Jimmy: Hey everybody. Welcome to the show. This is Unpacking Peanuts. This is 1955 Part Two. This is a great year guys. Charles Schulz is rocking and rolling, and we're just gonna start getting into the depths of some of the greatest comic strips ever drawn. I'm Jimmy Gownley. You might know me from my comic book series, Amelia Rules, or you might know me from my memoir, The Dumbest Idea Ever, or you might know me from my new book, Seven Good Reasons Not to Grow Up, or you might not know me at all.
Joining me as always are my two fabulous co-hosts and also amazing cartoonists. He's from the hit television show, Mystery Science Theater 3000. He's the executive producer and writer. He was also a vice president of Archie comics and the current creator of the Instagram strip Sweetest Beasts, Mr. Harold Buchholz.
Jimmy: He's a playwright and composer for the band Complicated People, as well as for this very podcast and the cartoonist behind such great strips as Strange Attractors, Tangled River and A Gathering of Spells, Michael Cohen.
Michael: Hey there.
Jimmy: So we're just gonna get right into it and start delving into these comic strips in like minute insane worrisome detail.
And if you'd like to follow along with this, why don't you go on to go comics.com where they have the complete run of Peanuts comic strips. You could just type in the dates and follow along there. Or if you wanted to treat yourself, go out and buy the Fantagraphics volumes they completely collect the entire run. They don't pay us to say that I'm just giving you a heads up cuz they're beautiful books.
Guys, 1955. It's a great year. Should we just jump into it?
Michael and Harold: Sure. Yeah,
Jimmy: let's do it
June 1st. Charlie Brown and Schroeder are standing outside. Charlie Brown is wearing a coon skin cap and has a toy gun. Schroeder also has a toy gun. Charlie Brown says, “I'll be Davy Crockett because I have this cap.” Schroeder says, “okay, but who will I be?” Charlie Brown says, “let me think. Hmm. I don't know many others.” Charlie Brown and Schroeder are now stalking in the background. Patty looks at them and says, “well, what's this pioneer days.” Schroeder says “Uh huh. He's Davy Crockett. And I'm Sam Sneed.”
Jimmy: But wait, there's more
June 28th, Charlie Brown and Shermy are both standing outside. They are both wearing coon skin caps. Charlie Brown says “everybody's wearing Davy Crockett caps.” Shermy says “Everybody?” in the foreground walks Snoopy. He is proudly wearing a coonskin cap.
Charlie Brown says “Uhhuh, everybody.”
Michael: First of all, how come Schroeder Isn't Beethoven.
Jimmy: Oh, yeah, that's a really good point. That would've been hilarious. That's you know what, Michael? That's I think the second time you've improved a Peanuts gag getting, getting scary.
Michael: I, well, I guess Schulz was a big golf, golf nut, and Sam Snead was the Tiger Woods of his day.
Harold: He really was.
Jimmy: My first pair of hand me down golf clubs from my dad were Sam Sneed signature model.
Harold: Yeah. Sam, Sam Sneed was he, he think he won the most masters up to the point. When he was, he was golfing. He was, I think the oldest one, ultimately to win the masters and Schulz claims. He actually saw Sam Sneed what he called a, a truly flawless round at, at the St. Paul tournament probably when he was a kid. So Sam Sneed must have been a hero to Charles Schulz.
Jimmy: So what's up with these dead animals on their heads
Michael: Well, that's the thing. I believe the nowadays they're plastic, but in the good old days, maybe they were fur. I don't know.
Jimmy: Wait, wait, what do you mean nowadays? Do you think the modern kids
Michael: they're available--
Jimmy: the major difference is that their coon skin caps are synthetic?
Michael: you can buy coon skin caps on Amazon for 25 bucks
Jimmy: Can you really? Well how do we not have three of them for recording days?
Michael: I dunno, our audience is probably wondering the same thing.
Jimmy: Now, did you have one of these?
Michael: Did I, as a kid? Yes.
Michael: and all my friends did. I was having a zoom call with my Bellingham friends.I hadn't told him about the podcast before. And I was telling him, describing it to him. And I said, we're doing 1955. And we got into this like half hour discussion of Dave Crockett. And my friend Jeremiah walks across the room and he comes back and he’s got a coonskin cap on his head.
Jimmy: that's awesome
Michael: Well, there were four of us and all of us had coonskin caps as kids. But the thought of wearing a dead animal on your head with its tail hanging down is pretty repulsive.
Jimmy: It really is. When you think about it.
Michael: especially if you're bald,
Jimmy: you know what? Speaking of bald, you know, what's depressing last year I went as Charlie Brown for Halloween and no one even noticed. They just thought I was wearing a yellow shirt.
So why is everybody-- Harold, I bet, you know why everybody's all hyped about Davy Crockett in 1955.
Harold: Yeah. So Davy Crockett actually comes from the Disneyland show on, on ABC, which is premiered in October of 1954. And with a house full of kids, you know, the Disneyland show was playing in the Schulz household. That's pretty much a guarantee, but what happened was a, so ABC was in the ratings basement. In 1954, they needed some help.
They decided to go to Walt Disney and ask him if he would make a television show for them, which was pretty unheard of at the time, because at the back then, I mean, he was making most of his money from the theatrical world of movies and shorts and playing in theaters. And most studios pretty much all of the studios at this point were avoiding television, trying to push television away, not give them content as much as possible because it was, it was competition to them.
