Jimmy: Hey, everybody. Welcome back. Happy New Year. Did you have a good holiday season? We did here at Unpacking Peanuts, and we're more than excited to continue this podcast into 2023 and beyond.
It's 1965. The Rolling Stones are unsatisfied, the Beatles are asking for help, Lucy's being terrorized by a sentient malevolent blanket. But there is a World War I flying ace on the scene. He's here to save the day, and I can't wait to talk about all of it with you guys.
Hope you're doing well. I'm Jimmy Gownley. I'm one of your hosts for today. I'm a cartoonist as well. I'm the cartoonist behind Amelia Rules, The Dumbest Idea Ever, and Seven Good Reasons Not to Grow Up.
Joining me, as always, are my pals co hosts and fellow cartoonists. He's a playwright and a composer, both for the band Complicated People, as well as for this very podcast. He's the original editor for Amelia Rules, the co creator of the original Comic Book Price Guide, and the cartoonist behind such great strips as Strange Attractors, Tangled River, and A Gathering of Spells. It's Michael Cohen.
Michael: Hey, there.
Jimmy: And he's the executive producer and writer of Mystery Science Theater 3000, a former vice president of Archie Comics, and currently the cartoonist behind the great Instagram strip Sweetest Beasts, Harold Buchholz.
Jimmy: Well, guys, this is a very exciting year to talk about. There is a lot going on in Schulz's mind and in his art. I'm, looking at this as like a year of big swings where he's taking some chances and he's going off in some unique directions. I think it's going to be a year that we look as kind of a turning point in the whole arc of the strip.
Harold, what are your thoughts to start us off, both with what your experience was reading this and also, you know, if you have any insights into Mr. Schulz or what's going on in his world.
Harold: Yeah, 1965 is a really big year for Charles Schulz. He makes the cover of Time magazine on April 9. I think I'd said in a previous episode that he had been on the cover of Time magazine much earlier. I think that was incorrect. This is the time he does, and it's, entitled The World According to Peanuts.
You get some sense of the impact that Peanuts is having on American culture to make the cover of Time magazine. And, eight months later, on the 9th of December, the Peanuts Christmas special comes out. A Charlie Brown Christmas debuts to tremendous response, and it goes on to win an Emmy and a Peabody Award for Outstanding Children's Show.
So, huge impact that Schulz is having 15 years in to this strip, and, that's something that we can really kind of track in the strips and see the sense of confidence in his work.
In 1965, he just seems to be at the top of his game. And that's my memory as well as a kid, is, when I would be reading these in the 1970s, I would go and look at the copyright page because they would tell you what years these strips came from, in these Fawcett Crest mass market paperbacks that I would be reading as a little kid. And, whenever I saw like 1964, 65 as the copyright, for most of the strips in that year, that was the book to get, because those are the ones I just loved the most.
In his personal life, Schulz now has two teenagers. Meredith is 15, Monty is 13, Craig is twelve, Amy's nine, and Jill is 7. So this is the prime school years, ranging anywhere from elementary up through high school. And I think you can see that in the strips.
There's lots of in the weeds strips about going to school and the PTA, and you also get that sense of having older kids and the concerns of having teenage kids in the strips. We can talk about that, I guess, as we go along, but, there's romance starts to kind of enter into these strips through Snoopy. It's a really interesting year to see Schulz living with children of all different ages. I think it does come out in the strips this year.
Jimmy: Yeah, I actually really agree with that. There's a few instances, in the strips that we're going to be discussing where I thought, oh, that has to be something that he was dealing with at home.
So Michael, what are your thoughts on 1965? And, do you think we're going to have any fluctuation in the old tier list of characters?
Michael: I agree it's a pivotal year, and I think we're getting some indications that he's going to kind of expand the Peanuts world a little bit. It doesn't happen big time, but there is a character, a new character introduced, who would be the first temporary character. We'll talk about it more when we get to the strip, but since we know that the strip is going to expand into, the whole world of Marcie and Peppermint Patty sometime in the near future, we have some indications of him taking it out of the neighborhood, where so far, just about everything has happened.
Jimmy: um hmm.
Michael: And we go out in the world a little bit. And as far as the, list goes, it's pretty much status quo with the A list here would be Charlie Brown, Lucy Linus, and Snoopy, which has been consistent the whole time. These are the characters. At least one of them will appear in virtually every strip. And we've had a few exceptions where a strip would not have those four characters in it, and then the B list would be, Schroeder. I would put Frieda there. And I think we place Sally in the second tier, but she doesn't appear very much this year, not until the end of the year.
Jimmy: She makes an impact when she does, though.
Michael: Yeah. So I keep her in the second tier. Patty and Violet look like they've been demoted to third tier. And it's a little strange because the two of them always came together, but it looks like Violet seems to be showing up a lot more than Patty. And then down in the basement, we've got Pigpen and Shermy, who rarely have anything to say and no real impact on their association with the other characters. They're kind of just there when they need some people.
Anyway, I'd say tier list-- I'd leave it as is for this year. But I know changes are coming soon, and I'm, keeping an eye on that.
Jimmy: Yeah. And, it's sort of interesting. I forgot exactly how the Peppermint Patty universe opens up. And you're right. It's through this new character that's introduced this year.
