Jimmy: Hey, everybody. Welcome back to the show. This is Unpacking Peanuts, where we're discussing 1969, and the original gang comes together for one last hurrah as we exit the 60s. Though, Mr. Schulz is staying current with the times he's integrated the strip, it's feeling groovy, and it seems like, it's full steam ahead for the world of Peanuts. But it might not all be smooth sailing. There could be some rough waters up ahead, but we are here for all of it.
And who am I? Why, I'm Jimmy Gownley. I'm your host for this evening. I'm also a cartoonist. I did the New York Times bestselling Amelia Rules series. I did the award-winning Dumbest Idea Ever, and I did the other one.
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 the cartoonist behind such great strips as Strange Attractors, A Gathering of Spells, and Tangled River, it's Michael Cohen.
Michael: I never got an award for any of that.
Jimmy: That stinks.
Michael: Really does.
Jimmy: you know what? Turns out awards-- kind of nonsense. Also, he is the executive producer of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and a writer. By the way, he's the former vice president of Archie Comics and the current creator of the instagram sensation Sweetest Beasts, Harold Buchholz.
Jimmy: Guys. It's 1969, so I have a couple of things right off the top I want to talk about. First was “come together” in the opening-- Was that our last Beatles reference, or are Michael and I allowed to continue unabated?
Harold: Keep going.
Michael: can't stop us.
Jimmy: All right, so that's good, because then I'd be down to two things I could talk about.
Michael: Nothing could stop us from talking about the Beatles.
Jimmy: Nothing has thus far. The other thing I just wanted to talk about briefly, last episode, we talked about the introduction of Franklin, which was really exciting and a great moment in Peanuts in the time since we recorded it. Now, there was a big hubbub came out about one of, our other, cartoonists out there in the world. No one we know, but very famous cartoonist. I always compare cartoonists to Jedi knights, and sometimes a cartoonist goes to the dark side. So, anyway, this guy made a big hubbub saying a bunch of nonsense. The only good thing that came out of it was that, a little meme started going around from our pal Mr. Schulz about when editors complained about having Franklin in the classroom with Peppermint Patty, and Schulz wrote, either you print it exactly the way I drew it, or I quit. How's that? And the reason I wanted to say that. Now, I've never been a person who was really interested in getting a tattoo. But having read that, I think I would like either you printed exactly the way I drew it, or I quit. I would like a big, like, Ben Affleck style back tattoo. So I'm just announcing that.
Harold: well, don't change anything. Don't change a comma or anything. Make sure the tattoo artist is absolutely precise, or you're going to be just going to ruin the whole idea. Right.
Jimmy: I imagine I could do it in sort of the Peanuts font of some sort that could mimic that. That would be nice, I think. So look for that, you could.
Harold: Just carry it in your wallet, Jim, It's cheaper.
Jimmy: Oh, that's true. Like a bunch of that could be just in the back of my business card.
Michael: Even though I never got an award, there is a human being walking around with a tattoo of one of my characters on his leg.
Harold: Wow. Really?
Michael: And it's big.
Harold: What character?
Michael: It was just like some minor character from this thing I was doing years ago.
Harold: Did he show up at a convention and lift up his pant leg?
Michael: Yeah. Well, actually, I roomed with him at a convention
Harold: Oh wow
Jimmy: because that's how you want to handle that situation. Hey, I'll be your roommate. He also went as you for Halloween.
Michael: Yeah. This is not stalking, by the way. He had a Michael Cohen mask he wore.
Harold: Yeah, I've seen those at Party City.
Jimmy: Right, guys. So it's 1969, Michael, so we're drifting out, I imagine, of your purview as an OG reader. So this has got to be some new material for you, I imagine.
Michael: All new, yeah. I drifted away from my hometown, little hometown of LA. And because of that, I wasn't getting the LA times subscription. And for some reason I stopped buying the Peanuts books, the yearly Peanuts books. And, yeah, from here on in, it's like occasionally I see a newspaper sitting in a cafe somewhere and look at it and there's a Peanuts. So maybe in the next, what, 40 years of the strip? Or how many we got to go-- 30 years of the strip. I've read maybe ten.
Jimmy: And certainly they're not going to have popped back in your mind. They don't have that kind of staying power because they haven't been read over and over again. All right.
Michael: No, everything up to this point. Well, almost everything. I must have read like 20 times. And now it's down to zero on most of these. So yeah, fresh experience. Very different.
Jimmy: That's great. now, do you see relatively the same quality? I mean, discounting, of course, the familiarity factor, nostalgia factor? Do you see him, maintaining this year?
