Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sunday, July 3, 1955: Serif Grief

Snoopy is back to using thought balloons here, though just one, and he's thinking in lower-case and serif letters.

The content of this strip is pretty light. This could just as easily been a daily strip. The art is worth a little examination though.

Snoopy is still getting longer and more cartoony. We get six drawings of his head in three-quarter perspective here, and like many comic characters when you view them at an angle the cartoonist has to cheat to keep the character recognizable and expressive. This is really one of the black arts of cartooning -- how to distort heavily-stylized characters so they still read as the character when viewed from angles other than straight ahead of the side. The "weirdsnoopy" image I use as my Google portrait, and the hand puppet-like drawings we saw in the very early strips, show what happened when Schulz was still working on getting Snoopy to look good at an angle.

I can only assume it took him a lot of work to find a good three-quarters look for Snoopy, because it doesn't look like an intuitive solution to me. Snoopy's nose is wider when viewed from an angle, his snout seems shorter, and his mouth, instead of wrapping around his snout as a real dog's would, is drawn on as if his face was a flat surface.

I think this is a place where the progression of the art indirectly influenced Snoopy's character development. Drawing him this way is necessary to keep Snoopy's expressions readable, which is especially important here since Snoopy still doesn't use thought balloons very much. These expressions would not work on an anatomically canine head, because a real dog's mouth wraps around his snout. So, to keep Snoopy more relatable and more of a full character, Schulz has to draw him a bit more like he was a human, distancing him from his doggy roots.

As a proportion of Peanuts' 49-year run, Snoopy takes his more recent "bloated" form much more than this look. But that's a bit of a shame I think; I like this look for Snoopy, and I like it when he behaves like more of an everyday dog, although I think the more recent versions of Snoopy have their charms too. They're just different, incompatible charms.

1 comment:

  1. I am looking for a peanuts comic with either CB or Linus watching one flake of snow falling and screaming "Close all schools" I used to have it but have lost it and can't find it anywhere online. Thoughts?