Jimmy: Hey, everybody. Welcome back to the show. This is Unpacking Peanuts, and we're talking about the second half of 1970 today. I'm really excited to get to it. I'm your host for this evening. I'm also a cartoonist. I did Seven Good Reasons Not to Grow Up, The Dumbest Idea Ever, and a series of books called Amelia Rules.
Harold: All classics. Classics.
Jimmy: All classics. Who am I? I'm Jimmy Gownley. Joining me, as always, are my pals, co hosts and fellow cartoonists. He's a playwright and a composer for the band Complicated People for this podcast and for the Amelia Rules musical. He's the co creator of the original comic book Price Guide, 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 he's currently creating the instagram sensation Sweetest Beasts, Harold Buchholz.
Jimmy: Okay, guys, so we talked everyone's ear off for an hour plus last week. I say we get right back to it right now.
Michael: Sounds good.
Jimmy: So you fire up your old computer, you go over to GoComics.com type in Peanuts, type in 1970, and, you can follow along with us, as I read out the dates. Now, if you want to get really hip and you want to be a good student, you want to be a Linus, not a Sally, then you can sign up for our newsletter. at unpackingPeanuts.com, and, my pal, Mr. Harold Buchholz, puts together a lovely newsletter for you guys once a month that'll tell you what's coming up. So, with all that out of the way, this is 1970, part two. Let's get to it.
April 8. Lucy is standing out in center field again. Charlie Brown is a bad manager. Put her in right. Lucy says, “what am I, a new feminist, doing standing out here in center field?” Lucy now has a scowl on her face. “This is a male dominated game. Why should I take orders from that stupid manager? I'm just as good as he is. Why should I stand out here in center field? This is degrading, and I resent it.” Then a rogue baseball mitt flies from center field and hits Charlie Brown in the back of the head. He looks out in Lucy's direction and says, “now, what was that all about?”
Michael: Good arm on that girl. It's hard to throw a glove as far as a ball.
Jimmy: That’s the best throw she's had.
Michael: This is great. He's not making fun of this. Most cartoonists would use this as an excuse to make fun of Lucy. He doesn't do that.
Harold: Yeah, it's like he's processing it.
Jimmy: That's what he does. Right? You can see him process this stuff through his art but he's not didactic about anything. He really, feels to me that he is always sharing with his audience, but the audience's opinions, views and all that stuff he honors and shows in the strip as well. if it's something I'm sure that he founded completely objectionable, he wouldn't. But that's a really sophisticated way to approach your art. Again, as he got older in life. And bonus points for unnecessary quotation marks around new feminist.
April 18. Lucy's hanging out with Schroeder. She's leaning on his piano like she's Michelle Pfeiffer. And she says, “it's raining outside. I love rainy days.” Then she continues, “someday when we're married and it's a rainy day, I'll make a fire in the fireplace. And while you're practicing the piano, I'll bring us some tea and toast.” Schroeder, without even looking up, says, “no way.” Lucy looks very hurt by this and says, “I hate rainy days.”
Michael: I picked this one for one reason. It's a Joni Mitchell song.
Jimmy: Oh, yeah.
Michael: Well, no, it's a Graham Nash song about Joni Mitchell and I think the year is right.
Michael: I light the fire, you make,
Liz: Our House.
Michael: yeah, it's called Our House, but it's there.
Michael: I light the fire. And you do this and blah, blah, blah.
Jimmy: well, and that is the type of thing that I could see Schulz liking the type of music. Whenever he would talk about the songs he did like, it seemed like he liked story songs. He liked that type of more mellow, singer songwriter, story based movie. He talks about liking Hank Williams and stuff. I can see that for sure.
Michael: I think it works out date wise, too.
Michael: I’m not sure.
Jimmy: Well, 19. What was that off that Deja Vu album or no, it doesn't.
Harold: I'll look at it. I'll google it.
Liz: Our House.
Harold: I'm just going to get madness now off of my thing.
Jimmy: Let's see, Our House in the middle of our street.
Harold: 1970. There you are.
Jimmy: Yeah. I think you're onto something there, Michael.
Harold: That's cool.
Jimmy: also, this feels like a throwback strip in a good way to me. This is his Haiku perfect single strip.