Michael: Well, I think it's been trending a little bit more towards less genius. I mean, they're still great. Almost everyone is great. That might be just nostalgia, but I'm seeing less that when I read them, I go, I have to pick this. More often it's like, I think about it, is this worth talking about? Whereas up to this point, there were so many that was so obvious to me because they're just classics. But anyway, I did pick a lot, and I thought it was a pretty good year, and the strip is evolving and it's going to keep evolving. So, yeah, I was definitely noticing some stylistic differences. Yeah. Anyway, good, year.
Jimmy: Harold, how about you?
Harold: Yeah, to me, it was another great year. I really enjoyed these strips, and I enjoyed the kind of the breadth of the strips and the characters so fleshed out, and it seemed like he kept finding new-- I don't know if the term is extremes to go with the characters, but he certainly seemed to keep raising stakes on things, in ways that I thought were fun and kind of appropriate. Given that he continues to grow in the popular culture this year, the thing that really stands out to me, his skating rink is now open. So this was a big deal that he and Joyce created this community skating rink, and he's spending a lot of time there from now through the end of his, run on Peanuts over 30 years. And he's got, a lot of things that have to do with skating and hockey, and you just see that part of his life coming out in these fresh, new ways. I was just thinking, yesterday about, that image of Snoopy, playing hockey on the bird bath, against another bird, is so iconic that that alone, if that was the only iconic thing that Schulz did in comic strips, he would be remembered. And that's just such a small part of Peanuts. But I was thinking, yeah, this guy's pretty amazing.
Jimmy: I was thinking a, similar thought about Snoopy walking, whenever he's going off on a trip and he puts the dog dish on top.
Harold: Yeah, right.
Jimmy: Who would have thought of that? And you have to be versed in Peanuts to know like, oh, yeah, so Snoopy's off on a trip, he's wearing the food dish on top of his head.
Harold: Anyway, yeah, I think this is a great year. And then, child watch. We got kids aged eleven to 19 this year, so, again, now we're getting into slightly older children, but they're still a big part of his life. And, being this age of the teenager in 1969, I just feel like he benefits tremendously from having those kids and their friends in his world. I think it just kind of keeps him I'm just guessing, but it just seems like he's staying relevant and aware of where things are because it's all around him. And it's in California. Come on, California. California teenagers. what could be more iconic for that era?
Jimmy: Right? 100%. Yeah. One of the other things that struck me as really interesting is that we were talking about how Snoopy is more and more kind of embodying a certain side of Schulz and also more and more embodying the times. And I think that is another reason why he can stay current in a way maybe other strips can't or don't, because if you're not aging the characters, but they're changing constantly and what their interests are and how they talk and all that stuff, that's going to come off as false. But Snoopy is already kind of outside of Peanuts, so it makes sense that he's doing his own thing and staying a little more current. And that's just a special, like a superpower that this strip has that the other ones don't.
Jimmy: All right, so Michael, I'm going to run down the tier list, where we were at 1968, and, you let us know if at the end of this you think there's going to be any kind of, shifts as we stand right now, a level or top billing? We have the big four Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, and Lucy. Level B, costarring, Schroeder, Sally, and the immortal Peppermint Patty. Level C. Also featuring Frieda, Violet, Woodstock, or the bird soon to be named as Woodstock and Franklin. D-- Or with oh, boy. Here's where we're starting to get signs of Schulz's, wandering attention. Shermy, Pigpen, Patty, Roy, Five, Jose Peterson. And who are the other 3?
Michael: the three girls at camp
Jimmy: It's those three girls at camp. Oh, proto Marcy, and the other two. Sorry.
Jimmy: And formerly with which is Charlotte Braun. Three and four. And Faron. By the way, though, I dug out a Three and Four pin I have, so I have some Three and Four merch.
Jimmy: Button. So what do you think, Michael? is there going to be any shifts, by the way?
Michael: Yeah, definitely. I was keeping tab on the lower echelons, and they're going, yes, indeed. Strangely enough, the only one who is still strong is Frieda. Frieda had a lot. She definitely has her place. But yeah, pig Pen is pretty much gone. Shermy is down to the last few drops. Golden drops of Shermy.
Jimmy: Golden drops of Shermy-- ewww.
Michael: Yeah anyway, we'll get to that. I'll do the 1969 tier list when we finish the year.
Jimmy: Fantastic. Well, like Michael said at the top of this, we did pick a lot of strips to go through. And, it is a big year, end of the decade. Let's go out strong. Let's start the strips right now.
January 1. Lucy is running outside with her hands in her ear, “saying, it's here, it's here.” Then pleased as punch with herself, she says to Charlie Brown, “this is my year. It's going to be all mine. This is my year.” Charlie Brown says, “where does that leave the rest of us?” Lucy says “nowhere.” Then she walks up to Charlie Brown and yells at him, “stay out of my year.”
