Jimmy: Hey, everybody. Welcome back to the show. It's Unpacking Peanuts, and we are in the Swingin’ Sixties. I didn't think it could get any better, but it somehow seems to keep just getting better and better and better here in the world of Peanuts.
How are you all doing out there? You're having a good day? I hope you're having a good day. If you are having a good day, then I hope that this is the cherry on top of your sundae. If you're not having a good day, then I hope that listening to this picks you up and maybe turns things around a little bit for the next hour and 15 minutes.
I'm one of your hosts. I'm Jimmy Gownley. You might know me as the cartoonist behind the Amelia Rules graphic novel series. My new graphic novel is Seven Good Reasons Not to Grow Up. And that's from Scholastic, who also published my memoir, which is The Dumbest Idea Ever.
Joining me, as always, are my co hosts. He's a playwright, he's a composer, both for the band Complicated People, as well as for this very podcast. He's the creator of the original Comic Book Price Guide and the original editor of Amelia Rules, as well as the cartoonist behind such great strips as Strange Attractors, A Gathering of Spells, and Tangled River. It's Michael Cohen.
Michael: Hey there.
Jimmy: And he's the writer and executive producer of Mystery Science Theater 3000, former vice president of Archie Comics, and the creator of the Instagram strip Sweetest Beasts, Harold Buchholz.
Jimmy: Guys. Season three. Can you believe we made it?
Harold: Doesn't seem possible somehow, but here we are.
Jimmy: It's funny, we'll congratulate ourselves on making it this far into reading the strips. Can you imagine what it took to create these strips?
Harold: Yeah, that might be a little, bit more involved. I don't know, probably a little bit.
Jimmy: Although in some strips, he probably put less thought into it than we did.
Harold: Well, maybe it's his w's, at least.
Jimmy: His w's, exactly. Well, I'm really excited. This is basically the consensus greatest decade for Peanuts that we're starting today. and I couldn't be more thrilled to be getting into it. Michael, what are your thoughts as we enter Camelot? We're leaving Eisenhower behind. And for a brief shining moment.
Michael: Well, starting with 1960, I think it's a little bit down from last year. But considering that 1959 was, like, the greatest year ever in the history of comics, being slightly down from that is not too disastrous.
Yeah, my main reason is ‘59 had some big firsts. Sally got introduced. The Great Pumpkin got introduced. Ms. Othmar, for what that's worth, was introduced. And we had the first psychiatrist booth from Lucy.
This, year, it looks like he's not pushing it as much as far as creating new long running gags. Still relying on a lot of the old ones, which are all great. I just thought the quality was just a hair down, but still, great year.
Jimmy: Harold, how about you?
Harold: I can kind of see what Michael saying. Certainly you ticked off a lot of pretty major developments in 1959. I really enjoyed 1960. I really do have a soft spot for 1959 as well. That year was just such a delight to read. And this year is still amazing Peanuts, and the characters do seem to be continuing to settle into their relationships. And this is the Peanuts that I knew growing up and loved so much.
This is a pretty, momentous year for Schulz in that he's continuing the momentum and he's growing an audience. And you can tell that more and more people are taking notice of this strip. It's amazing how long things took to hit the awareness of people compared to today, let's say, when someone can put on a TikTok video and all of a sudden everyone's talking about something. It wasn't quite like that in 1960 and one of the major milestones that’s mentioned on the Charles M Schulz museum’s Life of Charles M. Schulz timeline, which you should check out if you've not done that at the Schulzmuseum.org. They do say in 1960 there is a big milestone for Schulz on the business side and that he is now putting out Hallmark cards. If you're putting out Hallmark cards, you kind of made it in a certain way in the publishing world. Right? That's a big deal.
And, it's interesting that he's still in a little bit of this kind of group artist time for himself. It looks like he tried to create a little empire with bringing artists out to California with him and didn't quite work out. But he's actually writing and drawing a lot of these early Hallmark cards himself. And in the future, that's not going to be the case. What goes outside of the Schulz world and the strip often there's somebody involved in some way or another because they have to be, because there's so many things. People are creating three dimensional versions of Schulz. People are creating animation. so, he can't just do it all himself. And so there's going to be this Schulz that we should already see in the comic books that have been out for a while. But this kind of non-Schulz Peanuts still doesn't really exist a whole lot except for in the comic books. So almost everybody who's experiencing Peanuts is experiencing pure Peanuts.
Jimmy: Right. Well, that is really interesting. I even remember that being-- maybe it wasn't true anymore, but I sort of remember people saying that even when I was young, that Schulz did everything, even the greeting cards. Do you have any idea how long that lasted? That he was doing all that sort of work?
Harold: Well, the way they put it on the timeline is that he produced much of the artwork for the early products and often visited the offices in Kansas City. So he was very excited and involved in that process to start. Obviously, I'm guessing as time went on, he was going less and less. I was under the impression when it came to greeting cards, that for a number of years, it was his own artwork in his own style. It wasn't until way later that I noticed that other people were doing it. Even if they were, like, cutting and pasting stuff from existing strips it seemed like it was Schulz. But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe other people did step in and do an amazing job of recreating those characters. But I thought, like, the cards were Schulz for years and years and years.
Jimmy: Yeah. When it gets later, like until the late 80s, early 90s, when his hand tremor is really noticeable, and he used to complain because the people who were hired to replicate his later art would replicate the hand tremor, as if that was the desired thing he had been going for. And he hated that, actually.
Harold: Oh, really? He did?
Harold: Wow. That's crazy. The other piece of it is, as we move along, there are more and more and more versions of Schulz that he's leaving behind in Peanuts. Those styles are changing. And there were people that loved a certain style in a certain time, but he seemed to really try to keep with whatever version he was at the moment. And he seemed to discourage someone going back and saying, I love 1955 Snoopy or whatever and put that in something. So it seemed like he did have a tremendous amount of influence and control over what Peanuts was all about, and he had a lot of very strong opinions about it.
Jimmy: Yeah, it might be where Linus gets his fanatical nature from. But I don't blame him. If I was creating something this special, I wouldn't want to mess with either.
So just for you guys listening at home, if you want to know what Michael thinks is a slightly down year, he sent me, 60 strips for us to discuss. That's his slightly down year, which I think is 20 more strips than we discussed last year. So this is, going to be fun, but I think we should probably just get right to it. Do you guys want to start the 60s?
Michael: Let’s do it.
Harold: Sure, let's start 60s with 60.
Jimmy: Let's do it.
