Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by guy incognito, Feb 5, 2007.
is being reprinted in newspapers this week.
In all my years of reading PEANUTS, it's the first time I've ever seen Snoopy's dog house portrayed anywhere else other than standing on its own with nothing around it.
In fact, one rarely sees much more than a front door of a house portrayed...it's unusual to see that much of a building.
You know, mass popularity in any art form is often off-putting. I think many of us are guilty of looking down our noses at wildly popular music, film, art, whatever...and imagining we're more hip because we like the obscure, the offbeat.
But I have nothing but pity for those I've seen who try to take this approach to PEANUTS. Sure, when you draw 17,000+ strips over nearly 50 years, not every one of them is gonna be brilliant. But I think Schulz's achievements over that time are nothing short of remarkable on several levels.
I can nearly always find something to appreciate in any given strip, even if it's only how he says so much with a simple penstroke. And after all this time, there are still strips that can absolutely make me laugh out loud...and others that can move me greatly.
My favorite storylines are when Sally talks to the wall of the school, Lucy's "fussbudget" phase, and the kite eating tree.
I liked when Snoopy disclosed his Van Gogh (and subsequent fire), Joe Cool, and some of the earlier Woodstock stuff.
Yeah, this is a great storyline. I was also always a sucker for the Linus/Great Pumpkin storylines that came out in the early 60s each October.
The only other comic strip I ever read that touched me as much as Peanuts was "Calvin and Hobbes". It's a testimony to Charles Schulz's brilliance that he could do it for so many many many years. Bill Watterson did it for a decade or so, and just ran out of steam at the end, though I think his work right to the end was brilliant.
My two favorite strips of all time are Peanuts and Bloom County. They couldn't be more differen't, but I love and cherish them both.
Sadly, the local Glens Falls paper only carries Peanuts on Sunday, but the dailies run in the Albany Times Union. You would think that a tried and true strips like Peanuts would be a given for the funny pages.
I remember that one well. Snoopy was afraid to leave his doghouse and eventually Charlie Brown and Lucy had to coax him out with a Pizza.
I think Schulz started to run out of ideas around the time he introduced Rerun in the mid 70's. I know the strip certainly wasn't as good as it had been. And I pretty much stopped reading it when Spike and Belle came along whenever that was. Early 80's?
Peanuts Glory Years (for me) were 1955-1975.
I had not ever visited the Snoopy site. Great fun! Some great wallpapers.
Without even looking at it, after I saw your header I thought "The Icicle of Doom!"
The Spike years were depressing. There were strips that seemed to go on for days with just Spike out in the desert. Too much Sprike. Too much Snoopy. Snoopy is okay, he's like the Kramer of Peanuts. But the focus should be on the kids.
I generally agree with your last two statements. The long flights of fancy with the Red Baron, et al, grow old for me quickly. The strip is best when it's grounded in the kids' reality.
I enjoyed the flights of fancy, especially the World Famous Author. But Spike really did nothing for me.
Come to think of it, Rerun bothered me at least as much as Spike.
Actually, I'd prefer that NO newspapers run "Peanuts". Don't get me wrong: I adore the strip, as I think it's the greatest comic strip ever to exist. (I love "Calvin and Hobbes" too, but "Peanuts" is and always will be the king.)
However, I think it's a waste to offer reruns in the paper - let's get NEW strips in there. Maybe the next great thing isn't getting a chance because that space is going to decades old "Peanuts" strips. We can read and re-read "Peanuts" all we want - it's not tough to find compilations - so I don't like the continued prominence of "Peanuts" in the daily paper...
What bothered me was that Rerun could disappear for years at a time without anyone noticing, then reappear for a week or two, then disappear again. Like Eric Forman's sister on That '70s Show.
My favorite is Snoopy is his "buzzard" period.
And I agree with oatsdad - you'll never give that "next" Charles Schultz a chance if you're using that space for the "last" one.
My favorite Snoopy strip is when he is trying to show Charlie Brown how "tough" he can be by letting out a large "growl"!!!! No one is affected. He continues to "growl" for the next several panels...each one getting less intimidating until the end when he just looks so perplexed and says..."growl?"
Great visual to it.
My personal favorite Peanuts storyline is still the one where Charlie Brown develops a rash that makes his head look more like a baseball and gets elected summer camp president while wearing a sack on his head. While we're on the subject, there's an interesting appreciation of the later years of Schulz's run excerpted at The Comics Journal's site.
I forgot all about that one. Great stuff. I also like anything with Charlie Brown and The Little Red Haired Girl. There was another hilarious sequence when Charlie Browne wouldn't leave the pitcher's mound and the whole file flooded and he was still out there.
I don't know about you guys, but I've been collecting the books being put by Fantagraphics. Those books are excellent. I've been getting the 2-book sets. They seem to be putting out two books a year and one set for Christmas.