Michael: And it is indeed Lucy's year.
Jimmy: Year of Lucy, eh?
Michael: I think absolutely. She just totally dominates this year. So he called it on, January 1. Yeah, I think this is her best year. Definitely.
Jimmy: She's great this year. She also is the one that seems always interested in a new year. She's the one that has the bit with we got stuck with a used year and stuff. Lucy is very focused on the changing of the seasons, it seems.
Michael: Yeah, she's really crabby. So I think since Violet and Patty are sort of fading out, she's kind of absorbed all their nastiness into her being.
Jimmy: Right. And because she has all the other stuff, it does seem to work really well. Although it does a little bit at this point shift the dynamic from when it's Patty and Violet and Lucy, to a degree, it feels like the world is against Charlie Brown. It feels a little bit and as it has gone on, I've noticed it feels a little bit more like Charlie Brown just doesn't fit with the world, regardless of how the world is interacting with him. So it's weird, I think, to get rid of those contract those characters, in some ways brings out maybe another side of Charlie Brown too. I don't, know.
January 3. Charlie Brown approaches Lucy and he's reading a newspaper. He says, “did you read the paper today?” He continues reading. “Did you read about all the terrible things going on in the world?” Panel Three? He kind of looks down at the now half limp newspaper and says, “it's very depressing.” Lucy, with eyes closed and supreme confidence, says, “I'll thank you not to criticize my year.”
Harold: Yeah, I think maybe 1969. that's a year that's so uncertain and in flux that I'm glad somebody stepped in to claim it.
Jimmy:. Maybe she got it cheap.
Harold: I think so. Maybe no one else used here after 68. It was, like, too uncertain. yeah, I'll take it.
Jimmy: That's the other thing that's sort of interesting because obviously we're always, it seems, going through trying times, but it's kind of good to be able to go back and read things and see the context in which they were occurring and go, oh, in some ways it's been ever thus, and it probably always will be. So maybe we can calm down a little bit now and again.
Michael: The black plague was a drag.
Jimmy: It was a drag.
Harold: I did want to mention something about this year that I noticed on the dailies. Not so much the Sundays is it seems like Schulz upped his game a little bit on his lettering. He just cleans it up a little, tightens it. I don't know if someone was criticizing something or something was harder to read or I don't know. But it just seems like when you look at the blocks of text. It's still in his loose style, but he seems to block it out better than before in this new Loose peanut style. And when I look at these strips, they just look so amazing. I mean, he's really at this top of his game. This is kind of peak Peanuts in terms of visuals, I think, It's really clean and crisp, and yet it has a little bit of that looseness that he's grown into as well.
Jimmy: Yeah, well, I had a bit of a lettering epiphany, actually partly in part due to Michael sending me a drawing he made of, something he's working on that we're not talking about, but that's beautiful. And I knew he did it on the iPad. but it had a real inky line quality to it that I loved. I think I've mentioned I do a little commercial strip now and again for a magazine. So I did it all digitally, and I still can't quite get my line to work. But I started lettering digitally, like hand lettering, but using the iPad to do it. And I know Harold uses that as well. Boy, that's the sweet spot. It really works great for that. And it's still able to have a little bit well, not a little bit. I mean, there still is handwriting, it's really nice, but it's boy, does it save your wrist and your eyes.
Harold: So, did you have to hunt around for the pen or I don't know, is it a pen, technically, that you're choosing to use? how do you describe the look of it or what kind of a line does it make?
Jimmy: I tried to just make it look as close at first, I tried to make it look as close as my regular hand lettering as possible, which is a dead line. It's just a micron Pigma pen that I use, like, what would be a rapidograph back in the day, but I don't feel like fooling around and keeping those clean. But if that felt a little too mechanical so I actually just went to a brush and added just a little bit of flex to it.
And I don't think anyone will be able to tell, the difference if I didn't mention it. And in many ways, it's not different. I mean, if you're drawing on a screen, because I think I come off as anti digital, when in fact, I've used digital stuff for all through Amelia. There's entire issues of Amelia you couldn't do without a computer. But I'm just interested. What I want to do is make sure that you don't lose the handmade quality of the art. And that really struck me with the thing Michael sent me, and it's like, oh, this is great, I want to do that.
Harold: Yeah. And what is that strip that you referred to offhand?
Michael: What is it?
Harold: You said that there was a strip that you do occasionally for a publication.
Jimmy: Oh, it's for Cub Scouts. It's a Cub Scout magazine. It's for Scout Life. It's called Arrowheads.
Michael: Somebody's been posting Schulz's teenager strip.