January 3. Lucy is lying on the living room floor. She's writing on a piece of paper. She says to herself, “I'm really performing him a great service.” Then we see her walking to another room, holding the slip of paper. She says, “I sort of wish that someone had done something like this for me when I was young.” She walks up to Linus, who's playing with some toys, and says, “here, Linus, look what I've done for you.” Linus studies the sheet of paper as Lucy continues to talk. “I've made up a list of New Year's resolutions that I feel you need desperately to make.” She continues, “Actually, these are reforms which will help you to become a better person.” Linus says, “well, how nice.” Then he continues, “this was very thoughtful of you, Lucy. I shall try earnestly to improve myself in all these areas. I'll make good use, of this list. I'll try very hard to improve. I really will.” Lucy looks thrilled that Linus is into it. Then he turns with a big, sarcastic grin on his face and says, “in fact, I think I'm getting better already. Look at me, I'm improving.” Then he laughs hysterically as he drops the piece of paper and walks away. Lucy, dejected, looks at the piece of paper on the floor. Then she goes, to Charlie Brown and says, “Reformers have a hard life.”
Michael: I think he's amplifying the part of Lucy that we picked up on last year that, unlike Violet and Patty were just nasty kind of for the sake of being nasty. She thinks she's doing good. Her criticisms are actually she's trying to help people. And here's where she's seriously trying to help her brother. It's nice to see Linus stand up to her for once. But I find it curious that there are a lot of really good Lucy strips this year, and he still hasn't brought back the psychiatrist booth which appeared in one strip the year before, which that's kind of the apotheosis of her old character. It just sums it up so nicely. But this is getting in that direction. She's like a counselor here.
Harold: I want to ask you guys a cartooning question. The lettering on the Sundays seems to be much worse than on the dailies in terms, of how rough it looks. And I'm wondering is that because he's working smaller on the Sundays and he's using the same tool as he is on the dailies, and therefore it's harder to get the lettering done with the same tool when you're working smaller?
Jimmy: Well, on this particular instance, there's just so much lettering. There probably was a certain amount of fatigue that set in. But the other thing that might have happened, I think, previous to this year, you can see a line weight difference between the Sundays and the dailies. And I think at this point, perhaps the size of the original of the Sundays did, change and it might be taking some getting used to. That's my guess.
Harold: I've been noticing this for a while, though. So maybe what, you're saying is changed after January, what we're looking at right here. But, yeah, I was wondering about it because you could see it all along that they weren't the same size he was working with. But I was assuming he was using the same tool. The drawings look thicker, the lines look thicker, and I'm guessing that's just because he's working smaller, and it's fine for the actual characters, but yeah, the lettering just seems like, he's struggling a little bit more with the Sundays. I don't know.
Jimmy: Yeah, I don't know. There's a lot of lettering on that one, so it could very well. I'm not sure.
Harold: Reading her wonderful list of things you should do to improve, and he says, well, how nice. And it's like his w is like Walt Disney. I'm getting back into my w analysis, but, yeah, it's just like, wow. This is not quite the pristine, style that he sets for himself on the dailies. And I'm just guessing he's sticking with the tools because it works best six days out of the week. But he'll make his do with what he can, even though it's not may be optimal for the Sunday.
January 4. Charlie Brown and Linus are walking outside. Linus says, “I feel sorry for little babies. When a little baby is born into this cold world, he's confused, he's frightened. He needs something to cheer him up.” And he turns to Charlie Brown and says confidently, “the way I see it, as soon as the baby is born, he should be issued a banjo.”
Jimmy: Well, this is famous, but it later gets modified to a puppy and a banjo.
Harold: This is famous?
Jimmy: Oh, this is huge. Yeah. If you look up Charles Schulz quotes, like, right now, if you Google it, you blockhead, one of the first things that comes up is about a child being issued, like, a dog and a banjo at birth.
Harold: Really? I've never heard that one before. I've never seen it before. That's interesting.
Michael: Well, I picked it. Yeah I also picked up the banjo recently, so I thought it was appropriate.
Jimmy: Did you really?
Michael: Yeah, I've been playing banjo the last year so.
Jimmy: Okay. So my question is this, Liz, how's that going?
Michael: I will never play it in the house. The thing is, when the banjo first came into prominence in the 1920s and recordings, the songs were generally about murders and people like, starving to death.
Michael: It was not basically a cheerful instrument.
Harold: There's picking, but no grinning.
Michael: There was no grinning because people couldn't afford anything, and they stuck some strings on, like, a cigar box.
Jimmy: Well, now, apparently, it is something that everybody should have when they are born to assure them happiness. Not security. That requires a blanket.
January 10. We see Snoopy in stealth mode. He's hiding behind a plant. He's crawling low along the floor. He's peeking over an ottoman, sneaking around a door. He spots his prey, Linus, in classic blanket and thumb position. Snoopy races through clumps, grabs the blanket from Linus, and it's another one of their classic struggles. Snoopy grabs him, pulls him out the door. They're in the snow. They're wrestling for it on top of a giant hill. Linus is sent tumbling down the hill, landing headfirst into the snow. He arrives back home victorious, but shaken. Lucy says to him, “Are you crazy? It's cold outside. You could catch pneumonia rolling around out there in the snow.” Linus, warming his hands at the fire, says “the struggle for security knows no season.”
Harold: This is a classic. One I definitely remember as a child. This was like epic. I remember as a little kid just reading this strip in awe of this epic battle between Snoopy and Linus. It's just incredibly well done. The fact that it goes out into the snow and Snoopy is like pouncing him from feet above. Oh, gosh, yeah. Just when he's coming in the door and you see the cold air coming out of his mouth as he's, entering back into the house and then warming himself at the fire. When I think of epic Peanuts strips, this is the strip I think of.
Michael: It's great. Have you guys noticed that Snoopy is definitely transforming this year?
VO: It's Snoopy Watch.
Michael: And not so much in this strip, but he's becoming much more compact.
Jimmy: Yes, tubbier. You can even see that in panel one.
Michael: He’s tubbier. His snout is not so long. So I think this is getting into the classic 1960s Snoopy look already.
Jimmy: Yes, it really is. Again, this is the type of thing that, as it goes by day by day is invisible. But when you stop and really take a look at it, there it is.
I also love the drawing in the last panel that harkens back to the detail he was putting into some of those earlier mid 50s strips. Really nicely drawn fireplace.
Harold: Yeah, it's lovely.
Jimmy: With nary a ruler to be used during that, which is nice.
Harold: And I must say, the lettering looks better here than that previously.
Jimmy: Maybe you're just hypercritical. Wow.
Jimmy: Don't misletter your w's around Harold.
Harold: Oh, boy.
Jimmy: Next up, we have a three parter. So this is going to be January 14, January 15 and January 16.
January 14. Lucy is standing with Linus. She's drawing a heart on a wooden fence. The left half, is shaded black. She says, “this Linus is a picture of the human heart.” She continues describing her picture. “One side is filled with hate, and the other side is filled with love. These are the two forces which are constantly at war with each other.” Then Linus, reacting in the last panel, says, “I think I know just what you mean. I can feel them fighting.” He says this as he grabs his stomach.
