Jimmy: Hey, everybody, welcome back to the show. It's Unpacking Peanuts, and we're discussing 1969, which is another banner year for Schulz and the gang.
I'm Jimmy Gownley. I'm one of your hosts for this evening. I'm also a cartoonist. I did books like Amelia Rules and The Dumbest Idea Ever and Seven Good Reasons Not to Grow Up. Joining me, as always, are my pals co host 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, 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 sensation Sweetest Beasts, Harold Buchholz.
Jimmy: Well, we had so much to say about 1969 that we rambled on and on. I say we just get right to it.
Jimmy: Now, if you're out there and you want to get right to it, and maybe this is the first time you've ever joined us, I don't know. If so welcome. But here's what you can do. You can fire up GoComics.com. You go onto your Google machine there, you crank that up, type in Peanuts on GoComics.com, go to 1969, and you could follow along with us. If you want a heads up in advance what strips we're going to be talking about each week, then you can go to unpackingpeanuts.com and sign up for our newsletter. So do that. And when you're done, we'll be right here. And here we go.
May 27. Lucy is playing Tetherball. She gives it a good Whap in panel one. Panel two, she looks more than, let's say more than determined. Let's bordering on angry. POW. She hits the Tetherball, then Wham in panel three, and she looks furious in panel four, though, she has a huge smile on her face as she says, “Nobody beats me at Tetherball,” we see who she had been playing this whole time. It is Charlie Brown, who has been tied up to the Tether pole by Lucy's very powerful hits.
Michael: Nobody beats me at tether ball. I am strong
Jimmy: like bull.
Michael: I am Lucy. This is Lucy's year, and this sums it up. Charlie Brown is the rest of the world, and this is Lucy just beating the hell out of it.
Harold: How did Charlie Brown get up 6ft off the ground?
Michael: No no, it's a cartoon.
Jimmy: Well, I think she had to do, some really clever hits, some good angles, some good physics she had going in there. And maybe Charlie Brown jumped up for one big spike or something.
Michael: Do people still play tether ball?
Jimmy: Yes. Usually if you're like a beach resort or something, they'll have a pole around there now and again and a couple of kids will whack it around.
Michael: Has anyone in school ever broken their wrist?
Jimmy: I assume
Michael: because I still feel the pain of missing the ball and my wrist hitting the chain.
Jimmy: I don't think I've ever played. I certainly didn't play it as a kid.
Harold: Huh. And I don't remember being a chain, I remember being like a rope or something. Is it a chain?
Michael: It used to be a metal chain.
Harold: Wow, that makes sense.
Michael: That really hurt.
June 3. Linus is writing something and Lucy is looking on and he says “how's that for good lettering?” Lucy peruses the paper and says “your e's are all right, but your Os are bad.” Linus looks at the paper with concern and says, “what's wrong with my o's?” Lucy, walking away, says, “they need to be more Oey.” Linus says “Oey?”
Michael: Isn't English a great language? I mean this would not make sense to anyone else. I'd get oy.
Jimmy: One thing I always want to use, it seems like it comes up every couple of years in a comic I'm writing where someone, instead of saying I'll have the usual, or how did it go? The usual. And you want them to say the use. what do you have the use? How do you spell yuge?
Michael: Good question.
Jimmy: Listeners, write into us and tell us how do you spell yuge?
Michael: That is a great question. Usj, I would say.
Harold: Yeah, I was saying u-s-h, but that would be ush.
Jimmy: What? I don't know. Well anyway, if you have an answer out there, let us know.
Michael: Good question.
Harold: I'm fascinated by this strip because it's about lettering. And I just said this year that Schulz seemed to be paying more attention to lettering. And the very first panel where Linus asks how's that for good lettering? Is really good lettering. It is, it's nice stuff. But I'm looking at the Fantagraphics book and I'm looking just to the left at one of the Sunday strips, which I guess panel for panel, he's working smaller, is that right? Because it's three tiers, the lettering is much rougher and it's not nearly as clean as what you see in the dailies.
Jimmy: Well if you think if you were to extrapolate a daily strip, the original art to what that would be for a Sunday, it would be huge. So there's no way he could do something like that. But because he's not changing the tools he uses, there is definite line quality shifts in both the lettering and the line art between the Sundays and the dailies.
Harold: It's amazing how much of a difference it makes. and also is the lettering starting to creep up in terms of size? I don't know if newspapers had some of their crisis and they're shrinking, the strips and Schulz is aware of that and maybe he's been trying to go up in size, on the dailies, I don't know. But it feels like it's just getting a little bit bigger than it has been in the past.
Jimmy: Yeah, it seems like he does what he needs to in the panel, but I'm not sure. Could be.
June 8. Charlie Brown is, on top of the mound. A look of determination as he rubs the ball, getting ready for another sterling appearance on the mound. Panel two, he's staring down, towards the batter. Then the next three panels, he lets it rip. And of course, it's a high fly ball, but it lands behind Snoopy, who is asleep at shortstop. Charlie Brown comes out to yell at Snoopy, “well, did that nasty old pop fly awaken you? Did it disturb your beauty sleep? I'm sorry. If the sound of fly balls landing behind you is depriving you of your rest, perhaps we should soften the infield so the ball won't make so much noise when it lands behind you.” This causes Snoopy to burst into tears. Charlie Brown, who is now back at the mound, says, “oh, good grief, now I've hurt his feelings.” So Charlie Brown goes back out to shortstop, shakes Snoopy's paw, and says, “I'm sorry, Snoopy, I apologize. I shouldn't have been so sarcastic. I guess. I don't know how to handle players. I'm a terrible manager. I apologize.” Then Charlie Brown, back in the mound, pitches one in, and of course, in the last panel, Snoopy asleep again, misses the ball as it lands right behind him.
Michael: This is really odd for Charlie Brown to be sarcastic.
Jimmy: It's not odd that when he does it, he immediately feels bad about it.
Harold: Yeah, but that look of, oh, my gosh, the maniacal grin on his face. The last panel in the second tier. Oh, my gosh. I mean, for Charlie Brown to get this sarcastic, I can see why Snoopy's crying. Because to hear this from Charlie Brown, it's like, oh, the other thing again, as a cartoonist, how you can choose to do things in certain ways to make something funnier. The panel where Snoopy's sleeping and you have to see the big z and his eyes closed. And then right behind him, you see this double line of the ball falling to the ground. And then breaking that line is the word bonk. And then there's this little impact thing, but it looks as if the ball just lands and does not roll. It does not bounce. It's just bonk. And then in the last panel, it's the exact same panel. Nothing has changed. Charlie Brown has gone through all of this sarcasm and all of this angst and all of this apology, and nothing has changed. This is one of the classic Peanuts strips to me.
Jimmy: it's a good one, for sure.
June 13, Lucy comes up to yell at Snoopy, who's on top of his dog house, and she says, “okay, you stupid beagle, this is it. For the next two weeks, you're going to be my dog.” Then she turns to Snoopy, points at him and says, “when I give an order, I'll expect you to jump.” And the last panel we see Snoopy basically pogoing as if he's at a New Wave concert right past Linus, who says, “I see you've met our first sergeant.”
Michael: Yes, it's Lucy's year and it's her two weeks. Yeah, poor Snoopy.
Harold: Charlie Brown and his family are going on vacation and Snoopy has the choice of a kennel or the Van Pelts. And, I don't think Snoopy is too thrilled with either of those choices.
June 29, we see the proto Woodstock trying desperately to fly, but just can't seem to make it happen. Snoopy is asleep on top of his doghouse and Woodstock falls out of the sky and lands on Snoopy's head. Woodstock is now dazed because he lands it on his own head as well. Snoopy watches as he slowly gets to his feet, then falls off the dog house and lands on his head on the ground and then walks away. And then we don't even see what happens, but we just know Woodstock walked into something else because we see the bonk again. And Snoopy looks at us, and he thinks to himself, “there's a model that needs to be recalled.”
Michael: Check out the forehead on that dog. I think Schulz might be reacting. Maybe he just noticed this, I got to do something about this, and kind of overreacted. That's really big Einstein material there.