Jimmy: Oh, really?
Michael: Where everybody's like super elongated.
Jimmy: Really elongated.
Michael: These kids are like 8ft tall. It's really weird. It's still clearly Schulz, but it's kind of creepy.
Jimmy: It's Schulz. As if they just stretched them out, like in Photoshop. If he just made all the characters really long.
Harold: I think this is the last year, because he had done-- we talked about the Young Pillars that he had done for the Church of God in Anderson, Indiana. And I think he had to stop that in 66. But I believe he came back this year was like the last year he did some of those kind of teen strips. this is kind of, I think, closing the end of an era. Our listeners, if I'm wrong about that, can, correct me, but the fact that he's doing that on top of Peanuts was pretty incredible in that era. And he didn't do a whole lot in 69. And again, maybe this is why I'm getting a sense that there's just a little bit more time and care going into things. Like the lettering is maybe he's got that time he's carved it out for his art
Michael: Are his kids abnormally tall, because these kids are like giraffes.
Jimmy: That's how I used to-- I never saw before I drew the Amelia style. I never saw how long my characters were. They all looked like El Greco figures walking around the high school. Very odd. He talks about that too. He said in later years that he was appalled, which is a really strong word at the way he drew Banana nose. Snoopy.
Michael: I love banana nose.
Jimmy: Everybody does. He did it so, he's allowed, I guess, to be appalled at it. But his point when he was talking the interview is like, I didn't even notice that, it had gone that direction for so long.
Harold: It's amazing.
Jimmy: Then he consciously tried to change it a little bit, but then after a while, that becomes subconscious and it's just endlessly evolving.
Harold: Why do you think he was appalled at that version of Snoopy? I mean, what what is it about it that because yeah, I always did get that impression when he did go back to the Snoopy, that we're right now at a Snoopy that you can recognize through the end of the strip. Right. He's roughly got the same thing. He still becomes even more blocky in terms of.
Michael: stay tuned for a forehead watch later this year.
Harold: Yeah, but the fact that that was the one that seemed to disappear from licensing in the final years of his life, even if someone else said, hey, I love this, I remember this. maybe he kind of shooed people away from that version of Snoopy. And then as soon as he was gone and people were really remembering him with new kinds of merch. It seems like that version of Snoopy comes back with a vengeance.
Jimmy: Yeah. Because it does coincide with the rise of the strip in terms of popularity. So a lot of people like it. I think partly it might be that he's very doglike, and it's that mid ground between early puppy Snoopy and like, modern Snoopy. But that's the reason we like it.
Okay, since we have so much to talk about today, let's, take a break here and then we'll come back on the other side and continue. Okay?
VO: Hi, everyone. I just want to take a moment to remind you that all three hosts are cartoonists themselves and their work is available for sale. You can find links to purchase books by Jimmy, Harold and Michael on our website. You can also support the show on Patreon or buy us a mud pie. Check out the store link on UnpackingPeanuts.com.
Jimmy: And we're back. Did you miss us?
January 18. Charlie Brown's watching TV. Sally comes up behind him and says, “do you think life has any meaning?” Charlie Brown says, “Well, I.” Then Sally in panel three just interrupts, yelling to the ceiling. “I mean, do you think life has any meaning after you failed nine spelling tests in a row and your teacher hates you?” Charlie Brown responds with, “that's a different question.”
Michael: I really love Sally, and it's great. She goes from zero to, like, hysterical.
Michael: And I love that because the world of school is so scary for a little kid.
Jimmy: She articulates that in a way that actually not, a lot of characters in any kind of literature. Do-- you'd be tempted? Well, you wouldn't be tempted, but you would be perhaps, nudged gently, from an editor or whatever. Or if you're just thinking of reviewer, if you're doing it today to have her learn some sort of lesson about such a thing.
Jimmy: But Schulz is free from that. She just hates school, and that's it. And I love that. That's great.
Harold: Again, lettering in this strip, it just seems like it's it's a notch above where where he was, a year or so ago. I just, I just really, really like his lettering around this time.
Jimmy: What's amazing is, too, is like, I clearly see what you're talking about, but no one reading the newspaper, I don't think, did.
Harold: I don't think you notice it. But I don't know, there's a whole to it that everything just is gelling right now to me in in a, in a unique, fresh way. So anyway, my two cents.
Jimmy: Oh absolutely No, I agree.