As an aside, I started reading the books when I was seven years old. Those books were actually the first reading I did for pleasure. However, now that I'm an adult, I think there are a lot of mature themes in those strips. Of course, its nothing compared to the kind of stuff out now. Nonetheless, I think I gravitated to Peanuts because they dealt with many negative themes: rejection, depression, anxiety, complaining, hopelessness, etc.... I became depressed in my teens and have dealt with depression for the past twenty-odd years. I don't attribute this to Peanuts (as opposed to Nancy, or Family Circus, or whatever). Rather, I think my attraction to the strip was a result of my negativity, even at the age of 7, 8, 9... Later, when I learned that Charles Shultz also struggled with depression I began to think that his work had a certain syncronicity with my depressive tendencies which I why I had to every single book.
Favorite Peanuts gag
My favorite gag was when a solar eclipse was coming.
And all week, the gang was stating the dangers of
looking directly at the sun.
They even showed how to make a viewer using two sheets
of cardboard, punching a pin hole in one sheet,
and then projecting the light from the pin hole
onto the other piece of cardboard.
The capper to the week opened with Linus putting on
a raincoat and walking out of the house into a downpour.
Entering a field we see Charlie Brown soaking wet,
standing in the rain, holdinig two limp pieces of cardboard.
"So. How's the Eclipse, Charlie Brown?", asks Linus.
i loved Charlie Brown's obsession with Joe Shlabotnik, his favorite baseball player. what a great name that Schulz thought up.
from wikipedia, this is a great summation that will surely bring back some memories:
"Joe Shlabotnik is an unseen baseball player in the world of Charles M. Schulz's long-running comic strip, Peanuts. Charlie Brown considers Joe his favorite player, and spends much of his free time trying to hunt down Joe memorabilia – baseball cards, autographs, personal meetings, etc. Charlie Brown even organized a Joe Shlabotnik Fan Club, complete with a newsletter that folded after one issue. Linus once invited Shlabotnik to a testimonial dinner for Charlie Brown; unfortunately, the ballplayer got lost en route from his day job at a car wash. Another time he was scheduled to appear at a sports banquet where fans could dine with their favorite athletes (the guest list included Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Jack Nicklaus, and Peggy Fleming), and Charlie Brown, Linus, and Snoopy bought tickets to sit at Joe's table. He was the only athlete who didn't show up, explaining later that he had marked the wrong event, city, and date on his calendar.
Shlabotnik was demoted to the minor leagues after hitting .004 over an entire season; his one hit was a bloop single with his team comfortably ahead. One time he promised to hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth; he popped out instead, but circled the bases anyway. His greatest achievements included making spectacular plays on routine fly balls and throwing out a runner who had fallen down between first and second.
After being sent down to Stumptown of the Green Grass League, Shlabotnik eventually retired as a player and agreed to manage the Waffletown Syrups. Sadly, Joe was fired after only one game, after calling for a squeeze play—with no one on base.
One memorable 1960s Peanuts comic strip (which to this day a blown up copy is still on display at the Topps Company) shows Charlie Brown buying five dollars worth of baseball cards (in 500 penny packs) to get a card of Shlabotnik. Charlie Brown frantically rips open all the packs and does not get one. Lucy then buys one penny pack and much to Charlie Brown's dismay, finds Shlabotnik in her one and only pack. To add insult to injury, he offers her every card he owns in trade, but Lucy, knowing nothing about baseball, refuses to trade and maintains, "He's kind of cute." After Charlie Brown leaves in obvious misery, Lucy throws the card into a dumpster, claiming, "He wasn't as cute as I thought.""
I also thought first of the icicle when I saw the thread title.
I liked some of the "The Psychologist is In" strips. I also liked Peppermint Patty. She's not as hilarious, but in ways a more rounded character than some others who could descend to one-joke status.
Here's an interesting article claiming the strip was great, but went downhill when Snoopy came to prominance, called "Against Snoopy."
I have my own counter-arguments -- i.e. Snoopy does have an interesting character, but it is an odd one, sort of amoral (kind of like a real dog), totally satisfied by his own imagination (until things get sappy with Woodstock). Still, I think the essay I linked is thought-provoking.
There was a beautiful one-frame strip when (dying) Schultz ended the strip, something like a snowman playing violin as he melted. Sad, but somehow a little funny too.
I hate to say it, but I basically agree with the article. I wouldn't say that there was purpose for Snoopy. He was good for comic relief. He was equivalent of the wacky neighbor in sitcoms like Kramer in Seinfeld or Howard Borden in The Bob Newhart Show. Those characters add some novelty and weirdness for the main characters to deal with, but one could never have a whole show about them. In my opinion that's exactly what happened with Peanuts. The wacky neighbor took over the show. I born in 1971, so I was reading all the old stuff years later. My observation was that things started to get wobbly when Woodstock appeared and eventually had all of the frames to himself. I don't think the dividing line is Spike. It was gradual. I think Shultz simply lost his connection with the characters of the kids. I think all of the characters represented some aspect of Shultz, while Snoopy was what what he wished to be.
Snoopy is like Winnie The Pooh is described The Tao Of Pooh. He's always level-headed and in the moment. I think Shultz wanted to be more like Snoopy and less like Charlie Browne, Lucy, Sally, and Linus. I don't know if the gradual focus on Snoopy meant he was achieving his goal of being more like Snoopy, or if it was a manifestation of that wish, or if it was simply a matter of running out of great ideas.
Separate names with a comma.