While I was reading this, a couple of things have changed in the way I've kind of looked at Peanuts since we started talking about it. One of the things, actually, since we started doing the tier list is I started noticing the gaps where you don't see certain characters. They don't appear for weeks at a time, sometimes months at a time, even though they're quintessential really important Peanuts characters overall. Schroeder. There's not a whole lot of Schroeder going on. Like you said, Sally doesn't appear much in the early half of the year. Then she comes on strong at the end. And he's also balancing this thing of playing the hits now because he has a number of hits. We have the baseball things, we have the psychiatry booth, we have the kite-eating tree. We have all this kind of stuff that's now getting into the pop culture that he still has to include in the strip in order to maintain that readership interest in all those things, while at the same time he's taking big swings and going off into weird magic realism and weird fantasy elements and all this sort of stuff. But I still think he manages to keep the core of it, which is kind of amazing. And then when you think, all right, he's doing that. But he's also working on this television show, which is going to be, like, the greatest television episode of all time. It's astounding. And I think I have a question for Michael. Were years longer in the something? How do people do this type of thing? It's nuts.
Michael: Years were longer.
Jimmy: All right, well, that just explains so much.
Michael: Yeah, it's been proven. yeah. And I won't go into the whole Beatles things. But the culture was changing pretty fast, and you can think of very few people who are really steering it. And I think Schulz was one of them.
Jimmy: 15 years into his career. Yeah. As a cartoonist, you would think at this point, these characters would look ancient. right. They would have some of this early 50s sort of residue. And ‘65 is a totally different zeitgeist. It's a totally different time. But they're even more relevant while being true to what they've always been. I just think that's amazing.
Michael: And there's a lot of pop culture references.
Michael: This year.
Jimmy: Yeah. I'm looking forward to seeing which obscurities Harold has picked out. I have one myself this year. I'm very excited about it.
Harold: This is just an unusual year because Michael and I picked the strips to discuss every year. And Michael actually picked a couple of the obscurity strips that, I choose. Usually those are not ones that we overlap on. And Michael's came through the first time. So I actually had a couple of opportunities to add some additional obscurities because he had picked strips to talk about that I had selected as obscurity. So that's very unusual.
Michael: Well, and also, one of the ones you picked is one that I didn't get it. There's a reference to something I have no memory of.
Michael: When we get to that, maybe you can explain, do an explainer.
Harold: Okay. Yeah, we'll see. Actually, maybe something I know nothing about either. Just what I thought was funny.
Michael: And, as a spoiler, I'm going to make a shocking allegation.
Jimmy: Oh, my gosh.
Michael: Really shocking allegation at some point.
Jimmy: I'm so excited. So excited. That's why we do the podcast-- Hot Takes. Hot takes on 60-year-old comic strip.
Michael: Hang in there. That's coming.
Jimmy: So are there any other points of order? Any other things people want to discuss about this year before we get into the nitty gritty? We have, I believe, like, 45 strips selected for you guys, so there's going to be a lot of it. But, I also want to get, any kind of general discussion, out of the way before we get into that.
Michael: I was describing the circumstances that I had been reading most of these.
Michael: I mean, I knew I read them all daily because being an old person, there was this thing called the newspaper, which was delivered every day.
Jimmy: Huh. Strange.
Michael: To our house. I did read them. But also what I thought was all the books, the original first prints of the original Peanuts collections. And I noticed last year when I was reading the strips, that I was not that familiar with around half of them. And I was wondering-- I thought maybe I missed one of the books. And because I knew I read all the books dozens and dozens of times, and there were a bunch that were unfamiliar to me going over last year's strips. Same on this year, the first half of the year I don't remember any of these.
And the thing is, what I think it's important is I'd been wondering how much nostalgia played into this. Like, did I love these so much because I read them so much when I was a kid, and I found that the first half of the year, which I had no memory of, was just as good. And that, kind of shut down the nostalgia theory. And also, it added a lot of suspense in some of these strips. Like, god, what's going to happen next?
Jimmy: It's so great. This will be really the second time. Third time, I've kind of actually read it all the way through. But there are some of these strips. It's only the second or third time I've actually read them, so they're not as ingrained as the others. And you're right, when there are there is a sequence that you're not super familiar with. It is kind of cool. It's like, oh, this feels like a new one. Wow. And there's not too much of that in these strips because I know Michael and I in particular, had most of them memorized. But Harold, this is your era, too. So one of the things I enjoy-- I don't pick the strips generally, that, we're going to single out and discuss. But as I read the whole year to myself, I try to predict which ones the other guys are going, to choose. And I have a good sense of it. I could probably guess, like, 80% of the ones they're going to pick, but that extra 20% when I'm really surprised, like, oh, they went with that one. That's always very fun, for me.
Michael: Sometimes I won't pick one because I go, this is a Harold.
Harold: Yeah, same here.
Jimmy: Same here.
Harold: It's like you have to hold out for the other person to put the nominations in so that you have oh, I overlap with Michael on six strips so I can choose six more.
Jimmy: And then Michael sends me an entire document with just the strips selected from GoComics. And I just do a quick scroll through. I just swished my finger just to see how many they picked. And it's always a lot.
Michael: This year is, much less than usual.
Jimmy: We have 45. How many do we normally do?
Jimmy: Well, there's a lot of longer stories, and I think that's going to happen as we go through, where there's a few sequences. And for copyright and whatnot we never do an entire sequence. But yeah, it's fun. I always like to see which ones you guys pick.
Harold: For the record, I only pick 15, but I really respect Michael's choices. So I think it balances out pretty well.
Jimmy: Oh, good.
Michael: Yeah. And some of these long, two-week-long episodes are really great. And we're picking three to discuss.
Michael: If you've got the, GoComics, definitely go and read the whole sequence.
Jimmy: Right. And that is exactly what we would love for you to do, is we're trying to read the whole thing. We started in October 1950. We're going right through to the end, and we would love your company. So if you want to, you can sign up for The Great Peanuts Reread over on our website, Unpacking Peanuts.com. And what that will do is you will get a monthly email sent direct to you from us that will give you a heads up about the programming that we're doing and what strips we're going to be covering in, each episode. And then you could just go to GoComics.com, type in the dates of the years we're talking about, and away you go. You could read every one of these strips for free. But the best way to do that, at least following along with us, is to sign up for The Great Peanuts Reread at Unpacking Peanuts.com. So that's what I would, encourage you guys to do.