Harold: oh. oh oh. Okay, well, I'll just say this. They say it was recorded in November of ‘69 and released in September of 70. So, I guess. Don't know.
Michael: Bootlegs. Yeah, bootlegs.
Jimmy: Very strange, though, that he always
Harold: The Zeitgeist
Jimmy: It’s so strange that he's like six months ahead of the zeigeist all the time. Really weird. But yeah, this feels like haiku perfect. This is a perfect comic strip. You can't do something better than this in four panels.
Harold: That's really good.
Jimmy: Although I wouldn't have put the exclamation part point at the end. I would have had her say, I hate rainy days, period. Or no punctuation or no punctuation at all. But I wouldn't tell him that.
Michael: You know, he will top this within like a week. So don't say this is like the perfect thing that will never be beat.
Harold: It's crazy.
Jimmy: By the way, that's a good deal. I don't know why Schroeder is poo pooing. That sounds pretty darn good to me.
Michael: Lucy couldn't make a decent toast at him.
Jimmy: It would be burned and bitter.
Harold: Raw. Raw toast.
Jimmy: Raw toast.
April 19. A, goofy, silly, but sort of fun display panel at the beginning, showing Sally as a balloon. and then the next panel, we see Sally holding a balloon as Linus approaches her. Linus notices the balloon and says, “that's a nice balloon.” Sally, without looking at him or acknowledging him in any way, just says, “thank you.” Linus says, “what does it do?” Sally says, “It doesn't do anything except maybe fly if I let go of it.” Linus has an idea. They walk towards their house or Linus's house or Sally's house and says, “why don't you paint the word love on it and let it fly off someplace?” And they do just that. Linus says, “this may change the life of the person who finds it.” Sally, as she's painting it, says “maybe some person who is depressed will find it and be encouraged to carry on.” In the next panel, they let the balloon go, and Linus says “maybe some great leader will find it and be inspired to seek world peace.” Sally says “go balloon. Carry your message of love.” Then an absolutely beautiful panel of the balloon floating away. As Linus and Sally look at it. Then it's almost as if we have a film dissolve as somewhere, someplace else. The balloon lands in front of the bird, soon to be named, Woodstock. And, he's baffled by this.
Jimmy: This is like such a 1970 strip.
Michael: Oh, man.
Harold: Right. Yeah. And again, he's ahead of his time because I'd like to buy a world of Coke that was not until next year.
Harold: But yeah, this is classic 70 strip. Yeah. Absolutely.
Jimmy: Oh, yes. Do you guys do balloon launches when you were kids in school?
Jimmy: Did you ever do them? No?
Harold: Yes. I remember because we did a couldn't afford one. I was in the administration of the senior high school. I was the secretary. And we were the most hapless leaders of our school. And we were overseeing all sorts of the world's worst fundraisers. And that was one of them. And I remember I don't think we got much, but we all released balloons. And whoever's went the furthest got a prize or something if people got back in touch. Not quite as, a little more 80s version than the love version.
Jimmy: Yeah, right.
Harold: That's your motivation. Not love.
Jimmy: I love this strip. I love the way love looks on the balloon. I love the panel of them letting it go. I love the panel of them looking at it as it drifts off. And I love the panel you know what? I love all the panels.
Michael: Except the first one.
Jimmy: The first one’s hack work. My God, does he hate these top two panels by this point. The fact that he put any effort in at all is amazing.
Harold: Yeah, but he may have snuck in the word gem in the tangle of I don't know, maybe I'm just reading into it there the tangle of strings.
Jimmy: Oh, yeah. No, I see that.
Harold: Rare gem, huh?
Jimmy: Rare gem.
May 4 Charlie Brown comes out to Snoopy, who's lying on top of his doghouse, and he says, “I have a job for you.” Charlie Brown, looking around to make sure no one's eavesdropping, says to Snoopy, “there's been a series of robberies in the neighborhood recently. I want you to stay on the front steps of our house tonight and look real mean.” And panel four, we cut to Snoopy doing just that, except he is in the pose of former world heavyweight champion John L. Sullivan from like, 1909.
Harold: The pugilist,
Jimmy: bare knuckled boxing pose. It's awesome. I picked that just because that panel just makes me laugh. I love the spotlight.