January 27. Okay. This is the middle of a bit of a sequence. It's a really good sequence. I'm sure Michael will clue us in on it. And it, is Charlie Brown is standing outside. Schroeder is looking up into a tree. He looks forlorn and Linus approaches, saying, “what's going on?” Charlie Brown says, “Your sister threw Schroeder's piano up into a kite eating tree.” Now Lucy comes over to survey the scene. Linus says to her, “what a stupid thing to do.” And now we actually see chomp chomp chomp and a note of perhaps whistling coming from the boughs of the Kite Eating Tree. Lucy says to Linus, “he never pays any attention to me. This will teach him a lesson. Musicians are a peculiar lot. They always have to learn the hard way.” Now we see Charlie Brown yelling back to the crew and says, “everybody stand back. Here comes the captain of the rescue squad.” And we see that is Snoopy coming in in a fire helmet, saying, “you'd better use flashbulbs, boys.”
Michael: This, segues into this other sequence. Yeah, this is the third at least week long sequence of the year. Lucy finally she can't take any more of being ignored, and she starts kicks his piano and then throws it in the tree. So from January 20 to February 1, we have this exciting adventure.
Harold: Yeah. You look at this one strip, and the world that Schulz has grown into is evidenced here in so many different ways. You've got these five major characters in a little four panel strip, and the world of Charlie Brown with the surreal Kite Eating Tree is now completely it's beyond Charlie Brown or his imagination. It's now a part of the world where everybody recognizes that it exists, that it will eat pianos as well as kites. And then you throw in Snoopy wearing a little fireman's hat with this big cheesy grin that they're accepting the fact that Snoopy's fantasy life is actually a thing. I mean, this strip seems to me to represent the gelling of all of these elements where he you know, it's no longer necessarily one person's imagination or one character's imagination. And then outside of the world of the others in this strip, it's like everybody sees things kind of from the same plane. What reality is in Peanuts. How surreal is this? A pet dog who is seen as a captain of a rescue squad. And, this tree that's eating this little this little piano, which he Schroeder plays like a grand piano. There's a little note that's coming up beyond the top of the panel as if as the tree is eating it, he hits one of the keys. The tree's teeth hits one of the keys.
Michael: I thought the tree was whistling.
Jimmy: That's what I thought too. Yeah, but no, I think Harold is right. But, yeah, I thought he was whistling. But if he was whistling, it would be in the same word balloon.
Harold: Right? Yeah.
Jimmy: The poor tree, or not to poor tree, the poor piano.
Harold: and the terrible look on Schroeder's face, the longest mouth you could imagine, all squiggly and sad.
Jimmy: So, Michael, I'm assuming-- I'm not assuming. I don't know if this will bump Schroeder up now. I guess he won't from co starring, but let's at least keep him safe. It seems like he has bumped, up a little bit this year, at least because of this sequence.
Michael: He's solidly on the B level. There's no knocking Schroeder off. He's in there.
Jimmy: Way to be strong, Schroeder. And here's the other question I have. I was born in 1972, but trends and stuff didn't go so quickly back then. So I had tons of rescue squad toys, like Fisher Price Rescue Center and stuff like that. What the hell is a rescue squad? I mean, there's like a fire department and there's police and there's ambulance.
Michael: I think it's getting the cat,
Harold: The cat out of the tree, right? Yeah.
Jimmy: Oh, is that really what it is?
Michael: Well, we didn't have trees in LA.
Harold: So it's hard to probably it's the volunteer fire department that's called in.
Jimmy: Oh, I see. I had some terrible toys, if that's all they were supposed to be doing. My God, they had helicopters and everything else.
February 9, it's a snowy day, and Charlie Brown is standing out looking at the old pitcher’s mound. He says, “Ah, there's my old pitcher’s mound covered with snow and tradition.” He walks up to it, he stands on top and he's talking to himself. He says, “if this were summer, I'd be standing out here on the mound getting ready to pitch. I'd look in at my catcher to get the sign.” Then Charlie Brown is also going through the motions, and Lucy comes up behind him. Charlie Brown continues “the wind up.” He follows through “the pitch.” Lucy yells, and looking out towards the outfield, says, “POW. It's a drive to deep center. And you can tell that one Goodbye.” Charlie Brown, standing on the mound, looks out at us and says, “even my winters are summers.”
Harold: The year of Lucy.
Michael: Yeah, that's a good one.
Jimmy: She always, has a good zinger, too. And the worst thing about the reason she has these good zingers and the reason she comes off as mean is she's really telling the truth a lot of times.
Jimmy: And this is what's going to happen come spring training. Trust me, I know. The Pirates are three and seven.
February 21, Charlie Brown's watching TV again, and Sally comes up behind him and says, “isn't it Christmas yet?” Charlie Brown looks at her and says, “Christmas? Good grief, no. This is still February.” Sally says as she walks away, “I live in constant fear that Christmas will come and I won't know about it.” Charlie Brown says, “we all have our anxieties.”
Michael: Kids don't know from time.
