Jimmy: Hey, you Blockheads. Welcome back to the show. I'm Jimmy Gownley. I'm going to be one of your hosts for this evening. If you know me, you might know me from my comic book series, Amelia Rules, or maybe, you know, my brand new book. Seven Good Reasons Not To Grow Up, or maybe you don't know me at all. Joining me today are my two co-hosts.
First, he is a playwright. He is a composer, both for the band, Complicated People, as well as this very podcast. He's the co-creator of the original comic book price guide, the Argosy price guide to comics. He's the original editor to the Amelia Rules series. And he's the cartoonist behind such great strips as Tangled River, A Gathering of Spells and Strange Attractors, Michael Cohen.
Michael: Hey there
Jimmy: And he's the executive producer and writer of Mystery Science Theater 3000, a former vice president of Archie comics and current creator of the Instagram strips Sweetest Beasts, Harold Buchholz.
Harold: Hey Jimmy. Hey Michael. Hey folks.
Jimmy: So guys how about we just get right back to it? 1956 is a great year. Let's look at these strips.
Michael and Harold: Great/Why not?
March 5th, Schroeder's playing the piano. Lucy is hanging out on the end of it. She says, “I wish I could play the piano.” Schroeder says “maybe you could Lucy, if you practice a lot.” Lucy turns and asks him, “Practice? You mean you have to practice to play the piano. I thought it was just fool luck.”
Jimmy: I'm projecting again. But to me, this is Schulz talking about people saying how lucky he is to be able to have this talent, to draw this comic strip. Right?
It's like, oh, it's so you're, it's so wonderful that you're blessed with all this talent as we see him. And it's true. I mean, he, he does have a talent and an ability, but we are watching day by day. You can literally see every day. Well, not literally since by Charlie Brown rules. Figuratively, though, you can see every day of his life for those 50 years, you can see the work that he did and we can still read it and to dismiss that as, oh, I thought you just got lucky.
Michael: You’re so lucky. You get to draw your funny cartoons every day and I have to work.
Harold: Well, I can't believe, I, I can't believe I keep defending Lucy, but he was an instant savant as far as we know, in the, in the Schulz in the Peanuts strip. So I could see why she would believe that too,
Jimmy: I guess. It's true, but you know, Schroeder is saying as far as we know, that's maybe not true because you know, we didn't see what that Schroeder hadn't practiced as a baby before Charlie Brown gave him that toy piano. Who knows?
Harold: That is true.
Jimmy: You see, words matter. Communication, my friend. Okay.
VO: Good Grief
Harold: That is correct. See we agree.
Jimmy: I love this joke. I just think there's something, I think it's so funny about the phrase fool luck, which Schulz uses a few times.
Harold: Yeah, me too. That's just, that's just great. And this is like the, the, the era of the big jaw Peanuts. I mean, I think, I think Schroeder's mouth is like way high on his head here.
It's a, it's just an interesting, unusual look that I'm glad went away.
Michael: He’s putting on a little weight too.
Jimmy: It’s also big in profile like, if you see Lucy in panel two, that's really jutting forward to that's almost Popeye-esque.
Harold: yeah. Yeah. And he kept that for years. But yeah, it just seems like the, the eyes and nose and mouth just kind of float upward and in these years in some panels
Jimmy: Yeah, for sure. That's hard to do when you're drawing the same thing every day, these microscopic changes start creeping in and before you know, it it's totally different than, than where you started from.
Harold: It's crazy. And just to see over 50 years, how, how all the different places he went with these character designs.
Michael: Sometimes it's just, you don't have time to go back and look how you did it,
Michael: I don't know. I had a character, a little robot character, which is actually one of the first characters I drew and. Totally changed over the issues I had. I didn't do it consciously. It's
just kind of left out something and then sort of forgot I had this and made the head a little bigger.
Jimmy: It's strange, you know, I've, I've been working on a new Amelia story and part of it, she ages over the course of the series, but now I haven't really drawn her In 10 years, a lot, you know, like irregularly, just sketches and conventions and stuff. And now I'm trying in one scene to draw the old Amelia, the original Amelia. It's really hard.
Harold: Like book eight Amelia?
Jimmy: Like earlier, like book one, Amelia.
Harold: Oh, wow. Like the Peanuts-y Amelia
Jimmy: And it's so strange because it's, I do, I have not a lot, but occasionally I've done, you know, I try to copy it, another artist style and throw it in, in Ameilia. I've done like Kirby and Harold Gray and whatever.
And that's where I'm at now trying to draw the original Amelia, like trying to copy, like how did that guy do this? Oh, okay. Very strange.
March 8 Patty and Lucy are standing outside in their coats. Lucy's has a fur collar. Patty says “that's a beautiful fur piece Lucy.” Lucy looks down proud and says, “thank you. I'm glad you like it. It's my own creation you know. I made it out of an old Davy Crockett hat.”