Jimmy: So much of the Woodstock stuff is just great. The little dotted line for how he flies all willy nilly and eventually not in this strip, but we've actually already seen it just the slash marks that are used for the chirping sounds. And it's all just like virtuoso cartooning done with the most minimal amount of sort of nod to reality that you could possibly imagine.
Michael: You really can't do that much with birds either because they don't have expressions.
Jimmy: And he sort of leans into that like you were saying. It gives him that hapless, blank, tiny little...
Harold: I love Snoopy with his ears up on last of the three bonks, like floating above the top of his dog house. Why do you even describe that? It's kind of like a muted shock.
Jimmy: Yeah, like he's bounced a little bit by the, shockwave of whatever Woodstock walked into.
July 9. Charlie Brown and Lucy are hanging out at this thinking wall. Charlie Brown says to Lucy, “you know what I wonder sometimes? I wonder if God is pleased with me.” Then Charlie Brown turns to Lucy and asks her, “do you ever wonder if God is pleased with you?” And Lucy, with a grin of supreme confidence, says, “he just has to be.”
Harold: This is classic, classic quintessential Lucy. Yeah.
Jimmy: And this is when we discussed with Stephen Lind, I believe, or someone picked this. We've discussed this one before.
Harold: Yeah, I think it was Stephen Lind. It must have been. Yeah, this one just jumps out. It just encapsulates Lucy.
Michael: But why does she feel so smug? Do you think she's a good student? Is she a straight A student?
Jimmy: I think Lucy well, you know, Lucy loves herself. Lucy, that's that's who she is. Lucy absolutely adores herself. So why would her creator see her any other way?
Harold: And we brought up the fact that, is she a good student? And you said, you think she has to be, right?
Jimmy: Yeah, I think, being a good student is required at the Van Pelt household. You see those bookshelves in Linus's house? Linus and Lucy didn't buy those.
Jimmy: So I'm assuming that some sort of, royal Tennenbaum, Glass family situation going on, in the Van Pelt house.
Harold: And it's amazing how few times we see Lucy in school relating to her teacher. So I'm assuming it's going pretty smoothly. That's why there's no comedy there. I think there's one where she uses Linus as a science project or something and nails it. But, yeah, I had never thought of that before, but, yeah, you don't see Lucy in school very much as a student, dealing with the teacher. And interesting that the school system seems to support the Lucy's of the world. And they seem to maybe sail by while the other students are struggling. Schroeder seems to be doing fine. Franklin's doing fine, but, Linus…
Jimmy: Peppermint Patty
Michael: Pig pen, not so much. Now, I'm seeing the Glass family as done by Charles Schulz.
Jimmy: I'm telling you, I'm telling you, there's something there.
Michael: that would work.That would really work.
Jimmy: Totally work. Totally.
July 19. Linus is upset about something. His hands are up over his ears, his hair is flying in the wind, and he's yelling, “she's gone. She's gone. You didn't do anything. You just stood there.” This is the middle of a sequence, by the way, in which I completely relate to Linus. I feel like this is half of my life as being Linus. Anyway, Linus continues, “you never do anything. All you ever do is just stand there. You drive everybody crazy. Charlie Brown. I'm so mad I could scream. I am screaming.” Then Lucy comes up and Linus turns around and says, and “don't you give me any trouble. And Lucy looks both ways and says, what did I do? What's going on?” Charlie Brown says, “I just passed out. I'm still standing, but I've passed out.”
Michael: Oh man, I love Linus. How often does he just really blow his top?
Harold: Not often.
Michael: He's usually pretty cool. Yeah, this is like sums up life here. It's just everybody else doesn't do what they should be doing. It's so obvious what they should do but they just don't do anything.
Harold: The whole sequence just builds and builds and builds and this is this massive payoff. So what's happening is that Linus notices that there's a moving van outside of the Little Red Haired Girl's house and he's trying to get Charlie Brown like, this is your last chance, go, go say hello to her, talk with her. And Charlie Brown is just frozen for like it's been five panels. This is the six, five strips and this is like this culminating strip. And Linus, he's yelling, go, go.
Jimmy: They're driving away, hurry.
Harold: And Charlie Brown can't move. And this is a devastating sequence to read because yeah.
Jimmy: if we're doing Sequence of the Year, this is by far my favorite. And if we go here to then our next strip, which is actually all the way on July 24 that we're covering, it ends with a really nice little piece, I think, of psychological, insight from Schulz because this is
July 24. Linus and Charlie Brown standing. Same spot. And Charlie Brown says, “what am I going to do, Linus? That little Red Haired Girl is gone and I'll never see her again. If she were here,” Charlie Brown continues, “I could tell her how much I like her and ask her to hold my hand and we could be friends and do things together.” And Linus at this point is already raging and then he just kicks Charlie Brown in the butt.
Jimmy: And boy, this is what we see here. Charlie Brown does not love the little red haired girl. Charlie Brown loves pining for the little Red Haired girl. And Linus, for all his philosophizing, realizes that it means nothing unless you put it into action. Ergo, sit out in the pumpkin patch, pick up the strike placard for your teacher if you love her. I mean, I'm sure if this were a real if these are real people in this situation, and maybe in the back of Schulz's mind, Linus has already gone through a loss this year. And here he's seeing Charlie Brown who could do something. He could have another pen pal if nothing else and he won't do it. And Linus just loses it.
Michael: And the worst thing is he's going back to fantasizing about her.
Jimmy: Yes, it is the last straw for Linus. But it's so human because I understand both these people.
Harold: Yeah. Right. I am both these people. It brings me to tears. It's just powerful. Yeah.
Jimmy: Brilliant. I mean, brilliant writing. Brilliant. And again writing within the form. He has these four tiny little postage stamps and just great cartooning. That picture in the third panel of Charlie Brown pining away. And that face that Linus has, that is next level great cartooning.
Jimmy: So that's how you do it. You just, be a genius. And it works out.
Jimmy: Oh, here we go.
It's another vulture sitting on top of a tree. And Frieda comes by. She looks up at the vulture and says, “this is Saturday. Real vultures don't perch in trees on Saturday.” Leaving Snoopy just in his vulture pose on the tree. And then in panel four, he looks out at us and says, “I didn't know that.”
Jimmy: Thinks I didn't know that. Forgive me. I sometimes make that mistake.
Harold: Frieda is all about the rules, right? Following the rules, there's authority. It's got to be done right. Yeah.
Jimmy: and it's, like, not even rules, but just, like, the order of things. You are a beagle.
Beagles chase rabbits. That's, like, her thing. It is interesting.
Liz: And that tree has naturally curly hair.
Harold: Maybe she wants to give it, like, one day to refluff.
Jimmy: This is a very 60s looking tree. Now, that bring it to our attention, like a 60s greeting card looking the where the Schulz influence is actually really starting to permeate everywhere. And you'll see things with, like, Schoolhouse rock. like, if you look at that interjection song or those are just Peanuts characters by another name.
Jimmy: I am not disparaging. I love Schoolhouse Rock
Harold: but there is that kind of this kind of dirty, rough line look that I mean, I think of, when I think of comic strips and panels, I think of Ziggy, I think of Frank and Ernest. Yeah. I don't know who the artist was that did seem to be drawing every other greeting card that was sold in 1969. I'm sure our listeners, some of our listeners knows who that is. and some of you just are saying this it'll evoke this artist, but I don't really know the story behind it. I just know I remember there was a certain art style that for a few years, was everywhere in the greeting cards. Yeah. And, it does seem to hearken back to Schulz and what he's doing.
Jimmy: Yeah, he's just a force of nature. if you're doing a comic strip or a greeting card or an animated cartoon, I guess, or an off broadway show, you somehow have to tangle with this work, because it's casting a shadow over all of them. It's amazing.
