Jimmy: Hey everybody. Welcome back to Unpacking Peanuts. We're looking at 1953 in detail today. I'm Jimmy Gownley. If you know me at all, you might know me from my comic book series, Amelia Rules or my memoir. The Dumbest Idea Ever. My most recent book is called Seven Good Reasons Not to Grow Up and it's published by Scholastic books.
And I'll be your host for the evening. Joining me as always are my pals and co-hosts. Wwe have the composer for the band Complicated People, as well as for this very podcast and the cartoonist behind Strange Attractors, Tangled River, and A Gathering of Spells. We have Michael Cohen.
Michael: Hey there
Jimmy: Hey Michael, and from the classic television show, Mystery Science Theater 3000,
we have executive producer and writer as well as former vice-president of Archie comics and the creator of the Instagram strip, Sweetest Beasts, Harold Buchholz.
Jimmy: What do you think you guys want to get right to it today?
Harold & Michael: Sure. All right.
Jimmy: So picking up where we left.
March 15th. And we see Snoopy hanging out with the kids. Schroeder is playing on his piano. And again, Snoopy is doing his fantastic dance, and everybody seems to be enjoying his performance. Violet leans over and says to Snoopy, “That was swell, Snoopy, by the way, we're going to serve lunch. Now you'll have to eat in the kitchen.” Snoopy thinks, “the kitchen. How about that? I'm good enough to entertain them, but not good enough to eat in the same room with them. I'll show them. I'll go on home. What do I care about their old lunch?” Violet comes in with a tray of food. “Here you are Snoopy. Three kinds of sandwiches, a salad cake, ice cream and hot chocolate.” Snoopy is shocked and turns around. “Pride is a foolish thing.”
Harold: Yes, he’s enjoying a lovely meal of three kinds of sandwiches on the floor in the kitchen. Yeah,
Michael: Please note, this is the first time Schulz has got the balloons, the Snoopy balloons right.
Harold: That's right.
Jimmy: Snoopy’s thought balloon
Harold: Yeah. I don't think we've seen this for any character actually, to be thinking, using the little, the little scallops edge on the balloon and then he's pretty consistent. And he just has a number of those little, those little, what do you call them? Ovals attached to one another, going down to the head to show thought I'm not sure who was using that at the time was that, that was, must've been very, very common for years.
Right. And then just Schulz Schulz opting in, essentially you say, okay, this is going to be my way of showing thought. But even beyond that, this strip i s really charming. And a lot of ways Snoopy's ears are kind of wonky in this, in this era. They, they look, I don’t know how to describe the shape of them.
He's a, he almost looks like Mickey mouse with the ears, pushed to one side
Jimmy: Yeah, they jut out above the top of his head, which is what makes it strange. Snoopy's ears usually hang from the side. Here they’re more, they’re perky.
Harold: Right. And, but there's some really, really cute drawing in here. The very first panel Snoopy is leaned up, like he's on a bar on Schroeder's little toy piano.
That's clearing his throat-- I don't know why he needs to clear his throat before he dances. But in any case, he's, he's taking all of the all of the attention drinking it in and then it's fun to see Snoopy getting into that kind of that, that silly, happy thing that is going to Schulz is really going to figure out design wise, how to take that to the nth level in a few years to come.
But still just seeing Snoopy doing his cossack dance is adorable. And then the, the next to last panel of Snoopy show thinking about he would be able to eat the sandwiches if he was willing to go into the kitchen. And he has two exclamation points coming out of his head and not as thoughts, but as the, with the little word, word pointers don't know exactly what that is.
But that also was a, I think probably he was probably looking at a lot of these strips trying to figure out how he was going to do this. But does that drawing of Snoopy with, with his kind of surprise and his ears popped up, make you think of any other cartoonist or any other. It
Michael: definitely looks different than Schulz. I was thinking it's almost a Mickey Mouse thing.
Jimmy: It's very Mickey Mouse. The other thing is the angles on the snout in this, like it's, it's, it's, his characters are so rounded and Snoopy he's actually squaring off the snout and stuff like that. I can't think of any specific cartoonists. Oh, maybe someone like Patrick MacDonald.
Harold: Well, w I can't fully explain why this made me think of it, but I think of Harold Gray’s Sandy from Little Orphan Annie.
Jimmy: Well, I'm a little orphan agnostic, so I don't, I don't, I don't, I don't, I don't know much about that strip.
Harold: Well then we'll let that go. Maybe there's some listeners who would look at that and go, I know that's Krazy Kat or that Thimble theater,
Jimmy: Well he was a huge Harold Gray fan certainly. You know, the funny thing about using thought balloons is that I think sometimes when you're trying to be really progressive thinking in your art form, and you're trying to come up with new things all the time, sometimes you do miss the obvious right in front of you. Cause the thought balloon just works perfectly.
Harold: Yeah. Yeah. It really-- particularly that fourth panel when we see the very first thought before. And Snoopy is just being surprised and hurt to hear that he has to go into the kitchen to eat his his snack is just adorably drawn. You really feel for Snoopy there. The indignance and the shock.