Jimmy: Davy's back for one last hurrah,
Harold: the last gasp for Davy Crockett
Michael: Well, after the Alamo
March 29, Linus is sitting, contentedly holding his blanket and sucking his thumb. Snoopy crawls in low off panel. In panel two Snoopy, tentatively opens up his mouth, baring his teeth as he tries to steal the blanket. In panel three, Linus who hasn't indicated at all that he's seen Snoopy, says, “watch it there Mac.” And in panel four, Snoopy decides not to steal the blanket instead, puts his head down and just says, “sigh.”
Michael: I think the thing that makes this funny is the word Mac
Jimmy: yeah it does
Michael: you wouldn't call it dog, Mac.
Jimmy: Right. That makes it funny. And the other thing is the drawing of just Linus, not indicating that he sees anything wrong at all, until “watch it, their Mac” comes out. Really funny.
April 12th, Charlie Brown is standing, his kite caught up in a tree. Violet walks by and says, “Kit caught in a tree?” Charlie Brown says, “yup.” A look of disgust on his face. Violet says, “can't get it down. Huh?” Charlie Brown says, “Nope.” “What are you going to do about it?” asks Violet, “Nothing” says Charlie Brown. “I'm so mad. I'm just going to stand here for the rest of my life.”
Jimmy: So this is the beginning of of a sequence of strips that we talked about when we were doing the overview for this year where Charlie Brown is just standing there, his, his kite is caught up in the tree and the whole cast is basically gonna come by and have little conversations with Charlie Brown.
Michael: I have a question. Is the kite-eating tree have a definitive look?
Jimmy: I think so. I mean, I could, yeah, I think so. I don't think it's every, cause he just draws-
Michael: is this the kite-eating tree?
Michael: So it always looks like this
Harold: Well it’s not an eating tree yet right? I mean, this is a, just a tree tree
Jimmy: This is not referred to as the kite eating tree, but Schulz considers this the first appearance of the kite-eating tree.
Harold: I see.
Jimmy: So like I had a trashcan, a little wastepaper basket when I was a kid that had the kite-eating tree on it and it was a tree with a smile, but that only happens occasionally. It's not like this is the Shire and Schulz mapped this out and said, here's the kite-eating tree and it's an oak. And you know, it's just whenever a kite is stuck in the tree, it's the kite-eating.
Michael: So these are not Ents as far as you know.
Jimmy: As far as I know, but you know, we're only in 1956 here, anything could happen.
Michael: They could be entlings
Jimmy: they could be, well, this is where the Ent wives went, Michael. They went off and they live in the Peanuts neighborhood. Oh, by the way, I know where Peanuts takes place, but that's, I'm not telling no, I know the real answer to where Peanuts takes place. But I can't reveal that until next year.
Harold: Wow. Okay. Looking forward to that
Jimmy: My mind was blown. And it makes all the sense in the world.
Michael: Negative zone.
Harold: Is it near Hooterville?
Jimmy: No, it is not.
Harold: And one of the things you mentioned in the strip, which is amazing, there's this eight daily strips, 32 panels. And the, the setup of the panel is identical. Every single panel. So the tree is in exactly the same place. Charlie Brown isn't exactly the same place. And so it was the string that is attached to the kite that you can't see in the tree. But the expression on Charlie Brown is pretty much identical all the way through here. So I say this is also a momentous strip because these, these are the inspiration for Doonesbury and Tumbleweeds.
Jimmy: Very much so-- the repeating of the same panel over and over again,
Michael: And you couldn't do it in a Sunday strip. It wouldn't work because there's time passing.
Jimmy: Yeah, for sure. What do you guys think about this as a sequence? Do you see why people would be writing in letters to him about this? Do you, does it float your boat and the way it clearly got people going back then?
Michael: This is Frustration. This is frustration to the nth degree where he's just going to stand there until the end of time. It makes no sense. There's no logic to it, but that's the only way he can deal with this much frustration.
Jimmy: Right. I get that.
Harold: Yeah. And I think that in and of itself creates an impact where I was, you know, people, this is important,
Michael: But he's resigned to it. He's resigned to it. He's not. I’ll be here.
Jimmy: And that look on his face is unchanging. He is, he is gonna stay there.
Harold: And it's, it's fun to see the different characters coming in with their different responses. And just the sheer repetition sometimes gives weight to something. And I think he definitely gets that here. And I, you know, it's like, like the band Sparks-- repetition is is a piece of what, what the work is and somehow can give to, can give a piece of art weight just because it's, you know, the artist stayed there in the same spot for 24 panels. It's gotta mean something.
Jimmy: A hundred percent. And it's the kind of thing that like, if he just did three of them, it would be less-- it almost has to be too much and go beyond too much to get to be funny again.
Jimmy: You know, if you did two or three of them, it would be uh or whatever, but he does the whole week. And I think I would imagine that by like week by day four or five, you're like, what is happened? Is, is he going to stand here for the rest of his life?
Harold: Yeah, it works really, really well. And it is, I think creative
Michael: Dave Sim would have him stand there for the rest of his life.
Jimmy: I was, I I'm so glad you were going to say that. Cause it made me think of Guys-- or not is it Guys? Yeah, Guys where Cerebus, This is Rick’s story, I guess, where he's the bartender in the bar that no one comes to and he doesn't leave. Yeah. And it goes on for dozens and dozens of issues.