August 3, We start off with a throwaway panel that's a drawing, and not a great drawing, by the way, of a baseball mitt with Lucille Van Pelt's signature on it. The next panel, Charlie Brown is managing, and he says, “okay, let's show a little life out there.” I mean, I cannot stress enough Schulz is clearly sick to death of these two panels. Then as tier two starts, Lucy looks down and sees a glove on the ground and picks it up. She brings it over to Charlie Brown, who's doing something. Oh, he has his one knee up on the bench like a that's kind of a nice drawing. I'm looking at a low res version. Lucy brings the glove up to Charlie Brown and says, “hey, manager, some kid must have left his glove here. It has his name on it. She shows it to Charlie Brown and says, See right here? Willie Mays. He wrote his name on his glove. See? Poor kid. He's probably been looking all over for it. We should have a lost and found.” Lucy continues,” I don't know any kid around here named the Willie Mays, do you? How are we going to get it back to him? He was pretty smart putting his name on his glove this way, though it's funny, I just don't remember any kid by that name.” And Charlie Brown says to Lucy, “look at the name on your glove.” Lucy says, “what?” Charlie Brown says, “look at your own glove. There's a name on it.” Lucy says, “Babe Ruth. Well, I'll be, how in the world do you suppose I got her glove?”
Michael: It's the her that makes it funny.
Harold: Yeah. Classic strip.
Jimmy: Michael, did you have any autographed-- not autographed, but the signature model baseball gloves?
Michael: Yeah. I didn't have Willie Mays, though. I don't know why.
Jimmy: Do you remember?
Michael: I still have it. Do you want me to go look? No, I don't even know where it is.
Jimmy: I still have my first basemen’s met. That wasn't signature of anybody. but I did get my dad to autograph it because he had a great signature and I thought the kids would think it was over the top for me to have my own signature glove.
Harold: Well, I have to ask, out of sheer ignorance, there's such a thing as a first baseman's mitt?
Jimmy: Oh, yeah. There's different gloves for different positions, but the two that are specifically very different are the catcher's mitt and the first baseman's mitt. And the first baseman's mitt. If you see well, if you look at that drawing of Lucy's glove, you can see the fingers differentiated. In a first baseman's mitt It's just a big scoop. You don't see the fingers differentiated so that if the throw is in the dirt, you can, scoop it out.
Harold: Okay, I learned something.
Jimmy: So there you go.
August 17. Poor Sally is sitting bolt upright in bed and she looks very worried. She walks into her big brother's room and says, “hey, big brother, wake up.” Charlie Brown says “what's the matter?” Sally says, “I want to ask you about school. If you're late for the first day of school, will they kill you?” Charlie Brown says “good grief. No. Where did you get that idea?” Sally says, “well, what if you don't know where to go or you forget your lunch or get lost in the hallway? What if you can't remember your locker combination?” She's continuing as Charlie Brown sits in bed. “Are you supposed to bring a loose leaf binder? How wide? Two holes or three? Do big kids beat you up on the playground? Do they trip you and knock you down?” Charlie Brown is now out of bed in his jammies, and he says to Sally, “look, just stop worrying. Everything will be all right. Go back to bed.” Sally does just that. Charlie Brown goes to sleep, and then he says to himself, “what if I can't remember my locker combination?”
Michael: 28-2-46. 27-1-12 was my gym locker.
Michael: I don't know what day of the week it is, but…
Harold: I couldn't even remember the lock on my storage unit that I got now. Diane, I'm trying to remember the code to get into the storage place, and I couldn't remember that either. This is stuff that you didn't see in the comics, but as a little kid when I was living this in real life oh, this totally it's like, oh, yeah, all these things were so real. I remember getting ready for the new school year, and you had to go and you had to go to the department store, the drugstore or whatever, and get the school supplies. And they'd often give you the list of the things you're supposed to have, and you got to find the crayons. And how many crayons are you going to get? Is it just seem too opulent to get the one with the sharpener built in, the 64? You really want the burnt umber, and you have to get a certain level of crayons to get to the burnt umber. And the Trapper Keeper, which was a thing when I was, I think, in junior high, which would hold all of the different classes together. And then is that in fashion? Is that not in fashion?
Jimmy: The Trapper Keeper was a great invention. No question about that. That was also popular during my era.
Harold: but what-- See, the problem is when they went from the button to the velcro because then you drew attention to yourself in the class, which you didn't want to draw attention to if you had the velcro because of the louder ripping sound every time you opened your notebook. All of these things were big, big deals as we were kids. And here it is in Peanuts.
Jimmy: I remember having a breakdown the day I lived directly across the street from my kindergarten, which actually, I think, is true of Schulz as well. And, there was a morning and an afternoon kindergarten. I'm sure I told this story before, but I had a little, book bag that I was taking in a Brown bag lunch or whatever, and I saw the other kids all had lunchboxes for the morning class, and I was in the afternoon class, and I had a total meltdown. But my dad went out to Ashland and got me, not only a lunchbox, but a Peanuts lunchbox. So I was hip for the first day in my blue leisure for the first day of kindergarten. And if you want to see me in my blue leisure suit on the first day of kindergarten, I believe it is on our website.
Harold: Thanks, Liz. Yeah, but gosh, this stuff just comes back when you read these. This churning in my stomach of all these memories. I had an older sister, Sarah, two years older than me. She was always navigating. And I remember the big faux pas, when I was a little kid was Sears. So many people went to Sears to buy kids clothes and the brand of jeans, the house brand were called Tuffskins, and they were really popular for a period. And then, for some reason, at least in our region, it became Levi's. And if you wore tuffskins to school, that was the greatest faux pas you could possibly have. And of course, I would never know any of this until my big sister comes to me and says, hey, you can't wear tuffskins. She's demanding on my behalf, like you did with your parents, saying, let's go to a store that sells Levi's. I'm going to save my brother from being a social pariah.
Jimmy: Well, going to Catholic school is a mixed bag. Overall, I'm very happy I did go. But one of the plus sides, is the uniform, I think. Or at least it was for me back then. Well, it wasn't for me back then, but me looking towards it now, I'm glad, because all of that stuff does go away. Every idiot in my grade school was wearing a peach shirt with a brown tie. I mean, we looked ridiculous, but we all looked equally ridiculous.
Harold: and I do want to ask you guys, so the day that this strip comes out, what is going on culturally in the United States?
Michael: August 17, 1969.
Jimmy: That's not the moon landing.
Harold: That was May.
Liz: No, it was July.
Harold: It was July. Sorry. Ten was May. That's right. Eleven was July.
Michael: Bombing Cambodia?
Jimmy: I'm really thinking right now. Oh, my God, it's the grooviest event in music history. It's Woodstock. There you go. The Woodstock Music Festival, where you could see Sha Na Na. That's, impressive. And pretty soon we're going to, find out that Schulz is naming his bird after it. Now, Michael, were you in any way tempted to go? Or Liz, you were even closer. You were on the east coast either.
Liz: Yeah, but I was in 8th grade, so...
Jimmy: That wasn't happening.
Harold: Did an 8th grader in Pennsylvania know about that Woodstock was going to happen? Was it that widespread, thing that everybody knew this was about to go down in New York?
Liz: I didn't know until the year after.
Michael: People didn't know till that afternoon that it was going to be big.
Jimmy: It wasn't like, yeah, I guess they didn't. Really either, right?
Michael: Nobody knew until everybody showed up and stopped traffic.
Harold: We have a friend, who I don't remember the full story, but, the weird thing is, you used to buy tickets to events like this in the strangest places. Like, you go to a sewing machine shop to buy your ticket in advance. There's no Ticketmasters, no computerization. They're just, like, doling out the tickets, at sewing machine shops around the region. It's such a weird thing to think back how hard it was to buy tickets.
Jimmy: You had to go where I lived. You would have to drive 25 minutes to a Boscovs, which is a Pennsylvania, like, Macy's style store, and not just go to Boscovs, you'd have to go to their travel and gift wrapping department, and that's where they sold the tickets from. so you'd be like, one for Def Leopard.
Harold: How did they manage all of that?
August 19. A forlorn Snoopy is standing there holding a hot dog on a stick. He looks to his left, and he looks back out towards us. And then he, looks even sadder in the last panel as he thinks, “no one ever invites me to a wiener roast.”
Michael: This one makes me so sad.
Jimmy: It's so sad.
Michael: This is the saddest comic strip of all time.
Jimmy: Snoopy's magical thinking knows no bounds. Hey, I'd like to meet a pretty girl beagle. Well, an abandoned pond in the middle of the night should be the place to be. I want to go to a wiener roast. Well, just stand up there and look like you want to go to a wiener roast eventually.