March 28th Patty and Violet approachCharlie Brown, Violet asks, “would you like to join our club? Charlie Brown?” Charlie Brown, enthusiastically answers, “Why sure, absolutely. I'm very flattered that you should ask me.” Patty and Violet whisper in conference. They tell Charlie Brown, “we just took a vote. You've been rejected” says, Patty.
Michael: this is another variant on that same joke. The party. Yeah. I mean, they're clearly out to get him and he's kind of a patsy. I mean, he, he doesn't seem to realize he's being set up.
Harold: Yeah. It seems like in previous strips he would, he would fight back with a little bit of edge himself and he's, he's starting to gradually lose that more and more as the strips progression, he's just being worn down.
Jimmy: He also looks out at us again with his look of chagrin on it, on his face.
Harold: Yeah. Now this one I would say is looking at us that I don't get to get him looking just slightly off camera. That's that looks pretty direct.
Michael: That’s the Jack Benny move.
Harold: And you feel for him? Yeah. Right. The other thing, this is, so cartoonist talk here, but one thing that Schulz is doing at this time, and I, I don't even remember or know if this is something that he ever altered. There's some people who are experts in lettering and making the word balloons that they just make a living doing only that, they say that you're the little tail that comes off of the balloon should point at the mouth of the character. And Schulz is not doing that at this point. Charlie Brown in the second panel, it's pointing up above the hair, on his head.
It's like to the top of his head.
And that just struck me as something that, I don't know if Schulz in time made any kind of bow to that general thought that you should point that pointerr at the mouth. I mean, and Schulz did do lettering for comic strips as you know, for a number of years. Well, maybe a couple of years anyway, but just before he got into doing Peanuts, I have a couple of examples of that from topics.
And he, his responsibility was to letter usually the entire, almost the entire book. So he was a sort of a lettering expert. And I'll talk about that a little bit later, as we get into strips coming, going forward. Because the lettering is going to shift. There's going to be a shift in the lettering this year that signifies something.
Jimmy: Allright. Very exciting.
May 1st Schroeder is performing a top his piano. He is playing and singing in German. “Freude, schöner Götterfunken,Tochter aus Elysium.” Lucy comes up to Schroeder and says, “Say, Schroeder, isn't today the day you promised to come over and play Three Blind Mice for my baby brother?” Schroeder picks up his toy piano under his arm and scowls, as he walks off behind Lucy saying “only three years old and already I'm forced to go commercial.”
Jimmy: How about that? I sang in German.
Michael: and I'm impressed. I am totally impressed.
Jimmy: I relate to this on every level first off. I love the-- It's a, it's a hugely important piece of music for me, which is what Schroeder is singing here. And as, I don't know if everybody knows this, but I know Michael knows this. It's also what you sing if you're being attacked by a tiger, as the Beatles taught us in Help. So I love that. But to me, this is like Schulz-- this is the difference between being an artist and being a commercial artist, right? Schulz is there blissing himself out in the form of singing for no one, just for the act of performing music.
It's obviously this high art, because it's, it's lettered with this beautiful sort of Gothic script which this font was the first one I learned. I took a calligraphy class in college as part of my art major. And this particular font was the first one we learned, you know, but you can't live there your whole time.
You're going to have to make a buck. So Schroeder grudgingly goes off and writes three blind mice, by the way, you can buy any of my Disney books right now on amazon.com.
May 7th Shermy and Charlie Brown are watching as Patty is playing marbles, as she's about to strike with her shooter. She says, “Wait a minute, what's this? She picks up one of the marbles and sniffs it and says, “all right, who put the mothball in the ring.”
Harold: I will say one thing I do love about this strip is panel two.
That is again, design-- it's it's low in the panel. Nothing is touching the top of the panel. And to me it looks gorgeous. I don't know why.
Jimmy: It is gorgeous. The other thing is doesn't have the tail points in the mouth again. So clearly that does not something he is concerned with at all.
May 15th, Charlie Brown is sitting on the curb saying “Nobody loves me. Everybody hates me.” He walks with his head bowed low and says, “Sometimes I get so depressed.”Just then Snoopy walks by the other way. And Charlie Brown says, but all it takes to cheer me up is a smile from a dog. And we do see a little smile on Snoopy's face.
Harold: Okay. And the raised eyebrow, little, little Snoopy encouragement there.
So my note on this strip is awww.
Michael: It’s a Harold strip.
Harold: It's a Harold, it's definitely a Harold strip. I love that Charlie Brown. This is it's got the classic Charlie Brown in this, this issue is just coming up over and over again. Who loves you? They're asking each other, do you love. Multiple characters are doing it to one another.
And Charlie Brown is in his kind of depressed mode and he says, he's sometimes I get so depressed, but a little less characteristic of later Schulz is kind of cool that Snoopy kind of helps get him out of his bunk.
Jimmy: Well, I bet you were going to, you picked it because it seems like a proto Happiness is a warm puppy.
Harold: Oh well, it certainly is. Yeah. I think Schulz did go to these places. And for some reason, they, they, they hit 10 times harder because of everything else he's put in there before, you know, where, when someone isn't isn't fulfilled, someone isn't satisfied, someone isn't pulled out of some dark place.