They were scared they were gonna lose their, their business model. And so they were not involved in television. So it was a big deal for ABC to come to Disney and say, Hey, we want you to do this show for us. And Disney said yes, because he was just about to launch Disneyland in Anaheim. And he wanted a way to promote his new physical world that you could walk into that was Disney. And that was a huge idea. And there was a ton riding on it. Disney was spending most of his time trying to build this this amazing amusement park, like no one had ever seen before. And he would thought this would be the perfect vehicle through a major television show to get millions of people aware of this spot in Anaheim that he needed to work.
And so that's what happened. The, the show came out, it was an instant success. And in December of 1954 they started a little mini series of Davy Crockett to represent Frontierland, which was gonna be one of the lands in Disneyland. And that is what happened to create all this fur. Apparently the first episode came out and was, was well watched. And kids were like, ah, this is great. And they were telling all their friends, and by the time the second episode came out, it got a 50 share. Half of all televisions that we're on were tuned in to Disneyland to see the second episode of Davy Crockett. And it went huge. Every child in America, all of a sudden wanted to be Davy Crockett.
And that's where the coonskin caps came from. They sold five and a half million books and over 10 million copies of the song. I dunno if you guys know the song, anyone sing--
Jimmy: Born on a mountaintop in Tennessee, shot himself a bear when he was only three. Davy, Davy Crockett. King of the wild frontier. Right?
Harold: Yeah. And, and there were three versions of the song on the charts at the same time. That was how big it was.
Jimmy: Well, you may have thought we played a record there, but we didn't. That was me recreating it. I transported you back to 1955.
Harold: So YouTube, don't you drop us then like, wait a second. And that's Fess Parker
Harold: But they sold $300 million worth of Davy Crockett merchandise, which in today's dollars would be like 3 billion dollars. And it all happens in the course of this year that Charles Schulz, 14 times brings up the Davy Crockett phenomenon because Charles Schulz was a pop culture guy. Right. He was trying to find out how to make an impact through his newspaper strip.
And he's just starting to see some success with that Kodak deal that he made. He he's got an eye, I think, on what this whole system is like. I think he actually applied to work for Disney at one point
Jimmy: he did. Yes. Yeah.
This was something that was close to him. And he's looking at this amazing phenomenon and he's probably trying to take it apart and understand what's going on, cuz it it's the first major television fad that, that the country had ever seen.
And it, it, it, it kind of blows over almost as quickly as it started by the end of 1955, the Davy Crockett fad is pretty much played out and on June 29th there is a major event that occurs during one of the Davy Crockett strips where leus is following Lucy to a street corner. And then she says that he needs to hang onto her when he crosses the street. And so he holds not Lucy's, but the tail of the coonskin cap as they crossed the street. So there was a bit of Peanuts history happening during the coonskin craze.
Jimmy: See, you can't sleep on any of these little odd corners, you know, at the the golf tournament we found out it was Lucy Van Pelt. And and here we have another, the.
Historic moment in in one of the odd little Peanuts corners
Michael: Well, it is really pretty historic. I mean, Linus has been a baby crawling around for all this time and then suddenly he is walking.
Jimmy: It is very exciting. I'm really enjoying watching the growth of Linus and spoiler alert for next next year. But I've been reading ahead and there's at least one leus moment. Linus- Charlie Brown moment that legitimately gave me the chills. It was so exciting to see. So look forward to that as as we progress people.
Harold: Yeah. And it got, if you guys listening, point us out, if we have gotten something wrong, if we miss something, we say a first is a second let us know, give us a, give us a ring, an email and we will try to correct ourselves as we go forward.
Jimmy: Yeah, you can check us out@UnpackingPeanuts.com. And of course you can follow us on social media, unpack Peanuts on either Instagram or Twitter. And we would love to hear from you. Oh, Hey Michael, here. We're looking here at July 19th next. And this is a new, a new version of Snoopy almost. It seems like we're seeing here.
VO: It's Snoopy watch.
Michael: Yeah. We're seeing Schulz changing the design and it trying to make Snoopy a little more expressive. So he is looking a little us like a real dog and a little bit more cartoony. Has a long extended snout. Yeah. This is a visual gag. And by the way, this is the, the start of the horseshoe craze of 1955.
Jimmy: you know, it's just synthetic horseshoes today.
Harold: The artwork in, in this strip of there are four gorgeous drawings of Snoopy here. Including the third panel. If anyone is able to look up July 19th, they're just these gorgeous drawings of Snoopy yet the banana noses is in the first panel. The third panel is a really adorable picture of Snoopy kind of crouching down to avoid the horseshoe landing right behind him. And then the, the fourth one, he's all frazzled and kind of a classic Snoopy frazzled image, but they're all beautiful. The design of this thing and this, the, the structure of it is, it's just amazing. I'm, I'm in awe of Schulz able to make these beautiful iconic drawings. Just one after another.
Jimmy: My favorite drawing in this strip is the third panel with Snoopy ducking to avoid the, the horseshoe coming in.
Harold: Yeah, me too.
Jimmy: Great, great lettering of course, throughout as well. One of my favorite things to look at, but also, we, I've never really met Schulz is a lifelong dog lover. So I do think a lot of this the really good drawings of Snoopy when Snoopy is behaving, more doglike might, might be observed from, you know, family pets and stuff like that.