January 15 In the next strip, he's walking with Charlie Brown. And he says, “Lucy says that half of our heart is filled with hate and half is filled with love.” Again, he clutches his stomach and says “and she says, this hate and love are always fighting within us, always quarreling, battling, struggling.” In panel three, he looks very upset and then yells “PEACE.”
January 16 In the last strip, it's Linus and Lucy again, Linus still clutching his stomach. He says to Lucy. “Lucy, I don't want my heart to be half love and half hate. I want to be all love.” Lucy grabs Linus and sort of tilts them over as Charlie Brown looks on from the distance, confused. Lucy says, “Good for you, Linus. All you have to do is lean a little to one side. See? Now the love will get a chance to spill over into the hate.” Charlie Brown says, “Good grief,” leaving Linus perched at an angle, hoping that this medical advice is true.
Michael: But according to her diagram her Ditko-esque diagram on the wall, the hate will spill over into the love if you lean that way.
Jimmy: Oh, that's right. Yeah. I wonder. Well, wait a second. Yeah, I guess you're right. Wow. Is this like a Darth Lucy theory where you're saying she's doing this intentional to get him over to the dark side?
Michael: Yes, absolutely.
I think this is really interesting. And I don't think these were ever reprinted. I've never seen them. This is really dark because you wouldn't think of Linus as having any hate. Yet he feels like he's half hate. And the second panel in the third strip, I want to be all love. He wants to be St. Francis, and he kind of comes across right?
Jimmy: Yeah, but we have seen him struggle. He's whipped out the finger guns. He's shadow boxed behind Lucy's head.
Michael: Yeah, this seems a little more intense for Schulz than he normally would go, and maybe that's why it wasn't reprinted.
Jimmy: Well, I think it's interesting-- The first strip was taken wholesale by Spike Lee for Do the Right Thing. I don't know if you've ever seen that movie, but one of the characters delivers a monologue about that, and he has rings on one hand that spell out love, and one rings on the other hand that spell out hate.
Michael: No, I immediately thought of Steve Ditko when I saw that, because he always the Mr. A stuff. One side is good and one side is evil. There's no in between.
Harold: Wow. And you just made me think of was it Night of the Hunter? Is that the one where Robert Mitchum has love and hate on the knuckles?
Jimmy: oh, yeah. Well, although I hate to tell because Lucy knows nothing about science, he's still going to have half love and half hate. It's just going to be like the bottom half will be love, and the top half will be hate or something. Right? I mean, if it's a closed system, she's not really changing anything by leaning him over.
Michael: It could be, like, water and oil. You think that they will not mix.
Jimmy: They won't mix. Right. But even if they do mix, it's still 50% love and 50% hate. It's not creating more hate, it's just creating him hate at a different angle.
February 7. Linus is watching-- possibly a robot, possibly a giant block of ice, but we know from context clues it's a television. Lucy walks up behind him. She walks right past him and changes the channel on the TV. Click. She says, “all right, you've watched that program long enough. Now I want to watch my program.” Linus runs away screaming. “AAUGH!” he yells to the heavens. “I can't, stand it.” He pounds on a beanbag chair. “She's going to drive me crazy.” Buries his face in the bean bag chair. “How can I live with a sister like that?” He continues to yell, “I can't stand it. I just can't stand it.” Then, in a very dramatic panel, he rips his shirt. “RAUGHRGH Rip, Rip.” And he looks down and says, “good grief, she has caused me to render my garments.” We see Linus there, very upset. His classic striped shirt torn.
Michael: Harold this is your territory.
Harold: This one made me laugh out loud. And I'm thinking of this in the context that I'm guessing by this time, his new role in this Methodist church he's been attending is he is going through the Bible. I can't remember how many times he did it. That's a lot of stuff to go through if you're literally going through the Bible with the Bible's class. And he's definitely in the Old Testament here, I think, going through this stuff, and it makes, me think also about that love and that hate thing, that this is kind of stuff that is on his mind because he's having to teach a class. So that may have something to do with what he's putting into some of these strips.
Jimmy: I love the middle panel on the bottom tier, where it's like, pure expressionistic Linus, his mouth is taking up half his head. It's not even clearly drawn teeth. It's just sort of scribble lines. And then you see the second rip, the one on the right. The lettering is all degraded, almost as if he put a very thin layer of ink down and then erased over it, and some of the ink came up and he kind of left it there. It gives it a really cool expressionistic and rough effect that matches really nicely the drawing, which is also super expressionistic. And he's going for, again, this kind of double line scratchiness that he's been developing over the last couple of years, and he really seems to like it.
Harold: And I guess this is a printed shirt because the lines don't go to the other side of the garment. So, learn more and more about the fabric.
Jimmy: there you go. This has been textile watch.
February 12. Snoopy is lying inside his dog house, which we are looking from basically a three quarter front view is now up against the house, which we've never seen before. But the reason we're seeing it this way is because, above the dog house is a giant icicle. Snoopy thinks to himself, “I'm doomed.” Then we see Charlie Brown on the phone. Lucy is watching as Charlie Brown talks to who's ever on the other end saying, “Hello, Humane Society? We need your advice. How do you get a dog out of a doghouse before an icicle falls on him?” Charlie Brown hangs up the phone and explains to Lucy, “He said to try coaxing him out with his favorite food, something he just can't resist.” Charlie Brown picks up the phone again and says, what's the number of “Villella’s Takeout Pizza Parlor?”
Harold: Now this is a classic sequence I remember as a kid and being very concerned for Snoopy with this massive icicle dangling, the sword of Damocles or whatever over Snoopy's little doghouse. I remember that very clearly.
But the reason I suggested this particular strip is for a Peanuts obscurity. I was curious whether Villella’s Takeout Pizza Parlor might be some new thing for Schulz in Sebastopol, California. so I was doing a search for it, and I found people asking the same question on GoComics.com. You can make comments if you want in Gocomics.com and have conversations with people about specific strips. And this strip comes up as soon as you look up Villella’s Take Out Pizza Parlor.
So, thanks to the Library of Congress, you can go and find the Sebastopol Yellow Pages from this era, and there is no Villella’s Take Out Pizza Parlor. But I did find out that when, I think it was Craig Schulz, went, to Minneapolis St. Paul for the premiere of the Peanuts movie in 2015, a reporter noted that he saw somebody he knew in the crowd, and he went to speak to them. And it was Irene Villella and her daughter Diane who were next door neighbors to the Schulz's, and Diane babysat the kids. so I think this is to honor the Villellas from that's amazing.
Harold: Aww, thanks.
Jimmy: It's funny. Also, like, pizza is the 20th century-- in America. It started in the 1900s in New York. Obviously, it came from Naples to New York, but it didn't really catch on until after World War Two, when GIs that were stationed in Italy came back and were looking for it. So we're only, like, 15 years into pizza being, like, a huge thing or whatever. So even that's sort of interesting to me, because I think this is probably the first time he's mentioned it. Right?