Harold: Schulz does break the monotony on April 17th and the in the fifth of the eight, eight panels though.
Jimmy: Well, hold on. I actually, I want to track there, there are two strips that I think in this are really, really funny. The first one is April 14. And Lucy comes up and says, “if I had a kite caught up in a tree, I'd yell at it.” Charlie Brown says, “oh.” “Do you want me to yell at it Charlie Brown?” Charlie Brown says, “no, thank you, Lucy.” And there's a silent panel as Lucy just contemplates the tree. And then she says, as she walks away,”if I had a kite caught up in a tree, I'd yell at it.”
And that leads to the April 17th strip, which goes Lucy, back at the tree again, saying “if my kite were up in a tree, I'd yell at it.” Charlie Brown says, “you told me that already.” Lucy says, “come down from there I'd say, then I'd call it a few names.” “Oh, good grief”says Charlie Brown, Lucy continues. “You dumb kite. That's what I call it. Then I'd yell at it some more.” She walks away fist clenched, saying “I yell at it and yell at it and yell at it and yell at it.” And Charlie Brown, just sighs.
Jimmy: Siga. Oh, Lucy saying I’d yell at it and yell at it and yell at it. Oh, that's almost, it's a bug. It's a piece of fuzz level comedy for me. I just think that it's so funny.
Michael: but like you say, this was never reprinted. I don't remember these.
Jimmy: Weird. No.
Harold: And this strip, he does make another bold artistic choice. The date he does as a fraction, which he never does.
Jimmy: Oh no he's done that a couple of times. It's weird
Harold: He’s certainly not doing it here. I think he said he's already drawn the graphs and he just doesn't have room
Jimmy: to squeeze it in. And Schulz is on the side
Harold: because he's usually doing the four dash 16. So he's doing, it's almost a quarter-- four out of 17,
Jimmy: you know, what's really weird, not weird, but interesting to me that third panel, the lettering looks like much later Peanuts, it's really loose looking and really bouncy and curvy. And I think it's more so than even the other panels, but it's a great looking comic strip. I think he had fun drawing that Charlie Brown face all those times too. It's just a great expression.
Harold: Do you think he traced?
Jimmy: I mean, he might've, but I don't think so. He's
Harold: amazingly good if he’s not tracing
Jimmy: yeah. I dunno. I dunno. I have no idea. I don't think I, yeah, I don't think he needs to, like, I, you know, again, behind the scenes I drew the, a little logo we use for the podcast and you'll never get a hundred percent that Schulz thing, because the art of it is that he pencils so minimally and then inks so quickly.
And if you're going to use that radio 914, you ha you have to ink quickly. But if you're not Charles Schulz, you really can't pencil it quickly because there's so few elements that make up a face and Peanuts, they all have to be in the right place. If one's off, it just doesn't. It just looks like something else.
Michael: I think it's photocopied or whatever the technology was. No. Seriously. Charlie Brown, the hand it's too similar
Jimmy: he may have,
Harold: I think he traced it
Jimmy: Panel three’s diff-- oh, you know what? No, let's see. Yeah, you're right. These are, these are photostats and he's putting just some extra lines around the eyes.
Harold: Wow. That's that's, that's pretty amazing because he would never have, maybe that's why he didn't reprint it. Cause he was always claiming I drew everything. And if he, if he did photostat this as an experiment, he probably it's a dark piece of Peanuts history because he did copy something
Jimmy: which is funny. I mean, cause that's only him failing by his own standards.
No one, I mean, no one in the world would think of thing of it.
Michael: also look at the grass, the grass around the tree, changing the grass changing, but his Charlie Brown.
Harold: Have you guys ever seen it? Have you guys ever seen the the YouTube, it's like a little minute long YouTube of of Charles Schulz drawing?
Jimmy: Yeah. The one where he's actually using the pen?
Harold: Yes, and it's like, it's like something unreal is happening. It's almost like those old Max Fleischer out of the inkwell cartoons where they're faking somebody draws something. It's like his, his hand is going over the paper with the lightest touch. And these amazing lines are popping as like, I can't even tell it's connecting to the paper and he's going at these weird angles.
He's going, like, he's going up, like to 10 o'clock with the pen and angles that you think would screw up a penpoint, which I guess is why this particular pinpoint was so amazing because little kids could use it for handwriting and he turns it around and uses it for his advantage because you can do anything with this pen and it won't skip or mess up.
Jimmy: And if you look at that that video that Harold's talking about, which you should, I don't, you certainly can't even see any pencil lines. If they're there, there were so faint that the camera couldn't pick them up. And it's, it's, he's drawing the bench that Charlie Brown sits on and he's standing in front of it's, it is like magic.
My, I had an illustration professor, Robert Nelson, who passed away a few months ago at 96. And he, I think was like a genius artist. And I was was actually talking to a woman who was his agent recently. We were just sort of reminiscing. And she said, watching him draw was like watching the hand of God, because like Harold says, you just, he would move his hand and you couldn't really understand how he moved it so effortlessly and suddenly this thing would appear. Watching that drawing, that video Schulz is exactly like that. It's like watching magic.
