Jimmy: Hey, everybody, welcome back to the show. It's Unpacking Peanuts, and we are discussing 1964, another fantastic year in the, lives of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and their pals and gals.
I'm Jimmy Gownley. I'm one of your hosts. You might know me from my comic book series Amelia Rules. Or my graphic novels The Dumbest Idea Ever and Seven Good Reasons Not to Grow Up. Joining me are my pals, cohosts and fellow cartoonists.
He's a playwright and a composer, both for the band Complicated People, as well as for this very podcast. He co-created the very first Comic Book Price Guide, was the original editor for Amelia Rules, and is the cartoonist behind Strange Attractors, Tangled River and A Gathering of Spells. Mr. Michael Cohen.
Michael: Hey there
Jimmy: And he's the executive producer and writer of Mystery Science Theatre 3000, a former vice president of Archie Comics, as well as the creator of the Instagram comic strip Sweetest Beasts, Harold Buchholz.
Jimmy: So, guys, it is 1964. We have tons of great strips to go through anyway, so what do you guys say? Do you want to go right to the strips?
Michael and Harold: Yeah, let's do it.
Jimmy: And if you guys want to follow along with us out there, you can always go to Gocomics.com. Type in Peanuts, type in these dates in 1964. But if you’d rather treat yourself, get those Fantagraphics books that cover every year of the strip. They're beautiful and put out by a darn fine publisher to boot. And if you need to figure out how to use Gocomics and you need a little tutorial, go to Unpackingpeanuts.com, our fabulous producer, Liz has put together a tutorial video of how to find these strips.
Let's get to it.
April 5. Very odd and surreal first panel of a bar of soap with a Linus head growing out of it. We then cut to the next panel where it's just Charlie Brown and Linus, no longer made out of soap. Just walking along the road. And Linus says to Charlie Brown, have you ever done any soap carving? Charlie Brown says “soap carving?” Linus says “yes. It's great.” Linus continues, “I've been working on this model of an old sailing vessel.” They walk back towards Linus's house. Linus says, “I want you to see it. Charlie Brown. I carved it all by myself.” Inside now, Linus says, “I'm especially proud of the good job I did on the sails. It took me three days to do just the sails alone.” In the next panel, we see Lucy, who is walking in from off panel. Her hands are covered in soapy lather. Linus is shocked out of his mind as Lucy says, “if you're going to get your hands really clean, you've got to work up a good lather.” She's continuing to lather up her hands in the next panel as Linus covers his eyes, and she says, “Lots of soap and hot water.” That's what does it. We're now in the bathroom with Lucy, who is rinsing her hands off, and she tosses the tiny little remnant of soap over her shoulder to Linus, who then presents it to Charlie Brown, saying, “I had planned to show you an authentic replica of an American Clipper ship. Would you settle for a canoe?”
Michael: Now Is she doing this on purpose?
Harold: You don't pick up a bar with a clipper ship and then throw the piece back to Linus when you're done.
Harold: Yeah. She's giving herself away in this strip. That is just cruel. But as a little kid, boy, the younger brother, I just totally ate this one up. I was like, oh, the injustices of being the little kid. Your art is just tossed aside.
Jimmy: I remember freshman year of college, I had a Cindy Crawford poster, and my roommate had an Etch A Sketch. And his friend had come up, and he was like a master Etch A Sketch artist. So he, with the Etch A Sketch, recreated this Cindy Crawford poster, and it was astounding. And my roommate had it up, and he's like, Isn't this amazing? And he showed it to my friend Mark. And Mark looked at it and said, yeah, that's gorgeous. Shake.
Harold: I think the most painful the most painful thing in the world is to be an Etch A Sketch artist. It's so ephemeral.
Jimmy: I love the little bathroom detail of the little tiles and stuff like that. The house I stayed in when I, was the artist in residence, which was the Schulz family guest house in Santa, Rosa. The tile the border of the tile around, like, the bathroom and everything. Each tile was a Peanuts panel. And you could read them as strips. They were just random ones. They were actually strips printed out on the tile as a decorative thing. It was really cool. And even if you looked in the sink, the little thing that blocks up the sink to keep all your garbage from going down, the little, handle to pull it out of the drain was shaped like Snoopy.
Harold: Well, I can just imagine everybody in the house waiting in line in their bathrobes for you to get out of the bathroom, reading the whole bathroom.
Jimmy: It was the arm wrestling champion, where Snoopy is a masked marvel going to Petaluma. I don't know why, but that's what it was really fun.
So Michael and I were talking during our break. Does anyone carve soap, or is this only in Schulz world thing?
Michael: I don't remember it.
Harold: I believed it because it was in the strip, I guess. I don't remember seeing it. I tried to go to county fairs and remember if there was anything like soap carving. Seems reasonable.
Jimmy: Well, I just googled it. What soap is best for soap carving, And you know what it is?
