Jimmy: Hey, everybody, welcome back to the show. This is Unpacking Peanuts, where we're discussing 1967. Hope you guys are doing well. I'm Jimmy Gownley. I'm your host for this evening. I'm also the cartoonist of Amelia Rules, Seven Good Reasons Not to Grow Up, and the Dumbest Idea Ever. 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 co creator of the original comic book Price Guide, the original editor for Amelia Rules, and he's the cartoonist of such fabulous strips as Strange Attractors, A Gathering of Spells, and Tangled River. 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 the current creator of the Instagram strip Sweetest Beasts, Harold Buchholz.
Jimmy: Guys, we barely got to April last episode, so I think we just get right to the strips.
Harold and Michael: Sure.
Jimmy: Now, if you guys are out there listening and you want to follow along, you could fire up Gocomics.com, type in Peanuts, type in 1967, and, you could just then punch in the dates as we go along, and you can read along with us. If you want to get a heads up on what we're going to be discussing in every episode, you can go to our website, UnpackingPeanuts.com where you could sign up for our newsletter. It's a monthly newsletter where we tell you what strips we're going to be covering in each episode, and, what, if any, special episodes or guests are coming up. So, with that out of the way, let's get right to it.
April 16. Charlie Brown is out on the mound. Looks like he's getting ready to start the game. Snoopy is out in the field. He's kind of, rolling his eyes to the heavens as Charlie Brown is on the mound getting ready to start. Snoopy approaches him from behind and clears his throat. Charlie Brown, is surprised by the interruption, then turns and sees Snoopy and yells “right in the middle of a ball game? Are you out of your mind? I'm trying to pitch. Can't you see that? I've got to concentrate on what I'm doing.” Snoopy now looks really annoyed as Charlie Brown says, “oh, now you're going to be hurt, aren't you? Oh, good grief. All right, come here.” Then the next panel, Snoopy takes his hat off, and Charlie Brown scratches his head. Scritch. Scritch. Scritch Scritch. Scritch. Then Snoopy walks away, sighing, satisfied. Charlie Brown looks out at us and says, “no wonder Sandy Koufax retired.”
Michael: Harold, do you want to do your obscurity? I can't believe this is an obscurity.
Harold: No, this is not an obscurity, but I am looking at, his pitching career. And I could see this would be heartbreaking for people who, were following the Dodgers. He had, like it was crazy. He had, like, four seasons in a row where he won three quarters or more of the games. And his last year was his best earned run average ever as a pitcher.
Michael: Oh, it was insane. He was the best pitcher ever if he stayed healthy.
Harold: So what happened? Did he..?
Michael: oh, it was arm problems. He just retired young at the absolute height of his career.
Michael: And legendary. My experience with Sandy Koufax was a little weird. I grew up in LA, In a Jewish family, and everybody was Dodger fans, of course, all fanatic Dodger fans. And of the Dodgers, Sandy Koufax, the only Jew in baseball, possibly at that time, was considered possibly slightly below Moses in the estimation of Dodger fans. Jewish Dodger fans. Yeah. He was worshiped. I, of course, was a San Francisco Giant fan. Who. That was like the big rivalry. Dodgers hated the Dodger fans, hated Giant fans, vice versa. And the Giant ace pitcher, Juan Marichal from the Dominican Republic, was my hero. And so, of course, whenever those two had a match up here, I was rooting for Juan Marichal instead of Sandy Koufax to the total despair of my family. That's my story.
Harold: Yeah, well, I like that. Charlie Brown thinks that Sandy probably had to scratch his dog's head in the middle of the game.
Jimmy: That was the deciding factor in his retirement.
April 19. Linus, some strange looking girl, and Snoopy I'm kidding. It's the original Patty are walking outside. Linus says to Patty, “have you ever heard of a Cheshire Cat?” Patty says, “sure, in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.” Then Patty continues, “remember how she saw this grinning cat up in a tree? And remember how it kept disappearing all the time?” Patty continues, “the cat disappeared little by little, until only its grin was left. I always liked that part.” Now we see Snoopy has been listening to this, and he himself has a wide grin on his face in the last panel. As Patty walks away, Linus looks back and sees just the floating grin of Snoopy. As Patty says, “it's a great story, but impossible, of course.”
Michael: Now, Jimmy.
Michael: You may think I hate this, considering that the little propeller eared Snoopy yes. For some reason, this doesn't bother me. I love this.
Harold: It is such an adorable drawing, Snoopy. It's hard to describe it if you haven't seen it, but it's like this cheesy little smile that is really high up, underneath the nose. It's so cute.
Jimmy: Well, for my reaction to the Cheshire Beagle, let's go to 4-22.
Lucy walks up. Snoopy is sitting on top of his doghouse, and Lucy says, “if you pull any of that Cheshire Beagle stuff on me, I'll pound you.” Snoopy has a big grin. Still has a big grin. As Lucy walks away, and in the last panel, he's frowning, and it's just the floating grin, and he thinks to himself, “rats.”
Jimmy: That is so funny. I love that you guys like it so weird. I cannot predict either of you.
That is delightful.