Harold: Well, maybe he has trust in Charles Schulz. He's going to come through for him.
Jimmy: Maybe. Gotta do it right.
Harold: I just wanted to ask, Michael, did you have any peak forehead comments on this last strip?
Michael: Well, this seems to be the direction it's going, so we won't see something for another couple of weeks. A drastic, reevaluation of the forehead.
August 25. Lucy is skipping rope, and Linus comes up holding a little book, and he says to her, here's something I'll bet you didn't know. The Bible contains 3,566,480 letters and 773,893 words. He looks to Lucy for a reaction. Lucy just keeps skipping rope and then Linus says to her, “You're just not interested in theology, are you?”
Michael: I love the fact he's just not even there. That's how you deal with things like this.
Jimmy: It's brilliant cartooning, right? She is zoned out.
Harold: What's with the semicolon after theology? That's an interesting choice.
Jimmy: Oh, that's very strange. That must be a mistake of some kind. That must be, like a piece of grit.
Harold: And some editor put a little dot of white out, and Schulz was like, either you print the strip as it is exactly. But this is actually a rare occasion where, Schulz took a gag that he had written for the children's-- the Young Pillars type stuff for other publication, and he reworked it into a Peanuts strip.
Jimmy: Yeah, it's really fun. I don't know why. It makes me laugh, but there is an element of that just in some people who confuse trivia with something meaningful. Like, you want to talk about, film or movies or whatever, and they'll tell you, what's the, highest grossing..?
Harold: This is not even a Blip in the Year of Lucy. She is--
Jimmy: Oh no.
Harold: she's just skipping rope.
Jimmy: And frankly, though, she probably wouldn't have been interested in anything Linus said unless it started with Lucy and included words like great and fantastic,
Harold: dearest of all sisters without whom I would never survive.
Jimmy: All right, you know what? Let's take a quick break, okay? And, we'll get some water, and we'll get some snacks, and then we'll come back and we'll finish up this year. That sound good?
Jimmy: All right.
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Jimmy: We're back. Did you miss us?
It's September 1. Lucy comes up to Snoopy's doghouse. Snoopy is typing away, and she says to him, “I finished the drawing of the cover of your new novel.” She hands him a slip of paper. Snoopy looks at it as Lucy describes it. “See, it shows a bunch of pirates and foreign legionaires fighting some cowboys and some lions and tigers and elephants leaping through the air towards a girl who was tied to a submarine.” Now, Lucy walks away looking at the paper, and she runs into Linus, who says, “did he like your drawing?” Lucy says, “It needs more tigers.”
Michael: Editors. bah.
Jimmy: Yeah. Unbelievable. She should have said, either you print it exactly how I draw it…
Harold: This is the year of Lucy.
Jimmy: It is.
Harold: Yeah. And again, that surreal world of Peanuts that in between panels, how did that get communicated? It's that omniscience kind of thing. They know what Snoopy is thinking.
Jimmy: Maybe Lucy also secretly suspected it needed more tigers.
Harold: That's true. Yeah. She didn't exactly say that she's heard it from Snoopy. I'd love to. did he ever do a drawing to show that? There's a book called It Was a Dark and Stormy Night, and I can't remember if Schulz drew that cover somewhere. I vaguely like that, but there is something along those lines I have never.
Jimmy: Seen that I'm not even familiar with what the Dark and Stormy Night book is.
Harold: Oh, yeah, it came out, I think, in the late 70s, mid to late seventies. And yeah. it's so funny that with so little of what Snoopy we actually see Snoopy ever writes. It became this epic, mystical thing. Every time there was just another sentence or two. It was a big deal for me. when I was reading it, it's like, oh, what is Snoopy writing?
Jimmy: It is great.
September 2. Sally bursts into Charlie Brown's room. It's clearly first thing in the morning because Charlie Brown was still in bed, but this sends him flying. Sally yells, “this is it. It's the first day of school.” Then she runs out of the room screaming, “put on the boiled eggs. Shine your shoes. Make your lunch. Conjugate your verbs.” Charlie Brown looks out at us and says, “conjugate your verbs?”
Michael: This is, something he does a lot, where the punchline is actually in the third panel.
Well, it's not even a punchline, but the joke is in the third panel. And then somebody just reacts to it.
Jimmy: It's the reaction in the last--
Harold: Leans heavily on the theory of funny quotation marks.
Jimmy: Oh, 100% with conjugate your verbs. No exclamation point after this is it in the first one.
Harold: What's that all about? Yeah, I understand as well.
Jimmy: I just don't think it fit. And he was like, oh, well, he could have just continued. He could have not done the right side of the word balloon.
Harold: I was thinking the same thing. Yeah, odd choice, because do you think maybe he wanted to show a little bit more of emphaticness? Well, the balloon has kind of got this what do you call it? Kind of a wavy, vibrant, kind of tense feel to it.
Jimmy: Yeah, I guess that's what's more meaningful. Yeah, a certain tension. I just don't think he was thinking.
Harold: Or whatever, but he totally could have put that in there. But I so associate somebody just looking confused and repeating something. Previously with this, that is Peanuts to me. Those are strips that stick with me as a reader, that is so Peanuts to have someone just repeat what someone else said that sounded odd or funny, and it's not funny enough in its own or it's too odd for you to make it the punchline. These people would be like, we don't get it. And he just kind of found a way to save a joke that wouldn't work as a joke by having someone else repeat it and point out that it's odd.
Jimmy: Although my question would be, put on the boiled egg? Is that like a first day of school Trope I'm missing? Everyone, time for your boiled eggs.
Harold: Yeah. Are they already boiled? Are you saving time by reheating them? I don't know.
Jimmy: Yeah, well, yeah, if they're hard boiled eggs, they had to start this earlier.
September 5. Snoopy, the author, is at it again. He types, it was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly a shot rang out. The maid screamed, the door slammed. Suddenly a pirate ship appeared on the horizon. A, very satisfied and happy Snoopy looks out at us and thinks, “this twist in the plot will baffle my readers.”
Jimmy: Here's a question. Is it okay to baffle your readers?
Harold: I hope so.
Michael: If we really wanted to baffle the readers, he wouldn't have put any text in this strip.
Jimmy: Or just have Snoopy like, wow at the end. If only you could see it.
September 12. Charlie Brown is reading a note to Snoopy. “Dear contributor,” it says, “we regret to inform you that your manuscript does not suit our present needs.” Snoopy-- to say Snoopy looks shocked is an understatement. Ears are fully shot skyward. Eyes are bulging out. He looks devastated, shocked. Then in panel three, Charlie Brown looks out at us and says, “just what I was afraid of. “Then he looks down at Snoopy and says, “he's gone into rejection slip shock.”
Harold: Right. In quotes.
Jimmy: In quotes, yes.
Michael: After a while, that becomes acceptance shock. If it ever happens.
Jimmy: Yeah, you get used to it.
Harold: Schulz introduced me to the concept of the rejection letter, which was very helpful as a young aspiring cartoonist, because you're trying to send in your comic to a syndicate to be picked up. And that's what you would get would be usually a form letter of some sort. Did you guys ever try to send a strip in for syndication?
Jimmy: Yeah, I sent and Amelia strip in. yeah.
Harold: But did you ever do it, like, cold and get back this kind of form letter thing?
Jimmy: yeah. Whenever I responded, actually, submitted anything, I always got a little note from somebody saying, like, a nice try or whatever. And then eventually yeah, I mean, Amelia was offered that contract. Yeah. No, I sent lots of things off to different places. Not very many. Only once, I think, was a comic strip. But I sent drawings off to DC Comics when I was young.
Michael: I have a nice collection of rejection slips. Show it to you sometime.
Harold: Felt like an insider.
Jimmy: And by the way, this does not end for you guys out there, if you're thinking about this. And we are always very pro being creative in this life. And it is a good thing. But, like, for an example, I worked on A Little Mermaid, a seven volume Little Mermaid graphic novel series for three and a half years. And while I got paid for it, and I got paid well for it, it's never coming out. It's like a Batgirl situation, because with COVID it timed to the movie incorrectly, and now they're trying to just push live action movie merch. So rejection is just not the exception of this type of life. It's the rule.