Jimmy: It is.
Harold: I don't know. And yet I knew that.
Jimmy: 9% and 44% pure
Harold: Which is what we had in our house. So maybe that's why I related to it so much, because it looked very carve-able.
Jimmy: I had Safeguard, which was just the most all chemical
Michael: Now we don't want to get sued.
Harold: Yeah, it was 56, 100% or 40. 56, 100% pure. Right?
Jimmy: I didn't say it was a bad thing. I still use Safeguard.
Michael: Now we got a sponsor.
Harold: Yeah a sponsorship, Safeguard. It's chemically.
Jimmy: Now our big moral quandary will be if it comes up in Skippy peanut butter wants to sponsor us. then we have decisions to make, my friends.
April 7. This is a mostly visual strip. We see Sally who is-- it's a line of kids. Sally, who is tugging on Five’s, the back of his pants and pulling him. Five is hanging on to Schroeder. Schroeder is hanging on to Lucy. Lucy is grabbing hands with Shermy, who is holding hands with Patty, who is holding hands with Violet, who is holding hands with, Pigpen, who is holding hands with Three, and then Four, and then Frieda, who is holding hands with Charlie Brown, who is trying to pull Snoopy off of a tree. And Snoopy is thinking to himself, “I don't want another rabies shot.”
Jimmy: And yes, sometimes you got to get more than one shot, Snoopy.
Michael pointed out something interesting again during the break about our good pal Shermy. We might have another Shermometer moment.
VO: Let's check the Shermometer Charlie Brown.
Michael: Okay. All these kids are pouring out beads of sweat because they're struggling to pull. Shermy, cool as a cucumber. Nothing.
Jimmy: Not a drop. Not a furrow in Shermy's brow. So we think that makes him a cool customer.
Michael: No. Maybe he's a slacker. He's not working hard.
Jimmy: No. You know why? Because you can see the motion lines he's pulling just as hard.
Michael: I don't know. He's actually got motion lines in his neck, they're not in his arm.
Jimmy: No. And his knee. No. He's pulling. I think he's a cool customer.
Michael: He's a slacker.
Jimmy: Well, by the way, being a slacker is also kind of cool. So do you want this to be cool or a slacker?
Michael: Both. He's a cool slacker.
Jimmy: Let's just stick with cool because that's what we agreed on. Before you decided to go off book.
Michael: I went off script, sorry.
Jimmy: We're going to go with Shermy as a cool, straggling, cynical, philosophical, history loving, empathetic, aggressive, compassionate, patient, pedantic, knowledgeable, emotional, good listening, vain, friendly, hypocrite. So please remember, when you think of Shermy, at the core, he is a hypocrite, as we all are from time to time.
We are now in the midst of another great sequence, which is anyone want to describe this sequence before I read this one particular strip?
Michael: You know, these grammar schools, elementary schools, always had a science fair, and people always brought in the same kind of things, cause what do you expect from a five year old? But Lucy decides she needs something really special and she submits her brother because him sucking his thumb and holding the blanket, the security blanket is just weird and it deserves a little exhibit with graphs and stuff.
Jimmy: And that is exactly what we see on--
April 17, panel one, we just have a big sign that says, welcome to our science fair. Then in panel two, we see a little plant life, how plants grow diorama. By the way, these are exactly the same to this day. Kids do the exact same thing. It's a classic trifold piece of cardboard that stands up that you put your little stats and methods on it. And the plant life one was apparently created by Martha Arguello. We have an electricity one made by Jimmy Hennessy Mouse in a Maze, a Study of the Learning Powers of Mice by Wesley Reid. And then in the last panel, right in the little trifold cardboard, standee, we see Linus. It's clearly labeled above him, The Security Blanket. He's in classic thumb and blanket position. Linus is sighing. We see this was put together by Lucy Van Pelt and it has in fact, won a first prize ribbon.
Harold: You like the charts next to him, like the bar graph, like she's measuring something over time. This is also a good, this is a classic strip. I love the black background on it. I remember this also one as a kid. This is just yeah, this is the big sister moving the little brother around for her purposes with lack of compassion or just classic Lucy just doing her thing.
Jimmy: And I do love the little displays. I think they're just really, nice and evocative. The electricity one reminds me, we actually never did a science fair in my school. We did like, science experiments, but the whole class would do the same thing. But I remember my cousin Jimmy, his name is also Jimmy Gownley, the poor guy. He did one on electricity. And I was like, staying over that weekend and was so excited because I always wanted to do a science fair thing. And I thought we would be in like, white coats and it would be a whole week long thing. He did something with batteries. It took him about twelve minutes. And he did win first place. And they grew up to become an electrician. It was like of no consequence to him. But I was so disappointed because I was ready for a week of deep science.