Harold: Absolutely love that. Yeah. And again, going back to your Sgt. Pepper, statement about this year, what's your take on what's going on in Schulz's creativity here?
Jimmy: Well, it is weird, too, to even bring up the idea of Lewis Carroll in April of 1967.
Michael: Wait, you got to remember, this is the year of the Jefferson Airplane White Rabbit.
Jimmy: Right. Well, that didn't come out--
Michael: the counterculture embraced Lewis Carroll and Alice in Wonderland totally.
Jimmy: That's what I’m saying. When did White Rabbit came out? Yeah. Well, because it's so obviously a parallel with psychedelics.
Michael: Yeah and Pepper with-- clearly Lucy in the sky has all kinds of references.
Harold: So White Rabbit is released in June.
Jimmy: In June. That's what I'm saying. He is always just a little bit ahead. It's very strange. He's a World War II vet, straight as an arrow Sunday school teacher. But he has somehow this weird connection. This is months ahead of White Rabbit. Months ahead of Sergeant Pepper. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is famously filled with Alice and Wonderland style imagery.
Harold: And when does Sergeant Pepper come out?
Jimmy: June 1 and June 2.
Michael: Yeah, but yeah, he beat it for a couple of months.
Harold: Like we were saying, Schulz is at the center of things. I didn't mention this, last week. So he's on the cover of Life magazine in March, and he received a certificate of merit from the Art Directors Club of New York, which I bet meant a lot to him and that You're In Love, Charlie Brown. I guess the Valentine's Day special does come out this year. It's, Charles Schulz day in California on May 20.
Jimmy: You're In Love Charlie Brown. I don't think is--
Harold: it's not a Valentine's Day one?
Jimmy: It's not the Valentine's special that Duncan was on anyway.
Harold: No, this would have been way before that, obviously. And then You're A Good Man Charlie Brown opens off Broadway as well. And there's a lot more of the books coming out around the world, mostly in Europe at this point, the specials and all of that. Yeah. This is a ramping up year. I mean, he's not even at the peak at this point in terms of that popularity. But, boy, it's moving fast for him.
April 28. I love this strip. Snoopy with his little chin up on top of a table, spies a piece of paper and a pen. He looks around to see if anyone's looking. Then, in panel three, he makes a little doodle. And in panel four, we see what it was. These are classic doodles people used to do. One is a little cat made out of some circles and a couple of triangles. And the other is a guy named Kilroy. That was everywhere back in the 20th century as a graffiti, a graffito, I guess. And that's the strip.
Michael: Yeah. These are the two things that people who could not draw could draw.
Jimmy: Could draw. Yes.
Harold: He's so pleased with himself that last panel loves his loves his handiwork.
Jimmy: I was into Kilroy. I thought Kilroy was cool.
Harold: Yeah. Did that start in World War Two? Was that a World War Two thing?
Jimmy: It's one of those things that I think it's lost 100% in the midst of time, where it started from, but it was definitely popularized with Kilroy Was here from the World War Two Vets. Yes.
May 2, Lucy and Violet are yelling at each other. Lucy says “so there too.” Violet sticks her tongue out and says, “Nyaah.” Oh, I love reading these strips. Lucy says “Bleah.” Violet says, “Nyaah. Lucy says “Bleah, Bleah, Bleah.” Violet says Nyaah, Nyaah, Nyaah.” Yeah. Snoopy is watching all of this go down, and he walks away thinking to himself, “Girl Talk.”
Jimmy: This is anticipating Elvis Costello by ten years. It's amazing how Schulz has his finger on the Zeitgeist.
Michael: Wait, I don't get the reference.
Jimmy: Girl Talk. That song Girl Talk.
Michael: Oh, Girl Talk, of course. Actually, it's a, jazz song from by Neal Hefti the guy who wrote the Batman theme.
Jimmy: Oh, yeah, Batman theme, right.
May 4, Charlie Brown and Sally are in their house, and Sally's upset with Charlie Brown. She says, “as a big brother, you're a flop. I've lost all my respect for you.” And then she also reverts to “Nyaah” and sticks out her tongue at him. Charlie Brown looks off after Sally and says, “how sharper than a serpent's tooth is a sister's Nyaah.”
Michael: Harold, derivation?
Harold: How sharper than a serpent's tooth? yes. How sharper Type. Type. Type Type
Jimmy: Well, if you give me a second, I'm sure I, too, can come up.
Michael: Is it Bible or is it Shakespeare?
Jimmy: I think it sounds like it's Shakespeare.
Harold: Sounds Shakespearian. And yeah, but for, some let's see, the, fifth--
Jimmy: King Lear.
Harold: No. It is the fifth and final episode of the second season of the animated Science Fiction version of Star Trek The Animated Series. So there you go.
Jimmy: I also Googled that, and I'll tell you what, that alien thing, that's pretty scary looking, he's got like, a pink horn on top of his head. Wow. Don't sleep on the animated Star Trek season two.
Harold: See, Charles Schulz is ahead of his time once more.
Jimmy: Once more. He's anticipating Elvis Costello, the Beatles and Star Trek the Animated Series season two.
Harold: Yeah, it looks like King Lear, may have, something to do with the fame of that.
Jimmy: How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child.