Jimmy: Kids don't know. Well, I think that's all we need to say about that.
February 26. Charlie Brown and Linus. This is another long sequence. This is a great one. I really love it. so, the teachers are on strike and, we're watching Charlie Brown and Linus watch the teachers on strike. Charlie Brown says, “the teachers are still on strike I see.” Linus says “yes and Miss Othmar looks tired. She's been carrying that sign for--” then in the next panel, Linus is shocked out of his mind. His hair does this full stand up, and he says, “she's fallen to her knees.” Then in the next panel, we see Lucy coming up to Charlie Brown and saying, “what's going on?” Charlie Brown says, “Miss Othmar fell, and Linus rushed over and picked up her sign.” Then in the last panel, we see them both looking on. Charlie Brown in shock, Lucy with anger. She says, “that stupid blockhead. He's become involved.”
Harold: Yeah. This is such a 1969 strip. I mean, they've got the teacher's strike and Lucy's angle on it. She's not concerned about Ms. Othmar. She's not concerned about Linus. She's concerned--
Jimmy: or the issue that everybody is arguing about.
Harold: Yeah. it’s that he actually stepped into the fray. That is the ultimate crime to Lucy.
Jimmy: Oh, absolutely. Well, this is patting birds on the head to the nth degree. Don't get involved with this type of thing. People will be talking about you.
Harold: Right, yeah.
Jimmy: And it continues.
February 27, Charlie Brown and Linus are walking outside and Charlie Brown's reading in the newspaper.
Jimmy: Charlie Brown does a lot of walking around the neighborhood reading a newspaper.
Michael: He’s reading Peanuts
He continues reading. Suddenly--
Jimmy: That's what I find unbelievable. When is this fantasy of a child reading a newspaper going to end?
“Suddenly, one of the striking teachers fell to her knees.” This is Charlie Brown reading. He continues, “a small boy ran across the street and picked up the sign that the exhausted teacher had been carrying.” He continues to read. “The youngster was later identified as a pupil of the striking teacher.” Linus responds to Charlie Brown. “Do you ever have the feeling of impending doom?”
Michael: He usually keeps his head. Linus.
Jimmy: Yeah, but Miss Othmar oh, wow.
Harold: Yeah, Miss Othmar, this is a tough little strip. And Schulz, he doesn't resolve this one other than they fire her. And obviously, Linus gets really angry. He wants to fight, but he's like, what's he going to do as a little kid? And then she's gone. We lose Ms. Othmar from this strip for years. And she's replaced interestingly with, Ms. Halverson, which is the maiden name of his wife. And I believe her mom is still living with them. I'm not absolutely sure. So I was wondering and I don't have this maybe our listeners know. her mom's name was Dorothy. Interestingly, her maiden name was Dorothy Hamill. So, see, even the ice skating rink gets something from that. But Dorothy Hamill Halverson, I was wondering, was she a school teacher? Because if she's still living with them and she may have some stories of being a teacher, I was just curious. I don't know if that's the case. Or is he kind of naming her after his mother in law or his wife? I don't know. But I thought that was interesting, that the new teacher who replaces the beloved Ms. Othmar is now Ms. Halverson, which Linus adapts pretty quickly to having Ms. Halverson, but at first he's a little resistant.
Jimmy: And the truth of the matter is, I mean, quite realistically, this is what happens. It wasn't a firing or a strike, because I went to Catholic school, but a nun got transferred. My beloved third grade teacher, Sister Ruth, she taught me how to play guitar. And, …….. I was just waiting for Michael to say, oh, that's who we have to blame. I gave you the, but, yeah, she just announced she's getting transferred and gone, and you're devastated, but what are you going to do? It's the fate of the child, right? The world is going on, making all kinds of decisions for you, and you get swept up in it.
Harold: Yeah. The freaky thing is, there's a teacher you had in your Catholic school that you feature in your graphic novel, The Dumbest Idea Ever. That was a teacher at my wife's school, hundreds of miles away in, the Washington, DC area. It's just crazy.
Jimmy: Yeah. That's one of the weirdest things ever. If you are a reader of The Dumbest Idea Ever, it was Sister Regina Alma, who, in fairness, wasn't as nice as I portrayed her in the book.
Harold: Oh, my goodness.
Jimmy: we had an understanding.
March 13, 1969. Another sequence. This time it's Snoopy. And he's made his way all the way to the moon. And in the strip, what we see is Snoopy with an actual bubble kind of helmet over his World War I flying ace gear sitting on top of his doghouse at night. And he thinks to himself, “here's the world famous astronaut approaching the moon.” He looks down and says, “fantastic, it looks like a dirty beach.” Then he concludes by thinking, “or has someone already said that?”