Harold: Wow. Well, the three names that you just mentioned here, two of them we've mentioned before, in this show. So I don't know. Hennessy, Wesley Reid is Bus Reid, the trumpeter, who was the husband of Schulz’s mom’s sister, who was living with them at the time. And, Martha, how do you pronounce that Michael?
Michael: Arguello or Argwaylo
Harold: she's a cartoonist. Marty, yeah, who did the comic strip Bobby Socks.
Jimmy: That's so cool.
April 22. Linus is struggling with his homework, and he says to Lucy, “this new math is too much for me.” Lucy says as she walks away, “you'll get on to it. It just takes time.” Linus is very frustrated. Looks down his papers and says,” not me. I'll never get on to it.” Then he yells off in the distance to Lucy and says, “how can you do new math problems with an old math mind?”
Michael: I remember when new math came in. It was very disturbing because they threw out the one plus one equals two, and everything is set. This is a set of numbers, and this is the conjunction of two sets. It was insane. I, think it lasted like, one year.
Harold: Boy, I'm glad I missed out on that new math thing. It was in every comic ever. It seemed like in this era, the new math every cartoonist had to do.
Jimmy: Yeah. I've never been 100% clear on what it was.
April 26. We're looking inside a baseball locker room. A mit, a hat, and a, bat are all just laying on the bench. And we see some lockers with names saying Willie Mays, Alvin Dark, Snoopy, and Orlando Sapahda.
Michael: Cepeda! What, are you crazy?
Jimmy: You say Cepeda, I say Sapadah
Michael: no no no no no
Jimmy: Let’s call the whole thing off.
Michael: This is my team. Anything with the Giants I love. That's why I picked it.
Jimmy: All right.
Michael: Alvin Dark was the manager. Cepeda was first base. Mays was center field.
Jimmy: There you go.
And Snoopy is in between them all. And in the second panel, he's lying on top of his doghouse. It's night. The next panel, sun is up, and Snoopy stretches, yawns and heads off to the old ball field. He is out there playing his position shortstop. Then we see him batting. Then we see him sliding into second, probably. Then we see him hanging out on the bench. See him chasing down a fly. We see him taking a mighty swing at the ball. We see him scoring in the next last panel. He just very coolly walks away holding his glove, and then in the last panel is lying back on top of the doghouse at night. And he says to himself, “it's a living.”
Michael: Yeah. He probably doesn't get paid very much.
Harold: Yeah. All I can think of is the Flintstones. That line, it was used over and over again. It's a living, with all the different animals who are being used for various conveniences in the stone age house.
Jimmy: like dishwasher is a little elephant or something.
Harold: Yeah. The bird who's using his beak for the photograph. It’s a living.
Jimmy: So now you know who Alvin Dark is people. So don't say we never did anything for you.
Michael: They called him the Swamp Fox.
Jimmy: Oh, really? Do you know why?
Michael: Yeah. Because, there was a very important series between the Dodgers and Giants. And the Dodgers were super fast. They had Maury Wills, super fast. And Alvin Dark. They're playing in Candlestick Park, San Francisco. The manager had them water down the field, so the infield was all muddy. Just to slow down the Dodgers.
Harold: Oh, wow.
Harold: Was that legal? Is that like a spitball?
Michael: Well, there's no rule against it.
Harold: There is now.
May 4. Charlie Brown is on the phone. Snoopy is listening in. Charlie Brown says “Hello. Oh, hello, Doctor. No, my mother isn't home. Oh, yes, my arm feels much better. Does this mean I'm over my little leaguer's elbow? Good. What's that?” Charlie Brown continues on the phone with Snoopy listening. “The other X-ray. The other X ray that you took shows I've got--” And then in the last panel, Charlie Brown looks horrified, and he yells, “I've got what???” sending Snoopy flying.
Jimmy: This is, of course, another very long sequence of strips where Charlie Brown can't pitch for a while because he develops what is called little leaguer's elbow, which you might know is tennis elbow or tendonitis, I guess.
Michael: But he's got something else apparently.
Jimmy: He does? Well, tell us what that is.
Harold: What is it?
Michael: I can’t remember.
Harold: I had to look it up.
Jimmy: It’s erasers in his stomach.
Michael: Oh yeah yeah, he nibbles on. Yeah, sure. No, I picked this because this is really untypical to have that, what do you call them things when you're going over a cliff? Cliffhanger. Have a cliffhanger. Last panel. They did it once before with Snoopy and the Icicle. But this clearly, you got to read the next day to find out if he has cancer or not.
Jimmy: Spoiler alert he does not have cancer. He does, however, eat erasers. And there are eraser nubbins in his stomach, proving that when you have to fill a comic strip every single day, you will go anywhere to find ideas.
Harold: Yeah, it was like the childhood hazard of the 60s where erasers and Play-doh.