Michael: Did he have a dog?
Harold: Right. And one thing,
Jimmy: yeah, he had dogs his whole life. I mean, I'm not sure at every single point of the 50 years he did the strip, but he had many dogs.
Michael: Did he have a beagle by the way?
Jimmy: Well, I don't know if he had a beagle I didn't get into that, but , he did have a dog named Snoopy that he gave away. Ooh. I could find if you want, I could find that story.
Harold: And, and he did have a dog named spike is growing up. Right?
Jimmy: Yeah, Spike is the original model for Snoopy
Harold: As a teenager
Jimmy: Yes. And his, I'm not sure if we ever mentioned this in the first episode when we were talking a little bit about his life, but the first thing he ever had published nationally was a drawing of the dog Spike in a, a panel cartoon called Ripley's Believe It or Not, which you might know today. I think there's probably online videos.
There was TV shows at various points throughout the decades where they would just tell you some museum. Yeah. Museums. There's still a museum in New York and stuff. Yeah. And they would tell you some sort of half baked, half true myth from the past or some sort of weird science anomaly and then end with, believe it or not.
Well Schulz's was just that his dog Spike ate razors and ttacks and stuff like that.
Michael: Nowadays, it's just called “Believe It.”
Harold: I will say one thing about the lettering. It gives us a sense of how Charles Schulz art is starting to loosen. He's really not spend as much time as he was say a year ago, with those amazingly designed incredibly crisp lines. The lettering is, is still really designy, but it's a little more scratchy, little looser.
It's, it's a something he's moving into and we're gonna see more and more of, I think as the years progress.
Jimmy: Yeah. The looseness of, of the lettering in the third panel, where you see, it looks like there's almost parts that haven't been colored in, in the letters it's achieved by you write it once and then you write it again.
You don't care if you match in all the places exactly. Jules Feiffer goes on. And like his whole, every, his whole lettering career looks like these, this period of Schulz lettering to me when he was doing the expressive sound effects.
July 24th, Patty and Violet are spinning a jump rope. Snoopy is jumping the rope between them. We have four panels of him blissing himself out as he frolics in the jump rope before landing wham flat on his back. He's dazed. And then Patty and Violet turned to each other and Violet says, “well, what do you think? Shall we do something else for a while?” They turn to walk away. And Patty says, “we might as well, let's go over to my house for some lemonade.” Snoopy is lying on his back. “Whew” he says to himself. “When, when, when, when, when, when, when, when will I ever learn.”
Michael: And this was part of the great jump rope craze of 1955.
Jimmy: Interestingly, now the jump ropes are made of dead animals. so, you know, it's a pendulum.
Harold: Boy, these Snoopy drawings are just consistently gorgeous from here on out. He's he's really making this adorable character. You can see the hint of the superstar about to come.
July 31st It's baseball day. Shroeder’s behind the plate. Pig pen’s at bat. Charlie Brown is on the mound. Snoopy close behind him. Charlie Brown throws a classic Charlie Brown pitch into Pigpen who clobbers it. It's a line drive over Charlie Brown's head. Snoopy leaps up and catches it in his mouth, which sends him flying backwards and tumbling around. Charlie Brown is shocked. Tries to grab the ball from Snoopy saying, “give me that ball. He's gonna score. Give me it I say.” Snoopy's growling at him. Charlie Brown picks up Snoopy and holds him over his head. Charlie Brown says, “by golly, I'm not gonna fool around with you. We see Pig Pen running home as Charlie Brown yells “home home, get him at home.” Charlie Brown throws the ball still in Snoopy's mouth, and Snoopy, to Shroeder as Pigpen dives head first for home. We see a cloud of dust, which then clears and then Pigpen says “I'm safe” as he looks at the ball on the ground. Shroeder, still holding Snoopy in his glove. The Charlie Brown says, “oh, good grief.” Then Charlie Brown turns to Snoopy and says, “you drive me crazy.”
Michael: This is one of the best choreographed Sundays.
Michael: Yeah. I mean, you, you don't need any words. It's just crystal clear what's going on.
Jimmy: That's true.
Harold: There's so much to love here. There's so much about the characters that we've come to know that is peppered all the way through this strip. You got Charlie Brown lobbing a pitch that looks like Charlie Brown's got this determined look on his face, but he's throwing it and it's just kind of little arcing up in the airs if it has absolutely no power to it. and then you've got his little hand in the back of his glove. You can see it through the back of the, the glove that's it's it's about one eighth, the size of the actual glove with little thumb sticking out at the bottom.
It's just adorable. And then you have Pig Pen and the next panel hitting it. And when he hits it, you see his batting Virgin in a little, little starburst, which I think is also adorable. I don't know if that was an old sports cartoon. Image that they would, you know, they used to be cartoonists who would just do sports cartoons for the, the local paper or the national paper.
And I'm wondering if he's taking that from, from that tradition.
Jimmy: Yeah. Maybe. Sports cartoons were huge in the days before there was, you know, ready photography for, for baseball games and fights and stuff that would be happening in the middle of the day. He does years later introduce a character named Jose Peterson.
And I remember Jose Peterson's batting average appeared that way.
Harold: and it's a really good batting average.
Jimmy: Well, actually can’t see, is it three something?
Jimmy: Oh, are you kidding? He's heading for the hall of fame way to go Pigpen.