Harold: Yeah. It's so cool.
Jimmy: And then it all wraps up on April 20th. Charlie Brown is still standing out by the tree, Pouring rain now. Shermy runs out in his rain gear and says, “Charlie Brown, it's raining. You're going to get drenched.” Charlie Brown says,” is that stupid kite getting wet too?” Shermy says, “It's soaked.” And then the last panel, Charlie Brown’s expression finally changes to a huge satisfied smile.
Harold: that is some set up for a payoff.
Jimmy: And that's true. It's like the fact that Charlie Brown's expression does not change for a full week. And then it only does in the end because his inanimate kite now is feeling some of the pain that he is feeling.
Harold: Yeah, that's uniquely Schulz. This really is a remarkable series.
Jimmy: Very strange. And I guess we will never know. We can only theorize as to why it was never reprinted.
April 30th, Charlie Brown and Lucy are standing outside by the wall. They're looking at the grass and Charlie Brown says “pretty soon, Lucy, all the grass will be turning green. Lucy says, “light green, dark green or medium green, yellow, green, blue, green, or lime green.” She continues, “kelly green, forest green, hunter green, jade green, apple green or olive green, evergreen, wintergreen, Herb Green, or Graham Green? Charlie Brown puts his head in his hands at the wall and says, “oh good grief.”
Harold: Yeah. This is definitely a Peanuts obscurity to share what goes on, at least in this last panel. So do you know who Herb Green is, Michael?
Michael: Yeah, Herb Green was a jazz guitar player.
Harold: Well, there was another Herb Green.
Michael: Oh, there was?
Harold: Yeah, he he was a cartoonist and he had cartoons and the Saturday Evening Post, was from Kansas and Mort Walker mentions a story in what's the name of his backstage at the strips?
Have you guys read that thing? It was came out like in the mid 70s. Yeah, it's kind of this comic strip confidential, where he's kind of dishing out on the cartoonists, he’s kind of irreverent about everybody. But he does mention in 1951, Charles Schulz traveled to New York city, I guess, to meet with the syndicate.
And he he stayed on Herb Green’s couch.
Jimmy: Oh, wow.
Harold: So that, yeah, cause I was looking it up. At first I found that the jazz, the musician I said was this who he's referring to? And then I was like, oh my gosh, there's another Herb Greene in Charles Schulz’s life. And then Graham Greene,
Jimmy: I don't know who Graham Greene is either.
Harold: So Graham Greene is an author.
His most famous works with The Power and The Glory and The Third Man, which was made that movie with Joseph Cotton and Orson Welles with the, with the zither music in a post-war Europe.
Jimmy: I'll have to look in my zither music movie collection. I have a lot of those. All right, Graham Greene. Peanuts obscurity.
See, that's why you come here. Now you learn something. Despite our best efforts.
May 7th. Charlie Brown is watching Lucy. Lucy is on her knees, examining the ground very closely. She says “I've been watching these bugs, Charlie Brown. You see this one bug here is about to leave home. He has been saying goodbye to all his friends. Suddenly this little girl bug comes running up and tries to persuade him not to leave.” Charlie Brown looks out at us a look of huh? upon his face. Charlie Brown listens as Lucy turns away from the ground and smiles at him saying “if you're going to be a good bug watcher, you have to have lots of imagination.”
Michael: Maybe she realizes she's making things up.
Jimmy: Yeah. Now this also, this seems like something that could possibly be observed. My kids, they had an ant that was called for some reason named Wait, but any aunt they saw was Wait and they would say, well, there's Wait. He must be going off to his job or whatever.
So that could be, could definitely be a thing. But yeah, so Lucy though is okay with this because it's not a piece of funzz. That is, that is her big phobia. If she had seen a piece of fuzz on the ground, she would freak out.
Michael: This is a three-part parter, I believe.
Jimmy: Yep. It continues
May 8th. Lucy says, “You can learn a lot about life from watching bugs.” Charlie Brown and Lucy get up from the ground and walk away saying, “This one little bug had built the most beautiful home you've ever seen. Suddenly he lost it, just like that.” She snaps her fingers. Charlie Brown asks, “what happened?” Lucy says “I kicked it over.”
Jimmy: That's Lucy in a nutshell right there.
Harold: Yeah. Now I have a question for you guys. Does, does the drawing for her snapping her fingers work for you?
Michael: She has four of them.
Harold: Because I would think if you, if you're going to do a snapping of the fingers, you either have the third finger and the thumb right before the snap, or you have the thumb and the third finger down against the palm. You wouldn't have the third finger floating. So that, that was a
Jimmy: No matter how you flip your snap, your fingers, as I'm trying to do it right now, you're not going to get into that pose.
Michael: Yeah, write him a letter.
Jimmy: And it does look like she only has four fingers, but I think the pinky is tucked in.
Harold: Yeah. It's really, really hard to see. Yeah, but that was a choice I didn't, I didn't understand why he did it that way.
Jimmy: It's hard to do. Like hands in general are hard. And then having a hand do what I, I was just last night trying to draw Amelia, pretending she's on a cell phone while holding up her finger to the person she's talking to, to like hush them for a second. You've seen people do that a million times, but when you actually have to draw a cartoon version,
Harold: it's a hard draw.
