Friday, May 16, 2014

October 1955

October 1955 begins on here.  Come along and follow the kids through the run-up to and day of Halloween.

October 3:
This is a bit of playground lore that's not as well-known now as it was in 1955.  I remember being confused by it when I read it in the early 80s.  Wikipedia has more on the phrase, under the alternate spelling "Olly olly oxen free."  It also has a long list of uses in popular culture, including some quite recent, so maybe I'm the only one who's not real familiar with it.

October 4:
Davy Crockett vs. Beethoven again.  They're two rather idiosyncratic figured to be brought into opposition with each other.

There are all kinds of interesting things about Mount Rushmore.  There are few things that signal the United States of America as much.  The four faces are George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt.  That last one seems somewhat out of place among the four; Washington and Jefferson were founding fathers, and Lincoln got the nation through the Civil War, but T. Roosevelt, while popular and charismatic and generally well-thought-of to this day, doesn't really hold the same place in US history.  He died in 1919, but was considered sure to be reelected in 1920, so maybe his inclusion was a memorial, or a tribute to years we could have had.

October 5:
Still giving the dog candy I see.  I don't think dogs generally appreciate mint, although reactions vary greatly.  A dog who was slipped an Altoid, I expect, would not trust such a thing coming from the hand of a human again for a long while after.

October 6:
I can't say for 500 years, but nearly sixty years later, we can tell.  Or we would if these strips were in color.

October 7:
We still don't know for sure who Snoopy belongs to, but this again implies he's Charlie Brown's.  It's also a cute drawing, and I rarely need a different excuse to post Snoopy.
October 8:
This is an unusually extreme example of Charlie Brown's ability to denigrate himself.  Where does this come from?  From what spring in Schulz's soul comes Charlie Brown's angst?  Maybe it comes from his earlier efforts to fund work as a cartoonist, which I think has never been an easy field to break into.

October 9:
It really is frightening if you think about it enough.  Explore this for a while if you don't believe me.

October 10:
Before he even got the words out of his mouth.  That's our girl!  The big smile on her face is the best part. And Charlie Brown is a character that expresses dismay very well.

October 11, 12 and 14:
Variations upon the theme of leaves.  The jumping into them in the strip from the 14th is interesting; earlier, Schulz would have probably drawn Lucy leaping in while remaining vertical, but this is funnier.

October 15:
Does this conclusively make Snoopy Charlie Brown's dog?  He's in the house while he's eating and begging at his table.  Speaking of which, that's got to be a short table.  And why is Snoopy thinking "chomp chomp chomp" and "smack smack" in the second and third panels?

October 16:
Lucy's face in panel 4 is the essence of shouting.  This is a good strip for establishing Linus' personality as the put-upon brother.  The way his mother tells him to "put that gun away," which Linus does by just unfolding his hand, I think is nice.  By the way, I just noticed that the "by Schulz"  byline in the lead panel hasn't been showing up lately in these Sunday strips, he's just been leaving his usual signature in the art.

October 19:
Those eyes at the end are far outside of the strip's usual art style.  But still, cute drawing of Snoopy.  Schulz seems to have a lot of fun drawing him at this stage.

October 21 & 23:
These strips present Charlie Brown's moroseness as self-absorption.  It's interesting that the double-act of Patty and Violet are subjected to it in the Sunday strip.

October 25-27:
Have some Beethoven.  Mentioned in the October 25th strip, Beethoven's 9th (and last) Symphony is considered by some to be the greatest piece of music ever composed.  It was the first symphony by a major composer to provide parts for human voices.  Judging from that Wikipedia page, it's possible that the text read by Charlie Brown refers to the audience reaction to the 9th Symphony.

October 28-31:
And we finished up with a few Halloween strips.  One of the prominent early themes of Peanuts are kids reacting to societal trends.  It's unclear why Lucy would be sued in the strip on the 28th; would ghosts be considered to have a copyright on that model of ghost costume, or would he likeness of them be consider defamation?  The costumes in the Sunday strip are reminiscent of those from "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," one of the great Peanuts specials.  (It'll still be some time before Linus invents the Pumpkin.)

Finally, the strip from the 31st is maybe a bit out of character for the Peanuts kids, but it's a great gag, and shows off Charlie Brown's leadership abilities, for once, in a positive light.  It would have been entertaining to see his plans in action, but it doesn't seem really the group's style to be that organized, so possibly it's best we don't see it.


  1. In the Halloween mask strip, I think it's worth noting that Panel 7 features a mask that seems to be based on Lon Cheney in the lost film "London After Midnight." It's doubtful Schulz saw it, since it came out in 1927 when he was 5 years old, but pictures of Cheney in this get-up are very frequently reproduced.,%20Lon/Chaney%20Sr.,%20Lon%20(London%20After%20Midnight)_01.jpg

  2. I think it's entirely possible that Schulz was aware of the film. Lots of old movies (silent and talkies) were aired on television in the fifties as a cheap alternative to original programming. And many theaters re-screened old films as a cost-saving measure of their own. Once Forry Ackerman started Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine in 1958, , a LOT of old horror movies were dusted off and brought back out, as well. I remember the film in question only by reputation as images were featured both in FMoF and in a series of children's books about movie monsters by Scholastic(?) in the 1970's. As much as Schulz referenced television in the strip back then, I think he probably had seen the image there at some point.

  3. Just discovered this blog while reminiscing about Charlotte Braun...thanks, I didn't need to get anything done for the rest of the night ;-) <3

    Re: Mount Rushmore--totally unrelated to Peanuts--but the faces were carved on a sacred Native American rock formation and apparently it was an intentional "F you" to their sacred site.