Harold: Yeah. And Snoopy's not yet a member of the team,
Harold: so , they have to fight him over, getting the ball rather than him getting a Pigpen out.
There's an amazing drawing of Snoopy after catching the ball right behind Charlie Brown, who's-- it's too tall from Charlie Brown, but Snoopy's able to jump up. Again the laws of physics. It's all about the visual and how it's good design. There's this bizarre motion line of Snoopy somehow tumbling toward Charlie Brown from how he's fallen.
It's it. There's no description for how those motion lines could have actually happened in real life. But visually it looks amazing. And Charlie Brown running with Snoopy over his head, kind of stiff holding the ball in his mouth. Like with a big question mark coming outta Snoopy's head. It's just an amazing strip, totally worth looking this thing up and seeing this, this July 31st strip.
And then of course, Pig Pen makes a cloud of dust wherever he goes. That's now in the gag as something we just either we know, or we don't know he's creating his own cloud of dust and then the little Snoopy drawing as in the glove or no, Schroeder is just looking at him inside of Schroeder's glove is absolutely adorable.
This little innocent look on his face, looking into the eyes of Schroeder.
Jimmy: It is one of the best.
Harold: And then Charlie Brown's famous. Good grief.
Jimmy: Yeah, there are. I mean, there are so many panels in this, this ranks up there with the five and ten store and a couple other, those strips, the other, the last baseball strip we discussed with Patty batting.
He's just, just so good. And it also, you know, not to harp on this, but it does highlight to me again, how off that the golfing outing seems when you see that last panel on tier two, which is so beautifully composed, even though it has five characters and three word balloons in it, it's just masterfully done.
It's really, really great. Yeah.
Michael: Who's on third?
Jimmy: That's a great, okay. Who is that? Is that somebody that, that an unknown Peanuts. Harold: That’s Jose Peterson
Michael: all right. Let's blow it up. I'm blowing it up. See if I can figure this one out.
Jimmy: Oh, which actually makes me think. Harold, maybe Pig Pen’s bating average is terrible because if he's primarily batting against Charlie Brown…
Harold: well, yeah, that's a good point. That's a good point. Is that, is that from other other teams he's played against let let's hope. So is that Shermy? Is that Shermy far off the distance?
Michael: I would guess it’s Shermy. It's not a girl, It’s not Linus. So it has to be Shermy.
Jimmy: Well, you know, I, I'm really also glad that you mentioned the motion lines, Harold, and how they don't quite make sense, because this brings me to something that I think might be a continuing feature going forward.
But this is the first time I would like a Do-Over.
I would like to just briefly rediscuss a strip from 1954. Oh. Because I think I missed the point and I think there's something interesting to be found there.
Harold: Oh, what is that?
Jimmy: You guys that, for that?
Michael: Yeah. Which one?
Jimmy: It is the potato chip.
Michael: Oh, the one that that's floating down, like a leaf.
Jimmy: Yeah. This is very important actually. This is like, this is cartooning master class. If I can just find what date that is.
Michael: Let's see.
Harold: It's May 26th,
May 26th, 1954. Charlie Brown and Violet are talking. Charlie Brown is holding a bag of potato chips. Violet says, “I like potato chips.” Charlie Brown says, “that's good. Just hold out your hands.” She does. And Charlie Brown dumps some potato chips into her hands one starts to fall. “Whoops” Violet says, “you spilled one.” Charlie Brown says, “don't worry. It'll never hit the ground.” they watch as it flutters to the ground. And then Snoopy bursts into panel, snagging it with his mouth before it even has a chance to hit the ground. “Gulp.”
Okay. So when we were talking about this last time, Michael and I were saying that the motion lines on the potato chip beneath the potato chip, are indicating that it is fluttering. And your Harold were saying, well, it can't be that it's like a magic potato chip, because then it's not a funny joke.
Right? Because the joke is that the second the millisecond, you drop it, Snoopy is there to get it right before it even hits the ground. So this is really like super weird because it's this conceptual strip that you, you, this you really could not do in any other medium. If you look at it, visually Charlie Brown and Violet just visually are all taking place at one speed.
Let's call that like the normal speed of just life, right? The potato chip and Snoopy in the foreground. We're actually seeing in super slow motion. They're pay, they're they're behaving at two entirely different rates of speed. And then you add in the words, which don't match either.
Harold: You could argue that the, the potato chip has one speed is, is slow speed.
And Snoopy is, is ultra fast speed. So there's like three speeds.
Michael: Well, don't forget the Einsteinian equations here, factor inthe potato chips in motion, therefore it's, it's time is totally different. Totally different frame of reference.
Jimmy: That is true. You know what it is important to, to get into relativity at least once a decade in Peanuts.
I think this is a great example. No, but I was just listening to this while we were I was listening to the edited version of it and I started thinking, oh, I see what Harold's saying. It's actually way weirder than that. And I don't know why you, everybody gets the joke when reading it, but that behaves like nothing that you could possibly replicate in life.
You could never see anything like this,
Harold: the magic of comics.
Michael: Yeah. But that's just a standard, a standard trope for like comic book covers where people are describing, you know, the bullet heading towards them.
Jimmy: Right. Yeah. it isn’t--
Michael: Oh my God, If I don't, if I don't dodge this bullet, it will, it'll penetrate my arm.
Jimmy: Only milliseconds left to think. Must remember the lessons of my master.