Michael: Oh, I used to pick at park benches, the paint, the lead paint. Oh, I don't think I ate it, but I'm sure it got in my fingernails, which I bit, so that accounts for me.
Jimmy: Everything was yeah. It is a miracle that anybody survived the 20th century.
May 15. Lucy, with a smile on her face, is walking around outside, and she says to no one in particular, “I’m on a new campaign to be nice to people.” She comes up to Snoopy and says, “while I'm at it, I suppose I might as well include dogs.” Then she gives Snoopy a pat on his head, saying, “here's a nice pat on the head.” Snoopy rolls his eyes and thinks to himself, “Thrillsville.”
Michael: This strip is so hip.
Harold: We can probably thank Meredith for that, right?
Jimmy: He liked this so much that ten years later he says, Thrillsville 74.
Michael: It probably comes from Dobie Gillis, is my guess.
Jimmy: oh Maynard G.Krebs
Harold: Oh really?
Michael: Yeah, ‘cause was definitely a little beatnik thing going on in a couple of regular TV shows. There's 77 Sunset Strip with Kookie,
Harold: We got some reruns going
Michael: beatnik slang was spreading at this point.
Jimmy: If you want to check anything out about Dobie Gillis, here's why you want to watch Dobie Gillis. One, you'll be like, hey, isn't that Gilligan? And then you'll say, oh, my God, who's that? That's Tuesday Weld.
Harold:I knew that was going,
Jimmy: and that's why I watched Dobie Gillis.
Michael: One of my favorite shows. And it was a very popular comic book.
Jimmy: Yes, it was.
Harold: I was just, on Sunday no, it was last night. I was, looking through a box of old comics I pulled from storage, and there I had the very last issue of Dobie Gillis comics.
Liz: And Warren Beatty.
Harold: Right. That was quite a cast.
Michael: That's the one where he dies in a motorcycle accident, right?
Jimmy: I think that's the leader of the pack.
Harold: yeah. And Frank Faylen, who was, in, Meet John Doe, Frank Capra's movie. A lot of people in that.
Jimmy: Don’t sleep on Dobie Gillis, people. There you go. That’s your pick hit to click for 2022.
Harold: Think Disney's gonna put out an animated version
Jimmy: Spoiler alert it won't be as good.
Michael: How about a musical? Who owns the rights?
Harold: It's coming.
Jimmy: The many tunes of Dobie Gillis
Harold: Michael make it happen.
Michael: It’s from a book.
Jimmy: So you might come to these podcasts and think, hey, I'm just here for the content about polkas. But you also get to hear great things like what was the best early 60s black and white sitcom? Was it the Dick Van Dyke Show? Was it Dobie Gillis?
Michael: Oh, Dick Van Dyke.
Jimmy: Dick Van Dyke, obviously.
May 23. Charlie Brown is writing to his pencil pal. He writes, “Dear pencil pal, well, I made a fool out of myself again.” And he sighs. The letter continues. “I struck out with the bases loaded and lost the ballgame.” Charlie Brown looks very upset in the third panel, and he says, “a little red haired girl whom I admire very much was watching me. Could you tell me how to get to where you live? I'm thinking of leaving the country.”
Jimmy: Lots of little red haired girl stuff this year. This is like, the biggest. did she debut just last year? Fairly recently. And now he's gone to her a lot this year.
Michael: Yep. One of the great characters, who never actually was seen.
Harold: Do you think Charles Schulz experimented with using a pencil originally for him writing to his pencil pal and maybe thought it wouldn't read well in newspaper?
Jimmy: Well, it seems like every so many years, for decades, people tried to reproduce pencil in one form or another. So I wouldn't be surprised. It never really quite worked until much recently. I think the first time I ever saw it that I thought it really is noticeable or not noticeable. It is really rather not noticeable. When, they did it in Sandman with Michael Zulli's pencils. I thought, well, you could tell they were pencils, of course, but it actually did sort of convey what a pencil feels like. But it also still read as a comic, but for years, it never really works.
Michael: Well, I don't think the printing was reliable
Harold: the thing about Charlie Brown is he tried to use a pen, and of course, he would spray ink all over the paper, which I'm assuming Schulz was having a blast taking his actual pen and spraying the ink, with the point, which is very he had a very, very sharp point, on his drawing pen. But the thing is, with Charlie Brown, even pencil was fraught with issues, because, he'd swallowed all his erasers. He couldn't fix his mistakes.
Michael: There's a Facebook group called Charlie Brown, and in their main image, there's Charlie Brown and the little Red Haired girl, with red hair.
Jimmy: Well, they've shown the Little Red Haired Girl in the animated shows, and in the Charlie Brown or in the Peanuts movie from 2017. Schulz himself regretted even showing her in the special.
I never thought of the Peanuts animation as being equal.
Harold: It’s not canon.