Jimmy: It's very hard to draw. So I think snapping fingers works in that kind of thing.
Michael: He should have used some photo reference there.
Jimmy: Yeah. You know, it's funny. I do think, I don't think he had photo reference, but I definitely think there are instances where he looked at at his dogs and got some idea for Snoopy poses in the earlier days.
Oh. Which reminds me, I do have an answer. A way back while Michael, you asked, did he ever have a beagle? Yes, he did have a beagle. It was named Snoopy and he gave it away. And this was well after this. This was. He was, he was Charles Schulz and Peanuts was Peanuts at this point.
Harold: Snoopy was a gift
Jimmy: Yeah. I don't know. But he, yeah, he had dogs his whole life
Michael: Must be worth a lot of money now.
May 9th. Lucy is back staring at the bugs again and says, “you know why that big black bug doesn't move?” She's speaking to Charlie Brown who kneels down and looks closer. Lucy says, “because she's the queen bug. She just sits there, see, while the other bugs do all the work.” Charlie Brown gets super close saying, “That's not a bug. That's a jelly bean.” Lucy looks closer as well and says, “by golly, you're right, Charlie Brown.” They walk away. And Lucy says, “I wonder how a jelly bean ever got to be queen.”
Jimmy: All right. Now let's defend Lucy's logic here.
Michael: She's established It's the queen. Therefore she cannot contradict her own statement.
Jimmy: No, never. I'll never, never, never, never. I'd love it. And there's always this question about whether or not at some point, Lucy is putting Charlie Brown on, just intentionally never changing her viewpoint because she knows that would give Charlie Brown some sort of satisfaction. And she's just not going there.
Harold: She did acknowledge that it was a jelly bean. So that was, that was something. She gave him something.
Jimmy: Yeah. She threw him a bone.
May 13th. Charlie Brown is running, trailing his kite behind him, which is in the air, but looking pretty rickety and out of control. He darts between two buildings. In the third panel, Charlie Brown looks back frustrated. “That stupid kite went down again. Kites drive me crazy” he says, as he winds back up the string. He continues to wind back the string as he follows his path from where he went with the kite, I've never seen one yet that didn't get itself, all tangled up in everything.”Excuse me” he says. Schroeder who was on the tricycle is now completely caught up in the kite string. The kite string now has gone through two knots in a wooden fence in one side and out the other, as Charlie Brown says, “I wonder where that fool thing went down?”
Charlie Brown continues to follow the string saying “How I hate kites. I'll never buy another one as long as I live.” Now Snoopy is the one wrapped up in the kite string. Charlie Brown, “excuse me.” He continues. “I hate every bone in that kite's body. Good grief. What a mess.” Now the kite is all wrapped up in a garden hose. “So that's where you came down eh? Good. In the last panel we see the kite has gone into a burn barrel. Is that what they were called? Where you would burn your trash or your leaves or whatever. And Charlie Brown is yelling, “Burn yo monster!”
Harold: Yeah. Some of that strident anger from 1956.
Jimmy: Yeah. Cause it's like this righteous, you deserve this punishment kite.
Harold: It's a surprise. When I read it, it was total surprise that it's so intense at the end. It's like, wow.
Jimmy: Michael, does this remind you of anything in Love and Rockets? When Hopey’s band breaks up and she puts all her musical gear in a trash pile and lights it on fire. Die you demons of hell. It really reminds me of this
Michael: certainly possible.
Jimmy: And it's both the same thing. Where these were things that were supposed to give the person pleasure and satisfaction. And instead they're just a source of continual pain.
May 20th Linus is sitting in his classic pose, holding his blanket, sucking his thumb. Snoopy walks up and sits next to him. He eyes up Linus’s his blanket. Rather than grab it. Snoopy starts dancing. Linus stands up. He's inspired by Snoopy's dancing. Suddenly the two are dancing together, but Snoopy has a mischievous look on his face. Suddenly mid dance Snoopy zips out of the frame. Linus is confused as to where Snoopy has gone. I n the last panel we see, Snoopy is now asleep on Linus’s blanket.
Michael: The eternal struggle,
Jimmy: the eternal struggle.
VO: It’s Snoopy Watch
Harold: The Snoopy happy dance here is used for, to entice minus and it's trickery. Right? And I, I see something happening with Schulz this year where he, he takes this to a different level later in a different strip where the character is just happy for happiness sake.
And that to me is like a, a step forward for Schulz in, in his strip. And I can't think of another comic strip where you do have a character, just absolutely blissing out that's so iconic as Snoopy dancing. And it's like, it's almost like you see him getting to this place where he can just have a character being totally joyful. I don't know if it's for its own sake or whatever, but in, in the strip and I, I just was done a fascinating that he's, he's kind of getting there. He's getting to this place where Snoopy is, this can be this totally blissed out character in this world.
Jimmy: It's very strange to be in this mid period of Snoopy's evolution too, because clearly in the, in the happy dance panels, he's behaving much more like the other characters. The panel, the last panel in the second tier-- the expression that knowing mischievous expression is so human. But in the last panel it's like one of those observed draw dog drawings that I was talking about earlier. It's really neat.