Harold: Yeah. And Schulz did prepare me for that as a little kid. Aspiring cartoonist. I do feel like a kind of an insider, reading this strip that was being read by more people on the planet than any other communication. But I felt like I had insider information of what to expect in this world of literary world of sending in unsolicited manuscripts and things.
Jimmy: Well, and you did, because in that instance, he was talking to you. That's the amazing thing. Like he was talking to everybody in general. But there were specific things where he was clearly talking to a specific person, or a specific type of person, I should say. And those things, I think that's what it is. We all talk again, 1969, we'll mention the Beatles here the feeling that this huge thing that is so beloved all over the world is also somehow personal to you, that's amazing. And Peanuts does that as well as any piece of art ever.
Harold: Yeah, I'm seeing the book. the book is a 1971 and yeah, Jimmy, I'd recommend you check it out. It's a fun piece that kind of collects this whole concept of what Snoopy was doing.
Jimmy: That sounds awesome. All right. I’m going to Cupboard Maker Books today, they have a fantastic collection of the old, 70s, like and 60s Faucet Crest Books and the Holt Reinhardt and Winston or whatever the other ones are. So have to pick that one up.
September 15, Linus and Charlie Brown are walking outside. Linus asks, “what happens when you get drafted?” They arrive at the Thinking Wall and Charlie Brown says “they send you someplace.” Linus says, “that's what I was afraid of.” Then Linus finishes with, “I have no desire to be sent wherever they'll be sending people when I'm old enough to be sent.”
Michael: well, this is as close as Schulz gets to being kind of commenting on the ongoing war here. And it’s so gentle.
Harold: Yeah, it's really weird and so personal.
Michael: So personal that no one could be offended by this.
Jimmy: Well, because it comes from his personal experience, he gets that he didn't want to go anywhere. It was a different situation for him, obviously, than it was in 1969.
Harold: And this, to me, shows the reason yeah, Schulz didn't offend anybody is because if this were a generic strip with generic characters, people would be offended. Right. Because they're all looking at the point of it. But here you're looking at Linus, who is a character who, you know, who has feelings and is complex, and he absorbs the iconic statement into his own personality and he makes it personal. And all of a sudden, that's okay, again, just speaks to Schulz's brilliance here.
Jimmy: Absolutely. And also little things like the Thinking Wall. It's almost that becomes a little semiotic thing within Peanuts that, okay, well, this is philosophy. This is where characters are talking about the deepest things about themselves. So you almost also give someone, more freedom to talk in those circumstances than if it was put in some sort of flip setting.
Harold: Right. Yeah. As a reader, you almost feel honored to be let in to their deeper thoughts.
Jimmy: Yeah. Because if they were playing a game or if they were playing basketball. Right. And they're having a good time or whatever. And he says that it doesn't come off the same way at all. It comes off as I'm having too much fun to go do something. As opposed to, this is something actually weighing on my mind.
September 16, Snoopy is, in the position of a quarterback in shotgun. And he yells, “14 23 9, hike.” And in panel three, the blitz is on. And the Snoopy does not have a football. And he is swamped by a whole flock of birds who are all, on top of him in the last panel. And he thinks to himself, “I'm not getting any pass protection.”
Jimmy: I love that. Panel three, that's all about the birds. Blitzing, Snoopy. That's amazing.
VO: It's Snoopy Watch.
Jimmy: Oh, I knew I should have said it. This is the forehead.
Michael: Well, but it goes back up right away.
Jimmy: Oh, yeah. I see in the next one
Michael: I think it's the first time when it's like just that gentle slope that I've noticed.
Michael: But that'll be the look of Snoopy for many years.
Harold: Absolutely. This is it.
Michael: History in the making.
September 18, Snoopy is again being quarterback. A very odd look on his face this time. It's like a morose quarterback. “6 119 33.” He doesn't yell Hike. But we still see the bird flying in one of the birds anyway, flying in from off panel. And Thunk tackles Snoopy at the knee, except, of course, he's a tiny little bird, so Snoopy doesn't move at all. And in panel four, it's just a little bird, possibly Woodstock, with his arms around Snoopy's leg trying to get him to go down. He won't. And Snoopy looks down and says, “a little offside there, mac.”
Michael: I think it's the mac that makes it funny.
Michael: I don't think that's Woodstock. Woodstock would have bumped his head.
October 1. Sally is ranting to Charlie Brown. “I hate school. It's driving me crazy. As soon as I learn one thing, they go on to something else.” They continue to walk. And Sally says, “I finally learned where I'm supposed to eat lunch, and now they expect me to know where my desk is.”
Jimmy: So she's a little behind at school in October. I applaud her order. Her priorities, I think, are right on. Find out where your lunch is.
Michael: It's tough when they send this poor little kid off to school and she has to remember to bring flowers and stuff. It's just like it's, not fair.
Jimmy: Now, did you guys enjoy school as little, little kids?
Michael: I didn't go to kindergarten. I just remember being enthralled with the fact that people with trucks could park behind the grocery store and bring stuff in the back.
Jimmy: So you have had your life plan mapped out.
Harold: Was that in a book or did they show a film or something?
Michael: Well, that was my first ambition. Like, wow, bringing it in the back. That's, really cool.
Harold: Who knew there was a back to stores.
Michael: That was in, like, the third year of college?
Michael: No, they were describing the difference between wholesale and retail. I'm still not clear on that.
Jimmy: I once got a D in Oceanography in college because I didn't attend the class and I got a D, on a curve. And the guy at the end was so upset and he yelled to everybody, he's like, you know, I know you people didn't take this class seriously, but someday you're going to need this information and you're going to think to yourself, I wish I paid attention to Oceanography. Yeah.
Harold: It's like, oh, my gosh, I wish I knew more about the Mariana Trench.
Jimmy: Well, about 25 years later, I'm writing the Little Mermaid for Disney. And I say something to Anna. I'm like, oh, God, I have no idea. I have to look so much junk up just about the undersea world. And Anna said without-- Anna, my daughter said without missing a beat, oh, too bad you didn't pay attention in Oceanography.
Harold: Nice, Anna.
Jimmy: So that guy, that teacher, I'm sure, he's no longer with us, but somewhere he had his moment of victory.
Harold: Wow. Yeah.
Jimmy: Well, how about you, Harold?
Harold: It was stressful. I remember school being stressful. I mean, you're off on your own, right? That's the first place you are. Well, unless you were like, in some nursery school thing or daycare dropped off. School is when you have to navigate the world by yourself without your family. And so I think that's easily associated with stress for a lot of kids. And that certainly is true for me. you could like parts of it, but there was always this kind of underlying dread.
Jimmy: It's the only word for it.
Harold: So, yeah, it was great, but it was hard. It's your job as a kid. You have to go off to work and you don't know what's coming and you don't know if the boss is going to be cranky. Yeah, it was stressful.
Jimmy: I remember coming in the fifth grade once, and the teacher had just written Black Friday on the blackboard. And I thought, two can play at this game. She waited for us. We sat there in silence while waiting for her to come in. So I thought, I'll just go to the nurse's office, say I'm sick, and go home. So I did. Still don't know what Black Friday was about.
Michael: My greatest moment was the teacher-- every, I think every day would pick a student to go and turn the switch to ring the bell that school was over. And even though everyone else probably went first, I still thought, like, wow, I get to ring the bell.
Jimmy: Yeah. Our version was clapping the erasers, which is a nasty, disgusting, horrible thing, but you really wanted to do it.
Harold: Featured in Peanuts this year. Right. There's two sequences with clapping the erasers together and all the chalk dust.
Jimmy: White lung It was called for teachers. but now we have dry erase boards.
Harold: Yeah. Well, that's better. Hopefully, they've all moved on to computer screens.
October 2. Sally's at her desk in school. She says to her teacher, “draw a farm. You want us to draw a farm? I can't draw a farm. I've never even seen a farm. Besides, cow's legs are impossible to draw. I defy anyone in this class to draw a good cow leg.” Then we see Sally outside the principal's office saying to herself, “I'm the only person I know who's failing first grade art.”
Jimmy: It is hard to draw a good cow's leg or a good horse's leg.