I think the fact that when it does happen, it feels makes, it makes both sides feel more real. And I just really unique about Schulz that he he's he'll he'll play in all different areas of of the, that kind of mindset, you know, that you, sometimes you can get out of it. Sometimes you're stuck in it.
You know, I've seen strips and artists who will just get into one mood and they'll never stop. It's unrelenting and Schulz is kind of bouncing around here with his characters. So I think it's nice how it, how the characters are just feeling richer and richer as we get to know them.
Jimmy: Yeah, he's just aiming for something much higher.
So he is going to try to incorporate just more of life. You know, as much as he's looking for themes, he's looking for those themes to offset and balance each other as well. You know, it's different notes on a keyboard and he he's trying to play them all.
Harold: Yeah. And I really appreciate that. And, and, and also as we were talking about the tails of the balloons, it looks like the stripes on his shirt are talking in the last panel.
Jimmy: In my very first comic that I didn't know, I was 15, there was a really unfortunate word balloon that's coming right out of,
May 16th. Charlie Brown approaches Patty. He's holding up a piece of paper andsays “Here, take a look at my first comic. The bird is eating this worm,see, and this other bird says to him, how can you eat that worm? It looks just like spaghetti.” Charlie Brown walks off disgruntledl. “My humor is too subtle for the average reader.”
Michael: I mean, Patty's looking in the third panel is like, What?
Harold: she's appealing to us. This is another Oliver Hardy moment. Isn't it? She's like “You get what this guy's saying?”
Jimmy: But what's strange about this strip is ), it's not his first comic strip. He's already done this and b) he's already done the punchline of nobody gets me. Very strange, but I do love that drawing of Patty in panel three.
Harold: Yeah. That is the beginning of so many Schulz strips. And with a repeat of something we've heard before, like I can't stand it was a classic. How many times was that used as the 4th panel?
Jimmy: Right. The uh Patty's doll is horrifying looking. That doll is definitely haunting her at night. I would sleep with one eye open if I had that doll in my room.
May 27th. Patty says to Charlie Brown, “did you hear about Violet falling off her tricycle?” “ Hear about it” says Charlie Brown. “I was there.” Charlie Brown continues. “I told her she was going too fast. I warned her. I told her, I told her again and again, I know what tricycles can do. I warned her a dozen time. I said to her, I know all about tricycles and I…”. Patty interrupts. “the wrong person fell off that tricycle.” Charlie Brown says, “what, what do you mean? Huh? What? Huh?”
Michael: Yeah. This is another example of that trait of Charlie Brown's that disappears pretty quick. He totally self-centered.
Jimmy: Very self-centered and again, it explains why people don’t like him.
Harold: and it's a sign of, of his own kind of self satisfaction mixed in with his insecurity.
It's, it's such an interesting overlapping time when, when we've seen both aspects of him, but there's also something I would like to point out in this strip. It's not the first one that does it, but this was this is, it really jumps out to me in this particular one, something has changed in the lettering that's going to live for the rest of the strip. What is it guys?
Michael: I do not see lettering.
Jimmy: You do not see lettering? Okay, so I'm looking at, well, I don't have a great version of this, but I'm assuming it's, it looks, it looks bouncier here from this little JPEG I'm looking at, is it the rounded curves on the A's and stuff? Oh it’s the Ws
Harold: Loads of W's in here and he was doing the classic pointy V double V the w and all of a sudden, not all of a sudden, he sees been messing with it this month. And this is, this is a, a strip where it works. There's tons of Ws in this particular strip. And to me, that rounded w is having to do with Schulz starting to work looser and faster.
Jimmy: Yeah. 100%. It seems like such a small thing. Right. But to construct a w In the way he was previously doing it. You have to draw a line, pick your pen up, draw another line, pick your pen up, draw another line, pick your pen up, draw another one, thinking about it. Right. And you have to do that every time you create a w. This is one line.
Harold: it's willing to go there. It's just, it's fascinating. You go back, you know, earlier in the. And he'll bounce around a little bit for a while longer and he'll start out maybe with the little v the W's and then he'll have a stray rounded, w he's kind of not conscious he's doing it when he was working for Topics that, that, that Catholic children's comic in the late forties and early fifties, he used, he used a lot of rounded W's then.
And he was working fast. I mean, he was, he was trying to turn that stuff out fast for them, but not only do you see it in the lettering? I say, starting from here on out more or less than people you guys can agree or disagree with me. I see a loosening of the general art style. I see that the lines start to, to have a little bit more freedom.
There's a little less design precision as he goes forward. This is like a major turning point for him where I don't know if he's doing it consciously or as Jim was saying, he's doing it because of maybe having three kids and trying to juggle a couple different jobs and some new things that are coming along, like, you know, book proofs, he has to go through all of this other stuff and having this active community life with his friends at, you know, at the art instruction schools and the church.
And is it a time issue? I don't know, but it does seem like certainly Schulz embraces this idea of letting your tools determine the look of things, something that looks, I think Jim you've almost described it as a, as the art almost looks like a signature. It was like he's using lettering tools or things that would have been used for lettering, like a school dip pen in India ink for he he's, he's got.