If that's all we have in way of introduction, I say we get right to it, because I think we're going to have a lot to say about a lot of these strips. Are you guys with me?
Michael: Let's do it.
Jimmy: All right.
January 8. Violet and Patty are sitting on little stools in front of a television set. Patty looks at Violet and says, “you have very nice hands, Violet.” Violet responds, “thank you.” Patty says, “I think nice hands are important for a girl.” Patty stands up and looks disgustedly at her own hands, saying, “I don't like my hands. They're too skinny.” Then she asks Violet, “what can you do to gain weight in your hands?”
Jimmy: This is a momentous occasion.
Michael: Well, I picked it not because it's, like, the funniest strip he's ever done, but Patty and Violet, who were very important and actually, Violet-- Patty was one of the first characters in the strip, have been treated badly by Schulz lately and sort of been relegated to walk on appearances. And here, Schulz, 15 years into the strip, gives them a big feature. And again, it's very rare that there are any strips without the A-list characters. Again Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy and Snoopy And we've had I think there was a Sally. I think there was a Schroeder stand alone. And I don't know if there's ever been a Patty and Violet standalone. And so he really felt he needed these characters for this. I don't know if the gag came first or he felt he wanted something with those two in it, but here it is.
Harold: And this is the very first of what you might call the teenager strips, where it just kind of feels like something that might have been a conversation between some teenagers.
Jimmy: I was going to say that punchline is such a weird thing. It sounds like the kind of thing a teenage girl in the mid 60s would say that their father might overhear and roll their eyes at.
Michael: And here we have the two nastiest characters in the Peanuts Universe, right? And they're just so nice to each other.
Jimmy: Very nice hands Violet. If she would have complimented Charlie Brown on his hands, he would have fainted dead away.
January 9. Linus is reading the newspaper. He's concerned. He says, “I can't stand it.” Then with a look of worry on his face, he gets to classic thumb and blanket position. He says to himself, “this is terrible.” He picks up the newspaper again. “How depressing.” Then he shouts to the heavens, “Annette Funicello has grown up.”
Michael: Well, I mean, there's a point where kids realize that they're-- people age and change. I mean, at first, they probably assume all, I'm a kid. I guess that's my lot in life. And it's pretty scary when you start realizing it. And that was one of the first cases where she went from Mickey Mouse Club to being, you know, a teen surfer girl in the in these movies.
Harold: Yeah, the the Beach Party movies. And so this is 1965, and I guess the story goes that she was discovered by Walt Disney himself. He attended some event where she was, I think, dancing. She was like 5ft, just over 5ft. And she was dancing at this event, and he noticed her. And that led to her getting an offer to audition for the Mickey Mouse Club, which debuted, I think, in 1955. So this is like, ten years later. And, she was the last one hired, apparently, of all of the kids that had like, 24 kids that they, signed up for the Mickey Mouse Club, which was a daily show that was on in the afternoons and became a huge success for Walt Disney Company.
But she was a standout. She was the breakout star. People just fell in love with Annette. And she went on to be featured in a number of, like I think they they did a little Annette series, and they ran her in the Wonderful World of Disney, which had multiple different names. It's like, called Disneyland back in the day.
And so she was super popular in the Disney universe. And then in 1963, she was probably like 20 years old. And American International Pictures, which was known for some pretty schlocky films, including The I Was a Teenage Werewolf films we talked about in previous episode. And they wanted to work with her, but she was under contract with Disney. And surprisingly, Disney said, yeah, she can be in this Beach Party movie in 1963 while she was still under contract to Disney, because I guess she wanted to do it. And she was 20 years old. And so she went on to do a number of these with Frankie Avalon, which became really iconic movies at the time. I think they say his only requirement was that she had to wear, like, a one piece bathing suit or something so that she had, some level of Disney respectability within the American International Pictures film. But, she overlapped, I think, from 63 to 65 with Disney still, making movies with her, with things like The Monkey's Uncle.
We always talk about how Schulz will change how Snoopy looks from from, pose to pose. This is an absolute extreme. Again, this is January 18, 1965. If you are not looking at a strip, you may want to pull this one up to see just to what extremes Charles Schulz will go in changing the look of Snoopy when he does a different pose for him.
In the first panel, we've got classic Snoopy with an incredibly thick neck and the big stomach lying on the back of his doghouse. By panel three, literally, his neck is one quarter the width of what it was in panel one. And there's no stomach as he's standing on his head. And then in panel four, to put it over the gag of him, kind of resting on his neck down the side of his doghouse, he's about a third larger than what he normally is. It seems like he would be filling the entire doghouse if he was lying on his back in that one. So he's all over the map here in terms of the size and the shape of Snoopy.
Jimmy: Yeah, absolutely. But it works as a reading experience to go right through it. I always like to see a lot of black in a Peanuts strip just because it's so rare. Looks good. And speaking of night strips, that brings us to
January 25. It's a full moon on a dark night, and Snoopy is down at a skating pond. He's doing a little late night skating. He thinks to himself, “every night I come down here and skate around, hoping to meet a beautiful girl beagle. But it looks like I'm--” Suddenly he is brought up short in his skating. He looks off panel and thinks to himself, “good grief, there she is.”
Jimmy: So, this is the beginning of a long sequence of Snoopy and his beautiful girl beagle skater.
Michael: I wanted to see her.
Jimmy: How about you, Harold?
Harold: This is, Schulz does this sometimes. Again, this is one of those oddball things about Schulz, and you just roll with it when you're reading it, that Snoopy decides that the place to go to meet a girl beagle is on the ice skating at night. That's the way he's going to find a girl beagle. And he does.