Michael: Yeah, horse's leg. Yeah, that was it. I just realized I can never be a professional artist. I cannot draw a horse’s leg.
Jimmy: When you think of those guys and women back in the 40s and 50s who, just in commercial art and comics, really had to know how to draw horses and all kinds of poses and all kinds of action.
Michael: It was all Westerns
Harold: You got sci-fi and fantasy. You pick and choose, right. If you're writing your own story.
Jimmy: Well, what would be nice with the Sci-Fi and fantasy is you can make it all up, man. But you know what a horse looks like.
Michael: That's the only reason I do science fiction. No photo reference.
Harold: This is what a cow's leg looks like in outer space.
Jimmy: Oh, yeah, totally. Is there anything, you guys have that you absolutely refuse to draw? If in any way you can avoid it?
Harold: Yeah. Horses. Cows.
Michael: I've never drawn a car.
Jimmy: Really? That's brilliant. Cars are horrible.
Harold: Oh, my gosh. Yeah, those are tough. Fortunately, I have lots of leeway. With my style, I could get away with murder with cars. But our family owned a car parts business, for the Nash Metropolitan. How rare is that?
Jimmy: Yeah, I heard when you were shutting down highways, the cops were showing up.
Harold: Shutting down highways? Yeah. And, of course, my dad's like, well, why don't you draw the logo of our company? And so I had to learn how to draw a car.
Jimmy: How did it come out?
Harold: It was a tiger. It was a tiger, driving the car. And, it turned out okay. I was able to. you know it was a sleek little car. Looked like a cab, like an old fashioned yellow cab from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Shrunk down. It was like a little compact car. Yeah. I drew it. Of course, I put the thumb on the wrong part of that. Of course, the fact that the tiger had a thumb, it's all very confusing now.
October 3, Again, Sally and Charlie Brown are walking outside, probably home from school. Sally says, “so what happens? So I got sent to the principal's office because I couldn't draw a cow's leg. I'll bet Picasso couldn't draw a cow's leg when he was in the first grade.” She continues, “I'll bet even Rod McKuen couldn't draw a cow's leg.” Charlie Brown looks out at us and says, “Rod McKuen? “
Jimmy: as do we.
Harold: Oh, I know Peanuts Obscurities Explained.
Michael: Oh, really?
Harold: Come on, fill us in here.
Michael: If only it was obscure.
Jimmy: Oh, do you? I don't know.
Michael: You kidding me.
Harold: Yeah. Come on, Michael, fill us in.
Michael: Well, I'm very proud of the fact that I never read Rod McKuen, but it seemed like everybody else in the world did.
Harold: He was, like, doing everything.
Michael: There was poetry, severely unhip kind of flowers and daisies 1960s hippie poetry. No, Rod McKuen was like the pop poet.
Harold: Yes. And he's also a singer songwriter and I think that's right.
Michael: Well, he kind of spoke I think.
Harold: He's a speaker songwriter.
Michael: But he did write a hit song.
Harold: Why can't a beagle be more like a man? He covered Chloe.
Michael: Anyway. no, I'm pleased that you don't know who he is because he deserves obscurity.
Harold: He wrote and sang the title song, for a Boy Named Charlie Brown, which is how Schulz would have been interacting with him this year. So the feature film I think the first feature film came out on December 4 of this year. And so, Rod McKuen was a part of Charles Schulz's life in 1969.
October 4, Charlie Brown's lying in his bed in the darkness, staring up the ceiling. He says to himself, “Sometimes I'll lie awake at night and think about that little red haired girl.” Then he sits up and holds his head in his hands and says, “I don't ever want to forget her face, but if I don't forget her face, I'll go crazy.” Then he lies back down and says, “how can I remember the face I can't forget.” And he rolls over and says, “suddenly, I'm writing country western music.”
Michael: I love this one
Jimmy: I do too.
Michael: As someone who does write country music occasionally, that's not a bad title.
Harold: Did Rod McKuen write country music?
Jimmy: It's a great title. How can I remember the face I can't forget. Michael's country, song, as far as I know. The last song my mother ever said, boy, I really like that song was, Calling All Bars by Michael Cohen.
Michael: Well, yeah. Your mom was just a real country girl.
Harold: She was.
Jimmy: She pull out that accordion and rock along with it.
October 9, Frieda shows up at Snoopy's dog house. He's lying on top, of course, and she says, “you know what I'm going to do then?” She points angrily at Snoopy and says, “if you don't come rabbit chasing with me, I'm going to report you to the head beagle.” Snoopy very worriedly jumps off the doghouse and then looks out at us and thinks, “no one wants to be reported to the head Beagle.”
Michael: Now, I did not know that the head beagle was such a big deal because, like I said, this is all new to me. But this Head Beagle strip ran from October 9 to the 21st. Which is very long for one of his sequences.
Harold: Yeah. This is like raising the stakes for the Peanuts characters this year. Again, there seemed to be all these little moments, like the kite eating tree with Schroeder's piano, and now Snoopy has to report to the head beagle, thanks to Frieda.
Jimmy: Yeah I mean, he has this ability to somehow turn little things within, the strip into much more iconic, larger concerns. You know what I mean? It, starts with Frieda just wants him to chase beagle or chase rabbits, rather. And, that's fine. But then to somehow elevate it to this secret society of beagles, where there is an elected, I suppose, appointed head beagle. It's so strange. And only Peanuts would have something like that.
Harold: Yeah, it's such a unique concept. I'm trying to think of what other things in literature might have made Schulz think of the head beagle, but this is kind of unique. And you're like, oh, and since you don't know what it is, it's even more kind of concerning.
Jimmy: It’s great. I love that when you don't when there's stuff going on in, a work where it seems like the characters understand more than you do, I love that as long as you feel like that, you're in good hands. I think that's just such a rich way to do it. And I think I mentioned this before with things like Star Wars. The more you flesh stuff like that out, the worse it tends to get.
Harold: Right. Yeah. The dread. That's kind of building for the thing that's unseen. Yeah.
Jimmy: Right. That's just out there. I've always loved the head beagle strips. I haven't selected many of the strips for the first 20 years here of, Peanuts, largely because I knew this was the area where Michael and Harold were the most engaged and most familiar with. So I'm going to be picking more of them going forward. And I always had a, soft spot for these weird head beagle strips. Thompson is in trouble. I don't know if you guys know that one where it's several weeks long, I think, strip of Snoopy going on a mission for the head beagle to aid some other beagle named Thompson that we never see. I don't know why, but I just find it hilarious.
Harold: spoiler alert.
Jimmy: Oh, yeah. Well, spoiler for whatever year that is.
Michael: Can you think louder? Seriously, this is a question. Can you scream in your thoughts? Yes, you can.
Jimmy: I am 100% certain that you can scream in your thoughts. I have been in so many meetings where I have been screaming in my head the whole time.
Jimmy: Okay, so we're talking about my top two, three, or four Peanut strips. This would be like an honorable mention. This might be, like, in the top five. So funny.
Linus is sitting on his beanbag chair yelling at the television set, “go, go.” In panel two. He's actually jumping off the beanbag chair, he's so excited. And in panel three he yells “Fantastic.” Then he runs outside to tell Charlie Brown about what he's just seen. Charlie Brown's out there holding a football. “Charlie Brown I just saw the most unbelievable football game ever played. What a comeback.” Linus continues. “The home team was behind six to nothing with only 3 seconds to play. They had the ball in their own 1 yd line. The quarterback took the ball, faded back behind his own goal post and threw a perfect pass to the left end who whirled away from four guys and ran all the way for a touchdown. The fans went wild. You should have seen them. People were jumping up and down.” Linus continues “and when they kicked the extra point, thousands of people ran out onto the field laughing and screaming. The fans and the players were so happy. They were rolling on the ground and hugging each other and dancing and everything.” Linus finishes his story with, “It was fantastic.” Charlie Brown looks at Linus and says “how does the other team feel?”
Michael: It's called empathy.
Jimmy: It's total empathy.
Harold: And I'm totally caught off guard even though I know Charlie Brown. That is just what a brilliant end for a character. This is just the perfect strip for Charlie Brown. So beautiful and funny and unexpected.