VO: Peanuts Obscurities Explained.
Harold: So, I'm going to call Obscurity on this one, because I think a quote that was I mean, people were really, really into this space race and this moon shot, Apollo process. This was a big deal. And so Schulz is referring to a comment, from Apollo Eight, which job was to go to the moon with a manned spacecraft and basically orbit around the moon and then come back home. Apollo, I think it was eleven, was the one the moon landing actually happened, but that happened on, I believe it was Christmas Eve, 1968. The two men on the flight were Bill Anders and James Lovell, and they were commenting, and it's not clear. I've heard both of them being given this quote that he said it was like dirty beach sand as they were looking down as, they orbited around the moon. He said “the moon is essentially gray, no color. It looks like plaster of Paris, like dirty beach sand with lots of footprints in it before, we put footprints in it.” So it's interesting that Schulz is referring to a comment from a few months earlier that he's expecting a lot of people know because people are so following this. And Schulz himself is a part of this space program. In 1968, he was asked if they could make Snoopy the, safety mascot for NASA. And Snoopy is still the safety mascot to this day, 55 years later. And apparently, there's a little pin that you get if you have a great safety record. Either you're a contractor or you're part of NASA. And it's, to this day, a highly coveted pin to get, and it's called the Silver Snoopy Award. And, Craig Schulz says that his dad said that it was the proudest moment in his career to be asked to be a part of this space program. So this this talk again, once again, Charles Schulz is in the center of international culture in terms of what people are looking at in this space, this space program. And in May 1969, Apollo Ten goes up, and the aircraft was called, Snoopy and Charlie Brown.
Harold: So that's just mind boggling that this was Schulz's shot, into space with with these, these pioneers. And I mean--
Jimmy: Yeah, It's one thing to be in the center of a trend, right, or to people who are virally famous or whatever on TikTok. And there's another thing to go to the moon. It's amazing. Lynn Johnson always said she used to tease him when she was up and coming and was getting in lots and lots of papers, because she's brilliant and has a great strip, too. And she said to him once, oh, Sparky, I'm catching up with you. And he's like, I'll see you in the Louvre.
Harold: It’s crazy. And, those of you who have Apple TV, they've gotten the rights to all of the Peanuts stuff, and they're making new Peanuts. And there is a little nine minute documentary called Peanuts in Space: Secrets of Apollo Ten that will kind of show you, what was going on with Peanuts and NASA at the time.
March 20. Lucy is leaning on Schroeder's piano. As Schroeder practices away, she says to him, “I'm looking for the answer to life. Schroeder, what do you think is the answer?” Schroeder doesn't miss a beat, screams, “Beethoven. Beethoven is it. Clear and simple? Do you understand?”Then he goes back to pounding away at the keys, performing Beethoven. And Lucy, having been sent in all kinds of directions over the previous couple of panels from the shouting, reclines back, and just says, “Good grief.”
Harold: And the top of the panel is absolutely covered with measures of, Beethoven music, meticulously drawn out by Schulz, beautifully drawn out.
Michael: And he's representing anger here. I know we have the anger index, but occasionally these characters just explode with emotion, even though they're kind of cool in general, characters are not really super emotional, but occasionally they explode like Sally did with fear. And this is him just frustration that people don't understand.
Harold: Do you read it the same way, Jimmy? That he's upset that Lucy is not aware that this is the truth? Or is he just speaking with emphasis that this is the answer to life?
Jimmy: Yeah, I would say it's not anger so much as he's being emphatic, but with the pounding, it feels a little bit like i, feel like I have said this before, and also with a do you understand? It feels like, how does everybody not get this? And I do understand. I was asked to be a guest DJ on KCRW years ago, and I challenged anyone who thought REM wasn't the best American band since the Beach Boys to a fist fight.
Harold: Oh, my. Did they take you up on it?
Jimmy: No one yet. That was 2009, by the way.
Harold: That's why those dirt bikers were going past your house.
Jimmy: That could have been it. well so I get it. I think it's not anger at Lucy. It is frustration and anger with the fact that the world could not have this settled. Why is this even a discussion?
Harold: Yeah, he's just doubling down on that fourth panel. He does have that little angry. Well, while we're at it, do we want to do the, anger index and the happiness index as we're talking about this?
Jimmy: Yeah, absolutely.
Harold: So let's see, where were we in 1968? It was a little bit more happiness than anger. There were 130 happiness strips and 120 anger strips. So where do you think we are with anger this year? Are we up or down?
Michael: Well, it's Lucy's year, so it's got to be angry.
Jimmy: Angry.I agree.
Harold: And what do you think for happiness?
Jimmy: I think happiness is up too, though.