Jimmy: I hate to even use that, because that's just a fan word. But they're their own thing, right? You love them, hate them, think they're okay, whatever, they're to the side of the strips.
But ultimately, I wish they could have found a way to never show her, even in those. Yeah, he does this a lot, and he has great success with it, because we have the Little Red Haired Girl, the Red Baron, Joe Schlobotnik, Miss Othmar, Charlie Brown's dad in the barber shop. I'm sure I'm forgetting tons of them. The cat next door with whom you never see, but they're a really rich-- Violet’s dad even. You sort of know what type of person they are. You kind of have a feel for them, even though you never see them. It's really a magnificent stroke,
Michael: and it saves drawing time.
Jimmy: You got to save that ink.
May 25. Charlie Brown and Linus are sitting on the bench in the schoolyard having lunch. Charlie Brown says to Linus, “you know why that little red haired girl never notices me? Because I'm nothing. When she looks over here, there's nothing to see. How can she see someone who's nothing?” Then the third panel is a silent panel, as Linus looks at Charlie Brown in dismay. Charlie Brown is in dismay. And Linus says to Charlie Brown, “you're depressed, aren't you?”
Michael: I can't help laughing at this one.
Jimmy: And what makes this one work is the beat panel, the third panel of nothing, of just time, as Linus contemplates Charlie Brown.
Michael: Well, I think Linus, who would not know what depression was, cause he's kind of an optimist, is thinking about it. He's heard about it, but he's never actually seen it before, so he's putting it together. Will this be what depression is?
Jimmy: Some of us it takes a lot longer than that to discover it, even in themselves.
The other thing I think that's interesting about this is partly Charlie Brown is obsessing with the little red haired girl at lunch, but partly he's upset that he's eating alone. Right. Well, here he's not eating alone. Here, his clear friend Linus sits down, but it's still not enough. Right. He's still upset.
Jimmy: I don't know what that have anything beyond that, other than that. I guess just part of his character, and maybe not even necessarily part of depression, but eventually, once you get into a pattern of behaving a certain way, even external changes don't make you break the pattern right away.
Michael: Well, you always focus on the most negative thing around, right?
Jimmy: There's another part later this year, I think, where Charlie Brown, says, I should start my homework. I should really start my homework. it's because he fails going to the zoo, and all he had to do was write a simple little essay or paragraph, and he doesn't do it. That's actually a huge red flag of depression that I'm not sure Schulz was, aware of, or it seems like that should be an obvious thing around. All you need to do is this bare minimum thing on this gimme assignment at your school. But he can't do it. And you might think, oh, it's because he's putting it off, because he's lazy, because he'd rather watch TV. I don't think that's 100% true. One thing that I found kicking in is when you do have this laundry list of things you have to do, each one becomes just an unsurmountable mountain to climb. And I think that's where he is in strips like that.
Michael: Also the one where they were in line for the movie, where he's, like, agonizing about what he should be doing rather than just going to the movie.
Jimmy: Right. And if he goes to the movie, he's going to sit there and not enjoy the movie. So it's the worst case scenario. Right. Listen, man, if you're going to go to the movie, go to the movie and try to have it nourish you. Try to feel better, so when you go back to your work, you'll be refreshed. But he's not going to do that. He's going to sit there and think about the thing he's not doing. See, I could put his slide together for him. I'll help him out.
May 31. Snoopy is hiding on the side of what looks like a haystack with a little door in it. And the door is labeled Linus Pig, which will throw you off the first time you read it. And the second strip, or second panel, rather, Linus is reading to Snoopy, and Linus is reading and says, “then the wolf became very angry, and he huffed and he puffed, and he blew the house in.” Linus looks up from reading and says, “that's ridiculous. No animal could huff and puff that hard.” Sure enough, in the next panel, Snoopy poof huffs and puffs and breathes the book completely out of Linus's hand. Then he huffs and puffs and sends Linus spinning backwards. He continues to do this till he huffs and puffs Linus right up to the edge of a little wading pool that Patty is sitting in and playing. And then he puffs Linus directly into the wading pool with Patty. Linus then comes up from the water, soaking wet and says to Patty, “have you ever read The Three Little Pigs? It's quite a story. There's this wolf see and--”
Michael; I object to this.
Michael: It reminds me of when the early days of Fantastic Four and Stan Lee--
Jimmy: Oh sure, everybody-- say no more
Michael: and Stan Lee used to do this a lot because he didn't really quite have a handle on his characters. Yet he was inventing them all-- well, Kirby and him were inventing them all so fast. And so they would exhibit powers that they'd use once, like Submariner suddenly could take the form of any fish. Like he was like a puff fish. So he can blow himself up into this big fat thing. Or Thor would suddenly be able to call lightning down or something. Anyway, it's not thought out because Snoopy has this superpower and then never uses it again. Or maybe once.
Jimmy: you know what I think the problem is? I think you read too many Marvel Comics.