Jimmy: I mean this is in it's maybe not at the exact level, but it is in the rarefied air of ducky and horsey.
Harold: Right. This could only exist in Peanuts. and it's just so amazing.
Jimmy: So amazing.
Michael: So yeah, the losers, you got to identify with the losers.
Jimmy: Yeah. Even the losers get lucky sometime. As Tom Petty said,
November 8, Charlie Brown and Lucy are playing a board game. Charlie Brown looks down and says, “well you won again.” Lucy, vaguely annoyed, says to Charlie Brown, “is that all you're going to say?” And Lucy gets up, walks away saying “you're no fun to beat Charlie Brown. Beating you is like beating nothing.” And Charlie Brown says to himself “I can't even lose right.”
Michael: Yeah. I mean this goes with the one above.
Michael: Losing is not everything.
Jimmy: This also feels a little bit like not a throwback necessarily. Let's call it a callback to those classic checkers games they would play in the 50s where Lucy would beat them a thousand times in a row or playing marbles and Charlie Brown would always lose.
Michael: Haven't seen checkers in years.
Jimmy: No. Looks really great though. I love to see again how loose he keeps it. I mean if you look at like Lucy in the first panel and Lucy in the second panel, there's enough things that are different. Like she's slightly pudgier in the second one. Her arm is slightly shorter and stuff he doesn't care about. That always looks great. Love it.
Harold: Always looks intentional.
Jimmy: Always looks intentional. Which is basically the only secret to all of cartooning, right? If it looks like you're meant to do it.
Harold: I meant to do that. My mantra as I looked at it. Does this say I meant to do it?
Jimmy: I probably have said this before, but one of the greatest moments, for me as a cartoonist ever was I was talking to Rick Veitch at a convention years ago and said, I've been drawing for however long it was at the time, 15 years. And mI still don't understand perspective. And he just goes, oh, I just fake all that stuff. And I thought, oh, that's the most freeing thing. Right. Like, oh, all right, well, then if Rick Veitch fakes and I'll fake it, too, it's great.
Harold: Yeah. I'm very freed by zero point perspective.
Harold: Jackson Pollock perspective. That's mine.
November 14. Charlie Brown and Peppermint Patty are hanging out at the thinking wall. Peppermint Patty says, “I wonder if I'll be beautiful when I'm a senior in high school.” Then they walk away, and Peppermint Patty continues to talk to Charlie Brown. “If I knew I wasn't going to be beautiful, I wouldn't bother having graduation pictures taken.” Then they sit in a pose that you're going to come to see many times from this duo, under a tree. And Peppermint Patty says to Charlie Brown, “Chuck, would you want my graduation picture sitting on your piano?” Charlie Brown says, “we don't have a piano.” Peppermint Patty says, “that's what I like about you, Chuck. You're always right there with a quick wishy washy answer.” Charlie Brown rolls his eyes.
Michael: It's a good save.
Harold: So there's a lot historic in this strip, as you were kind of alluding to Jimmy, right? I mean, so they're at the Thinking Wall, which is where we've had characters kind of get philosophical, and then they walk to the tree where they're now going to hang out for years to come. And this is the first time I think we've had this kind of a conversation between Peppermint Patty and Charlie Brown. Yeah. And is wishy washy. I can't remember, have we had lots of wishy washies? Because this is the first time I think I've heard it from Peppermint Patty, but maybe I'm wrong.
Jimmy: Oh, that might be. Well, she's definitely insulted him as a baseball player and stuff, but that's really just speaking truth.
Harold: And the first time that Peppermint Patty is kind of showing that kind of relationship with Charlie Brown that they're kind of close and she's not afraid to go deeper with him on things and talk about their future together. Yeah. It's just all wrapped up in this one little four panel strip, those first two panels.
Jimmy: I wonder if I'll be beautiful. If I'm not going to be beautiful, I just won't get pictures taken. It's so sad, but weirdly practical, that really defines Peppermint Patty in some way, in that she has tons of concerns and issues and she doesn't have as much privilege, I don't think, as the other kids in the strip, but she's always practical about it. Well, okay, if I'm not going to be good looking, forget it. I'll save that money and I'll go to a couple of ball games. I kind of admire that attitude, but I think she's going to be beautiful. I think she is beautiful.
Harold: Yeah, she is. And she's also got, kind of this philosophical approach that she's like. She's not crushed by it. She’ll just move on.
Jimmy: Exactly. Love watching cartoonists draw trees. That's one of the great things to watch. Any cartoonist draws, how they can draw trees. So I really like that's.
Harold: Another thing, I make sure I never draw.
Jimmy: Oh, really?
Harold: Well, actually, no, I've had this conversation with you before.
Jimmy: Well, that doesn't mean anything.
Harold: And so I have experimented more with trees. Given that you were saying how much freedom you have in drawing the tree. Right, because it's a tree and they're all different shapes and sizes. And how do you do a wrong tree? Well, you can take a look at some of my trees and I could show you, but it is freeing to know that, people are pretty much going to give that intentionality.
Jimmy: I remember years and years ago in that magazine, Nemo that I think Fantagraphics put out. I'm not sure, but it was like, all about classic comic strips, and they had like, a little puzzle, in one of the pages where it was just ten trees by various cartoonists, and you had to match who drew.
Harold: Oh, cool. That's great. Yeah.
November 30, we see a manuscript copy of a Snoopy novel called It Was a Dark and Stormy Night, which he has reserved all rights to. In panel one, Snoopy sits, his hands hovering pregnantly above the keyboard as he thinks. Then he types. It was a dark and stormy night. He continues. Suddenly a shot rang out. A door slammed, a maid screamed. Suddenly a pirate ship appeared on the horizon. While millions of people were starving, the king lived in luxury. Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas, a boy was growing up. End of part one. Snoopy continues. part two. A light snow was falling, and the little girl with a tattered shawl had not sold a violet all day. Snoopy looks intently at what he's typed. He thinks more, then he continues typing. At that very moment, a young intern at City Hospital was making an important discovery. Two panels of hard thinking. And then Snoopy thinks to himself, “I may have written myself into a corner.”
Harold: I love his stories. and this is like, the most we've gotten so far. It's like Schulz just doles out the storyline over months as he develops it further. And boy, this is going deep into we even get to part two now.
Jimmy: Did you guys write little stories when you were really little? I remember I would write in those memo books that you would have, like, we used to use them for homework assignments, just the kind that you put in your pocket. And I would have, like, chapter one, and it would be a paragraph. Chapter two starts midway down the next page. It'd be a novel in eight pages.
Harold: Wow. Yeah. Well, I remember I did something like, in maybe third grade, fourth grade, it was called The Gugrad Mall, and that was done with rhyming verse and it was pretty long. And I remember dictating it to my mom, who was typing it, which is very unusual. This was the epic that she was like, okay, we're going to get this.
Jimmy: That's awesome. All right, cheers for patient moms.
Harold: Yeah, because I think it wound up in my elementary, school library somehow. I don't know how that works. That's why we had to type it.
Jimmy: That’s right, because it was legit.
Harold: Yeah. Ah, it was published and actually be checked out...
Jimmy: Hey, Harold, I know that seems like just a tiny little anecdote, but you could probably parlay that into an entire book for Scholastic.
Harold: It is in my resume.
Jimmy: There you go. Speaking from experience.
December 21. Lucy peeks out from behind some curtains on a stage. It's a great little drawing, actually. Panel two. Lucy comes up to Linus, who is reclined in the extreme in a director's chair backstage. She says to him, “do you know what you're going to say?” Linus says, “of course I know what I'm going to say.” Lucy opens up the curtains and says to Linus, “okay, you're on.” Linus goes out onto stage, gives a lovely little smile, and then says the most depressing words any Catholic will hear around Christmas, when you realize it's the wrong version, wrong thing that they're reading. And he says, “the book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac, and Isaac begat Jacob, and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren. And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar. And Phares begat Estrom. And Estrom--”
Jimmy: You guys do this on purpose to me, I know this. I'm wise to you guys. Yeah.
Harold: We're going to get all of these, letters. Yes.
Jimmy: Save them.