He's letting the tool, tell him what to do a little bit more, I think and, and not fighting it to make it do what he sees in his head. And there's a slow gradual movement here. And I do think that something that Schulz really embraced over time and he really did enjoy finding unique tools that other people weren't using in some cases to make it look only the way he did it and that he's not going to give that tool up for anything once he's found that. But I just find this a fascinating period where his style is just starting to turn that corner from being super designy, to being a looser freer. And he, and I'm thinking he's working faster, you know?
Jimmy: Well, definitely, you know, the other couple things about that, I, I got to do a Peanuts strip a few years ago for the 65th anniversary, a book that B oom studios put out. And I thought, well, I want to see if I could do it with Schulz tools. So I, I went online to a vintage stationary store and found the pen nib that he, he bought the whole factories worth.
When the company went out of business Esterbrook, the thing about it is. It's difficult to use. I found it very difficult to use until I started realizing it's it's a penmanship pen. So there's very specific ways you have to hold a pen if you're inking with a crow quill pen, like the Hunt 10 2 or something like.
And this you, write. You draw with it like you're writing and it does. It allows you to go very quickly and the faster you go, actually, the better the line looks. And I do think there's an element of him taking some of that spontaneity, whether it's practical reasons or artistic reasons and converting it here to the lettering, which was like a C3 nib.
I think he used for this. The other cartoonist to who went to this style of lettering partway through their work is, is Jaime Hernandez in Love and R ockets. I love it. I started going to the the rounded W's and M's and stuff fairly recently. And I just think it, it gives a really lively and bouncy look. It just looks like somebody is having fun.
Harold: Yeah, it, it, yeah. I can't even put my finger on it. Exactly. But yeah, it does feel just looser and freer and I love it. I got some of those pen nibs as well. I think around the same time you did, Jim, I think you told me about it. And I, the thing that strikes me is when. 'cause I wasn't very good with dip pens ever.
I certainly tried when I was a kid back, back in the seventies and eighties, when it, that was the thing like you, weren't a real cartoonist, if you didn't use these types of dip pens or a brush, which I hadn't had gone there, the brush is a whole other amazing tool to work with. That is hard to learn.
And I I just remember when I started to try to draw Peanuts characters with that pen nib all of a sudden they looked like Peanuts characters. I was like the nib. It was like, I was following the nib and I was saying, oh, I get it. I get what he's doing. I kinda got a chill thinking about it because wow.
You know, he, this is the, this is the tool that led him to where he ultimately went with this art.
Jimmy: Yeah. A hundred percent. And it's interesting when you say you're following the tool and stuff, because when you're creating something like, oh, we were talking in last episode about, you know, creating graphic novels from scratch and stuff like that.
There's so much that you have to consider on every single page. There's a lot he does not have to. If he says I am only using a regular number two pencil, and I'm using these two pens and this particular bottle of ink. There's always four panels that are always the exact same size. There's a lot of thought that he, that is already gone away, that he doesn't have to think about.
Now it's all just about the content and he can make, if you're going to commit yourself to one pen and draw with it every single day, you're going to become a virtuoso If you have drawing ability, just because 10,000 hours will
Harold: be. And the stories we heard does he, when you get into down years down the road, I, I don't know how long he might be spending on a strip here, but I'm guessing he was spending up to 10 times the time he was spending, let's say in the late sixties or early seventies, where I, I read somewhere or heard somewhere that he, he could do a certain strips in like 15 minutes.
June 12th. Lucy is sitting eating some cookies. She says to Charlie Brown, “Hey Charlie Brown, how about a drink of your milk?”. Charlie Brown.”Oh, good grief.” But he gives in and feeds the Lucy a glass milk. All right here, he actually pours it into her mouth. “There's nothing like a glass of milk with cookie crumbs floating in it.” he says.
Harold: as we see. Lucy going, chomp, chom p
Jimmy: continuing her cookie eating lifestyle,
Harold: man, this again, this just makes me think of a Charles Schulz who is now living among filthy grimy children. And when he'd grown up with the fastidiousness yeah, I was, he always comes across as rather fastidious. Like he's always dressed.
Everything is ironed and pressed. It may be informal, but I just got. Just kind of feel for Charles Schulz here as he's, he's coming into the world. Again, this, this is coinciding with the looseness in the art he's now having to live in a world that is pretty loose compared to probably what he had. He grew up with things are messier and looser when you have kids.
Jimmy: Yeah He's probably the only cartoonist who comes off more like a dentist. Cartoonists were kind of a rough and tumble bunch. And Schulz is very, very sweaters and khaki pants.
June 21st Linus is to sitting, playing with two blocks. He thinks to himself “easy now. Oh, rats” a block falls off. the other. Linus is very upset. “I'll never be able to do it” he thinks. “I'd like to kick these blocks clear across the room. I do it too. If I knew how to stand up.” He continues to try to balance the blocks. “I'll try it just once more. There. I did it. I did it.” He's so happy. “I put one block on top of the other. I wonder if this has ever been done before” he thinks to himself looking very happy indeed. “Here comes Lucy. She'll be so proud of me when she sees what I've done.” Lucy comes in and says to Linus “Mother wants us to pick up all our toys, Linus. As long as you're not playing with these blocks, I'll put them away too.” Lucy takes his blocks away and Linus sits there forlorn. He sighs.