Michael: Well, that's certainly true.
Jimmy: I don't know if you could call this manifesting a new superpower that might be a bridge too far, but all right.
Harold: I just love that Snoopy. He looks incensed at the idea that Linus would not believe that an animal could do this. And so he's going to prove that it actually can happen. And the odd thing is Linus is reading a book about these imaginary animals. And we're reading a book about Linus is reading a book about imaginary animals. And so for some reason, that works for me. I don't have any trouble with that whatsoever.
June 20, Linus walks up to Snoopy, who is just sitting contentedly on the sidewalk. He pats Snoopy in the head, then gives him a big hug, exactly like his big sister Lucy did just a few years ago. Then he looks at Snoopy and says, “what's so happy about a warm puppy?”
Michael: This is the strangest thing. I mean, he's kind of like deflating his biggest commercial success. Which I assume had come out already.
Harold: Yes, came out, two years prior.
Jimmy: You should listen to this podcast sometime. We talked all about it.
Michael: And it's Linus who you wouldn't expect to be kind of cynical about it.
Harold: Yeah, it is interesting. And yet at the same time, it is advertising the book, all in one go. And then in later strips, we're going to see Sundays that like at least four or five in a row he uses a little happiness is inset that then he illustrates in the strip, which, when you think of Schulz, you don't think, oh, yeah, he's doing some product placement for his own stuff. But it really does feel like that's what he's doing. Although you could argue that he's just trying to stay with the theme. And the theme is-- but it is absolutely tying into other products.
Jimmy: When we get to those little inset panels, happiness is, they remind me of the Crime Stoppers textbook.
Harold: Dick Tracy. Yeah, absolutely.
Jimmy: But for, like, hugs and stuff.
Harold: Yes. Cut them out, collect them all, trade them with your friends.
June 21. It's a Sunday. It's Father's Day. Violet says to Charlie Brown, “my dad has more credit cards than your dad.” Charlie Brown says “you're probably right,” as he hits a rock with a stick. Then, very proudly, Violet says, “my dad can hit a golf ball farther than your dad.” Charlie Brown says, “I know. My dad still cuts across his tee shots,” he says, using the stick to mimic a golf club. Violet continues, “my dad can bowl better than your dad.” Charlie Brown says, “I know. My dad still hasn't learned to give that ball any real lift.” Violet says “my dad can--” Charlie Brown says, “Wait a minute, don't say any more. Just come with me. I want to show you something.” They walk down to Charlie Brown's dad's barber shop, and Charlie Brown says, “see this? This is my dad's barber shop. He works in there all day long. He has to deal with all sorts of people. Some of them get kind of crabby. But you know what?” Charlie Brown continues in the next panel, as, Violet is actually listening to him. He says, “I can go in there any time. And, no matter how busy he is, he'll always stop and give me a big smile. And you know why? Because he likes me, that's why.” Violet, visibly moved by Charlie Brown's speech, walks away saying, “Happy Father's Day, Charlie Brown.” Charlie Brown says to Violet, “Thank you. Please greet your dad for me.”
Jimmy: I always loved this one. I remember this one from a kid. I love, again, we're getting to see the barber shop and the barber pole. These little observed things. Just the little kind of angled ledge just below the plate glass window. The little sign that's probably hours of operation or something. It's great.
Harold: Yeah. the juxtaposition of the Violet and Charlie Brown, she's trying to use it to lord it over Charlie Brown. And Charlie Brown is responding with a different intent, is what you get out of it. And it's a really special strip.
Jimmy: First panel, is that supposed to represent a Peanuts Hallmark card Charlie Brown has? If so, it's terrible inside. You would just open it up and it just says June 21. Then there's a picture of Charlie Brown, and it just says, your son.
Michael: He can draw well,
Jimmy: Maybe he made it himself.
Michael: Oh he did.
Jimmy: Yeah. He didn't have enough money to go down and get a Peanuts card for himself.
Michael: Well, he was a cartoonist.
Jimmy: That's right.
Harold: Yeah, he's not very good. He looks a lot like,
Jimmy: it's the real deal.
July 12, Linus is out in the backyard. He's looking at his baseball bat, which is all dinged up with little nicks taken out of it. In the next panel, he screams to the sky “Aaugh.” Snoopy looks on, confused at what's happening. Linus picks up the bat and says, “Teeth marks.” Then he confronts Snoopy, showing him the bat, saying, “have you been chewing on my new bat?” Linus is ranting at Snoopy. He looks very upset. “What sort of stupid dog are you? “says Linus. “Don't you have any more sense than to chew on a baseball bat?” Linus is still ranting. As Lucy walks up, he says, “if you have to chew on something, can't you find a stick or a bone or a fence or something? Do you have to ruin a good baseball bat? Why can't you--?” Lucy, as she walks past Linus says, “he didn't chew on your bat. I used it to hit rocks.” In the next two panels, Linus looks very upset and embarrassed. Snoopy, on the other hand, looks, very annoyed with Linus. The next panel, Linus trying to be gracious, presents Snoopy with his bat and says, “do you want a bite? Snoopy's ears shoot straight up in shock. And then he chases after Linus. If he's going to bite anything, it will be Linus.