Jimmy: Yeah. And not an ice rink, a frozen pond out in the middle of the tundra.
Harold: Yeah. It's like Schulz's-- I don't know, it's weird. Like, you talk about Schulz being a, character in his own strip. The totally implausible thing that Schulz sets up for Snoopy longing for something, and then he fulfills the longing. It's like he produces the girl beagle who should never have shown up, given the set up.
Jimmy: Right. So it continues.
January 27. Snoopy is lying atop his dog house. It's now day, a snowy day worth noting that it's-- we're in the depths of winter. Charlie Brown comes out to him and says, “answer me truthfully, Snoopy. Have you been down to the rink skating with a girl beagle?” Snoopy rolls over in his stomach, then contemplates the question while he thinks to himself, “have I been down to the rink skating with a girl beagle? That's a good question. Have I been down to the rink skating with a girl beagle?” Then, in the last panel, his ears are perked up, a huge smile on his face, and he thinks to himself, “wow, have I ever.” Charlie Brown rolls his eyes and says, “oh, no."
Michael: You got to imagine this strip. Since Charlie Brown does not hear Snoopy, if Schulz had decided early on that Snoopy, we would not hear his thoughts, and Charlie Brown would not hear his thoughts, imagine this strip without the Snoopy dialogue there. Is it understandable?
Harold: I think so. I mean, maybe not why he waited so long to respond, right?
Jimmy: Yeah. But I would say you definitely can tell, obviously, from Snoopy's demeanor. He's now walking on his hind legs, his ears are perked up like a rabbit. The big goofy grin on his face. That that's an affirmative to Charlie Brown's question.
Harold: And it's also, again, this Schulzian logic, where you've got Charlie Brown trying to get the straight scoop from Snoopy of whether he's been out at night, not only out at night and not only out at night skating, but out at night skating with a girl beagle. I don't know if he's heard the word from Shermy who was walking by that this is happening. We don't know exactly how Charlie Brown has heard about this. And the other thing that really stands out to me is that Charlie Brown is talking about calling this pond a rink. And Schulz is a transplanted Minnesota, loved skating, loved hockey and all that stuff. And he's now in Santa Rosa area in California, and he's four years out from having built the skating rink that is still, I think, around to this day, because they didn't really have one. And so he built this beautiful skating rink, 1969. But given how long it takes to get stuff like that done, I wouldn't be at all surprised if this is around the time he first started thinking about, hey, I need a place to be able to skate, and the community needs something like this. That he calls it a rink, I think is really interesting.
Jimmy: yeah, absolutely. Hey, how old did you say Meredith was?
Harold: Meredith is 15.
Jimmy: Yeah, right. And listen, Meredith, if you're listening no shame. I got into all kinds of shenanigans. That's perfect sneaking-out-at-night, age bracket. So all good.
Harold: I do want to also mention the first two months of the strips in 1965. The thing that struck me, we haven't hit the school ones yet, but there are ten school strips in the first two months, and there are 25 strips about growing up or romance. 25 out of about 60 strips. That is amazing. It's the Snoopy meeting the girl. It's Annette Funicello. All this teenage stuff is kind of coming in that vibe. It's all over the beginning of this year.
Jimmy: And, what's really interesting about it is when people say, did you get ideas from your kids? Or do you get ideas? It's kind of, in a way, truthful to say, well, no, in the sense that none of these things happened. None of his kids were sneaking out to a weird pond to meet a girl beagle, right? But you're just marinating in all this life that's going on around you, and you have this one creative outlet that everything is getting funneled to, and it's happening every single day. there's no way to avoid having all of that stuff go into it, but there's like, good ways and bad ways to do it. And I think this is a great way to bring in all that teenage youthful energy, I think, while still maintaining the privacy and the dignity of the kids.
Harold: Exactly. Yeah. The right answer, if there's an honest way to answer it, is, no, I'm not taking this from the lives of these people, because then it will inspire people like me to go and guess which things were based on what. And, that really does take you into places sometimes you don't want to go. And I get that that is the correct answer. And just for everybody to remember, they're in Sebastopol on this beautiful multi-acre campus that Joyce has continually been building out as a play place for the kids, essentially. And as you might expect, that means that there were a lot of kids, not just the five kids that they had, but a lot of their friends were coming out to play, on. They've got a little golf, three-hole golf course. They've got tennis courts. It's nice. And so you can imagine what Schulz is surrounded by in this world that he and Joyce have created.
Jimmy: Yeah. And the other thing I just like to say for these kids is, to grow up in that kind of luxury at that period of time and all turn out to be decent, kind, cool people, it seems from every report you get is not only a testament to them, but it's a testament to their parents and their step-parents, that it worked out. Because a lot of stories of privilege of that type, it doesn't work out quite as well.
But in Peanuts Land, the story is continuing. And that was, the 27 January we're now all the way up at
February 4. Snoopy is out at night again. Still a full moon, by the way. So not sure how that's happening.
Michael: What planet is this?
Jimmy: well, it's definitely a different planet because the gravity is different because Snoopy's well off the ground as he's walking.
Harold: He's in love.
He thinks to himself, “I've never been so nervous in all my life.” He continues to think as he races for the pond tonight, ”I'm going to ask my little beagle friend to marry me.” He skates out onto the pond. He thinks to himself, “we'll skate through life together.” Then he looks directly out at us with a ridiculous grin on his face, wearing a giant stocking cap, and he says, “Wish me luck.”
Michael: This one bothers me a little.
Jimmy: All right?
Michael: I mean, it's the breaking the fourth wall. To me, this is not a good strip.