All right. I just had to get that off my chest. Thank you.
Harold: Oh, well, well, I appreciate that. Okay. Yeah. And I also would like to make sure I bring up Albert Payson Terhune this year.
yeah, let's do that again. Yeah. Okay.
August 28th, Charlie Brown and Schroeder are out playing croquet. Schroeder says, “come on, Charlie Brown hit it.” Charlie Brown says “I thought I heard hoof beats.” Violet looks off in the direction of the noise and says, “look out here he comes again” as Linus runs for cover. “Good grief” yells Charlie Brown as through the little croquet wicket zooms Snoopy, zoom, zoom, zoom. “Oh, no Snoopy” yells Charlie Brown, “not those” as Snoopy runs head first into a pole.
Wham! “Boy, what a stupid dog” says, Charlie Brown, as he drags him home on his wagon.
Michael: Now you're saying that the first tier on a Sunday page is always optional.
Michael: Okay. In this case it doesn't seem optional. It seems like you have to set up the game.
Harold: Well, you, you can see that they're playing.
Jimmy: Well I mean, you could remove it it's but it is a lot less effective. I'll give you that for sure. You know, maybe there's an element of hilt who didn't want to even kowtow to that kind of editorial mandate. Maybe he was making the ability to break it as subtle as possible to discourage that type of printing.
Harold: it's amazing that the wickets are taller than Charlie Brown's waist.
If anyone's seen a croquet wicket, it's amazing how huge these things are in these kids' lives. Snoopy can run through them.
Michael: It's interesting in panel two that Linus is actually running. So he's gone from crawling to walking, to running in a couple of strips
Harold: Yeah. The previous week he's actually using the wickets as hurdles.
So Linus is moving up in the world very quickly as a active child. And then on September 18th, after a series of croquet strips that he did for Sundays, there is this amazing one with Snoopy zooming through the wickets again, where the kids are deciding they have to end this and they, their solution is to push down the wicket into the ground so Snoopy is going to slam into the wicket which is pretty pretty cruel. But this is one of the first examples of Snoopy kind of outwitting the kids where he's kind of on a plane above the kids that we see in Peanuts, where he's going an incredibly fast speed with a super long banana nose going toward the wicket. He's just inches away. And then in the second to last panel, he just hops over the wicket and all the kids sigh. And I was like, yeah, that's, that's the classic Snoopy that ran for years and years where he's, he's just, he's almost this surreal little character. He's starting to get into that place where he's just overcoming whatever the, whatever the, the kids are struggling with.
Jimmy: Seeing Snoopy zoom around like this, I have a little dog Bichon Frise or as I like to call a bitchin freeze, named Ginny. And they do this thing called the Bichon blitz and where they just to go nuts and they just zoom around as she does it less and less as she gets older. But she, when she was a puppy, she would do it so fast that her back legs would tumble over.
She would just start doing tumble sets cuz she, she couldn't keep up with her own speed. Every time I see these Snoopy ones, it makes me think of that.
Harold: Oh, Ginny's adorable.
Jimmy: Shout out to Ginny.
September 2nd. Charlie Brown is reading the newspaper to Lucy. He says, “and it says they're going to send up a satellite that will revolve around the earth.” Lucy laughs “oh, my Charlie Brown. You oughta go on the stage. Oh, what a hit you be? I don't know how you think of those things.” Charlie Brown drops the paper to the floor and says my stomach hurts.
Michael: If someone just came to Peanuts and this was the first one they read, I wonder if they'd understand it.
Jimmy: I mean, yeah, you could deduce it. You could through context clues. You could figure it out, but it's not a joke in the sense of a traditional, just you could write a joke. What it does is come completely out of, out of Lucy's personality that he's set up,
Michael: Right. Yeah. Cuz if somebody didn't know Lucy, they would think she's maybe being sarcastic.
Harold: Yeah. Yeah. That's true.
Jimmy: Lucy is like allergic to learning the truth. It's not, it's strange. She unerringly is wrong.
Michael: and he uses that my stomach hurts punchline several times this year.
Harold: I, I just, I just love that her response to him reading this, this newspaper article, you ought to go on the stage. Can you see Charlie Brown reading a newspaper on the stage? It'll be great.
Jimmy: He’s Mort Saul. It says here they’re gonna launch…
Listen, finally, we're going to be able to recontextualize Peanuts for the younger people with our Bustor Keaton, Milt Saul
Harold: Milt Saul. Wait, his brother that's really getting
Jimmy: Oh, Milt Saul.
Michael: Mort’s brother
Jimmy: And who's our other guy?.
Harold: Albert Payson Terhune?
Jimmy: Albert Payson Terhune. There you go.
Michael: Wait, till we get to the Willie McCovey strip, which is one of my all time favorites.
Harold: I'm gonna learn something.
Jimmy: Yeah, or Charlie Brown which is entirely based on your understanding there's a baseball player named Willie Mays.
October 26th, Charlie Brown is reading a book to Schroeder. “Finally, the day came for the rehearsal of Beethoven's new symphony.” Schroeder is listening. He's on the edge of his seat.
Charlie Brown continues. “One of the soloists complained about the difficulty of her part. She asked the composer, if you would make a few changes.” Schroder stands up and yells, “Don't do it Beethoven!” sending Charlie Brown flying.
Jimmy: I love that. I love that. I wanna know how much editorial pushback is Schulz getting at this point.