Harold: He looks way huger than he should be, right?
Jimmy: Yeah. I think, I wonder if it was supposed to be Linus was more in the background or something and it's a perspective, but he does look huge. If he stood up, he would be twice the size of Linus.
Harold: Yeah. And I have to call out the, the drawing on the bottom left drawing in this strip of, of Snoopy zipping, 180 degrees to go after the blanket.
And we were talking about line of action in animation. This is Schulz's kind of version of line of action, where you Snoopy is just elongated and is, is gleeful dash to, to get the thing he always wanted and to lie on Linus’s blanket. But it's just, it's such a great piece of drawing. While it's line continues to dance, happily unaware of what's going on.
Jimmy: Yeah. Great, great cartooning in that panel,
May 31st Lucy is playing baseball or at least she's out in a baseball field with her baseball glove on, but she's playing with a stick in the dirt and whistling when a ground ball bounces over her head. Charlie Brown comes out to yell at her and says, “Are you out of your mind? You're supposed to be playing right field. You let that ball go right by you. Of all the stupid things” he says, as he returns to his pitcher's mound. “Good grief.” Lucy calls after him calmly saying, “A wise manager, never shouts at his players.”
Michael: I love that first panel. She's just like blissing out there playing with a stick.
Harold: Is this the first time Lucy refers to Charlie Brown as a manager?
Jimmy: I think so. Yes. We had a kid that used to call jukebox because he would stand out in the outfield and just sing songs to himself, the whole game. Honestly, there were times where he wasn't even looking in the right direction or I remember him, they had cut the grass and he would just pick it up and throw it in the air and dance.
Michael: Well the thing is they, right field is where you put the people who didn't know what they were doing. Cause the ball never went to right…
Jimmy: right, right.
June 1st, Charlie Brown and Violet are walking down the street. Charlie Brown says, “Nobody likes me. Nobody.” Violet says to him,” have you ever stopped to try to figure out why nobody likes you Charlie Brown?” “Of course I have. And I found out why too” he says. “I'm unpopular.”
Michael: Makes sense to me.
That makes sense. You know, this is one of the things about Charlie Brown. When you, when you are reading it all, you get a different point of view. Because Schulz was pulling out a lot of the straps where Charlie Brown was a wise guy, where Charlie Brown pushed the little girl over, or Charlie Brown's casually sexist to the girls and we're left with just, I don't know why nobody likes me, but he never thinks to change anything about himself.
I mean, and Linus just a few weeks ago, says I'll be your friend. And yet it comes with a, with a cut because that's just how life is. And kids are a lot of times, but here he's saying nobody likes me, nobody. Well, you've had weeks to be a really good friends with Linus. So I think at least one person likes you. Right?
Harold: Yeah. And we just asked a strip where one of the sweetest strips of the year where Charlie Brown notices that there's a dotted line on Linus’s blanket. So it Linus tears it in half and it gives them the other half and Linus says happiness should be shared, Charlie Brown.
Michael: Shermy clearly likes him. Maybe to Charlie Brown that doesn't count because he has no personality.
Jimmy: But he does now according to the Shermometer, but yeah, Harold you're right. I mean, that's like the greatest…
Michael: But Charlie Brown is-- This is going to drive him crazy. And you'll, as you will shortly see, he, he, he breaks.
Jimmy: Oh, okay. Great. All right.
Michael: The fact that nobody likes him and he doesn't know why.
June 10th. Snoopy is sitting and looking at his reflection in a puddle. He thinks to himself, “I wished that I looked real tough. I wonder what some dogs do to make themselves look tough.” Snoopy thinks to himself, “Fangs. By golly, that's what you have to have if you're going to scare people. Fangs. And a real fierce expression.” And we see Snoopy has transformed his visage to look angry and his fangs are bared. He thinks to himself “Here comes that stupid Linus and his equally stupid sister. I'll show him the old fangs and scare the daylights out of them.” Snoopy presents his new ferocious look to Linus and Lucy. Linus imitates a ferocious creature back to him. Lucy and Linus both now imitate creatures and they walk off both looking like monsters with their fangs bared. Snoopy is disappointed that this didn't go the way he thought. And he just says, “Sigh.”
Michael: Usually you don't see Linus being-- mock other people or dogs.
Jimmy: I don't think he's mocking them. I think they're just playing
Michael: I think they’re making fun of how stupid he is.
Harold: Oh, I, I read it as that. Yeah. Okay. There's a good idea. Let's do that fun thing too.
Jimmy: Yeah, that’s how I read it too. That Linus does it, and then he looks at Lucy and like, look how fun this is. And then they walk off doing it. But you could go either way I suppose.
Harold: The panel that shocked my socks off though, was Snoopy saying here comes that stupid Linus and is equally stupid sister. I wasn't expecting to have, it's just such an outright judgment on them. It's like, wow, Snoopy. I didn't know you felt that way.
