Peanuts Week: The Aftermath

So an average two minutes of Charlie Brown’s life came to a close today (click here to see the week’s worth). Even though I knew how it was going to turn out, I did look at the strips repeatedly this week and absorb them before. (When reading these strips in the Complete Peanuts books, I generally read a months’ worth in a sitting.) One wonderful arc became very clear to me when reading them in this slow, methodical way: Schulz deftly turns all of the characters into Charlie Brown. Check it out…



They’re at his side and they’ve (foolishly) pinned their dreams on him.





And like Charlie Brown, they let their delusions of grandeur get the better of them.





But, as it normally goes for Charlie Brown, failure is imminent.





And they have all become losers.




Also, for four days into the next week Schulz shows us the aftermath of Charlie Brown’s mistake. Even the normally neutral Schroder tears into him…

__________________________________________________

I had so many notions I wanted to discuss in these few posts about Peanuts, and a lot of them got tossed aside in an effort to stay focused. Here’s two loose ends…

One of Schulz’s recurring gags was the snobbish Violet taunting poor Charlie Brown by bragging about her father (i.e. “My dad is taller than your dad,” or “My dad has more credit cards than your dad”), sometimes going for days at a stretch. One time, however, after only three days, Schulz gave Charlie Brown a rare moment of triumph. Imagine starting your week, reading this…

You think, Oh, shit, Violet’s at it again. And the next day, you read this…

Then, think how gratifying Wednesday must have been…

You gotta love Violet’s crushed “Charlie Brown look of nausea” face!

And lastly, there were a few storylines that spanned decades. One of the most famous was Linus’s loyalty to the Great Pumpkin. Every year there was another round of Linus being tested—and sometimes, after Halloween, he’d be downright pissed that he didn’t literally see the Great Pumpkin, his faith being tested more than his lumpy six-year old head could handle. In 1960, this prompted him to write his memoirs, giving us one of the Great Lost Peanuts Phrases…

“Rudely Clobbered”? How come a band hasn’t taken that as a name?!

So, if you haven’t already, I recommend that you find a spare 20 bucks, go to Amazon or Fantagraphics.com and buy yourself a volume of the Complete Peanuts (if you like, start with one from the early 60s, when Schulz was on a roll). You won’t regret it. Charles M. Schulz is one of the artistic geniuses of the 20th Century and, gratefully, getting a huge dose of that genius isn’t terribly expensive or difficult.

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5 Comments

Filed under Humor

5 responses to “Peanuts Week: The Aftermath

  1. Nice. I’m sorry I missed Peanuts week in real time, because I like your idea about how the strips – especially the drawn-out ones where a few seconds are stretched out across a week or more – read better in one-a-day increments as originally intended. I’m a big fan of the recent comic strip reprint rennaissance, but one thing that is sometimes lost in the new book formatting is that day-to-day rhythm that was so crucial to the classic experience of newspaper comics. This is perhaps especially pronounced in Thimble Theater, where the storytelling is packed with repetitions and redundancies when it’s presented in book form, but which obviously would have read much better when stretched out from day to day. It’s still great fun, of course, and Popeye is a riot, but it suffers a bit in this form. As a result, Segar’s standalone Sunday strips are far better than his dailies. Peanuts holds up much better because Schulz’s narratives were much looser, and therefore he’s content just to deliver a gag each day while doing a minimum of advancement in whatever small story he’s telling that week.

    • Hi, Ed. Nice to meet you. Thanks for the kind words and additional insight. I think I mentioned in one of my posts about this that I’m pretty new to the daily comic strip scene and when it dawned on me that that steady, patient daily pace was one of the tools of the artist, it blew my mind. I’ve been pondering the Thimble Theater books, actually, so I appreciated your observation about the repetition.

      • Nice to meet you too – I discovered your site through a link from Sheila O’Malley, and immediately found great stuff about comics, which I’m very passionate about.

        Just to be clear, I’d never steer anyone away from Thimble Theater. E.C. Segar was one of the great artists and comedians of the comic strip, and I get equal amounts of joy from his drawings (Popeye punching people is pretty much the height of comic strip art) and his clever linguistic manglings. But it’s very obvious, reading those daily strips, that he never intended anyone to look at his work in this way. That’s a “problem” in a lot of old comic strips, where the narratives are constantly taking small steps forward and backward at once, trying to make sure that somebody who skipped Tuesday’s strip wouldn’t be lost on Wednesday. I solve this dilemma by reading in small doses, though I’m nowhere near patient enough to do it truly one day at a time.

        Some of the old adventure strip guys were better at balancing those rhythms. Milton Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates reads surprisingly well in collected form, because despite it being a pretty complex narrative at times, there’s much less of that repetition, except with the inevitable Sundays, which caused all sorts of problems for continuity comics and which various creators solved in different ways. I guess Caniff was more confident that people would be following along every day, so for the most part his stories just charge along fearlessly forward.

  2. Pingback: A Peanuts Week « Peel Slowly

  3. Pingback: Peanuts Week Begins « Peel Slowly

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