Michael: More biting.
Harold: This is like a perfect strip. This is so funny. Oh, my gosh, I love this strip. And they're Snoopy's terrible biting teeth again, just like we saw when he was guarding his second base dog dish. Oh, gosh, this one is so funny.
Jimmy: The ears shot up, straight out of the head twice. He liked it so much, he drew it twice.
Harold: And again, this requires so much of the characters. Linus's personality is what makes this work. Lucy's personality is what makes this work, and Snoopy's personality would make this work. What we know about them really makes this one extra funny.
Harold: It's like, Lucy, she's the one who is doing something careless and stupid and thoughtless, which was what we know Lucy to be. Right. And Linus can be so upset over something small, but he also generally has this good heart, and he's already going out on a limb with his anger on Snoopy. And so when he realizes, oh, my gosh, I have just accused Snoopy. If something Snoopy didn't do, it hits you three times as hard of what you have to shift gears and then offer as a peace offering, his bat which he has just been-- and then Snoopy is like his ears are straight up, like the ultimate insult now that it's been destroyed. Now you can see it after you've accused me of something.
Jimmy: Well, I really relate to Snoopy in panel five, where Linus is yelling at him. And Snoopy is legitimately upset, even though he didn't do it. Through my whole life, especially in childhood, if I was accused of something or whatever, even if I had nothing to do with it, you're right. I am the worst. I can't believe it, and be like, Wait, actually, no, hold on a second. And I also like, that Linus, because you do you see all the nuances of the personality, because Linus, like you say, is going out on a limb, saying, look, man, I'm expressing this anger directly. What he should do then well, not should do, but what he could do is then realize, oh, my anger was misdirected. I'm going to briefly apologize to Snoopy, but then directed at Lucy. But that is not an option. He's just, want a bite?
Harold: And the last six panels, you're, going through one, emotion after another with Linus, it's just so perfect.
Jimmy: Again, use of silent panels, that's a great technique that cartoonists don't use as much these days, I don't think. At least the comics I'm seeing, like, kids comics and these YA comics that are so popular these days, everything's just forward, and you need those moments, I think.
Harold: Totally. And boy is the third to last panel of Linus's hair all out of joint, and his eyes rolling up to cross, and the terrible wishy washy, regret mouth on him. It's just so perfect. And the fourth and Snoopy, the last five panels are hilarious. Well, actually, last six is kind of like he's thoughtful, and then he's just slightly miffed. Then he's angry, then he's really angry, then he's insulted. Yeah, it's so bad.
Jimmy: The other thing I like and this is super subtle, but the fourth, the last panel, Linus just sitting there after he realizes or after Lucy says she's the one that damages, that somehow his hair looks extra limp. Right. Like he's defeated, and then it's not sticking straight up, but it's more lively in the panel after that, because now he's also realizing, oh, no, I have to make up to Snoopy somehow.
Harold: Yeah. When your hair is showing your emotion, that is genius cartooning.
Jimmy: It really, really is. By the way, the character design on these we have to talk about this. Let's look at, the first panel on the second tier of Linus, the teeth marks panel. What is up with Linus's head? If Linus got a crew cut, it looks like he was dropped on his head. Right? That's a really weird shaped head.
Michael: It looks like a peanut.
Jimmy: It is. Isn't it always? Like, I always thought, why is Linus's head dented?
Michael: Yeah, someone dropped-- Lucy must have dropped him on his head at some point when he was a baby.
Jimmy: Yes. My first ride down a, sliding board when I was two years old with my dad. Apparently, he, had to come home, and I was wearing his hat, and my mom's like, what's going on? He may have fallen off the top of the sliding board on his head. I have no memory that I wonder why, but it had no effect on me. Did I ever tell you guys about the time I fell off a sliding board when I was just two years old?
Jimmy: It had no effect on me.
August 8. Lucy and Frieda are, playing in the outfield, and they're chasing down, a fly ball, which has just landed for a hit. As they approach the ball, though, they both are brought up short, yelling, “AAUGH a spider.” Lucy yells into the infield as Frieda looks at the ball in complete dismay. Lucy says, “there's a spider on the ball. We can't pick up the ball. Charlie Brown. There's a spider on it.”Charlie Brown back at the pitchers mound says “it'll be interesting to see if the official scorer gives the hitter credit for a home run.”
Michael: It might have been a piece of fuzz.