And, and I, I always sort of feel that Schroeder is his outlet for that kind of thing. Yeah.
Michael: And this started the Beethoven craze
Jimmy: yeah, but nowadays all the Beethovens are synthetic .
Harold: Yeah. Maybe this is in response to those letters that suggest killing characters like Charlotte Braun.
Jimmy: Right. Yeah, exactly.
And Michael, I don't want embarrass you right on the podcasts, but it's pronounced Beat Haven
Michael: Oh of course.
Harold: that is how you read it as a little kid?
Michael: Oh and Choppin. Sure.
Jimmy: I did Choppin as well. Yeah.
That's okay. I think like the second time I ever met Michael. We were talking about Jeff Jones. And I said, oh, I really like his It’ll strip and it's of course Idyl, but I, no one, no, one's using the word Idyl in Girardville. So you read these things and you never hear them out loud. I
Harold: bet you got the pronunciation from Mussorsky right?
Michael: no, I really thought, it's for, for long time, for a long time, I was wondering who this Dye-lan guy was
Harold: Oh, yeah. I heard Robert Dye-lan. yeah, my big word when I was a little kid that I constantly misread and I can't remember if I actually read it out loud in, in English class to my great dismay.
I don't remember, but it the word was myzled. That was my, that was the word that I.
Jimmy: that guy myzled me. and I still love it. Sounds like you
Harold: misled me. Some miserly person is take leading you astray
Jimmy: Alright, there's a little Linus and Lucy in all of us, I guess
Harold: Lotta Linus in me
Jimmy: Oh, no kidding. What it would be interesting is, you know, I'm not so interested in picking who my favorite characters. I would be interested for us to pick who we think the other characters are. I already have my I'm Lucy t-shirt
September 24th. Charlie Brown and Shemy are outside. Snoopy is frolicking in a field.
Shermy says, “boy, have you ever seen such a speedy dog?” Snoopy zips by running in the opposite direction. Charlie Brown says “he's getting in shape for the hunting season.” Charlie Brown continues. “He's not going to let any duck sneak up behind him.”
Jimmy: Now, the reason I pick this is this is very important to 1955.
Do you guys know what is happening in this strip for the first time in 1955?
Michael: Shermy says something
Harold: They're celebrating the duck hunting fad of 1955?
Jimmy: Yeah, but all the ducks are synthetic these days. Yes. This is the first time Shermy has spoken since May of 1954.
Harold: Aw Shermy
Jimmy: This is crazy because he is the first person to speak in Peanuts and he's being, being relegated.
But I started thinking if we're looking at every single one of these strips, 17,897. We're gonna gonna go into all the different corners and the back alleys of Peanuts. Maybe we could find some things in Shermy that, that other people that, that have been missed out on, people haven't noticed because of his second banana status.
And I thought we could we could introduce a little something I'd like to call Shermometer and (thank you) And every year, we'll see if we can add something to Shermy's character that we learned in this year. My, my pick for 1955 Shermy personality trait is that he is a good listener because he appeared in bunch of other strips before this always with someone else talking to him. In Peanuts, it feels like everybody really wants to say what they have to say.
Shermy's like the one person who is like, okay, I'll let you talk. And that might not be in a classic sense, an interesting character, but it would make for a pretty good friend. So that's my that's my I'm adding good listener as the 1955 pick on Shermometer. So what I'd like you guys, though, to do is you can think about, you could do it now, if you want, or if you wanted to think about it, we could do it next episode from those first four, four years, what are the, the personality traits from Shermy we can see on display and see what we can get by the end of this 50 year journey.
VO: Let's check the Shermometer Charlie Brown
Michael: Well, he certainly cares about his appearance cuz he got a haircut.
Jimmy: Okay. That's very good.
Michael: And no one else has gotten a cut so far. What? But I have a question. A very deep solemn question.
Michael: Why does the bald kid have a barber for a dad?
Jimmy: I don't know.
Harold: Dad was experimenting on him
Jimmy: Maybe that is it. What's so strange is Schulz always said, well, Charlie, Brown's not bald. He just has basically a crew cut. And if you look at Schroeder and Charlie Brown sitting next to each other, that's supposed to be just a little lock in the front. And he has very blonde, very tightly cut to his head hair that does not come across at all.
And he never colors it that way to my knowledge. Yeah.
Harold: No and then how do you have all that hair on the very, forehead? That's so curly,
Jimmy: it would be a bad haircut.
Harold: That's that's very modern.
Michael: His father takes out his frustrations on Charlie Brown I think.
Jimmy: Maybe there's stuff going on that we don't know. Yeah, it is odd.
Harold: I have a theory about Shermy.
Jimmy: Okay. Go.
Harold: Maybe because Shermy was a good observer and such a good listener at one point or other, he stepped out of the strip and just sat alongside Charles Schulz as he drew.
Jimmy: Oh, isn't that nice.
Michael: That's scary.
Jimmy: Don't go in the studio. Shermy’s in there. He's left the strip.
Harold: He's broken the sixth wall.
Jimmy: Okay. So, alright, but, okay. Good listener, he cares his appearance. We got two things already.
Harold: Well, his jacket is a little wrinkled in this episode, so , he's not that natty
Jimmy: All right. So everyone come back next, next month for Shermometer where we're gonna have at least six solid personality things.