Michael: Sigha. I dunno since we're skipping around a little bit, I don't know if this is actually the first time he's thinking we have words coming out of his brain and there really-- it’s not a little kid thinking, it's an adult. He knows everything, a grammar, he knows lots of words. He just can't talk.
Harold: Which just makes, just amplifies the frustration you feel for him, because he's got all this stuff in his head and he cannot communicate it to anybody else.
And that's the story of the first half of 1953 for Linus. He's just constantly thwarted from being able to communicate or connect. So it's just, it's just been a year of frustration for Linus. No one understands his needs his aspirations, and we'll see that turn as soon as you get into July.
Michael: And do you see the secret message in panel four?
Jimmy: Ooh, no
Michael: Llad. A dog.
Harold: Lhad a dog. Oh, was it Terhune? This was a Peyton Terhune, a guy. We get to mention him again in every single episode.
Jimmy: And we'd also like to mention, we are starting that podcast as well.
Harold: Albert Payson Terhune podcast.
Jimmy: It'll be a companion piece to Misunderstanding Mary Worth.
July 3rd Linus is actually standing up. He's balancing on a coffee table and reaching towards a plant. Charlie Brown says “Linus is growing up. Isn't he?” Lucy says “pretty soon he'll be bigger than I am.” Charlie Brown says, “then he'll get revenge for all the mean tricks you’ve pulled on him. Lucy says, I know, slow approaching doom.
Michael: That's our title for the episode.
Harold: Slow Approaching Doom
Jimmy: Oh, that's it.
Harold: And yet it doesn't really turn out to be that way, right. Because of the nature of who Linus winds up being he's he's really generally not one to try to torment his, his sister too much. I guess there are probably some examples. Right. But it's but I just, I think this is hilarious that Lucy understands the consequences of her, your child childlike actions against her little brother. And oh, and one other thing, as we're talking about lettering and balloons, is there anything about panel three that stands out to you guys.
Jimmy: they don't connect,
Harold: yeah which is a huge thing for, for Charles Schulz that set him apart from just about every other cartoonist is everybody would connect the two points at the tail that we're going toward the person who's speaking.
And then Schulz and abandons that for this other. Again, it's a, it's a look that allows you to be looser and freer. You don't have to nail nail the second piece to hit, right on top of the first one. If you keep it open, there's a whole range of things that suggest I meant to do that. And it's odd that that particular panel in this loosening process that I'm seeing both of those. Both of those balloons are open. And that's, I think our first where you see two of those together in a Peanuts strip.
Jimmy: Yeah. I have to say, I find in this year I find Lucy's design coming and going. I don't think he has a a hundred percent grasp on Lucy's design.
Harold: What do you see changing?
Jimmy: the way her neck connects with her head in some instances is different.
The size of her head is different and the relation of the hair to the head is a little different.
Harold: she she's definitely growing up.
Jimmy: I think he might be, he might be trying to differentiate her from Violet too.
Harold: yeah. Yeah, yeah. I guess it depends on what her role is, right? If she's she's an older sister or if she's the little kid who's crying or you know, that, that he will mess with the, how many heads high she is this a little bit, but yeah, I see what you’re saying.
July 5th, Charlie Brown is hanging out on the curb. Shermy comes up and says, “Hey Charlie Brown, aren't you coming with me?” “Nope, not today” says Charlie Brown. “Tomorrow, maybe” he says as he walks away, “but not today.” Charlie Brown goes for a walk saying to himself. “Sometimes I just like to be alone. Someday I'll probably go away. I'll go so far away. Nobody will ever see me.” Now he's out in the sticks. “Gee, it's kind of lonesome way out here.” Suddenly he looks upset and starts running. “I was wrong, I guess I'm just not the kind to be alone. This is where I belong. This is what I like.” He's back in the sandbox, surrounded by kids, “the hustle and bustle of the city.”
Michael: With maybe one exception this is the first time he's had outside characters other than his main cast.
Harold: Yeah. So you don't think the girl on the right is Violet. That would wouldn't make sense. It's just the girl. It kind of looks like Violet.
Jimmy: No, that's Violet, Violet, Patty are in there and so is Schroeder, but all the other characters are no name
Harold: So which one is Shroeder? Oh, I see. Over on the left, the second to the left. So that’s odd that, yeah. So he's, he's come back home. He's not just going to a place that's nearby on his way home. This is home, right?
Michael: Well, he needed, he needed some cast for the gag to work. He needed a crowd.
Jimmy: What do you think about the design Michael of those guys?
Michael: It’s Little Folks.
Jimmy: Yeah. Yeah. We see someone wearing like the little crown that almost Jughead-style crown, which is odd. And we see glasses, which is the, we later see with Linus. Having those style glasses,
Harold: have we ever discussed the Schulz's unique punctuation of the two dots after a statement instead of like one dot for a period three dots for a continuation of her pause and a thought she's got like four times in this Sunday strip the two dots after which he seems to be. He deliberates on this stuff, you know, it's not.