Harold: And do you think maybe that is the California part of this strip? That maybe that was something they got a little bit more of in California than they did in Minnesota? I don't know.
Jimmy: Oh, maybe.
Michael: Well, they certainly didn't have icicles hanging from the roof.
Harold: He's doing a mash up.
Jimmy: That is a wild looking icicle.
Harold: Yeah. I was so concerned for Snoopy.
Michael: You might remember this Harold, because this was actually a fairly long sequence, and unlike most Peanuts sequences, it had, like, suspense.
Harold: Yeah, it ran a couple of weeks. Yeah, it definitely stood out to me when I was reading the little Fawcett Crest paperbacks. Snoopy is in danger. And the only weird thing, of course, is that why is Snoopy's dog house up against the house only this time for the story.
Jimmy: Okay, well, I'm glad that you mentioned that because I think it's so funny because, like, Michael, you'll say, well, this strip violates the rules, whatever it is. Right? And that's just a rule you made up in your head. And yet you guys like this, where I look at this and go, well, this violates the rules.
Michael: Totally violates the rules. I agree. I don’t like it.
Jimmy: Oh, you do? Okay. I felt manipulated by this because I've seen Snoopy's dog house 18 million times. It's not up against the house. So I feel like, and I really honestly do, the more I think I started it, as a pose saying, my favorite character is Schulz, but the more I read these and read them in order, it's really true. And this point, I feel like, hey, man, I know you're just putting the dog house up against the house so that you can manufacture this faux drama, and it really bugged me. I'm the biggest cheerleader, so now everyone can feel free to say bad things, because I think this strip, this whole sequence, bugs me for that reason.
Harold: Yeah, and the weird thing is, he could have fixed it with just a single strip. He could have just said, hey, Snoopy, to keep you safer from the snow and keeping you warmer, we're going to put one side of it up the house, and they could have had a gag there, and then he would have been set. And then they give it away because the icicle is causing trouble.
Michael: This violates the reality of the strip. So I no longer believe anything now.
Jimmy: It's pointless. Yeah, but the other thing I wanted to say that was funny is, like, when the kite is just a trick of perspective or a character's eyes are connected by a line. That doesn't bother me in the least. I don't bat an eye at that, but this is like, nope, can't do it.
Michael: No, I agree. He blew it. He screwed the pooch. He jumped the shark.
Jimmy: This has been Unpacking Peanuts.
Michael: Yeah, this is where it goes downhill. Totally. You can't believe anything anymore. I mean, look, the next strip is Linus is actually floating off the ground. There's no gravity in Peanuts.
Jimmy: Right. Well, hold on, before we go there, because I want to talk about I have lots of stories about that with Michael. So here we go.
February 15, Charlie Brown is standing outside, and Linus comes running up holding a sheet of paper above his head. He looks so happy. And he says, “Look, Charlie Brown. A letter from Miss Othmar.” He's reading it, and he says to Charlie Brown, “only her name isn't Othmar anymore. It's Mrs. Hagemeyer. She thanked me for the eggshells I sent and says she'll keep them forever. And she says she misses all the kids in her class, but you know who she says she misses most? Me.” And then in the last panel, we see Linus with a blissful grin on his face, floating away as Charlie Brown watches.
Michael: I don't believe it
Jimmy: Now I remember doing a scene in Amelia. I don't even remember it's. One of the earlier issues remember this? And Reggie is floating, but then I believe Amelia or Rhonda, one of them touches him and tries to pull him down. Michael and I had to have, like, a five hour argument about that. He's like, you're violating all the rules. I'm like, I'm making the rules, and that's why we're not friends anymore. 21 or two years ago at this point.
Michael: I remember it vividly.
Harold: Wow. So Miss Othmar is now Mrs. Hagemeyer. And as the second part of our Peanuts Obscurity Explained, for people he is honoring in the strips, Hagemeyer was the last name of his staff sergeant when he was going through basic training in Kentucky in World War II. And apparently, he became really good friends with Elmer Hagemayer, and his wife Margaret. And apparently on weekends Hagemeyer would often drive with Schulz to St. Louis and he would spend time coming in from Kentucky to spend time with him. So he was apparently, long time friends with Hagemeyer. And interestingly, have you guys seen those found strips of Schulz that he did for a syndicated strip called Hagemeyer? Yeah.
Jimmy: they're reprinted. At least some of them are in that Chip Kidd book that I recommended a few episodes ago.
Harold: Yeah, and it's fascinating, given that, I mean, Hagemeyer's job he was a police officer, and again, he's just lost his mom, his dad's a little too far to go, see? And so these kind of people seem to take him under his wing, and he got this what I'm assuming is a pretty burly guy who's now kind of this new parental figure in his life. And when you see the Hagemeyer strips, you can Google that, they have just a really different feel to them that is kind of classic late 50s what would you even call it? It's like stereotypical office humor with this kind of Jackie Gleason. I don't know. It's not what you'd expect from Schulz. but it's fascinating to me that he's calling at Hagemeyer and he's honoring this guy who must have been maybe had some of these characteristics that he's exploring in a strip like he's never done before that we've seen. And anyway, it's fascinating. I'm glad that it's not a direction that Schulz went. It was not anywhere near his strength to deal with these kind of rough and tumble adult world characters.
Jimmy: Well, you know what he is great at, though, which is spotting a good name for a cartoon character.
Jimmy: Whether it's Linus, whether it's Schroeder, whether it's Shermy he knows those are good names for cartoon characters. And Hagemeyer is a great name. Like, you can picture Mort Walker doing that strip, right?
Jimmy: Okay. Only What's Necessary, by the way, the name of that book that Chip Kidd did.
Harold: Only What's Necessary?
Jimmy: Highly recommended.
Michael: I was just confused about this because last year, when we were highlighting the big firsts, there was the first Miss Othmar. Now, I thought she ran for years in the strip even though you never see her, but apparently, from the continuity here, she quit being a teacher and moves away. Now. Does she come back?
Jimmy: She comes back, though,
Michael: with her original name?
Jimmy: Yeah. I don't remember off the top of my head, but I do remember the strips where Ms. Othmar is coming back, and it's specifically, at least in that one, Othmar or Oathmar, however it's pronounced. I think it's Othmar in the animation. that's why I'm saying that. Yeah. Because she's a character in the Valentine's Day Special, which is, I think, in the early 70s or maybe I'm not sure why that came out. Yes, she definitely comes back.
So I want to get you guys-- all kidding aside, what do you guys think of the flights of Fantasy? because they become more and more prevalent and obviously coming up soon, we're going, to have one that's going to give Michael a stroke. But what's your take on them?
Harold: It totally works for me.
Michael: It's just a funny strip. Just a comic. Not worth talking about.
Jimmy: Man, well, then we are doomed. We're doomed.
Michael: It's only a comic. No one will remember this strip, like a week later.
Jimmy: 50 years from now.
Harold: Who will know the difference?