July 2nd, Lucy and Linus are examining what looks like a birch tree. Lucy says this, Linus, is a giant oak.” “Oak? thinks Charlie Brown in the background. “When oak trees get real old, they're cut down and used to make knotty pine recreation rooms.” Charlie Brown says “knotty pine?” Charlie Brown says, “, I can't stand that. I just can't stand it.” And then he walks away saying “listening to Lucy's lectures always makes my stomach hurt.”
Jimmy: Poor. Charlie Brown is going to have an ulcer by the end of this. His stomach is always hurting
July 3rd. Lucy and Linus are examining another small tree. Lucy says, “this, Linus, is a palm tree.” Charlie Brown says “good grief.” Lucy continues to explain the tree. “It gets its name from the fact that the average person can put his hand clear around it.” Charlie Brown comes up to the two of them saying, “Lucy, you're killing me. These stupid things you tell him, they get me so worked up my stomach hurts.” Lucy continues. “Just ignore him Linus. Now over here is a bamboo tree.” Charlie Brown is now sitting on the ground, clutching his stomach, “Ow Ow Ow.”
Michael: Well, this is something he established a couple of years ago that this nonsense the fixes. So he-- a call back to an older strip and it continues the next day.
July 4th, Linus and Lucy are walking down the street. Lucy says, “Now this, Linus, is a telephone pole. You'll be interested to know that telephone poles are not poles at all. They're really a kind of tree developed by the phone company especially for their use.” Charlie Brown, “Ow Ow Ow.”
Jimmy: Charlie Brown appears essentially out of nowhere in that last panel. It’s like her lecture has manifested him. And then we wrap up here in--
July 5th, where Lucy says to Charlie Brown, “What do you mean I make your stomach hurt? Charlie Brown explains to her. “You do. You say stupid things. And then I get all worked up and my stomach starts to hurt.” Lucy says “just because of what I say, Charlie Brown?” Charlie Brown yells, “Yes!” Lucy smiles, leans into him and says, “are you sure it isn't love?” Charlie Brown sticks out his tongue in disgust.
Jimmy:I love that. That's so cute. I love Lucy’s ability to turn on a dime like that. So funny. And then our grand finale,
July 6th, Lucy and Linus are talking. Charlie Brown is watching. Lucy continues her lecture. “Leaves are a fascinating study Linus. Most people think that the leaves just fall off when autumn comes.” Charlie Brown says, “My stomach.” Lucy continues, “but the truth is that they all jump off before the squirrels can get them.” Charlie Brown is sitting on the curb. Linus now joins him saying, “That did it. Move over Charlie Brown.” Linus is clutching his stomach.
Jimmy: So there you go. Linus might be at the end of listening to Lucy, or at least he's taking a break from it. Oh, by the way, Michael, you talk about the liking, the falling leaves strips. If you go to go to comics.com they actually have a a curated collection of just the autumn leaves strips.
Michael: Oh. I’m just glad people are paying attention.
Jimmy: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think they did it somehow via time travel. Cause it's been up there for awhile, but it's really cool to see. And while you're on the internet, checking out go comics. Why don't you also hustle over to our website-- unpackingpeanuts.com and follow us on on the Instagram and the Twitter.
We're unpackpeanuts and we'd love to hear from you.
July 14th, Linus is standing yelling.”I'm independent.” Nobody is there to listen to this, by the way. He says, I stand on my own two feet. I don't need anybody. I don't need anybody.” Then he looks down and says, Lucy, will you tie my shoe for me?
Jimmy: The only reason I read this is July 14th, 1956. That was the day my parents got married. So that was the Peanuts strip on their day. And it's about needing someone. So that's beautiful.
Michael: That is beautiful.
July 15th, Linus is playing baseball. He stands there and he says, “come on, hit one out here.” Then he plucks a piece of long grass from the ground and puts them in his mouth. Suddenly it's clear that a high fly ball has been hit his way. He runs after it. Unfortunately right barring his way is Lucy and the other girls who are jumping rope. Linus manages to sync up with Lucy and successfully jump the rope while passing through and then catching the fly ball. Charlie Brown says “greatest catch I’v ever seen.”
Michael: And notice it's a basket catch. So it's a clear reference to Willie Mays and the 1954 world series making what they now call “The Catch.”
VO: It’s time for the Peanuts Time Machine
Jimmy: I am unfamiliar. I'm embarrassed because I claim I can talk about baseball, but I don't know The Catch. But I'm in my defense, I'm in Pennsylvania. And in our catch that everybody worships is the Immaculate Reception, but that's football.
Michael: This is Vic Wurtz, hitting a huge line drive in the world series and Willie Mays turning his back to home plate, running full speed towards the wall and catches the ball over his shoulder without looking at it.
Harold: What? Wow.
Michael: And then he turns and throws out the runner who was leading off at second. Watch it on YouTube. It's great.
Jimmy: Schulz is a huge Willie Mays fan. So I wouldn't actually be surprised if that was in the back of his mind.
Michael: Oh, I'm sure. And he lost his cap while he did it.
Jimmy: Like Linus! Fantastic.
Harold: That’s great.
