Sunday, June 3, 2012

June 6-11, 1955: Great Composers of the American West

June 6, 1955

A running theme in Peanuts in the early days is Charlie Brown being dismayed at some obviously false notion one of his friends has come up with, and their refusal to see sense regardless of all other matters. Up until now it's been Lucy who's been Chuck's opponent in this, but sometimes Schroeder sneaks in there as well in his uncritical idolization of Ludwig Van Beethoven. Later on a variety of other characters fill this role, and their notions take on differing levels of actuality. The most-remembered example of this, of course, is Linus' fixation on the Great Pumpkin, which became one of the trademarks of the strip.

June 7

The humor in this sequence comes not just from Charlie Brown's reaction, but the incongruity of seeing a fur hat on the head of Schroeder's bust.

June 8

Sometimes Peanuts' comedy is kind of like a mathematical formula that could be solved for a number of different variables. Character personalities, and cultural signifiers like Beethoven and Davy Crockett, are what realize the jokes.

Schroeder is singing the refrain from the famous song "The Ballad of Davy Crockett," written by George Bruns and Thomas W. Blackburn, written to publicize the Disney movie Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier. The song made the Billboard charts on March 26, 1955 and the strip was published June 6, so it was floating around the cultural mindspace at the time. Come to think of it, this explains some of the other Davy Crockett references in the strip. Here you go:


Incidentally, there is another, more recent, alternate-reality version of that song, written by They Might Be Giants:


June 9

Charles Schulz was from Minnesota, and although he moved around a bit (to Colorado and later to California), it typically expresses a midwestern kind of humor, self-deprecating and wry. For more, turn on A Prairie Home Companion on your local NPR station, or alternatively go get some Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVDs. Go on, I'll wait. (No I won't.)

June 10

Lucy's brand of evil is currently directly only towards her brother. It takes some time to fester and flower into the true breadth of its malevolence.

June 11

At the time Schulz's first son Monte would have been about four. I don't know if this is the title of a real book or one that Schulz made up for the strip.