May 14, Charlie Brown is looking at a greeting card with the World War I flying ace. Charlie Brown says, “some of these seem to be a little too flippant.” And the next one he's looking at is like an accordion style fold out card and says, “I'm sure we can find one that will be just right.” Charlie Brown continues to look through cards for Snoopy. He says, “here's a good one. See what you think of this one.” Charlie Brown reads the card to Snoopy, who is again dressed as the World War I flying Ace. Charlie Brown reads, “dear mom, you are the sweetest mother. I love you more than any other.” Snoopy bursts into tears. Charlie Brown says, “you like this one, huh? Okay, we'll get it.” Then we see Charlie Brown addressing the envelope to mom, care of the Daisy Hill puppy farm. “How's that?” says Charlie Brown. Snoopy is still crying. “All right, now we'll take it down and mail it.” Charlie Brown and Snoopy are walking off to the mailbox. The next panel, we see Charlie Brown bending over so that Snoopy could climb up on his back and mail his card to his mother with a tear in his eye and a little sniff. Then they walk back, and Charlie Brown says to Snoopy on the walk back “there, we've bought a card, we've addressed it, and we've mailed it. Now how do you feel?” Snoopy cries out. “Waah.” Breaks down in full sobs. And Charlie Brown looks out at us and says, “these holidays are hard on us all.” Snoopy says, “Sniff,” and walks away looking forlorn.
Harold: Yeah, poor Snoopy. Now, why do you think he's in the World War I flying Ace thing when we're dealing with the story of him relating to his mom in this emotional way?
Jimmy: I don't know, but it's what kicks it up the next level to me, is that you're in this Peanuts world where just stuff is happening all around. Snoopy is kind of erratic. He's all over the place. And I could see him. He is caught up in the middle of some adventure, and then he realizes he thinks of his mother, and suddenly he has to now go do this.
Harold: Yeah, no explanation. It's pretty remarkable. And you're right, it does add this weird depth, this unknown thing. All I think of is cosplay Snoopy here. It's now melded into his regular life.
Jimmy: And, well, I love things when they're not 100% explained. Like when Star Wars says, in 1977, I fought with your father in the Clone Wars. And that's all you know, that's amazing, because you build up the Clone Wars in your head, and then 30 years later, they make a cartoon and explain it. And you might like it, you might not like it, but it's less magical than the stuff you bring to it.
Harold: Right. Like the metaclorians.
Jimmy: Exactly. Right. Which no one wants. Right. And that's the danger when you start bringing people in to mine a property for new-- You go to these little corners and you pick out your thing, and then you fully explore it and kill it.
Harold: Yeah. And I think that Schulz right now is heavily into the greeting card business himself here. He treats it with respect. It's interesting also, for some reason, I can't help but think of that scene in A Christmas Story with the kid and the goggles, waiting, behind our hero to see Santa Claus.
Jimmy: That's right. I thought you were going to say you can't help but think of the old comic book rack when you see those, the greeting card rack.
Michael: Oh, I did.
Harold: This is what replaced comic books in the 60s. Greeting cards and much more profitable. Yeah.
Jimmy: May 31, we're in the middle of another sequence. which is--
Michael: Let me interject, if I may. Sequence number four, Linus patting birds. this runs from 5/23 to 6/3, and it harkens back to something he was doing a couple of years ago. To everybody's horror, this is the climax.
May 31. Linus says to Charlie Brown, “what's wrong with patting birds on the head?” And Charlie Brown answers, “it humiliates your sister to have people go up to her and say, your brother pats birds on the head.” Linus tries to explain himself. “I can understand that, but what's wrong with it? It makes the birds happy and it makes me happy. So what's really wrong with it?” He asked Charlie Brown. Charlie Brown responds, “no one else does it.”
Michael: That really says a lot about both these characters. Charlie Brown very conventional, and he likes to go along with it, with the crowd.
Jimmy: Yeah. What this reminds me of is your observation, Michael. when we were talking about that we prayed in school strip, and you said no. The reason Charlie Brown is upset is because he's a rule follower and this is breaking the rule. And here we see that kind of confirmed. There's nothing inherently wrong with patting birds, but no one else does it, so don't do it, mhm?
Michael: Umhm, Which is, a pretty good reason to most people not to do something.
Jimmy: Oh, absolutely, yeah.
Harold: And this doesn't show Charlie Brown in the most flattering, light. But I think Schulz is being true to Charlie Brown here.
Jimmy: Yeah. And what else is true? Is it's him slightly in that big brother role for Linus, except this time he's just wrong.
Harold: Yeah, right.
Jimmy: And that's just a human thing. But that's a very odd thing to, see in a little strip like this that you have to,
Michael: Considering all the other characters are acting with total horror.
Michael: He doesn't act with total horror, but his reason is plenty enough for him.
June 6, Linus and Sally are outside, and Linus says, “life is peculiar.” He continues, “wouldn't you like to have your life to live over if you knew what you know now?” They both think about it for a second. Sally answers, “what do I know now?”
Michael: I like Sally so much.
Harold: I don't know.
Michael: At the time, she was not one of my favorite characters. But, I have a new appreciation for her.