March 5. Charlie Brown and Lucy are hanging out at the thinking wall. Lucy says, “Charlie Brown, what would be your reaction if someone said you could have your life over again?” Charlie Brown says to Lucy, you mean “exactly as I've lived it. No changes. Everything happening just the way it did before?” Lucy says, “Uh huh. What would be your reaction?” Charlie Brown runs. huh. Away screaming. “AAAUGHH!”
Michael: That's exactly how I'd react when faced with that question
Jimmy: I'd take it you would. Why not?
Michael: You would? You’d be helpless to do anything different.
Jimmy: Well, it doesn't say that you will remember that this is your second time through.
Michael: This is like a Twilight Zone.
Jimmy: Great drawing of the guys at the wall. One of the things, I think that is one of the secrets of Schulz’s success is that when he finds the optimal way to do something, that's the way it's done. And I think other cartoonists, it would feel so repetitive as to be stifling, but there's, like, three ways you can stand at the wall, and those are the only poses he's going to use. But they are all perfect.
Harold: Yeah. It seems very important to him of this iconography, I guess. He's not afraid to just lock something in. And this represents a certain thought. It's a really interesting idea that you're asking your audience to maybe absorb something, and then that part, if they can gloss over and focus on something else. And only an artist who people get to know can do that, and everybody got to know Peanuts. I don't know if that helps in some way for us to go deeper with him, because he does that in a way it could just be a cliche. And the same thing happens over and over, again. But I think maybe that is helpful to-- whatever you add that's new has greater emphasis.
Jimmy: No, I think that all makes sense to me, because the other thing that's interesting about it is it never becomes, stifling in the way. Like, stifling is not the right word, but, like, Ernie Bushmiller's nancy stuff is iconic, but it feels very cold. But that's a good work for it, right? Very mechanical. This always feels warm and immediate. And I think it's, you know, again, he's drawing quickly. He's using his magic pen. There's a lot of reasons for that, but it really does work, and I do think it's a reason for his success.
Look in that third panel, Harold. There is your fraction date again. Whenever he doesn't have enough room. It's a bummer that the copyright notices are in all the strips, and I kind of wish that, they'd be removed. Are they removed in the Fantagraphics books? I’m not sure
Harold: Yeah, they're gone in the Fantagraphics books.
Jimmy: Okay, good, because I just happened to be looking from Go Comics for this episode.
And if you want to follow along, if you're out there following along, you can go to GoComics.com, and you can just type in the dates that we're discussing, and all of those trips will be there. And if you really want to splurge, you could get the whole run from Fantagraphics in hardcover and I believe also in softcover Books, the Complete Peanuts, and they reprint every single strip every single year. It's great.
And hey, while you're out there on the Internet, either browsing Go Comics or ordering your Fantagraphics books, you could do a couple of things for us if you wanted to. You could go to our website. You could vote on the Strip of the Year. Harold, Michael, and I pick strips every single year that we think are the best, that exemplify each year, and you can vote on it. You can also follow us on Twitter and Instagram we’re unpackpeanuts. And if you were listening on Apple podcasts, it would be great if you would give us a rating, a five star rating, please, and review. That would be hugely helpful to us. And also subscribe, like, share it on social media. and if you have any questions, shoot us an email, shoot us a tweet, and we'll get back to you.
March 13. Charlie Brown is flying a kite, or at least trying to. Lucy is cheering him on. “Run, boy, run.” He's still trying. “Keep those feet moving,” shouts Lucy. “Let out some more string.” Lucy cheers Charlie Brown on, but we don't see what's happening anymore. “Keep going, keep going. You got it up, Charlie Brown. You got it up.” Now we see Charlie Brown holding on to the kite string. We can't see where the kite is. It's so high in the air. But Lucy is yelling, “It's flying, it's flying.” And then we see from high up in the sky, the kite explodes. Boom. And we look down on Lucy and Charlie Brown, who look chagrined as they watch the remains of the kite flutter to the ground. Then Lucy looks at Charlie Brown and says, “that's the first time I've ever seen a kite explode.”
Michael: This is the first time that God actually enters into this strip, as a character. No, seriously.
Jimmy: No, you're 100% right.
Michael: It's a trickster god.
Jimmy: You're right. Well, it's not the first time, though, because that's the kite, the other kite, the kite perspective joke, the connecting the dots across the eyes. Yeah, he plays little jokes on the characters, for sure.
Michael: Yeah, but Charlie Brown is Job, right? God is testing him.
Jimmy: Oh my God. By the way, that is a great take. And also that last panel, we rarely see Charlie Brown looking down like that. Isn't it-- like you could move the face up in the same shape head and you would, have him looking ahead. You know what I'm saying?
Harold: It's like the Mickey Mouse ears
Jimmy: No matter how you do it yes, they work. That's how Rhonda's hair and the early Amelias, no matter how you drew it, it was the exact same shape.
Harold: Yeah. And Wild Lion’s mane.
Michael: Another thing interesting about this one Lucy’s seriously is rooting for Charlie Brown. She's seriously happy that he's succeeding, whereas before she'd be trying to put him down.
Harold: Yeah, it's a new relationship, for sure.
Jimmy: Well, we were interviewing William Pepper, the host of It's A Podcast, Charlie Brown, and he pointed out that he really does think Lucy has people's best interests at heart, specifically Charlie Brown. You do see that? I do think that is true. She just lacks the social skills of doing it with empathy. She's just going to, yell at it and yell at it and yell at it.
Harold: And it's interesting that it happens at a time when Linus is starting to kind of stand up to her and see things differently than her and not accept her teaching. It's almost like she switches over to Charlie Brown because he's a little more gullible in his own way. And she's-- so Charlie Brown becomes the teachable character to her.
March 14, Lucy is standing outside and Linus comes up to her and says, “that's the first time in my life I've ever seen a whirly dog.” Lucy very confidently closes her eyes and says, “not whirly dog, whirly bird.” In Panel three, Snoopy zooms by, about a foot and a half off the ground, using his ears as a top rotor like a helicopter. Linus now takes the composed and superior position and says, “I think if I had meant whirly bird, I would have said, whirly bird.”
Michael: Jumping the shark.
Jimmy: I knew this-- Michael's brain hurts. Here's what I will say. And this is why Charles Schulz is a genius. If I said to you guys, all right, here's the assignment. You need to draw a dog, but the dog is actually a helicopter-- Go, it would be next to impossible to think of how to do that. And you know exactly what that is.
Michael: Well, aerodynamically, it doesn't work.
Jimmy: Neither do bumblebees. It’s okay.
Michael: No, this is like a bridge too far for me. Snoopy's, imitations have been one of my favorite parts of the strip. So I guess Schulz ran out of animals.