Michael: And when it hits a hundred, he disappears forever.
Jimmy: Maybe we'll find out that Shermy is like the 20th century Hamlet who knows, could happen.
November 3rd, Charlie Brown looks angry. Violet is walking by and he says to her “boy, am I ever disgusted.” He continues. “They won't let dogs run loose anymore. All the dogs in the city have to be kept tied up.” Violet says, “have you tied up Snoopy? Charlie Brown says, “of course, what else could I do?” In the last panel we see Snoopy tied to the tree as if he has been kidnapped and tied to a railroad track. But standing upright.
Michael: that's gotta be a good t-shirt design. That's look of Snoopy. I mean, he's from, this is from his feet to his neck. It's solid it rope.
Jimmy: It is hilarious
Harold: It's one of those tard McFarland's sculpture editions.
Jimmy: Yeah. Right, exactly. and now is this-- So at this point, though, Charlie Brown is responsible for Snoopy.
Michael: Yes, that's true.
Harold: Oh yeah.
Jimmy: He has been drifting around through the neighborhood throughout all of these strips. You could almost say this city ordinance is what now cements it that someone has to take care of him, but it's sort of imply-- Violet just assumes Charlie Brown is the one that would have to take care of Snoopy.
Michael: But this, that might have been established earlier and we just didn't notice it.
Jimmy: No I, I don't think so. And someone could correct me if I'm wrong.
Harold: Maybe our listeners. Yeah. The listeners can chime in if they see an earlier hint that Charlie Brown is the owner.
Jimmy: Well, I've been trying to look at that really, really closely.
Harold: Well, just two prior, he's feeding, Snoopy with the dog dish. Have we seen that before? Inside the, his house?
Jimmy: Oh, that's interesting. No, maybe not,
Harold: but that doesn’t necessarily mean,
Jimmy: no, it doesn't.
Harold: He seems obligated
Michael: We need a ___ prize for whoever finds the first strip that confirms ownership of Snoopy.
Jimmy: Well, this is my, my pick. This is the one, cuz it literally says, you know, have you tied up Snoopy? Since people have to tie up their dogs? So that's my pick, but I could be wrong.
Michael: Well, let's find out.
November 12th. Violet is berating Charlie Brown who holds his head in his hands as he stares into a fishbowl, “you're always moaning about nobody liking you.” Violet continues. “Well, good grief. Charlie Brown. Do you ever try to make somebody like you? Do you, do you ever really try to be pleasant? Do you ever really try to be cheerful?” Charlie Brown says “you don't like me, do you.”
Harold: So this is, this has already happened earlier this year where Patty was, was berating Charlie Brown. But that was the, you, you know, you only good old Charlie Brown. This is a continuation of that with Violet and this, this gag resonates for me.
I think it's, it is a better gag than the one with, with Patty, because Patty is, you know, it just doesn't quite make sense. It seems like maybe in Charles Schultz’ head, it makes sense. It certainly idiosyncratic that someone's you trashing a character for being good. However, we can date that all the way back to the very first strip ever in Peanuts.
So I don't know what's going on in Schulz's head about people that, who are good in the minds of a group being hate, hated, and disliked and failures.
Jimmy: Yeah. But you say that, I find that I find that interesting cause, cause I, cause is they're they're not saying good, Charlie Brown. They're saying good old Charlie Brown.
And I, I don't think good in that instance means is a signifier of virtue. I think good old Charlie Brown is like, ah, my good old sweatshirt. It just means something dependable and reliable to be around.
Harold: But do you hate your good old sweatshirt?
Jimmy: I might hate my good old sweatshirt, but Shermy’s being a hypocrite in the first one.
Michael: Okay. Put that down as another trait.
Harold: Yeah. But Shermy is the one saying it right. And I think,
Michael: Yeah, so he’s the hypocrite
Jimmy: yeah, yeah. There you go. there you go. He, oh man boy. Right. See, he's getting more complex already guys. I think follow me on this journey. The Shermometer is gonna be huge.
Harold: Shermy grows over time. He just becomes more stalwart . That’s okay.
Jimmy: But I guess what I'm I guess what I'm saying is like, you wouldn't say good old Mick Jagger. Right. That's just absurd. Right. But if you say good old Larry.
Harold: Yeah. But I wouldn't say I like Mick Jagger either though
Jimmy: like though, you know, I, what I'm saying is, what Patty is saying, isn't that he's good. And that's the problem. What these she's saying is he's ordinary. All you are will ever be is the dependable townie, the dependable schmoe around town that everybody says hi to. That's all you'll ever be. You'll never be a baseball player. You'll never be whatever else. That's how I read it. No?
Harold: Yeah. I, I always equate that with people who enjoy being with that person, you know, they, the good old boys who hang out together, you know?
I would assume they enjoy each other's company, but anyway, yeah. It's, I, I haven't seen it elsewhere. It's, it's, it's unique to Schulz in terms of how he focuses on it. And it's, it's, it's interesting. It's surprising.
Jimmy: David Foster Wallace, who is one of my favorite writers uses the good old thing a lot for someone who's a literary writer.
This is my good old, bic ballpoint pen. And I'm typing him on my, on my good old Corona select or whatever. He's Midwestern too. So I wonder if good Ole also is used there regionally a lot more than it is in other places.
Harold: When you say Midwestern, is he like near Minneapolis, Minnesota, or Wisconsin? Or is he like no, Illinois, Illinois?