Michael: I didn't see a whole lot of happiness. I'd say down a little. Anger up.
Harold: Okay, so 120 strips in 68. I was surprised, too, because there's some well placed anger in this year. It's down to 100.
Michael: Yeah, it's more intense.
Harold: Yeah, there's some real intense stuff.
Jimmy: Every time I agree with you, you're wrong. I have to get a new strategy. I have to figure something out before we get to, like, the 80s.
Harold: but you are right about the happiness. It's also down 130 to 119. So this is a more stoic year, I guess you could say than 1968. However, I will say, for whatever reason, December is loaded with happiness. 21 of the strips have happy characters. and we'll be covering a couple of those. But, I was wondering, is that going to carry on into the new decade? Is there going to be some more happiness in this strip, or is that just a weird anomaly?
Jimmy: We will find out. Hey, by the way, how great is that drawing in panel three of Lucy just like levitating bouncing off the ground or whatever she is.
Harold: Oh, my gosh. The iconic drawings that he's doing. We keep talking about it, but it's totally worth talking about because he has these incredible iconic drawings that read so cleanly and they're so fun that she's got kind of like the shell hair as if she's been she's using the permalac hairspray. but the fact that she's I mean, her even her arms are straight out floating above the ground with this little scratch of a shadow underneath it. Again, this is just absolute is absolutely the peak of cartooning in the history of cartooning. I mean, this this stuff is amazing.
March 25, It’s baseball season, and look who it is. It's good ol Shermy coming up to the mound to talk to Charlie Brown. He says, “Charlie Brown, I've been wanting to ask you something. Speaking from the pitcher's point of view, has the lowering of the mound affected the game very much?” Charlie Brown looks down at the mound and says, “oh, yes, definitely.” Then he concludes with, “it's easier to walk up onto it.”
Michael: Does Shermy know this is his farewell, speech?
Jimmy: I don't think we ever do.
Harold: What do you think of his hair now?
Jimmy: He is shagadacious,
Harold: kicky hair spiky hairdo thing. He sees ahead of his time. Yeah. So what do you see in Shermy in this, strip?
Michael: Time is up.
Harold: What attribute do you give to Shermy?
Jimmy: What do we give them because this is very important. Because this will be the last
Michael: He’s inquisitive
Jimmy: Well, hold on. Let's not just blow past this. This is an important moment.
Michael: It's not his last strip.
Jimmy: This is the last Shermometer.
Michael: It's the last time he speaks.
Jimmy: He gets a call out in like, 76.
Harold: So you say, the word to describe Shermy in this his last speaking role is inquisitive. That makes sense to me.
Jimmy: All right, so that leaves us in 1969, after almost 19 years. Shermy is an inquisitive, shaggy, expository, cool, straggling, bystanding, cynical philosophica, history-loving, empathetic, aggressive, compassionate, patient, pedantic, emotional, good listening, vain, friendly, hypocrite.
Michael: a well rounded human being.
Jimmy: Way to go.
Michael: He lived a good life.
Jimmy: Take that, Leopold Bloom. This is the most well rounded character in fiction, by the way, lots of baseball rule changes this year, too.
Harold: Yeah, right.
Jimmy: Stop or clock and whatnot.
Michael: it was a pitchers game, definitely. In this late sixties. I remember a lot of one nothing. Two one was pretty common.
Harold: And the day before there was a joke about an expansion club. So Michael, do you remember when they expanded the teams in 69?
Michael: Oh, yeah, sure.
Harold: So who was added?
Michael: The Astros? The Mets? No, it was the Colt Forty fives. I can't remember the other two. There’s four.
Harold: I'm seeing I looked it up because I'm so ignorant about
Jimmy: The Mets won in 69.
Harold: This is what I found online. And let me know.
Jimmy: Oh you’re right. The Mets were 62.
Harold: Yeah, I saw the Royals. Kansas City Royals.
Harold: Montreal Expos, which I guess were Washington Expos and the San Diego Padres.
Jimmy: And now they're back in Washington.
Harold: And the Seattle Pilots, which are, I guess, behind Milwaukee Brewers. Wow. Does that make sense?
Jimmy: Brewers. Sure.
Michael: Well, this is the second expansion, then.
Michael: anyway, I was phasing out of baseball at the same time I was phasing out of Peanuts.
Harold: What were you getting into?
Harold: The comic books? that was the world?
Michael: Well, music, comics.
Harold: And what year did you make that Price Guide?
Harold: Okay. Wow. That's amazing.
Jimmy: We referenced this at the beginning of every episode. Michael co-created the very first ever comic book Price Guide, which was called the Argosy Guide to Comics Fandom, something like that.