Harold: You know, I have a theory about maybe what's going on here. If you look at the first three months of the strips, in 1960 in particular, I see a lot of panels in these strips, or even jokes in these strips that are based on a very experimental, iconic drawing of a character. And, we know that Schulz, in later years, revealed that he did a lot of just sketching to get ideas. And I'm wondering. Especially since he was around a group of artists who were all hanging out in his new converted, was it photography, studio in Sebastopol that. May be around them. Or one of them. Or maybe because they were all working together. He was drawing sketches to show them what he was thinking. And he was realizing he was coming up with some really fascinating ideas just by playing with the looks of the characters. And, like, Linus floating with Miss Othmar is an example of where I think he might have drawn that and then worked backwards to find out how you get to a joke to show it in the strip. And you see that over and over again in these early strips. There's a lot of really fascinating visuals that, to me, suggest he's playing without thinking of what he's going to do, and then he backs into it after he comes up with an amazing drawing.
Michael: Sounds reasonable.
Jimmy: And this goes into my theory of Schulz is a character in the strip. He's actively playing with things. He's interacting with his characters. Like, I'll break the rules of gravity for you here. I'll point out that it's just a comic strip over there. He's always in the strip in some way. And that's why the fantasy stuff doesn't bother me, because it's been established. The number one rule, if you want to talk about rules from things that have been established before, is that this is a comic strip. There's multiple times it's been pointed out that it's a comic strip. So in a comic strip a dog can fly.
Harold: Now, would you say that that's unique to Schulz. When you think of other comic strips, are the authors characters in the strip the way Schulz is?
Jimmy: No, because what's interesting to me is I don't think Schulz even sees this. The Schulz quote that I use is the epigram for my memoir, The Dumbest Idea Ever is, “Cartoonists don't live anywhere. They aren't real people.” Which I think is one of the wildest things he could say. And I thought about it. What does he mean by that? Cartoonists don't live anywhere. They aren't real people. But I think for him, he was saying that to the general public. The comic strip is the cartoonist. You don't think about the cartoonist at all. And I think he would have thought it was an impossibility, actually, for you to put yourself in a strip. He didn't see it in other people's examples anyway, put it that way. But I feel that that is exactly what he's doing, is that he is consciously interacting with these characters because he's doing this in a different way. He's not sitting there like Al Capp or whatever with a story meeting or writing a script first. Harold says he's drawing these things, and sometimes these things are complete flights of fancy. But because he's playing with the characters, he allows himself to do it.
Harold: So do you do that in your, own work? Try to put yourself into the work?
Jimmy: Yeah, I do, actually. I've always felt free to play with the characters and break the rules of what could really happen. And a lot of the comics that I like best do that. Cerebus, famously, is metafiction. A lot of books that I read are meta fiction, and I love that. As a matter of fact, in the new book I'm working on now, which is tentatively called Monster, it's a book about living with depression, but it's funny, it's about three levels of people writing comic books, actually, in each level, interacting with the other. And that's really is how I sort of see life.
And I think if Schulz is a guy, okay, so he's involved in his Sunday school, and he's reading these stories about an act of God, right? Whatever your personal belief is, that's what these stories are. And here he is creating his own world. Why wouldn't he be an active creator in that world? It makes total sense to me, and I think you're going to see more of it as we go forward. And then when we get to the very end, my theory will be proven correct.
Harold: That's really interesting. I remember back in college, one of the first short stories I wrote. I think it was called When Narrators Were Alive. I love the omniscient narrator he's so out of style right now, but the omniscient narrator who sees the big picture, sees you can tell you who's thinking what at what point. I don't mind that. I don't mind having an overarching author of a story, telling you what everybody's thinking. That to me, is what a treat and an honor to have somebody who can do that for you in a story. I don't get why people have said that that's not good literature. That's not a good device or a good choice. So my story, When Narrators Were Alive, essentially, it was a guy, the omniscient narrator or whatever, who's narrowing the story, and all of a sudden really gets upset what he's seeing in the characters in the story. And he's like telling you, stop, don't do it. right. And it's like, it's so active and immediate for the narrator.
And I'm really fascinated by what you're saying about that with your art. Because I do see in your art, there is this intense immediacy, and you do feel that same thing in Peanuts. That the idea that you're aware, even if you're saying Schulz wasn't aware of that level of entering the world. But it totally makes sense that he is studying week in and week out these biblical passages where this is a story that's written by people about God, but God is involved in the writing of it at the same time, it is super meta and, that will mess with your mind. And lead you to places that maybe you wouldn't otherwise. And even if he didn't think of it that way, that could have something to do with why he's introducing a Whirlybird or Whirly dog. Excuse me, I'm sorry.
Jimmy: A whirly dog. Right. I think if he would have meant whirly bird, he would have said, whirlybird.
Okay, so if you had asked me before this reread, and keep in mind, I've read the entire thing, if you asked me when did Snoopy first become a helicopter? I would have said 1975. I would never have said 1960. I was shocked by that. So I have to move up the introduction of what I thought was the second Peanuts strip, I think my nomination, of March 14, 1960, right here. This is where Snoopy starts. This is now an entirely different strip. And the basic premise of the Snoopy strip is that Snoopy is not really either interested in just being a dog in this comic strip, or is somehow, at the very least, trying to transcend being a dog in a comic strip. That was in the background sort of theme before we saw that starting with the impressions. Right?
But now we're getting to the point that he is rebelling against the very laws that the other characters are subject to. And that's just going to continue.
Harold: It's interesting that you're saying that. I'm going back just a few days to March 10, and it's Schroeder playing the piano. And you see the notes like we always see, the beautiful lined notes that Schulz was so proud to do accurately in his strip. And then Snoopy is sitting on the piano. And then when Schroeder leaves. Snoopy sits down at the piano, and himself is playing on that lined music paper paw prints. Well, now Snoopy can't write paw prints on lined paper, and he's not doing it but Schulz is.
Jimmy: But he's not doing that anyway.
Harold: Schulz is doing that. And that kind of plays into your idea that he is in this meta world that totally makes sense to him. He doesn't even question
Jimmy: Well here’s-- Okay, there's no way to keep this, and it's not a completely original thought of mine, but you know how the last Peanuts strip ends? It's a letter from Charles Schulz. Right? But the first panel is Charlie Brown on the phone, and he says “he's ou tback writing. And the last time we see Snoopy is him typing on his dog house a letter that is signed Charles Schulz. Okay?
Jimmy: So it's not me thinking this. This is what's happening. It's not happening at a conscious level. Okay? But not only is Snoopy breaking the bounds of the comic strip, he's breaking the rules of the reality. He's becoming more popular than the lead character. He's doing all this stuff. He's becoming an icon of the world. And eventually, he and his creator merge, on the day, by the way, his creator dies.
Jimmy: That's wild.
Harold: That is wild.