Jimmy: She's so funny, such a great strip. I just want to take a moment here. I got a text from a friend of mine that said I've been doing something wrong. I sort of agree, but it's sort of a little annoyance, apparently, when there's these little beat panels. I have called them silent panels. And I guess, technically, if you think about it, that's wrong because all the panels are silent. Technically, it should be called a wordless panel. So I will attempt to do that.
Michael: Except there is words in that panel.
Harold: The copyright.
Jimmy: That's right.
Harold: Reg US. Pat off.
Michael: Who is this pat off guy?
Jimmy: Always horning in on every strip?
June 7, Charlie Brown is at his desk in school, and he says, “there's that pretty little red haired girl.” And he sighs. “I wonder what would happen if I walked over to her desk, put my arm around her and gave her a big kiss.” Well, jeez, Charlie Brown. Then he blisses himself out at this thought so much, he screams, “wow.” And he, like, rockets off his own desk. Then in the last panel, we see him completely blushing, totally flustered, and says, “ah, I've got to stop thinking about things like that”.
Michael: I have to say, I did not pick this one, okay? Someone else did.
Harold: I picked it because-- I picked it because it's it's it's so heartfelt. It makes me feel uncomfortable. It's like whoa. Charlie Brown. Hold on there.
Harold: We don't want to put too much into, again, where Schulz is. We can only guess, but it seems like I mean, Schulz always seem to have this odd dichotomy of a sense of self confidence and also self doubt. But my gosh, he's having so much success right now, and he's seeing people respond to all these things that he's doing, and I'm just wondering if his own confidence level is increasing. And again, that goes back to Charlie Brown being more assertive in some of these strips. Actually, Linus too is more assertive in some of these strips, and I'm just wondering if that's just part of where he is as a person. He's growing, which makes him he can think of himself in situations that maybe he didn't in the past, and it's a little too much to you get to back off of it. That's what I had in my mind.
Jimmy: Because he said, in interviews that if you read the strip, you know who he is. And, so if you take that at face value as the strip is changing very much like what you're saying, Harold, that is reflecting both external and internal changes in his life. And it's really cool to see and really great to see, and it's just so strange because we're watching this one thing grow and evolve. It's almost like if you could have a control podcast where we read an ordinary comic strip, which I don't want to name, because I don't want to slander anybody just for this particular episode. I'll slander two people next episode to make up for it. But do you know what I mean? Like something that's a really good strip that's, commercially successful and read that alongside Peanuts. And I think that the stagnancy of those strips would really be apparent when you're immersed in it next to Peanuts.
Harold: Well, I think that was always the case. Right? I mean, as a kid, you'd read the paper, and Peanuts would be in the mix of maybe, depending on your newspaper, anywhere from ten to 30 strips. It just has so much more life and personality. It's like, if there's anybody he doesn't have to worry about being taken over by AI, it's Schulz, because he's constantly surprising us with aspects of who he is. In, the 17 years we've been watching the strip, he's changing and he's growing, and he's mastering what he's doing. And, it's why coming back to it over and over again and talking with you guys about it is so rewarding, because it's a bit of a puzzle to crack. And what is it? What is he doing that he's able to get so much across that we respond in this way, where it it feels alive. It just constantly is it's vibrating with life?
Michael: Still. They're six years old.
Michael: You couldn't do this with teenagers, the same strip with a teenage character.
Jimmy: Well, you could, but it would have a completely different meaning really.
Harold: Yeah. and even so, I think, because they're so articulate, it does take you into that space a little bit, which is, like, why I think it feels awkward.
June 10. Snoopy is atop his doghouse. He's looking off, and something catches his attention. We see in panel two what it is. He thinks to himself, “I can see myself in my water dish.” Panel three, he looks down into the water dish and smiles. Panel four, he says, “I have a cute smile.” And he does.
Michael: I bet you can't guess why I picked this one.
Jimmy: Actually, I would have guessed Harold picked this one. So, no, I can't.
Michael: No. Well, it has nothing to do with the joke or anything, except one thing.
VO: It's Snoopy Watch.
Michael: This is peak forehead for Snoopy. I really noticed it, and I went, man, that forehead is big. And part of that one reason why I was noticing it is when I started searching for those early 70s Woodstock strips to count feathers, and I was noticing these Snoopies. There were some in 1975. In 1975, he had virtually no forehead. And when I first saw the no forehead Snoopy, maybe a month ago, it was like a 1990 strip. And I'm like, boy, he really looks like a stuffed animal here, a plush toy. Thinking that late in Schulz's life, he remodeled Snoopy. But 1975, that's gone. It's just like, where his eyebrow is here. Under his eyebrow here is sort of where his head ends.
Harold: That's interesting. Yeah.
Michael: So keep an eye out to see how this develops.
Harold: Forehead Watch?
Michael: Yeah. Forehead watch. We'll do that every episode.
Jimmy: Believe me. I did Forehead Watch for years until I shaved my head.
Harold: And I'm glad you picked this one because it kind of goes along with what I was talking about. This was within a week of the strip with Charlie Brown fantasizing about hugging and kissing the little redhead girl. And here he got basically Snoopy kind of admiring his looks. And I think when I read those two together, that's when it kind of clicked for me. It's like, well, where is Charles Schulz right now? Is he seeing himself possibly in a new light because of the life he's lived up until now?