Jimmy: It might have been and, I think you would give them an inside the park home run if they don't make a throwing error or they don't drop it when they're trying to catch it, right?
Michael: Oh, yeah. It's definitely inside the park.
Jimmy: There you go. Only home run I ever hit in a legitimate, like, organized game was an inside the park home run.
Jimmy: That is the sum total of my baseball highlight reel.
Michael: I made an unassisted triple play.
Jimmy: You did?
Michael: We'll stop it at that. It was slightly assisted.
Jimmy: All right, well, just tell us the adjusted version. I, don't care either way. That's amazing. What happened?
Michael: No, it wasn't a real game. It was just some base, I mean, we're playing during lunch hour or something. It wasn't like, real teams.
Okay, so I am shortstop. So there's runners on first and second. Nobody out. batter hits a hard drive. Then, the runners go, of course, because it's a line drive over my head. I jump up, catch it, step on second base to put out the runner going to third and throw to first base. So the first baseman catches the ball. So that's three outs
Jimmy: oh, my God.
Michael: With a slight assist. That's the highlight of my life actually
Jimmy: Actually, that's mind-blowing. I'm really glad we got to put that out there. I've never even seen a triple play other--.
Michael: Yeah, but it wouldn't be that hard to happen, though.
Jimmy: But yet it doesn’t
Michael: I mean, it seems if the runners are going, then because I tagged out the guy going from first to second because he was not paying attention.
Jimmy: All right.
Liz: How old were you?
Michael: I was in grammar school, so I don't know, like, eight or nine.
Michael: Good field. No hit.
Jimmy: My story as well. Although apparently I'm not that good a fielder, though. That was pretty good.
Harold: Yeah. I’m no field, no hit.
Jimmy: You know what? I think you'd be a hell of a statistician, though.
Harold: Yeah. I'd have to figure out whether that was a home run.
Jimmy: Right. Exactly.
September 14. Charlie Brown and Linus are hanging out at the thinking wall. Linus says, “When I get big, I'd like to be a prophet.” Now they're walking, talking, and Charlie Brown says, “that's a fine ambition. The world can always use a few good prophets.” Charlie Brown turns to Linus, though, and says, “the only trouble is that most of them turn out to be false prophets.” They continue walking as Linus says, “maybe I could be a sincere false prophet.”
Michael: Sincerity is number one always. For Linus.
Jimmy: That is true. Sincerity is the whole ballgame for Linus.
Harold: Yeah, sincerity trumps truth.
Jimmy: When you look at it that way, it's not so great.
September 23. Snoopy is hanging out on top of his dog house and voices are coming from inside. “The story of civilization painted on the ceiling of a doghouse. Linus, you're fantastic.” “Thank you.” Charlie Brown still continuing from inside the doghouse as Snoopy sits on top. “Right now I'm working on the struggles of the Maccabees, which began around 167 BC. I had a little trouble with Antiochus Epiphanies because I didn't know what he looked like.” Snoopy lies back down on his dog house and thinks to himself “a lack of knowledge forgivable in a mural painter who is only six years old.”
Michael: So wait, Linus is six? That makes Lucy seven and Charlie Brown maybe eight already. I still think of them as five.
Jimmy: and only been around for 14 years.
Michael: Wow, that's shocking.
Harold: Yeah. Well, here's, I guess, a good time for an obscurity explained. what is Linus painting in Snoopy's doghouse?
VO: Peanuts Obscurities Explained
Harold: Well, it turns out, I guess there was around 170 BC. There was this Greek, was it Helenist King? And, was, in Jerusalem, ruling over Jerusalem and attempting to get the Jewish people to worship Zeus in the temple. And that didn't go over so well. basically it was a very brutal reign, apparently. And so, they said that's a bridge too far, and they revolted against this king. So during Hanukkah that those, events are celebrated.
Jimmy: From the Book of Maccabees. Antioch is the fourth, apparently. So, you know, once you get to the fourth, it's not going to be any damn good, you know, there's going to be problems.
Harold: Yeah. Apparently, epiphanies means God manifests. So, he was claiming he was Zeus in a way.
Jimmy: Nice work if you can get it.
Harold: It's a living.
September 28. Charlie Brown and Linus back at the thinking wall. And Linus says, “when I get big, I want to be a great doctor, I want to be a doctor among doctors, a physician among physicians.” He's now ranting as he walks away from Charlie Brown saying, “I want to be the Willie Mays of medicine.” Charlie Brown says to us, “how ambitious can you get?”
Michael: Of course, I picked that one.
Jimmy: Another Giants reference from Michael.
Jimmy: Willie Mays goes on to be referenced throughout Peanuts really.
Harold: Yeah. It's like he and Miss Francis get a lot of love. And Sam Snead.
Jimmy: Yeah, those are the big three. I think in any household at this time, it would be Miss. Francis, Sam Snead and Willie Mays. I mean, come on.