Jimmy: This is the beginning of strip number two, Snoopy
March 20. Sally is sitting with Linus, and she is holding a blanket, much like Linus does. Linus is coaching her. “Hold the blanket in your left hand. That's the way. Now the thumb.” And we see as Sally tries to just tentatively start sucking her thumb. In the next panel, they are both in Linus’s classic thumb and blanket position. Charlie Brown, says, “what in the world is going on here? Look, Linus, you're not going to teach any sister of mine to sit around holding a blanket.” Charlie Brown is irate pointing at Linus as he yells,” just because you need a crutch, it doesn't mean she does.” Charlie Brown is ranting now, waving his hands in the air. “Of all the stupid habits, that blanket is the stupidest. And that's all it is, just a habit. A stupid habit.” Charlie Brown continues ranting. “You're not going to teach her to use a blanket for security or for happiness or for anything. Sally is going to use her own willpower to grow from a baby to a well adjusted child.” Linus says, “like her brother? Charlie Brown thinks for a moment, then walks away, “Sigh.” and Linus and Sally go back to sucking their thumbs and holding their blankets.
Michael: This is really interesting. I mean, there's never been any tension between Linus and Charlie Brown.
Jimmy: And he loses it.
Michael: Yeah, and Charlie Brown always bemoaning the fact he has no friends. Linus has always been his friend. What more could you ask a friend like Linus? And so not only does Charlie Brown turn on Linus for the first time that Linus gets snide with Charlie Brown. I mean, he's never done a-- I think once he did a put down.
Jimmy: And that was debatable. It could have been that he was oblivious. But this you can see he has a furrowed brow. He looks annoyed with Charlie Brown for sure. And he has the perfect zinger.
Harold: Three words. Like her brother?
Jimmy: Devastating. Boom. That's the end of that discussion.
Jimmy: All right, next we have a long sequence about Linus getting his first library card. And it starts on…
April 4. Charlie Brown and Lucy are, standing outside. Linus comes walking up very happily holding a library card. He says, “look, a library card. I've taken out a library card.” He continues, “I have been given my citizenship in the land of knowledge.” When he walks away with a library card tucked behind his ear. Lucy turns to Charlie Brown and says, “how pompous can you get?”
April 8, Charlie Brown is talking to Linus and saying, “look, Linus, it's silly for you to be scared of libraries.” Linus grabs Charlie Brown by the collar and says, “but they're always so still. And when you walk in, your footsteps echo like you were in a great tomb.” Linus continues, “and then when you go up to the front desk, the librarian looks at you with her great big eyes, and she-- Charlie Brown runs away “AAUGH” sending Linus flying.
April 9, Linus hands his card to Lucy, who is kneeling on the ground. She says, “there's one sure way to cure someone of being afraid of libraries. Here, give me your library card.” Lucy hammers the library card to a long stick and says, “what you need is a little inspiration.” Now we see Linus's holding the library card, tacked to the top of this long stick like a flag. And she says, “now, holding your library card high, you march proudly into the library. Don't you feel inspired?” Linus says, “I feel not unlike a fool.”
Harold: And there's a little sign that's pointing toward public library. He's walking by just to help us out. That’s great.
Jimmy: That's great. One of my dad's favorite jokes was, the sign out by the library in the town near us, it's just the international, symbol for library. No words on it. And my dad's favorite joke, was that's for the people who can't read know where the library is.
Michael: Hey, I didn't know your dad was a comic.
Jimmy: I steal all of it from him. Yeah.
April 11, Charlie Brown and Linus are talking. Charlie Brown says, “I think you can understand your fear of libraries, Linus. Library fever is similar to other mental disturbances. You fear the library rooms because they are strange to you. You are out of place. All of us have certain areas in which we feel out of place.” Linus asks Charlie Brown, “oh, in what area do you feel out of place, Charlie Brown? “Earth.”
Jimmy: It ends at the thinking wall.
Michael: I understand.
Harold: This sequence I do remember as a child. Libraries were a pretty big part of my life. Our family would, go regularly to the library and hang out. And that library card was pretty amazing. To have that you could walk into this gigantic place and sort through hundreds and hundreds of books, pick the one you want, and they let you, as a little kid, walk out the door with it. That's insane. What's going on?
Libraries are absolutely amazing. And who knows what Schulz planted in me when I was reading this thing, because he covers the whole ground Linus’s pride, and saying, being given citizenship in the land of knowledge. And then he's a bit afraid because he's a little kid in this gigantic building where, again, you don't normally get those privileges as a child. It seems wrong. And here he is going into the library.
Again, I've got a personality in some ways, it's a lot like Linus. This whole sequence was just really rich for me. I loved it. I loved it as a kid, and I have the memory of what that felt like, which I'm really grateful to Schulz for.
Michael: Harold and I picked the strips, and this year, there's a lot of Linus.
Michael: Because I think we both think he's the best character. And especially this year, if you look at it, we should do a Linus count or who has most appearances, but at least in our 60 choices, Linus shows up a lot. And Lucy.
Jimmy: Well, I would just like to take this moment to say I would not have a career without libraries and librarians. They supported me really early on. And not only me, they were early, proponents for kids reading comics at all, when parents and schools were years behind, libraries and librarians were right there. So I would just like to take this moment to thank them for that. The fact that I can blow one day a week to talk to my friends about 60-year old comic strips, is in part because they've been so supportive over the years. So thanks, guys.
Michael: Go, Librarians.
Harold: Thank you, librarians.
Michael: My first job, library. My sister, librarian.
Harold: I worked in the libraries at college.
Jimmy: You did?. Wow. Amazing
Jimmy: I am just an avid user.
April 22, We see Linus standing alone. His attention is directed to something off panel. In the next panel, we see Charlie Brown dragging Snoopy by his rear legs as Snoopy grasps onto the ground, trying to prevent Charlie Brown from taking him wherever he's taking him. The next panel, we see Charlie Brown answering Linus's inquisitive look with “Rabies shot.” In the last panel, we just see Linus watching as Snoopy drags paw lines into the dirt and is pulled away by Charlie Brown.
Michael: It's like just such perfect staging. Yeah, there's two words in this trip. The whole thing is Snoopy’s like desperation. In fact, they get pulled off panel for some reason seems really funny.
Jimmy: It is perfect staging.
Harold: And this again, goes to my idea that it's possible that before he had the gag, Schulz was messing around and draws Charlie Brown dragging Snoopy. And then he gets maybe to the gag afterward.
You see that all through these strips, I'm looking just a few back where he's playing Dracula to Sally, Snoopy is and it's just a funny drawing of Snoopy. Again, was he just messing around? And that's a really, great drawing. How do I incorporate that into a joke?
Jimmy: And in this second and third, but particularly the second panel, that's a really hard thing to do because we have this depth of field thing going on with Charlie Brown dragging Snoopy in the foreground, and Snoopy clawing the dirt, and Linus is positioned directly behind them. And he knows just the right place to stop drawing Linus. I think a lesser cartoonist would feel, well, I have to-- and by lesser cartoonist. I mean, me
Michael: and me,
Harold: and me
Jimmy: I would have to fill in the rest of Linus, but then it would interfere with that staging Michael is talking about. So he just draws Linus’s his head and shoulders, and then three lines on the shirt, and the rest of his body is completely gone.