Jimmy: Yeah, you know going, back one to that red haired girl strip is that we have never mentioned that she's a real person. Donna Wold, who was an early girlfriend of Mr. Schulz back when he worked at the Art Instruction League, but who ultimately, rejected his proposal, and married another guy. And it stuck with him for his whole life. And he eventually immortalized her in this character, the Little Red Haired Girl. She passed away in 2016, but she did know all about the Little Red Haired Girl and they did stay in touch later in life.
July 1, Linus and Sally are walking outside and Sally says, “I worry about getting old.” Linus says, “that's nothing to worry about.” Sally replies, “of course it's something to worry about.” She walks away saying, “who wants to be nine?”
Michael: It seems like an obvious joke, but the phrasing in that last panel is, I think, what makes it funnier. It's like a million ways Sally could have responded, like, nine seems old to me. but what she says is very funny. Who wants to be 9?
July 2, it's a baseball game. Charlie Brown and Lucy are on the bench. Lucy says, “We've had it, Charlie Brown, we're going to lose.” Then she continues, “we're doomed.” Charlie Brown says “don't say that. Our team never gives up.” Lucy asks, “how can we win? We're terrible.” Charlie Brown, in full, confident manager mode says, “we can win because we've got determination. Keep a stiff upper lip is our motto.” Lucy tries to do it literally. “How's this?” Charlie Brown says “that's great. Now you're the next batter. Keep a stiff upper lip and show their pitcher that you've got fire in your eyes.” As we see Lucy looking completely insane with both a stiff upper lip and fire in her eyes. And then as she goes off to bat, Charlie Brown yells, “oh, and show him a firm jaw too. If you have a firm jaw, you can't lose. Keep a stiff upper lip and show their pitcher you have fire in your eyes and a firm jaw.” And in the last panel, Lucy walks off with all of those things planted firmly on her face. And she says, “we may win the ball game, but he's ruining my face.”
Michael: This is the funniest drawing I think he's ever done.
Harold: It's frightening.
Jimmy: Really great. I love also the drawing of Charlie Brown chasing after her with his finger up, afterwards. Yeah, really great.
Harold: He's actually getting into this. This is actually a good thing. This is going to help.
Jimmy: I don't think we covered it, but was it last year or the year before where he did the whole thing about, if you grit your teeth, you'll get a hit. And he's the only one who grits his teeth and doesn't get a hit.
Harold: Although I would say if I was pitching and I saw Lucy at the bat, it might freak me out a little bit. It might affect my throw.
Jimmy: I think she's going to get into his head, definitely.
July 13. A bird, but with long feathers off the back of his head. It looks very upset and is is, chirping at Snoopy. Then in the third panel, we see he has flown away. And Snoopy thinks, “I don't see why he gets so upset.” And Snoopy lies down on his doghouse and thinks, “no one understands my generation either.”
Jimmy: This is what I was talking about earlier. I like how he says, I don't see why he gets so upset. As opposed to, I don't understand why he is so upset. Because this implies that he lets this hippie bird come by and yell at him fairly regularly.
Michael: This is the second hippie bird. I believe we missed the intro earlier this year.
Harold: Yeah. Such an interesting concept. And he would do it with this little bird is really fascinating. And then he winds up with Woodstock. The name Woodstock on a bird is all that's kind of tied together.
Jimmy: Yeah, it's weird. It's like that somehow from this earlier stage, he is associating the bird characters with the counterculture to the point that it ultimately ends up getting named Woodstock. I think if he would have had a better design for a hippie bird, he would have went all in on the hippie bird.
Harold: Oh, really?
Jimmy: Yeah. I don't know what it is like if he had maybe little granny glasses on the bird.
Michael: No, he needed the peace symbol.
Jimmy: Peace symbol. That's exactly what I was going to say. If he would have thought those two things, he would have went all in on the hippie bird.
Harold: wearing the Campbell's tomato soup can around his neck. Well, yeah. It's interesting here that we get a little bit of this vibe with Woodstock. I mean, the idea that these babies are being born and that's the official story is that the baby is being born. Woodstock is a generation below Snoopy. And it really comes out in this strip that I didn't always think of that way when I was reading the strips. But, Woodstock is Sally to Snoopy as it is to Charlie Brown. He's got somebody who's younger than him. And there is this a bit of separation there, which is a really interesting dynamic that's new for Snoopy.
Michael: There's a dynamic of servant to master a little bit with Woodstock later, where he's Snoopy's helper. Just like Marcie is Peppermint Patty's, helper.
Jimmy: Yeah, Woodstock is the secretary for Snoopy now and again.
Harold: Yeah. Woodstock, I guess, ran into Snoopy's car and said now he has to be his butler by court order.
Jimmy: I love a good Seinfeld reference. Listen, I think what's really wild is that he has spent all this time turning Snoopy into like a superstar. And rarely when something like that happens, would you try to add a component to the thing that's making it work. Because what he's been doing is starting with the imitation stuff. Really, he's been slowly developing Snoopy as this imaginative star of the show kind of character. It's weird to think, well, now let's give him a sidekick because that could throw everything off. And he doesn't do it immediately. I know he takes his time to work into it, but their relationship does work. And it's really a famous part of the strip.