Jimmy: To me, it feels like a marking time and building the idea of that this is an event, like almost giving it an extra day so people could talk about it or something like that. Like, you hear Snoopy is getting married, but yeah, I know what you're saying.
Harold: I'm a huge fan of breaking the fourth wall when it's done well. And here I love Snoopy so much that I'm delighted that he's asking me to wish him luck, because I'm wishing him luck.
Jimmy: Well, I've destroyed the fourth wall. I have no problem with that. So much as maybe, it just feels like it's a beat too long within this story. But I would really encourage everybody to read this entire story because it also involves Charlie Brown giving his permission to Snoopy to marry this girl Beagle. But there's also a moment where Charlie Brown says something like, oh, my dog's finally cracked up. And you think, Wait, is Snoopy hallucinating this girl beagle? It's just a very odd, odd story. And we have not chosen because that's us. We have not chosen to cover the actual strip of where we find out the resolution. Does anyone want to tell us, does Snoopy get married?
Harold: Yeah, well, first, Michael, I just wanted to ask, like, going back to the breaking the fourth wall, do you just like to see a world that's self contained and does not include the reader? Do you mind, like, Oliver Hardy looking at us at the screen during a, Laurel and Hardy? Or is it just I just was wondering where you're coming from as to what you like.
Michael: Well, I am actually not a big Laurel and Hardy fan. No, I have no problem. Jimmy, he breaks the fourth wall all the time. I've sort of done it, but not very much. I don't know, it's just that it's kind of a teaser.
Jimmy: Right? That's a good way to put it.
Harold: How do you know?
Michael: It's like, a little bit of a cliffhanger. Like, you want to find out what happens.
Harold: Okay, so basically, it's putting off moving it forward.
Jimmy: Right. But having said that, if I was not analyzing this for a Peanuts podcast, I was just reading it in the newspaper, I'd be on the edge of my seat to see what's happening. And the drawing of Snoopy in that last panel is about as cute a drawing he so rarely gives us that Snoopy looking directly at us view.
Harold: Yeah. And he's so effective, open. You know, he's vulnerable. your heart kind of goes out to this Snoopy. He's not being guarded or cynical or selfish or it's just this open. He's been touched by love. And it's pretty cool to see.
Jimmy: And the meta narrative, because we're familiar with Peanuts and how things work, we kind of know how it's going to work, which is to say it's not going to work.
Michael: Yeah. Well, this is one of the strips I'd never seen before. And when I got to these and I'm reading them and it's like two weeks worth, I was really wondering, is he going to show the girl beagle? Because I had no memory of this.
Harold: Jimmy, you mentioned the thing about the full moon. When you read these, do you kind of get the feeling that, without it saying otherwise, that if you're going from day to day, it actually is a new day in the Peanuts world? If you're reading in the strip the following day.
Jimmy: Well, I don't have the entire sequence in front of me, but obviously, when it's like switching day to night, it has to be a new day there. But if there's a couple sequences of days in a row or nights in a row, that those could be moment to moment. But clearly, like, you know, let's say we looked at 1/25, it's night, 1/27, it's day. Charlie Brown has said, have you been down to the rink skating with the girl beagle?
Harold: So it should be waning gibbous, is what you're saying.
Jimmy: That's what I'm saying. And basically, I've given up any hope of making any sense of doing the comic strip at this point.
Michael: It could be a balloon.
Harold: It's a weather balloon. They always say it is for a UFO.
Jimmy: Actually, I think, the answer is, it's always a full moon in comic strips. Unless you're in like, Krazy Kat. If you're going to draw a moon, you might as well draw the big full moon, get the nice value.
Harold: For some reason, I'm a crescent guy because I can't draw a good circle.
Jimmy: I draw a lot of crescents as well. But of course, it doesn't work out for Snoopy. And here we are on
February 9. Patty comes up to Charlie Brown and says, “you say Snoopy is eating to forget his broken romance.” Patty continues, “that sounds like a good idea.” Charlie Brown says to Patty, “it has its drawbacks.” Then in the last panel, we see Snoopy atop his doghouse. His stomach is swollen to twice the size of his head, and he looks more than a little upset.
Michael: Yeah. That's a great little picture of little fatty Snoopy there.
Jimmy: It really is. Those tiny little back paws.
Harold: yeah. Poor little Snoopy. So I want to ask you about Patty. Michael.
Harold: So Patty is clearly taller than Charlie Brown here. So is that always been established that she’s older?
Michael: So he came in as the kid. He was younger, right?
Harold: So is she younger than Shermy, you think? But older than Charlie Brown?
Michael: I think there was, like, a year difference, which at the time was a big deal, because he was definitely a kid. And she'll just kind of always maintain those height relationships.
Harold: And I think Charlie Brown this year, there's a strip where he's talking to Lucy, I think, at the psychiatry booth. And is it something like she's saying, something has to happen by the age of five? And he says, I'm much older than five. So we got a hint that maybe he's six or seven now.
Michael: I think six.
Jimmy: Yeah. He doesn't say much over older. He just says older. Your personality traits are all set by the time you're five. And he says, But I'm already five. In fact, I'm older than five.
Harold: And my other Patty question is, why is he using Patty here for this conversation with Charlie Brown?
Michael: I think it's guilt. It's got to be guilt. She was in the first couple of strips.
Jimmy: She was like, he's the second person to speak. Yeah.
Michael: The first girl in the strip. She was a very important character. And he's obviously, feeling like, oh, God.
Harold: My thought was, I said, I need a character who is going to ask a question. But I don't want the audience to think about what they would think about the response from Charlie Brown. So it has to be somebody we don't know. So I can use Patty. That was my theory.
Michael: Well, it's a perfect Shermy set up, and I'm surprised you didn't do it.