Harold: Yeah, there's a gap between Snoopy's ears and Snoopy's back, that if I were drawing it, I would feel absolutely obligated to draw that in.
Jimmy: You have to do it.
Harold: And I don't even think about it when I read it, other than I totally see and get what Schulz is doing here. It's just so perfectly drawn. You get it instantly, and it's so emotional. And everything's working. You have the earnestness of Charlie Brown and the earnestness of Linus in their own ways. And then Snoopy's utter desperation. It's just perfect.
Michael: I love the little sweat drops. The sweat drops add a lot to it.
Jimmy: It really does. Yeah, because it's Charlie Brown. He has sweat drops that are conveying hard work, and we have Snoopy, and those are conveying pure panic.
Harold: Yeah. And we know that somehow.
Jimmy: It's weird the things you get hung up on as a cartoonist. Right? Of course, Snoopy could be a helicopter, but yeah, I would feel weird about, not drawing the rest of Linus, even though, clearly Schulz decision is the right one. That's the way to go. But you have to be really confident to do that.
Harold: And in the third panel, you've got Linus behind Snoopy.
Jimmy: And no legs.
Harold: No legs. It's just to the end of his shorts. And that totally makes sense. That was the right thing to do.
Jimmy: The other guy who's a master of staging like that is Jeff Smith in Bone.
Harold: Oh, gosh, Yeah.
Jimmy: Yeah. And I'm excited about that because there's a new Bone coming out, which means that counts as a 21st century reference.
Harold: Yay. We did it.
Harold: I said TikTok.
Jimmy: It only took till what, 1960 to have what happened organically. That's depressing.
Michael: Well, and this strip is all about, of course, fear of vaccines so it’s very contemporary.
Harold: Wow, we are on a roll.
Jimmy: Well, he should get in there with Violet and her no contact delivery from a few episodes back. And everything old is, new again.
And here is something completely different.
April 25. A strip no one's ever heard of. Snoopy is sitting there. he has a little smile on his face. Lucy walks up and uncharacteristically, has a smile on her face. Joyfully she pats him on the head. Pat, pat pat. And he has a big grin. Suddenly, Lucy kneels down and hugs Snoopy. They both have content smiles on their face. And then Lucy walks away saying, “happiness is, a warm puppy.”
Michael: This is a bad omen of things to come.
Earlier in the year, we didn't pick it, but someone asked Lucy why, she never pats Snoopy on the head. I can't remember the reply, but I really think this has something to do with those Hallmark cards. Did this come first? Did the fourth panel come first?
Jimmy: Yes, this is the first place that comes.
Michael: Was this a Hallmark card? That's my question.
Jimmy: It's a whole book later, but this is the first place happiness is a warm puppy appears.
Harold: I think he may be onto something there, Michael. I think that's a distinct possibility that he's thinking on those terms. He hasn't done it before. And we're seeing that in the strip. That totally makes sense to me. That would line up with what's going on in his outside life.
Michael: You wouldn't see a strip normally with Snoopy smiling like that and Lucy smiling like that. It's really sort of the way a lot of people remember Peanuts is being all about love and friendship, and warm sentiments. Up to this point, it's been the opposite.
Jimmy: Well, but it will be. No, I don't think that's true. I think up to this point, it's been both, just in different proportions. It's always the same ingredients. I think they just get moved around a little bit.
For instance, Harold, did you do the anger-ometer this year?
Harold: I did.
Jimmy: This would be a great place to discuss that.
Harold: All right, as I normally ask, do you think there's more anger or less anger in the strip?
So, for those of you who haven't listened to the podcast before, what I do is I go into 365 or 366 strips every year, and I try to find at least one panel in a strip that shows somebody expressing anger. And if it happens just for one character in one panel, that strip is a strip that represents anger. And then I add them all up and I compare them year to year to see if there's more anger in the strip or less anger in this strip than previous years. So, guys, do you think that there was more or less anger in 1960 than 1959?
Michael: I think we're down.
Jimmy: I'm going to say we're up just to be difficult.
Harold: Okay. We were way down in 1959 to 94 strips, or just over a quarter of all of the strips. This year, it's back up, but not up to the levels we'd seen earlier. It's 116 or 32%. So pretty decent jump back up there on the anger side.
And certainly the second piece of this is the Happiness Index, which totally ties in with this strip. Happiness is a warm puppy. Do you think that the Happiness index is up or down this year compared to 1959.
Jimmy: I think it's up.
Michael: It's exactly the same.
Harold: It is down. It's down from 42% to 37%. So somewhat significant. So basically, anger is a little back up to where it had been, a little closer, and the happiness is a little bit down.
Michael: Okay. So buy Anger. Sell Happiness.
Harold: I'm just wondering. He's gotten settled in after lots of moving and changing and people moving in with him to his place. Yeah, it's interesting. I don't know what to make of it, really. But maybe that's why I love ‘59 so much, is because it was such a mellow, satisfied year, I guess, for him. And then we go out of that. It'll be interested to see if it stays that way or it kind of locks in in the 60s, because we keep saying the 60s is like prime Peanuts. Is it going to be pretty much the same way all through those years, or is it going to really go all over the map?
Jimmy: Well, Schulz always said that he defied anyone to come up with a better definition of happiness than happiness is a warm puppy. But you know what? I'm going to do that right now. Because to me, happiness is recording a Peanuts podcast with some of your favorite people. And the fact that you guys out there listen to us, it just means the world to me.
We're going to stop it here this week, and we're going to come back with more 1960 next week. If you want to keep this conversation going, though, in the meantime, you can follow us on Instagram and Twitter. We are Unpack Peanuts.
You can also go to the website unpackingpeanuts.com and you can check out what we have there, all our old episodes. And you can, of course, vote on your favorites for Strip of the Year, see who's right year by year, me, Michael, or Harold.
And otherwise, if you think about it, if you could if you want to share it with your friends on social media, especially if you're an Apple podcasts, if you could give us a nice little rating and review, that would be really helpful. And also, like I said, check out our website. We have a store there where you can buy our books and read our comics and also, buy us a mud pie if you think we're doing a good job.
So, again, thanks for listening. We will see you next week for more 1960. For Michael and Harold this is Jimmy. Be of good cheer.
Michael and Harold: Yes, be of good cheer.
VO: Unpacking Peanuts is copyright jimmy Gownley, Michael Cohen and Harold Buchholz. Produced and edited by Liz Sumner. Music by Michael Cohen. Additional voiceover by Aziza Shukralla Clark. For more from the show, follow Unpack Peanuts on Instagram and Twitter. For more about Jimmy, Michael and Harold, visit unpackingpeanuts.com. Have a wonderful day and thanks for listening.