Harold: It's like if Pink Panther had some goofy buddy who now shows up half of the sequences. And boy, peak forehead Michael in this strip.
Michael: Yeah, it's getting it's like a mountain here.
Jimmy: I'm pro Peak Mountain Snoopy Forehead.
August 19. Oh, very exciting. A top of a TV sits a very famous and very familiar looking version of Snoopy. Snoopy thinks, “here's the fierce vulture waiting patiently for a victim. Waiting, waiting, waiting.” We see as the camera pushes in a little bit on Snoopy waiting. Then in the last panel, we see Charlie Brown sitting trying to watch the TV. And he says to Snoopy, “you can't possibly realize how annoying that is.”
Michael: It was necessary not to know that Charlie Brown was sitting there for that joke to work.
Harold: Right. And here's Charlie Brown standing up for himself again, a little more than we’re used to.
Jimmy: to what Michael is saying. It's so much better as a comic strip than it is me reading it. I mean, for obvious reasons. but like you say, the fact that you don't know it's a TV set even until panel four is really good.
August 20. we see a little symbolic drawing of Snoopy as transforming into a thermometer. And then we see Snoopy hiding behind some hedges. Appears that he is spying on Linus, who is sitting out in his classic thumb and blanket position. But not for long because Snoopy runs by and steals the blanket. Clomp. Linus chases after him. “Come back here with that blanket, you crazy dog. Now where did he go?” says Linus. As Snoopy standing underneath the blanket in plain view, giggles “He he he he” Linus, clearly aware that Snoopy is under the blanket, says, “I can't imagine where he went.” The next panel we see, the sun is really out that day, and Linus says, “it's pretty hot out here today. That old sun is really beating down.” In the background of all these panels, as Linus speaks, we see Snoopy still hiding under the blanket. “I'd sure hate to be under a blanket or something on a hot day like this. A person could roast to death,” says Linus. He continues, “It seems to be getting warmer. Yes, I'd say that this is just about the hottest day we've had yet.” Snoopy is now apparently sweating under the blanket, and finally he throws it off, gasping for breath. Linus catches the blanket and walks away, leaving a disheveled and sweaty Snoopy to think, “this desert is too big to cross at noon, boys, let's wait till the cool of evening.” Linus walks away annoyed, saying, “Stupid dog.”
Michael: Who is that dog in the last panel?
Michael: Totally like a new character.
Harold: Yeah, that's Lad-a-dog from Please Don't Eat the Daisies.
Jimmy: I love that dog. That's a really cute drawing.
Michael: He's a little fuzzball.
Jimmy: Well, it's Snoopy after having been, tortured, under the blanket in the hot air. Really cool. And he is going for this kind of frenetic line more. He has said that he's a great believer in mild in cartooning, but that doesn't mean that here and like we spoke about in the last episode, the arm wrestling competition, he's not afraid to now and again go for expressionism.
Michael: Yeah, that's like Bill the cat in the second and last panel.
Jimmy: Yes, it is like Bill the cat with the tongue out and everything. You're right.
Jimmy: Bill the cat for those of you not in the know, was one of the stars of the comic strip Bloom County, a classic of 80s newspaper strips.
Harold: That was Schulz slightly editorializing in that final panel that most of Snoopy's trouble is in his head, because it's mostly only his head that's, all disheveled. Linus got to him.
Jimmy: Yeah. Maybe you have to be a Peanuts reader to get this as a joke, because otherwise, what's Snoopy even talking about? What boys? Like, why is it a desert? Right. Unless you know that Snoopy has predilection for making up fantasies about being in the French Foreign Legion. That's a really weird thing to say in the last panel.
Harold: Yeah. And in this case, he chose not to put him in the outfit.
September 12. This is the middle of a sequence where --Michael, do you want to describe the sequence?
Michael: Okay. we've seen, the blanket hating grandma before-- Linus, and Lucy's grandmother, who comes every now and then, she hates the fact that he has that blanket. So, years ago, we've had a lot of sequences, but apparently he foolishly says, I will stop using my blanket if you stop smoking. And she says, okay, you're on. At that point, he's trapped. So this is Lucy destroying the horrid blanket forever.
Jimmy: The backyard incinerator makes another appearance.
Harold: Oh, my gosh.
She begins the blanket burning. She says, “the blanket burning has begun.” And she tosses the blanket into the incinerator, shocking Linus so that his hair stands straight up on end. She says, “as I toss your blanket into the trash burner, your insecurities are symbolically destroyed forever.” Then she says, “There you are now free from the terrible hold that it once had on you. You are a new person.” Linus screams, “Augh!.”
Michael: Okay. Not quite a joke.
Jimmy: No, not at all. This is definitely going into the sequences. And the drama here is that the blanket is in that, trash burner.
Harold: Yeah. And I'm with Linus here. I feel it. We've gotten to know these characters so well. That last panel is like-- talk about electricity in a strip compared, to anything else that day on the newspaper. That panel, I'm sure, got more impact than all the rest of the strips combined.