Michael: And panel three there's no period on Charlie Brown’s sentence. No, I haven't been, oh no, I'm looking at up ahead. A lot of times he leaves out the period.
Jimmy: For example in panel five here, he does leave out the period. That's I never
Harold: Hhe does like zero, two and three. And I remember one story. I think it was later in his career. When somebody put in a comma or took out a comma at the syndicate before they sent it out to the, to the newspapers and boy did that person get get a talking to from Schulz.
He's like nobody touches. Nobody touches my stuff.
Jimmy: Yeah. I know that person.
Harold: That's right. That's right. I'd forgotten who that was.
Jimmy: Oh, maybe we'll have them on some day. That would be amazing. So you're
Harold: not going to name names now
Jimmy: . No, I'm not going to name names. The other thing I will say about this though, and that first panel, the lettering Shermy that looks like it came out of 1970 Peanuts.
It's it's if you really want to compare, just look at some of the strips from a few weeks before, and then look at Shermy on. On July. What is it? Fifth here? Yeah, that that's some prime period Peanuts lettering.
Harold: Yeah, it looks again, it does look looser, a little, little freer, and it looks like every w is rounded again.
And so he's looks like he's committing himself.
Michael: No, he's not. Cause the one, well, it was a Sunday. So the Sundays might've been done ahead of time on the one with Linus on the floor, the, the old jagged w’s are back.
Harold: Yeah, so he’s bouncing back and forth here. And I wonder, I wonder if Schulz ever withheld a strip or he had like a little bit of a stash and then he picked which ones he wanted to put out as like a group or if he just did them all the way through.
I don't know of, I don't ever remember ever saying that he, I knew he, he get ahead of himself sometimes if he wanted to go on vacation or something, or he was just thinking of lots of good ideas, but I never heard of him actually taking something and holding it, or, you know, waiting til he, you know, this is a good set of six for Monday through Saturday or anything.
It seemed like he went straight ahead, but it’d be interesting to know if he ever did.
Jimmy: I think he’s definitely just exploring because yeah, it does come and go on the next couple of strips as we see.
Harold: Yeah. Cause the Sundays would be what about two to four weeks earlier than a daily would be around that Sunday because of the, the, all of the coloring process they had to prep for the Sunday, Sunday sections of the newspapers?
July 22nd. Charlie Brown is reading a book. Violet looks on angrily. “I was right. I was right.” says Charlie Brown. “See the dictionary proves I was right. Ha what do you think of that?” Violet turns and says to Charlie Brown, “You have a homely face.” Violet walks away angry. Charlie Brown looks at us chagrined.
Jimmy: By the way, this is going to be the most use of the word chagrin than any podcast in history. We should to count the number of times. I say chagrined over all the episodes.
Harold: We can use that Google device, right. To track your usage.
Michael: I love this joke.
Jimmy: Well what do you like?
Michael: Well, when logic fails, you use an insult clearly. I mean, it's the best defense.
Jimmy: Well it’s Twitter. I think it's he, it's the first drawing’s really weird because Violet is not on the same plane as Charlie Brown.
It looks like she's actually in the background. But she's looking at Charlie Brown, right? It looks like it's just,
Michael: I think she's looking away from him. She's so angry.
Jimmy: Oh, I see.
Michael: It's still weird.
Jimmy: It is pretty weird.
August 6th. Lucy is standing on the street crying. Patty walksby. She says to Lucy, “What happened? Lucy? Did you fall down? Huh? Did you trip? Did you skin your knee? Did you fall? Are you all right?” Patty continues. “Are you hurt Lucy? Where are you hurt? Huh? What happened?” Lucy says, “Nothing happened. I'm not hurt. I'm just depressed. Waah.”
Michael: Another hilarious depression joke.
Jimmy: Listen, if you're going to go to a well of hilarious things, depression's gotta be the top .
Now he's giving it to Lucy though. Which is not something you would ever associate with Lucy going forward. If she does have depression issues, it does manifest as anger. Well, I mean, see, look at that third panel that or that, not the third, that fourth panel. That just looks weird to me. Like the placement of the ears looks weird.
The way her chin interacts with her neck looks weird. All of Lucy seems strange to me if she comes in and out of focus a little bit.
Harold: Hmm. It's interesting. I saw that in Snoopy a little bit as well through the, through the year.
September 20th, Charlie Brown is looking at Snoopy and he's holding in his hand a camera. “How can I take your picture? If you're going to sit way over there, come up closer.” Snoopy comes a right up to the camera. A smile on his face. “No, not that close. Move away.” Snoopy scowls. “Now don't scowl. Snoopy, please.” Snoopy makes a dumb, ridiculous grin. “And don't give me that silly grin and don't turn your head. Look at the camera.” Now, Snoopy is just frolicking upside down. “Try to hold still Snoopy for once in your life. See if you can cooperate.” Snoopy does. Charlie Brown continues,”just act natural. Smile. Huh, there that's fine. Ready?” Click. Snoopy makes a grimace. Charlie Brown is upset. His head in his hands, his whole body on the floor saying, “oh, I can't stand it” as Snoopy laughs.