Well, I don't know. That's interesting. Maybe some people can also respond to that.
Jimmy: Actually, if some people could just do our podcast for us, that would be fabulous.
Harold: That would be lovely. I appreciate that.
Jimmy: No, then we would miss out on this.
Michael: I want, I want people to do another job too. Cause in panel two Violet says good grief and we've totally ignored Good Grief.
VO: Good grief.
Jimmy: But we have seen them.
Michael: Where does, where, where does is where does good grief start?
Jimmy: All right. We got, so we have a couple assignments for ourselves and our listeners for next time. And if you have something to add to Shermometer throw in there, we know he's a hypocrite who likes to, who cares about his appearance, but he is a good listener.
Just describing your average cartoon character.
Harold: Yeah, that's pretty standard.
Jimmy: Here comes Shermy the good listening hypocrite.
Harold: Good ol’ listening hypocrite.
Michael: Off topic,
Michael: There is nothing off topic.
Michael: Okay. Then what year did that song come out? Charlie Brown. He's a clown. Why is everybody always picking on me.
Jimmy: Oh yeah. Cause 1954, I think. And I believe it has it's theoretically has nothing to do with each other. Right.
Michael: But it has that. Why is everybody always picking on me?
Jimmy: it's really weird, but he is also calling the teacher Daddy-o. Oh no. It's 1959.
Michael: Yeah. I thought it was later.
Jimmy: Well, that's pretty. Yeah. That's interesting. All right.
Michael: We'll come back to it in four years,
Jimmy: Right Yeah, exactly. Completely coincidental.
Harold: They just don't wanna get sued.
Michael: And what about Hang on, Snoopy. We have to talk about that. I really thought it was, hang on, Snoopy.
Jimmy: Yeah I thought it was, hang on, Snoopy too.
Harold: Well, according to one one online source, which I'm sure is highly reliable. Oh yeah. 1952. There is a first good grief.
Jimmy: Oh, there you go.
Harold: Somebody says it's ‘52. So June 6th, 1952, somebody says good grief. Doesn't say Charlie Brown says it.
Michael: And we missed it
Jimmy: Well, we are failures.
Michael: Yeah, I quit.
Jimmy: Good Grief. Rats.
Harold: I can't stand it.
November 22nd. Charlie Brown is walking behind Snoopy. Snoopy looks pleased with himself. Charlie Brown looks angry. Charlie Brown says “whoever heard of a dog doing imitations.” He continues. “It's silly. That's what it is. I don't know why bother talking about it.” Snoopy looks off panel. He sees something that attracts his attention. Now Charlie Brown sees Snoopy sitting next to Lucy. His ears are made into a perfect imitation of Lucy's appearance. Charlie Brown says, “oh, stop it.” Charlie Brown and Snoopy walk away. As Lucy says, “Stop it? Stop what Charlie Brown.” Charlie Brown says, “nevermind what you don't know. Won't hurt you.”
Jimmy: but wait, there's more.
November 23rd, Charlie Brown is talking to Snoopy. Snoopy has a pained look on his face. Charlie Brown says “You just keep on imitating people,you'll get yourself in trouble. Snoopy.” Charlie Brown walks away saying “what a dog.” Now we see Snoopy hopping behind Violet, perfectly imitating her. Violet senses something's going on behind her and turns to confront Snoopy who turns away embarrassed, dropping the imitation.
Michael: I think he's scared. You don't mess with Violet.
Jimmy: That's true. You don't wanna mess with the Vi.
Harold she's by herself though, right? She’s not the evil Violet?
Michael: She's always the evil Violet.
Harold: You like how Snoopy's blush on his face goes into his teeth?
Jimmy: Oh, I never noticed that. That's weird. I always thought his mouth was closed. I didn't, I never noticed the little teeth there. That's strange.
Harold: gorgeous drawings.
Jimmy: Yeah. It's a great use of the cartoon form that he's able to turn this dog into these other characters. I’ve never heard of anyone even attempting something like this to do visual imitations in a comic strip. It's a brilliant idea. And it really shows how facile the cartoonist is.
Harold: It really is.
Michael: And he, he carries this on a lot and that he
Harold: is willing to break the rules
Michael: During this next period I always think of it as the Snoopy imitation years.
Cause that's, that's his schtick. It's, it's mostly different animals, but it's also people
Jimmy: and this evolves.
Harold: Yeah. I love how the little parentheses around Snoopy's eyes match Lucy. He's really a good imitator. that's
Jimmy: That’s true. Very cute.
December 1st, Lucy is hanging out at Schroeder's piano as Schroeder practices. Lucy says “the man I marry must be tall and handsome.” She continues “the man I marry must be strong and brave and true.” Schroeder continues to play the piano. Lucy continues to talk. “The man I marry must know how to play the accordion.” Schroeder yells. “Good” sending Lucy flying.
Harold: I love this strip. I think it's great. It's just a funny, funny drawing and it's seeing Schroeder had these outbursts is particularly funny this year. I don't know why when Charlie Brown's reading an article or , he's just quiet until he’s not.
Jimmy: Yeah. It makes you really grateful that Schroeder found music because if he didn't have that outlet, he's a pretty hotheaded kid.
I'd also just like to to shout out to my mother, Anna Mae Gownley, cuz she could play the accordion or as she called it the cordeen.