Jimmy: Oh, I'm sure. Especially after the build up and everyone knowing the relationship of Linus in his blanket and our relationship to Linus.
Harold: And the, the way this strip ends, this sequence ends, is that Linus basically stands up for himself and he says, who are you? Or it's anybody to tell me what to do. And so while Linus stepped back from patting the birds, this time, he's got enough skin in the game that he's going to stand up for himself. And, I think at the end, Charlie Brown is is cheering for him.
Harold: So it's a really interesting, ending to this sequence, where, again, Schulz just keeps taking everything just a little bit further and all these things we've gotten to know. And this is another classic sequence where that happens.
Jimmy: Absolutely. And I love the Linus of standing up for himself. He's, one of these people that people just seem to be wanting to change. And I think it's because he's actually fairly well adjusted, fairly successful in life, and fairly happy. But he does it by non traditional methods, so therefore it has to be wrong.
Harold: Especially he won't beat you up. Right. Sometimes it's the most well adjusted that are the easiest to pick on. Right. Because you're not going to get the explosion back.
Jimmy: Well, and it's not just that. It's because their welladjustedness makes you angry because you're not welladjusted. Especially when you're a kid and you don't really have the ability to process or understand those feelings that you have or how they relate to you. So you just yell at the kid, the other kid, right?
September 19. This is a sequence of strips where Linus is calling into a radio show. He calls in and says, “hello. Say, about that last caller you had on there. What is he, some kind of far out nut or what? If he doesn't like this world, why doesn't he leave? I think I know what's good and right and wrong or I think, who's doing what they think is the trouble with all this foolishness, you know? And I'm sure. you're welcome. Goodbye.” And he hangs up the phone, walks away saying, “these phone in radio shows sure have some weird callers.”
Michael: I can imagine Linus at 60, just a complete crackpot.
Harold: This is Linus in fanatic mode and Schulz being 50 years ahead of his time with the social media.
Jimmy: Oh, absolutely. Little did he know this would be like the dominant way that news was disseminated. yeah.
Harold: And everybody else thinks everyone else is crazy.
Jimmy: Yeah. Right. 100%. Yes. Hey, and if you want to be a weird caller to a show, you can call the Unpacking Peanuts Hotline. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions ah. And that number is 717-219-4162 717-219-4162. We'd love to hear from you.
October 14, Charlie Brown and Sally are outside. Charlie Brown says to Sally, “you really need to work on your timestables Sally. I can see that. Let's try the threes. How much is three times zero? Sally, while playing in the sandbox, says to Charlie Brown, 4000? 6? Eleventy twelve? 50 quillion? overly eight? Twiddley two? Well, am I getting closer?” Charlie Brown answers, “actually, it's kind of hard to say.”
Michael: Math was really hard for me. there's probably some people who breeze through it, but I just remember the day they introduced fractions and I was just like, forget it.
Jimmy: Fractions is a dark day.
Harold: For me it was geometry. That's what got me.
Jimmy: Really, that surprises me
Michael: Killed me. My only D ever.
Jimmy: Really? I'm actually pretty good at geometry. Well, pretty good. I could get solid high Bs in trigonometry or geometry, but just pure math. When you're not visualizing anything, like algebra, forget it. Absolutely forget it. X is two wow. Thrillsville.
Harold: Which did show up in this year again. We got another
Jimmy: it did.
Michael: It's coming.
Harold: That's cool.
Jimmy: Yeah. Two strips away.
Jimmy: But right now it is
October 18. Sally is hanging out her window and Linus walks up to it and says, “Hi, Sally.” And then he holds up, a football to her and says, “come on out and we'll kick around the old cassaba.” Sally says “the what?” Linus walks away saying, “Forget it.”
Harold: Okay, I selected this. This is a weak year for obscurities, but, I would think that there were a good number of people that were with Sally on this. What the heck is Linus referring to here. And, there's no magic to this.
Michael: It's a melon.
Jimmy: It's a melon
Harold: Yeah, it's a cassaba melon. And sometimes they're round and sometimes they kind of look like a football. They're kind of yellowish. And there you go, the old cassaba melon.
Jimmy: There you go.
Liz: She missed the perfect opportunity.
Jimmy: It is a huge mistake. Why doesn't she just be like, yeah, we'll hang out. But they do go around and playing a little bit of football here. So here we go.
Harold: There is something that I have to say about the strip that I always liked. The strips where somebody is coming to somebody's house, and it's like the person who is coming to the house is, the interloper and the person who's in the house. There's this weird formality that Schulz puts into these that for some reason, I absolutely love. If someone wants to shovel their walk or whatever, I think there should be a whole book of just people coming to the doors and windows and talking. There's a whole cool thing going on here that Schulz does better than anybody else.
Jimmy: One of my big influences is the comic book Cerebus, and he did a parody. He did tons of parodies, from everything from the Rolling Stones to Moon Knight to, everything. But, he did a Peanuts one towards the end of the series. And in the editorial in the back, he talks about when you're studying Schulz, you start to think about how many things this guy invented that just work, that are now just cartoon language that you don't even think about. And one that he mentions as really working is the face looking out from the building.