Jimmy: Which brings us to sad news. We do not have a Shermy strip to cover this year, which is terrible. But we may, by the end of it, still check the Shermometer just to check in on him, because I can't let go of it that easily. But no Shermy this year.
Michael: Well, he will be in two strips, but just as one of the gang.
Harold: The bystander.
Jimmy: One of the gang.
February 13. Lucy is hanging out at Schroeder's piano. Schroder is plinking away. Lucy says to him, “tomorrow is Valentine's Day.” Then she turns a big smile on her face as she rests her elbows on the piano and says, “are you going to give me a Valentine?” Schroeder immediately goes back to practicing and says, “I never have. What makes you think I'll give you one this year?” Lucy shouts as loud as she can. “Hope!”
Harold: this is a classic strip of all of the, Schroeder Lucy strips at the piano. This is one I remember really well and I love because Lucy is, she's in a good mood all the way through. She's not at all, deflated by what Schroeder says. Again, it's interesting to see once again, this is one of the growing up romance strips, of the first two months that is just so common in these strips.
Jimmy: I really like the expression on Lucy's face in the last panel, where she clearly is hopeful. it's great. It's really cute.
Harold: And this is Lucy as your most vulnerable. It's always in front of Schroeder, so it's good to see that side of Lucy. I think it really softens our opinion of her to see that there's somebody that she-- somebody that she would love to have a connection with, that she's just not getting.
Jimmy: You're really starting to see how rubbery and abstract the figures are. Like, when you look at Lucy's arms in that third panel, it's just a tighter, like, Thurber arm, almost. There's no defined elbows. They're all just curves. Looks really good, really sharp. Very modern drawing.
Harold: Yeah. And it's one of the few times where it looks like maybe we've got the four finger animation hand instead of the five finger hand, which he usually shows.
Jimmy: I think that's the pointer finger. No,
Harold: What’s that?
Jimmy: I don't know what's that I thought oh, well, yeah. But actually, in the last panel yeah, I guess you can see it that way. Interesting.
February 21. It's a Sunday. Snoopy is atop his doghouse. He thinks to himself, “I feel strange.” He jumps off the doghouse and thinks to himself, “I feel very loving today. I think I'll kiss somebody on the cheek.” That's not a great impulse to act on Snoopy, but he does. He goes up and he kisses Lucy on the cheek, who is just sitting there reading a book. She looks shocked. She shouts to the heavens, “AAUGH, somebody get me some soap and water. I've just been kissed by a dog.” Now Lucy is standing, up, running around and ranting. “Get hot water, get some disinfectant, get some Iodine.” Snoopy things to himself. “Good grief.” Then goes back to the top of his doghouse and says,” next time, I'll bite her on the leg.”
Michael: So, Harold, is this one of the romance comics?
Harold: It is. Yeah. Things are getting all smoochy and lovey dovey all through these opening--
Jimmy: hashtag consent Snoopy. Hashtag consent. Wow.
Harold: There's a dog for you. Boy, they're just going to just go for the smooching.
Jimmy: Okay, so here's a weird thing.
Michael: Yeah, this is weird.
Jimmy: Go ahead.
Michael: What's your-- well, the next strip is thematically tied in.
Jimmy: Yeah, that is weird. What I was just going to say is that suddenly it's summer again. There's full on hedges that seem that, they've never been covered by snow. There are leaves on the tree. and I wonder when he makes the decision to do stuff like that, to be like, all right, the last sequence that we've studied with, the little girl beagles. All based on the fact that it's the dead of winter, and now it's, like, two weeks later, and suddenly it looks like it's the middle of June.
Michael: Yeah, it's California, man.
Jimmy: Oh, that's right. I guess he's totally Hennepin County, California.
Harold: He's bouncing back and forth. and later, we see some things that could not have happened in Hennepin County, for sure. It's interesting that, yeah, Schulz, he's going back from his childhood memories in Minnesota, and then he's hopping back into his life in California. I buy it as a reader.
Jimmy: It's the Hennepin county of the mind.
Harold: Yes. This is also a famous sequence from the Christmas Special, which from the Christmas Special, they would have written probably just about, I don't know, about five months or so after he created this. This one was on his mind and is a very funny one and works incredibly well in the animated special. It's one of the classic many classic sequences in the Christmas Special is Lucy running around going nuts after being smooched by Snoopy.
Jimmy: Very cute. And like Michael says, thematically attached daily, strip. Here on…
February 25, Lucy sticks her tongue out of Snoopy, says “Bleah.” Snoopy sticks his tongue back out, saying, “Bleah.” They both do it at the same time in panel two. “Bleah.” “Bleah.”Only this time, their tongues touch. Then Lucy goes running around like a lunatic again, saying, “Aaugh, our tongues touched. My tongue touched the tongue of a dog. I'm poisoned.” In the last panel, Snoopy is sitting there with his tongue out, and he thinks to himself, “I feel a little nauseated myself.”
Michael: I feel nauseated just thinking about this.
Harold: It's like the Lucy Gene Simmons panel.
Jimmy: That was so creepy. Have we talked about the time I met Gene Simmons on the show?
Harold: I don't think so.
Jimmy: Oh, Michael, you were there.
Michael: No, I wasn't. Oh, did he go to a con?
Jimmy: Yeah. maybe you weren't there when he popped by, but you were at the convention. It was the very first time we exhibited out in San Diego, and we only had one issue of Amelia out and one issue of The Forbidden Book out. We had a booth in San Diego, Comic Con. And I, was so nervous. I'd never even been to the convention before. I wanted to put my best foot forward. Suddenly, some kid who I'm talking to, right? he just stops our conversation. He goes, Gene Simmons. And there's Gene Simmons from Kiss. And he comes over like, oh, man. Oh, you're my favorite. I love Kiss. And this is before there were cameras on your phone. So he's like, can you take a picture with me? Sure. So Gene Simmons takes all his crap that he's carrying and throws it on top of all my books I'm trying to sell. And then him and this knucklehead are standing in front of my booth getting their picture taken, and someone in front of them is taking the picture. And if anyone out there is listening and if you can find this picture because somewhere out there is this kid with his arm around Gene Simmons, and they're both smiling, and there's me in the background giving them both the finger. So if anyone can find that, send it to Unpacking Peanuts.