“And Esram begat Aram and Jesse begat David the king and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Uriah. Skip over that one. And Solomon begot Roboam, and Roboam begat Abia, and Abia begat Asa, and Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who was called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David are 14 generations. Now, the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise,” Lucy looks how I feel and says to Linus, “why don't you just start with the first chapter of Genesis while you're at it?” And Linus says, “don't be sarcastic. Tis the season to be jolly.”
Jimmy: See, here's how I feel. I think Linus is going to the well too many times. This is like the third sequel, where it's two and a half hours long, and you're like, we like the short first version. No, but yeah, if you're Catholic and you go to Christmas Mass, they read one of two gospels. This is, John, right? No. Who is--? This is Matthew. Doesn't matter. It's not Luke. Luke is the one where he tells the good story from the special anyway, so that's my call. Linus. Make it shorter next time.
Harold: I love his little polka dot, is that a polka dot jacket, or is it just one of those ones.
Jimmy: That has yeah, I think that's texture
Harold: little flecks in it,
Jimmy: but it doesn't have it in the first panel, you'll notice, in the top tier.
Harold: Well, it's the top tier. Yeah.
Jimmy: He does not care, although I'll give him credit. I love that first panel. I think that's really cute. I bet it looks good in color, too. We're looking at it in black and white.
Harold: Yeah, he didn't really seem like to cheap out too much on this first tier, but, yeah, I don't think I remember seeing this particular strip until we read it for this.
Jimmy: I don't have any memory of it from my childhood now. He, is amazing that he's able to even quote this type of thing for so long a period.
Harold: Yeah. I can't memorize these lines, but Roboam, no problem. Yeah.
Jimmy: Like, there's zero hope.
Harold: Roboam. Sorry. I'm I'm in I'm in here in the same--
Jimmy: I'm telling you, all letters go to Harold
Harold: Yeah, yeah.
Jimmy: I don't want to hear it.
December 26, Linus is reading the newspaper, and he says, “a sports banquet. Look, Charlie Brown, they're going to have a sports banquet right here in our town. They're going to invite Willie Mays and Bobby Hull and Arnold Palmer.” And in the third panel, Linus excitedly says, “and Joe Shlabotnik. They're even going to invite Joe Shlabatnik.” Charlie Brown says, as if we didn't know, “he's my hero. I'd get to meet him in person. Wouldn't that be great?” Charlie Brown blisses out as he says to Linus, “I can see me now sitting at the same table with Joe Shlabotnik.” Snoopy blissed out as well, thinks to himself, “I can see me now sitting at the same table with Peggy Fleming.”
Michael: This one runs into the next year, which is the first time we've had a sequence, a bi-yearly sequence.
Jimmy: I wonder if that's the kind of thing he had to agonize over with book publishing and what not if he wanted to if it was weird for him to have it go over to the next year?
Harold: Yeah, it was like, oh, hopefully it'll be a two year book that Fantagraphics puts out someday. It'll all work out. Yes, but so many references to ice skating and hockey this year with that wonderful skating rink that he opened up in Santa Rosa with his wife. I mean, that's it's kind of cool to see it just continually popping up.
Michael: There's only two Willie Mays references in the whole year.
Harold: Wow. Got Bobby Orr in here. Yeah. Look at all these guys. Pancho Gonzalez. Yeah. And again, this is, again, them taking the strip into places he hasn't really done much before, where their kids are going into this adult space and sitting at this table with Snoopy somehow got in. It's great. And I love this. And again, I'm wondering if some of this expansive world is because he's in the process of making the first feature film where they had to expand the world. I'm wondering if that was kind of on his mind, that, oh, I can take them out of the neighborhood and I can do other things with them.
Jimmy: Yeah, maybe. One thing I always do find, like, whenever you have a group of characters that you know really well and you like seeing them all together, somehow getting them on the road, getting out is always fun. It's always fun to see you can't do it early because you're still finding everybody's rhythm and who they are to each other. But I love when then you can get everybody out into the wild.
Harold: He knows how to do it now. I mean, we keep talking about that old, Golfing Sunday sequence that they did with Lucy and Charlie Brown and how awkward it felt. It just didn't seem right. And here he knows what to do. Just focus on the characters. You never see another human being, but you know, they're in that world. They're in somebody else's world, but you never see anybody. Right.
Jimmy: Well, guys, we made it to the end of the sixties. I can't believe it.
Michael: Phew I’m out of breath
Jimmy: All right, so as we sit here at the end of 1969, Michael sum it up for us. What do you think about this year?
Michael: yeah, I think it's a very good year. I think he's relying more on longer sequences, which is definitely a hallmark of the 60s. I don't know if it's going to continue this way. I have a feeling it will. Yeah, no, it's generally very solid year. Not my favorite, but I think it's still going strong.
Jimmy: Harold, how about you?
Harold: Yeah. And this is the Peanuts I knew and grew up with. And so it feels very at home. The art style is just this kind of perfect mix of loose and precise and iconic. And I just absolutely love where Peanuts is right now. And I love that he has kind of expanded the world a little bit. And the fact that Schulz's world and the character's world, they really are now all over the world. More and more of these publishing companies all over the world are now printing Peanuts. Everybody's seeing Peanuts. That they're in the space program. People over the world who are following the space program are seeing Charlie Brown and Snoopy in an Apollo mission. I can't imagine being Charles Schulz in 1969. that's really heady stuff, what he was able to accomplish with this little strip.
Jimmy: Absolutely. These four little panels, unchanging for 19 years now, have somehow managed to grow and expand to contain a richness that we haven't seen in anything else and probably never will see in anything else in this form and expand to contain all of Schulz, which is a person who is very talented and very smart and very deep and a contemplative, deep thinking person. And somehow these four little panels keep expanding to include all that. Yeah. So I am blown away.
We're going to come back next week where we do a giant wrap up of the 60s. Also have a little special treat for you. But until then, there's a bunch of things you can do to hang out with the gang and keep the conversation going. You can follow us on social media. We're at Unpackpeanuts on both Instagram and Twitter. And of course, you could check us out on our website, unpackingpeanuts.com, where you can see transcripts from the old strips. You can buy a T shirt or one of our books because we're all, working cartoonists, and we would love for you to read our work as well. You can also, support us on Patreon, buy us a mud pie. Anything you can do to help will keep the podcast going, and that's the most important thing. So before we close it out, I'm going to need your most valuable Peanut and your strip of the year. Michael, why don't you go first?
Michael: Well, it's pretty obvious. Lucy called it on day one. It's Lucy's year. Got to give it to her. She's just as crabby as any human could possibly be. And, she's got a good supporting cast, too, which helps.
Michael: And my strip of the year, I'm going to go way back to October 4, and it's Charlie Brown's debut as a writer of country western music.
Jimmy: Great pick, Harold, how about you?
Harold: Yeah, as elegant as it would be to choose Lucy, just looking at the strips I picked, I think Charlie Brown's got the edge this year. He's continuing to solidify this lovable loser kind of character, and he has some amazing moments, which dovetails into my favorite strip. Sorry, Jimmy. It is. how did the other team feel? We'll just have two picks, and we'll say, yeah, that's it. Or you can find one in the lot to choose from. A lot of amazing ones to choose from here.
Jimmy: Yeah, that obviously was going to be my pick. You keep, filibustering, and I'll find a second one because it's a great year.
Harold: Oh, yes. Peanuts of 1969.
Jimmy: I'm going to pick, this is just, obviously, I'm calling an audible here, but September 5, just because this twist in the plot will baffle my readers. I think I'm a plotter about on the level of Snoopy, so I relate to that one.
All right, so, guys, come back next week where we do our finale for this season, wrap up the 60s, deliver a little special surprise to you as well. Until then, for Michael and Harold, I'm Jimmy. Be of good cheer.
Harold and Michael Yes. Be of good cheer.
VO: Unpacking Peanuts is copyright Jimmy Gownley, Michael Cohen, and Harold Buchholz; produced and edited by Liz Sumner. Music by Michael Cohen. Additional Voiceover by Aziza Shukralla Clark. For more from the show, follow Unpack Peanuts on Instagram and Twitter. For more about Jimmy, Michael and Harold, visit unpackingpeanuts.com. Have a wonderful day and thanks for listening.