Harold: Yeah, it's like, it represents this barrier between, you know, if you see one of these strips, there's a barrier between these characters. And I don't know, I find it strangely delightful.
Jimmy: and just a really graphically simple way of expressing all of that without fooling around with camera angles. And this is also really the perfect television era strip because he's not fooling around with camera angles and stuff. Like those 40s adventure strips were really inspired by things like Citizen Kane and the movies. Right. And this is a TV era strip where you just set up the camera and let it play.
Harold: Yeah. And the shake in his hand, I'm really noticing.
Jimmy: well, let's look at the What, the word balloon around the What. And that is 100% the hand tremor on the lower line, right. As he goes left to right. Look for it. Even with this, you have to be sort of precise about how you move your hand. You don't do a lot of things like pulling towards you, or rather pushing, away from you, rather, because it'll splatter and stuff. But one of the hardest maneuvers is when you're going left to right with a dip pen like that, because just the way the pressure it puts on your wrist and it really reveals his upcoming hand tremor.
Harold: And it suggests that there is a tremor, and the tremor is fairly fast. I don't know how quickly he's making that line, but it seems like he's resetting every the size he was drawing is half an inch or less.
Liz: where do you start the word balloon? Where would you put the pen to start it?
Harold: That's a good question. Yeah.
Jimmy: If, I were to do this, where I would start, it would be at one of the meeting points of the tail and the balloon. Right. So if we were looking at the What, that panel, panel three, what I would do is where the top part of the pointer meets the balloon. I would start, and I would do a counterclockwise circle to create that balloon. And then I would add the tail at the end.
Michael: wouldn't you be turning the page while you do it?
Jimmy: Possibly, but not necessarily. But probably because when you get to that part or on the circle where you come back around the end, around the bottom, rather, that's when you would necessarily you could turn it, and then you would pull the pen towards you, which would give you an easier, smoother curve for a long line. I don't think he's doing that, because that's, I think, what is causing the tremor. I think if he did turn it, it would minimize the tremor on those lines.
Harold: Yeah. And what you're saying, Jimmy, that makes sense for me, too, Liz. What's really fascinating to me about Charles Schulz's balloons at this point is that traditionally, the point of the balloon was basically a V. Right. But for whatever reason, he does, like, in the last panel, forget it. Both of them have a little curve inward on each other, and one falls short of the other one instead of the meeting at the point that's very uniquely Charles Schulz. I guess the rule would be the reason you would do that, Jimmy, is because that's a meeting point. So, it's easier to line up with the end point of the line like that. I found, like, in reality, if I had mastery, I would do what you're doing, Jimmy. I would start at the beginning of that point and end at the other one, and then draw the little pointer. But I found that I tend to start at the top and then swoop down, and then I'll try to match it up at the top again and then move back down. So, I basically start at 12:00, more or less, on each side, and then I bring it down to the left and to the right.
Jimmy: and I do think if he was doing that stuff as well, he would have minimized the hand tremor, but I think he is going swoosh one big circle.
Harold: Yeah, I think you're right. Yeah. I mean, if you're a master artist, that's the way to do it.
Jimmy: Well, he is. He sure is.
October 20, we see Sally, and now she has actually come to her senses, and she's playing some football with Linus. Although on this panel, we just see her, she races up to the football, and she gives it a good, solid kick, and it tips over, going nowhere, that she looks out at us and says, “what's so exciting about the kickoff?”
Michael: now don't you think Sally is aging slower than the other kids did?
Jimmy: Yeah, probably.
Michael: She's been at it for, what, five, six years now, and usually that's enough to get her lined up with all the other ones. But she's still tiny.
Jimmy: Yeah, I think, it's it's strange, because, like, if you follow any of the logic of the aging, Lucy was younger than Charlie Brown, but now Charlie Brown and Linus are in the same classroom. So does that mean that Lucy has somehow passed out Charlie Brown, or the only way to make a logical sense of it is if there's multiple classes in one classroom. But I don't think there is logical sense.
Harold: If anyone skipped a grade, it was Linus.
Jimmy: Well, that's true, too, as did my mother. Oh, she is very proud of that. She is 93 almost, and to this day, she will tell you she skipped the grade.
Harold: And which grade was it again?
Jimmy: well, she went from the middle of fourth to the middle of fifth.
Michael: She went from the middle of 92nd to the middle of 93rd.
Harold: I've never heard of someone skipping a grade within a school in the middle of a school year. That's crazy.
Jimmy: Oh, one thing. While we're talking about football, there's a gag in this year where it's about, let's see, instant replay for, anyone who happened to read all the strips. it's the strip where Charlie Brown, gets the football pulled away from them by Lucy and they go to instant replay. This was the year instant replay was commercialized. And it's like, really, the year football took off in America, because football without instant replay on little black and white TVs was nonsense. You couldn't follow it at all. So, that was a really big deal in American television culture.
Harold: He certainly was fascinated with the equipment. I mean, he went in on TV.
Jimmy: Clearly, someone took him into the booth right at a game.
Harold: Either that or in that Life magazine. He was featured.
Jimmy: Yeah, right. And he gave a little tour