Michael: I think this might be the beginning of that. Snoopy's kind of rubber balloon face shape where the extended snout. Cause now he can get. I mean that the second to last panel I've seen that later on, him do that expression.
Jimmy: Yeah, for sure. It's weird though. We're still having that sort of slightly angular, drawn Snoopy, and his scowl harkens back to the, his fantastic Beethoven/Larry Fine impression from last year. And he's frolicking upside down, which is you know, he's completely disobeying the laws of physics, which is something that later on you would expect, but this is a more grounded world.
Michael: Not anymore.
Harold: Yeah. And he doesn't do the that's that's squash and stretch stuff.
So the second to last panel, Michael, you were, you were mentioning that this is the longest snout in Snoopy we've ever seen for the sake of the gag of a long face for Charlie Brown’s pictures of Snoopy, that where he looks very dull and uninteresting but you do get the impression that when Schulz drew that maybe he was thinking, oh, that works.
And from here on out, Snoopy's snout’s going to get a little more rubbery a little while.
Jimmy: It literally in the next panel, if you compare the last panel Snoopy to the second or first panel, Snoopy, the shape of the snout is different. It's much more angular. And in the earlier ones and more rounded after.
Harold: and thinner.. It's not as as deep. And that's fascinating because you know, very rarely do you get a chance to see in process of a cartoonist’s developm ent where the moment might've been that he had a discovery and we get to share it with him possibly here in this strip. And it's, it's a great joke. It's this one, this is one of the ones I remember reading as a kid.
I didn't get to see a whole lot of the early fifties Peanuts strips, but this one, I remember it very fondly.
Jimmy: Really good one.
November 18th. Linus is sitting next to Snoopy. Snoopy's having a little snooze and Linus smiles at him. He reaches over “tickle, tickle, tickle.” It surprises, Snoopy. Then Snoopy's embarrassed, maybe a little bit annoyed, but Linus is very happy about himself.
And in the last panel Snoopy reaches over with his ear and tickles Linus,” tickle, tickle, tickle” Linus has a goofy, happy grin on his face.
Michael: Another Harold strip
Jimmy: Classic Harold
Harold: Yeah, I mean, and this, this is another historic moment in the strip. This to my knowledge is the first time Linus successfully interacts with another character and speaks. That's a big deal given how long he's been here. It's pretty crazy that it took this long for this little character to have a moment of connection that was positive.
I don't think there is a time before this, and this is like, this is Linus’s moment to finally find a way to connect with another being-- it's a dog, but one of the things also is that Snoopy likes in the second panel that, that Linus is tickling him. But then as Jim read, he’s all blushing, like, Hey, wait a second. I've been taken advantage of here is line assess this super self-satisfied smile.
And you know, this, the fourth panel could have gone any direction really. And I think this is just really adorable that Snoopy, when his ear tickles Linus’s ear that Snoopy's got a little, actually a very big wide smile that they, they are connecting.
Jimmy: Yeah, So Michael, in regards to your Snoopy Watch this at this point, we have to say Snoopy clearly is much, much more than the dog, right?
Michael: Yeah. I mean, he's, he's a joker.
Jimmy: is. Yeah.
November 29th. Lucy is skipping rope, “600 an all time record. Whee!”, She continues to skip rope.. “Nobody can jump rope better than I, nobody, nobody, nobody. I'm the best. There is the best, the very best.” Suddenly someone is counting off panel. Lucy is questioning herself. “698, 699, 700, 701, seven hundred and two seven hundred three.” We see it is actually Linus, who is skipping rope with Patty and Violet. Lucy walks away. “My own baby brother.”
Michael: I never understood the, the second to last panel. Is he he's sitting? He's in a sitting position, but he's bouncing up and down apparently.
Jimmy: I always thought that was weird too. Is it like a bouncing?
Michael: We're not talking gravity, gravity doesn't work in this strip anymore. We know people walk like two inches above the ground and Linus can levitate himself. That second panel is really weird. I mean, that's like Steve Ditko material there, or I guess Jaime, Jaime does stuff like that. Yeah. That's sort of symbolic line underneath.
Jimmy: You know, it's so strange. I have seen this a million actually. I saw it so many times in those old Fossett Press books, which are reformatted. So a lot of times some of the backgrounds are cut away or the panel borders.
Cause I don't recall ever seeing that. That is really odd. It is just a pure abstraction representing the ground.
Michael: It's a way to symbolize someone skipping maybe
Jimmy: Right. And I think it's done with the same tool, the bold lettering pen he's using for the whee above it, it looks like it's the same thickness that he just went down there and sort of sketched in that, that strange wavy line.
I also think again, this is another example where sometimes Lucy seems--. Lucy just, I don't know why it does not seem as well drawn as some of the other characters this year, and I don't mean to harp on it, but like he really has Patty down. He really has Linus down. Lucy just looks odd to me in the first panel.
