe some context from the time, that I'm missing. I'm not actually sure the girls are judging his appearance, although if they're not then why would Schulz use Pig-Pen here?

April 29

I think Schulz spelled it "SKWEEK" in the third panel just to mix things up a bit. We get another funny drawing of Snoopy here, who is already the most plastic of the Peanuts characters.

April 30

My favorite thing about this strip is the slight irregularity in Snoopy's jaw in the third panel, indicating Snoopy chewing. Lucy's mouth seems to be missing in the first panel.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sunday, April 24, 1955: Of course we're playing for 'keeps!'

 Read this strip at

Lucy is still flexible enough to be used with her earlier, naive personality.  Innocent characters in Peanuts tend to be capable of amazing feats, abilities that they lose as they gain maturity.  That explains Linus' various skills, Snoopy's occasional reality-defying flights of fancy, and Lucy's skill at shooting marbles here.  Like a guardian angel, this ability protects the character from those who would take advantage.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

April 18-23, 1955: Watson come here, I need groceries

April 18 

More of Pig-Pen's philosophy, which could be regarded either as kind of profund or as indicative of the lengths he'll go through to excuse his willful messiness.

April 19

Fun with halftone!  It definitely is possible to get mad at someone who's really neat, if they're still marking up the wall, although I suppose the Van Pelt folks could just tell people it's wallpaper.  Really freaky wallpaper.

April 20

Lucy believe, if you're losing on one front, just open up another.

April 21

Snoopy has the advantage of having a flatter head.  It'd be a lot harder for Charlie Brown to balance like that.  By the way, this strip demonstrates well how much Snoopy's body shape has changed.  He still has a little ways to go before he starts to balloon out.

April 22

You can't please all the people all the time.  There's kind of a Betty-and-Veronica thing going on between Patty and Violet here.

Charlie Brown's rather pleased with himself in the second panel.

April 23

I never got much use out of tin can telephones as a kid, beans or not.  I figured out much later that they really depend on the string between cans to be pulled tight, which it obviously isn't here.  Anyway the matter is moot, as the first panel makes it clear that whoever it is Charlie Brown is talking to is standing right off panel, well within earshot.

Tin can telephones have passed into the lore of kid life, as something that children make to amuse themselves, even though I imagine in this age of cell phones and casual texting that this type of playground technology is hardly ever put into practice anymore.  This hasn't stopped the things from soaking into our culture -- an episode of the My Little Pony cartoon (don't laugh) used one in a scene, and that "Kids Next Door" cartoon from some years back used them as an essential communications tool for its weird kind of tree fort tech.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Posting trouble....

Having trouble uploading images using Blogsy. Tomorrow will try again....

Monday, February 6, 2012

April 11-16, 1955: Phooey to you Schroeder

April 11

Charlie Brown doesn't have nearly the fixation on D. Crockett as Schroeder does on Beethoven, but his embarrassment makes the strip.

April 12

At first this seems like another joke on the size of C.B.'s head, but really any of the characters could see around that thin tree.  The angry look on Lucy's face is adorable.

April 13

There are a handful of strips that establish that Schroeder isn't simply a child prodigy, but actually has a music career.  Lucy's general apathy towards music makes her choice of crush an odd one; Schroeder doesn't actually have much personality other than his music.

April 14

The first line drive Charlie Brown ever dodged (although it looks more like it bowled him over, dodging is how it's described in later strips).

April 15

This is more of a Lucy kind of strip, but neither her right field position nor her incompetence at baseball have been firmly established yet.

April 16

 For some reason, I can easily imagine one of Thurber's dogs in Snoopy's place here.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

April 4-6 & Sunday April 10, 1955

April 4
A bit of simple wordplay, but one could take it to provide a lesson on the difficulty in living up to the divine. If one was disposed that way, that is."Pig-Pen" was the first minor character introduced into Peanuts, and is by far the longest-lived. Although present only in a very small proportion of strips, Schulz obviously found the character more compelling even than later "major" characters like Frieda and Eudora. Unlike the rather bland Eudora however (about the most I can remember about her is that she wore a hat and was a girl), Pig-Pen still has a strong personality, and is almost unique among the Peanuts kids in that he doesn't really seem to have any hangups. Linus is the closest to that blissful state, but even he had the blanket for a while, and the Great Pumpkin too.

April 5

A weird hanging question ends this strip. The point is clear -- there is nothing to say what we believe now won't be seen as similarly bizarre to people hundreds of years from now.

April 6

I think the Neighborhood League, if such an organization actually exists, should probably reconsider their retaping regulations.This is probably a joke on kids playing with laughably decrepit baseballs, but not having had what one might call a sporting childhood I am unfamiliar with the lore in that area.

gocomic's archive is missing strips for the 7th through the 9th of April, 1955. Can anyone tell us what the Fantagraphics collections have for those days?

Sunday, April 10

Oh, what a tremendously formative strip. It's not the first time Charlie Brown has expressed a mania for baseball (I think we've had one other strip so far where he's wanted to play while everyone else has gone inside), but this one seems rather more Charlie Browny, especially his expression in panel 7, that's pretty iconic right there.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sunday, April 3, 1955: Security Snoopy

Read this strip at

Lucy continues her develop into the strip's primary villain.

We haven't had a huge amount of Snoopy/Linus interaction so far.  In coming strips, a major point of contention with them is Linus' blanket, so this strip kind of foreshadows that.

We get that weird look from Linus again in the second panel.  It looks a lot like he's pining for a pacifier.

In the third panel, Linus and Snoopy share a single 'Z' balloon.  I may be wrong, but when two characters are asleep near each other I believe they tend to get separate Zs.  I'm unsure whether I should look for deep meaning in their commonality of snoring, however.