Harold: That's called putting your best foot in your mouth.
Michael: Your best tongue In your mouth.
Jimmy: I just love that. He's like, I can't wait to get that Gene Simmons picture back. Because he had to get developed back in those days.
Michael: Yeah, they'll try, Google Image search.
Harold: It's probably on Etsy as a 20 by 24 print.
Jimmy: I would buy that.
Harold: I bet you would.
March 4. Linus and Charlie Brown are outside. Linus is looking at some piece of paper in his hand, and he says, “well, I'll be.” He continues to look at the piece of paper. He looks very concerned, and he says to Charlie Brown, “I guess I'm going to have to get on the ball. Look at this.” He hands the paper to Charlie Brown. Then he says, “I'm the only person I know who got a cinch notice from lunch eating.”
Michael: I have no idea what this is all about.
Harold: Well, that makes this a Peanuts Obscurity.
Jimmy: Peanut Obscurity. All right. Very exciting. Okay, hit us with it, Harold.
Harold: Here we go. So the Cinch notice, from everything I could find out online, which is not much, is a term that was just used only-- and people can correct me you're, listening, if I'm wrong seemed to only be used in the general San Francisco area. But I think Schulz didn't know that when he wrote this joke. So, looking into this, I was trying to find, of course, whenever you do the search for this thing and you type in Cinch notice, what comes up first? Peanuts.
Jimmy: That's exactly what I did, because I didn't know what it was either.
Harold: But, looking into it a little bit further, I found this really interesting tiny article in the Stanford Daily, the Stanford University, which is, again, just outside of San Francisco. It's about an hour's drive from Sebastopol. And this is from November 25, 1933. It says, the scholarship committee reports that a large number of students have received smoke ups. There were 372 of them sent to as many unfortunate people, and 42 even more unlucky individuals, made the big splurge of earning two or more smoke ups apiece.
Michael: What is that?
Harold: It's like, with the headline of this thing of Cinch notices. So apparently there is this thing going on in school in this area that you're being given some sort of a note. And when you think of Cinch I can only guess at what this means, but I'm guessing. It's like, you got to tighten, you got to tighten your belt. You got to get your act together, is what this is supposed to mean. So you would be getting a note from the school saying, here's a warning. You're not going to be doing well if you don't do better in school.
Jimmy: Ah, everybody has those. We just called them failure warnings or failure notices.
Harold: Yeah, it's what's like to buckle down or whatever to Cinch. And I, did find, as recent reference in the Mission Valley Regional Occupational School in their program in 2010, there was a faculty handbook where it talked about how you had to provide a Cinch notice if you were going to fail a student, you had to give them warning. So it was this weird thing. And again, that's like, near San Jose, right in the same spot, right where Schulz is living, he just happens to get what sounds like, again, it's a great term. And I'm assuming Schulz is saying, well, this must be a thing right now, and it's all over the country, and it just happens to be in this tiny little pocket.
Michael: I was going to school in California at this time. I'd never heard it.
Harold: Yeah, I think it's super local.
Michael: That was in LA.
Jimmy: But you know what? Again, it is a great term, and he knows it's going to sound great in a comic strip. He can imagine Linus saying it. It's just that in this instance, nobody, knew what he was talking about, but he used the unnecessary quotation marks, which I am a huge fan of.
Harold: So when you read this, did that idea come across that you pretty much get that it's some sort of, or is it just completely like, oh, I have no idea what this strip is about.
Jimmy: I don't really remember this from being a kid, so I probably would have if I did see it, I just glossed over it, and then this time reading it, I looked it up.
Michael: Probably was not reprinted.
Jimmy: Yeah, maybe he learned that it was super local.
March 17. Linus is standing in his living room in classic thumb and blanket position. Lucy is looking on. She's scowling and upset. She says, “now look here.” In panel two, she's yelling at Linus, saying, “when you're not around, you keep that blanket locked up in your room. Do you hear me? It's a menace. It hates me.” The third panel, Linus is standing in front of the closet door and says, “okay, how's that?” And in the last panel, we see the blanket sneaking out from underneath the locked closet door.
Harold: The blob.
Michael: Yeah, I love he's doing a horror strip for these few-- This ran for a while, actually. We're coming in in the middle. Yeah, this blanket turns in, I mean, for good reason, hates Lucy.
Jimmy: Michael, give us the whole set up of what this sequence is about.
Michael: Well, Harold mentioned it's the blob, which was one of the most popular horror flicks.
Jimmy: But, in the context of these strips, what is happening with the blanket and Lucy and everything?
Michael: It's sentient. The blanket hates Lucy and it's turned into some kind of horror creature.
Jimmy: The fact that you like this blows my mind. Blows my mind. I was reading these last night and thinking, oh my god, Michael must hate these strips. And we're just going to talk about how terrible they are. I can't believe you like it. Harold, what are your thoughts about these?
Harold: I remember this as a kid and I remember, boy, this had a huge impact because yeah, it is this creeping, crawling thing that does not like Lucy. And she's genuinely frightened by this thing.
Michael: This reminds me. There was a Dick Van Dyke episode that was a horror episode.
Jimmy: Yeah, the, walnuts, right. Where, people are being like, body snatched by the aliens and only eating walnuts or something like that.