July 25th. Charlie Brown is talking to Schroeder. Snoopy is sneaking up behind Charlie Brown. Schroeder says, “don't look now, but there's a python sneaking up behind you.” Snoopy grabs Charlie Brown by the ankle, squeezes. And Charlie Brown says, “Ooh, it's got me. It's squeezing me to death. I can't breathe. Aak.” Snoopy crawls away low, thinking to himself, “heh heh heh.” Charlie Brown in the last panel has a big smile on his face. As Schroeder says to him, “you made him very happy Charlie Brown.”
Harold: Yeah. What a, what a, what a good guy.
Michael: That was a nice thing to do.
Jimmy: What a great what a great bunch of lettering too. I love the really bold stuff you see with Charlie Brown, hamming it up. And I liked the little serif heh heh heh lettering that Snoopy thinks.
Harold: Does the python stand out to you? In the first panel?
Jimmy: As the lettering? Well, it’s wider
Harold: It’s so spread out compared to the rest of the lettering. It jumped out to me when I was reading it.
Jimmy: All right. I think that's a good place to take a break. Why don't we do that right now and then we'll come back and we'll continue with 1956.
Harold and MIchael Sure. Yup.
VO: Hi everyone. I just want to take a moment to remind you that all three hosts are cartoonists themselves and their work is available for sale. You can find links to purchase books by Jimmy, Harold and Michael on our website, UnpackingPeanuts.com.
Jimmy: And we're back continuing on here with 1956, let's get right into it.
August 14th, Charlie Brown is standing holding a baseball bat. The three girls come running up. They're clearly upset. Lucy says “you struck out.” Violet says “you didn't even swing. You just stood there.” Patty yells. “We could have won the championship. And you struck out you dumbbell Charlie Brown, you blockhead.” Actually they're all yelling at him, including Schroeder. In panel three, Charlie Brown walks away a huge black storm cloud symbolically over his head. And then he says to himself, “I'll go home and I'll go to bed. That's what I'll do. I'll go to bed and I'll never get up again. I'll just lie there for the rest of my life.”
Jimmy: This is Charlie Brown's default when the depression kicks in. This is obviously situational depression because he has just struck out, but we've seen this going back even a few years now, Charlie Brown, when something bad happens, he really wants to go and lie in bed.
Harold: Yeah. And notice that Linus is not in the group chewing him out.
August 15th, the story continues. Charlie Brown is now lying in bed, just like Brian Wilson did. And he says “The bases were loaded and I struck out. I didn't even swing. I just stood there. Strike three. Oh, I can still hear it. Why didn't I swing? Why didn't I swing? Why, why, why, why why? he thinks as he slowly drifts off to sleep, then suddenly in the last panel he bolts upright “Strike three!” he yells.
Michael: He seems more upset about not swinging than actually striking out.
Jimmy: Yeah, well, I think it is humiliating to strike out standing, just watching. You know?I think I remember we're being razzed for striking out as a kid. It was much worse if you just stood there.
Harold: Yeah. I could see that, and not being a baseball player, but that, that makes sense.
Jimmy: Yeah. I mean, cause then you're just hoping that he throws a ball and you might get walked. But you probably won't.
The story continues the next day.
August 16th. Charlie Brown is still in bed sleeping, but now we can see his thoughts as he dreams. “You didn't even swing. You just stood there. We could have won the championship
you dumbbell. Charlie Brown, you blockhead.” Then he bolts upright again, actually being spun around in his bed as he yells “strike three!” He looks out at us and says, “The nights are the hardest” as he's completely back ensconced and his blanket..
Harold: Poor Charlie Brown.
Michael: This is something Schulz does occasionally is how did they get to the championship team? We've never seen them win.
Jimmy: Yeah. There is no hope of trying to find a continuing coherent world with cause and effect and rules. Really. It's just constantly, there's so many strips where it's like, we could have won the championship. The only, and if they've never won a game, that's pretty hard. The only way I could think about it, we used to have the wiffle ball world series. And that was, that was the entirety of the wiffle ball season was the wiffle ball world series. So if these are just, you know, kids playing
Harold: Yeah. That makes sense
Jimmy: Every games, the championship
Harold: This is it. This is for the, all the marbles.
Jimmy: All the marbles.
August 17th, We continue. But now Schroeder is visiting Charlie Brown in his bed. “I can't play baseball” Charlie Brown says. “ I can't fly kites. I can't do anything. I'm just going to lie here in bed for the rest of my life.” Schroeder says to him, “As long as you're lying there, Charlie Brown, why don't you read?” Charlie Brown yells, “I can't even read good.”
Jimmy: Well, Schroeder makes a classic mistake when dealing with a depressed person saying, why don't you just do this?
Jimmy: Shut up Schroeder. That's not helpful.
Harold: So what, what is the, what is the appropriate response? If a Schroeder's sitting, standing there with Charlie Brown, what would have been the best thing he could do?
Michael: You need meds, Charlie Brown.
Jimmy: That is actually my favorite of the later specials. You need meds Charlie Brown. Oh, so good. I thought it was weird that they were no longer being sponsored by Dolly Madison. And it was by Merck, but Hey, you know,
Harold: It’s Xanax Day, Charlie