Michael: I mean, it evolves like everything he does, but no, I, I disagree. I've never, if there are weirdnesses, I've never noticed them.
Jimmy: It’s just part of the, of the tapestry. Now I love the DeLuca effect panel there on the fourth panel of the multiple Lucy skipping ropes.
Michael: Yeah. Yeah. That's the way to define motion. And I don't know if he's ever done that.
Jimmy: I don’t think we've seen that. Yeah. This is like something we see a lot in superhero comics. Of course. It's really nice and putting it right in the center of the strip really gives it some, some visual punch
Michael: Infantino was definitely looking at this for the Flash,
Jimmy: The Flash. What year was it?
Jimmy: So, so that's 1953. Guys, another great year. I don't think it was the explosion of new stuff that we saw in 1952, but certainly a lot of advancements in the craft. Michael, you want to put a capper on this for us? What's what's your takeaway from ‘53?
Michael: Very solid, it's hard to believe it gets so much better. Right now, I can't comprehend. How can you improve on this? But he does by tenfold. It's like, I know mind boggling.
Jimmy: Yeah. And I, I do think someone like I think it was, it was, it was definitely, it was Bill Waterson said that it's not so much that Schulz slipped ever in later life. It was just that after 15 or 20 years, people began to catch up with him. And I do think that's, that's sort of the case, because like you say, it's one after the other, just from a funny cartooning standpoint. They're just great comic strips, but we are just at the beginning of the mountain.
Michael: Yeah. Like I would never-- you can't laugh at a Nancy strip.
You can't laugh out loud at a Nancy strip, but there's like, you know, a big percentage of these are just like, especially if you haven't read them a thousand times, like me, they're hilarious.
Jimmy: Yeah. They are hilarious. They're deep. They're beautifully crafted. They're silly. They, they contain all human life.
They're they're just amazing, amazing examples of, of what a cartoonist can do. Harold, do you have any final thoughts on the year?
Harold: No. I just agree with you guys. I think it's, he's, he's getting better at the craft. That was kind of interesting because there aren't a ton of new developments. We can focus on the craft this year and see that he's just, he's honing his jokes.
He's honing his situations. He's honing his characters and it it's just coming together beautifully.
Jimmy: Yeah, it really is. So listen, before we reveal our, our selections for strip of the year, I just want to remind you all again, if you want to follow along in between episodes, you can, you can follow us at unpackpeanuts on both Instagram and Twitter.
You can check out our website, unpackingPeanuts.com, and that's also where you can buy our books or read our comics and learn a little bit more about us. I also remember, please leave a review and recommend us to any of your friends that enjoy cartoons or comics or podcasts or strange people talking about strange things.
All right. So that's it guys. What are your picks for strip of the year? 1953, Michael, let's start with you.
Michael: For my favorite I'm going back to February 19th and the infamous Georgie Porgie puddin’ and pie strip. To me, this is the funniest gag. It's not the most sophisticated strip of all time. It’s just a great punchline. And it's so Lucy. This wouldn't work for any other character.
Jimmy: No so great. It's, it's such a funny strip and it just, it has to be one of the earliest uses of the term neurotic in a newspaper comic strip kids strip, or otherwise. Harold, how about you? What's your pick?
Harold: Well, this was a tough one. But for a number of reasons, my favorite strip of the year is the March 15th Sunday strip where Snoopy is dancing for the gang minus Shermy and being relegated to the kitchen for his lunch, that he's being treated as a second class citizen in the Peanuts universe. And he had, that's not acceptable to him until the food shows up and then it's acceptable to him. I just think it's really, really adorable that all the characters are there together. It's, it's fun to see Snoopy, you know, getting closer to the Snoopy that we know and love.
And you know, it also is that historic first of the I believe of the thought bubbles, for Snoopy which Schulz uses through the rest of the strip for the next 48 years.
Jimmy: That's a great one too. You know, I find myself agreeing with Michael a lot on strips of the year choices so far, which I'm loath to do.
But that is a great strip for me. This year would be a three-way tie between that one, the five and 10 store. And what actually is my pick for strip of the year, which is Schroeder performing the Ode to Joy before being hauled away to do three blind mice. I don't know. I just particularly enjoyed that strip. I think, I think the lettering is beautiful. I think it's funny. I love the Ode to Joy,
So guys, 1953. This was so much fun. Another great year for Schulz. And another fun time for me getting to talk about this with you guys. So, so thank you so much.
Harold; Thank you.
Michael: Yeah, that's fun. So it's a wrap til next year.
Jimmy: ‘Til next year1954, when all kinds of weird things start happening and there's golf tournament's with adults and who knows what?
So, so join us back here next week for Michael Cohen and Harold Buchholz, I'm Jimmy Gownley. Thanks for listening. Be good.
Unpacking Peanuts is copyright Jimmy Gownley, Michael Cohen, and Harold Buchholz. Produced by Liz Sumner. Music by Michael Cohen. For more from the show follow @unpackpeanuts on Instagram and Twitter. For more about Jimmy Michael and Harold visit unpackingpeanuts.com. Have a wonderful day. And thanks for listening, you blockhead.