Liz: “I'm looking at you.”
Jimmy: Yes, that's right. Eyes are in the back of their heads. Yes.
Michael: I would like to know why the blanket lost its sentience later. I have no problem with the blanket being a character.
Harold: So you don't mind it gaining sentience. You just want to understand why it's lost it.
Michael: or why it was just ignored afterwards. I need reasons here.
Jimmy: Well, this is my take on it. Quentin Tarantino. I think this is obvious from reading Amelia, but one of my huge influences is Quentin Tarantino. And I was, listening to an interview with him when he's talking about Brian De Palma, who's his favorite director. And they're talking about Bonfire of the Vanities. And he says, only a truly great artist could go that wrong. And that's how I feel about this sequence. Like, this was nuts to me. This whole thing I don't get, I think is weird. I'm so glad it never came back. Larry Rutman hated it at the syndicate. He called it monster stuff. Weird. and it's so-- But, it's so worth talking about. A, because I'm totally fascinated that you liked it. I think that's so cool. And B, I want to know you only become a great artist by risking huge failure. To be a great artist is to constantly be courting failure because you're constantly pushing at the edge of what you can do. It doesn't matter what, if you're just doing something that's very cute, but you're pushing to the absolute edge of cuteness, that's a risk. If you do something that's violent and you're pushing the violence, that's a risk. You're going to get to a part where you start maybe alienating some people. But you got to do it because if you don't explore, you're not going to find what fruitful stuff, there is to find. And this fantasy stuff for Schulz does pay off in huge ways later.
Harold: Yeah, it's really interesting to see how Schulz deals with this character because it does remind me of these horror films. Mainly, I think, of like horror and Sci-Fi films of the 50s where essentially they’re morality plays, sometimes in disguise. And sometimes not at all in disguise, where you have somebody getting a comeuppance through some means that is absolutely out of people's control.
And what you see in this strip, in this series of strips, is that we know Lucy's not been kind to Linus. She's been rough on Linus. It's like, Schulz can't have Linus get the come uppance, and so he creates something that's already in the world and imbues it with this power that is taking on Lucy. And essentially, to me, the way I read it is it's vengeance for Linus, where Linus himself would not do the vengeance. And what you see in the strips, and I think this is what makes it work for those that it does work for. And these totally work for me as a kid, because as a kid in particular, I was just accepting Peanuts for Peanuts. I wasn't saying, well, that doesn't work here, or that I wasn't in that space. I was just experiencing Peanuts. And because this was happening, that was part of the world, and it was genuinely frightening. But it was, in a sense, like this blanket was after her because Lucy is Lucy toward Linus. And the thing that makes it work for me is look at how Linus responds. If Linus were like, this is my blanket, and in my blanket is going to meet justice for me, he doesn't do that. He's just almost as frightened as Lucy, as even though he's not the one being attacked, the classic Linus hair just going straight out in the air. We see over and over again in these strips. He's genuinely shocked by this thing. And yet the weird thing is he's shocked by it, but it's not like he's trying to get rid of it. It's his blanket. It's this really weird dynamic. But if Linus was into this thing, I think it would just totally turn everybody against it. But the fact that Linus himself, this thing he's attached to, it's like this extension of himself is somehow his ID, that is coming out and attacking Lucy. you can read it that way, or you don't have to, but that, to me, is kind of what makes it work for those that it would work for.
Jimmy: Well, a security guard would attack people who attack you, so I guess a security blanket should be doing exactly.
Michael: Yeah, I'd like to see this as a graphic novel, starting with the blanket being exposed to an atomic bomb test, gamma rays or something. It's a great little story.
Jimmy: Well, the way it does work for what you're saying is, like, why it gains and loses sentience. It does go back to my meta theory and what Harold is saying it does, because Charles Schulz says it can for this little period of time, and then it just stops, and that's done.
Harold: What it needs to do now it can go back to what it's normal. And that is so Sci-Fi of the early 60s.
Michael: Yeah. I do have a question about the blanket, though.
Michael: Is it always the same blanket?
Jimmy: Well, it can't be. And yet it is. because Schulz has talked about this, actually, in interviews where it's been set on fire, it got been cut up, it's been turned into a flannel graph. It's been all these things have happened, been quilted, and yet it's the blanket all the time somehow. It's like, a Looney Tunes thing, right, where Wiley Coyote gets smashed, but in the -- it's a hard cut. And then he's back.
Harold: Yeah, like Snoopy getting fat from his romance. And then two panels later, he's back to his normal self.
Michael: Right. Because he could always go get some outing flannel and make another one. But it's always the blanket.
Jimmy: The blanket, yeah.
Harold: Did they ever market the blanket? Did anyone ever try to actually license?
Jimmy: Yeah, I have one.
Michael: You're sucking your thumb, right now?
Jimmy: Right now? Yes. It's a blue blanket. It's a light blue security blanket, and it has a tiny little appliqué Linus. And it was packaged as the security blanket.
Michael: Is it outing flannel, though?
Jimmy: I did not check that. If it's not, I'm throwing it out tonight.
Harold: Is this a recent license thing, or is this, like, a classic years ago?
Jimmy: No, someone got it for me when I was an adult.
Harold: Wow. well, it makes sense. I'd never seen one, but it just seemed like it should exist in the world.
Jimmy: Oh, I thought you meant it makes sense for someone to give me a blanket to help aid my mental health, because that also makes a lot of sense.
Michael: So it's not working, so it's probably not outing flannel.
Jimmy: Oh, there you go. I think we've exposed yet another racket today. It's late period...
Harold: Does the package say “now with sentience?”
Jimmy: Actually, I can't find it. Maybe it ran away.
Michael: It's in the closet.
Jimmy: Oh, no.