Michael: Yeah, he's got the spotlight effect, which is kind of like that moon effect.
Jimmy: He had earlier going back. Jaime Hernandez does this a lot. He will do that's.
Michael: Totally Jaime panel.
Jimmy: Yeah, right. Totally.
May 7. This, is a little sequence where, well, we'll talk about it as we go along. But right now what's happening is Snoopy and the bird, soon to be known as Woodstock, are having some problems with some scary stories, and, they're checking out Lucy's help at the psychiatry booth. And Lucy says, “Vampires. You guys are afraid of vampires.” She continues, “surely you must realize that a fear of vampires is really a psychological problem.” She continues, “frankly, I doubt if either of you even knows what a vampire looks like.” In panel four, we see Woodstock, who has somehow acquired Snoopy's talent for mimicry. He's been well taught, being a perfect vampire bat.
Harold: The little fangs and the pointy wing
Jimmy: pointy wings.
Harold: Yeah, I nominated this one. I don't know if you guys did, but I just love that last panel. It's so funny. Just made me laugh out loud. And Lucy's little take with her arm shielding herself. Yeah, it's great.
Jimmy: Yeah. And this is part of a longer story where, Snoopy and Woodstock are upset by some scary stories, and we're about to find out why.
May 9. We see Snoopy and his friend the bird hanging out with Peppermint Patty. Peppermint Patty is talking to them, and she says, “it was midnight. She turned to the bedroom window. Suddenly she saw a vampire.” Charlie Brown catches the scene going on, and he steps in saying, “Peppermint Patty, you're the one who's been scaring them with those vampire stories. You ought to be ashamed.” Peppermint Patty says, “Just a little harmless fun, Chuck. They don't really believe those stories, do you, Snoopy?” In the last panel, we see Snoopy and Woodstock with ridiculous embarrassed grins on their face.”
Jimmy: What I think is cool about this is the little character detail of Peppermint Patty is telling this story. If Lucy was telling this story, if Frieda was telling the story, I nine times out of ten, bet the protagonist of the story would have been a man. He saw the vampire, he did the Peppermint Patty puts, a girl in this horror movie story that she's telling. And I just think that is because Schulz knows this character. That's the kind of story Peppermint Patty would like and want to share.
Harold: Well, not to be too Haroldian, but, that would be in a vampire story. He's going to show up at a bedroom window of a woman, traditionally.
Jimmy: Oh, yeah, I guess that's true. All right, well, you know what? Every once in a while, you can be wrong. You being me.
Harold: I can be me, too.
June 3. So we're in the middle of a sequence here where a new character named Thibault, is borrowing Charlie Brown's glove. They didn't have one for Peppermint Patty's team, so she requested one from Charlie Brown, and now Thibault does not want to give it back, and he says to Peppermint Patty, “if he wants his glove back, let him come and get it.” “Thibault you're being unreasonable.” says Peppermint Patty. Then the kid leans into Charlie Brown and said, “what's the matter, kid? Are you afraid to fight me? Charlie Brown says “I” then Thibault walks away saying “okay, then I'll keep your glove.” Peppermint Patty yells after him, “Thibault, you give him back that glove.” Thibault turns around and says, “I'll fight you both. Come on. I'm not afraid.” Charlie Brown looks ahead of us and says, “how did these things happen?”
Michael: It seems to me that most kid’s strips eventually introduce a bully character.
Harold: Yeah, Lucy
Michael:: and Schulz has resisted this, and this is the first.
Jimmy: Yeah. You don't count Lucy as a bully, because we've talked, like, for hours about how this is a strip about bullying, so it seems like he must have.
Michael: Yeah, but she's a psychological bully. She's an emotion vampire, you know? What is it?
Jimmy: Yeah, this kid Thibault here looks like the dirt bag kids I grew up with.
Michael: with sideburns.
Jimmy: Yeah, sure.
Michael: It's five years old.
Michael: You can’t grow sideburns at five years old.
Jimmy: Well, it's pulled down. It's not growing out of the side.
Harold: Oh, he's pulling it down. And a nice little wisp. I just think of a Glenn Campbell Good time hour.
Jimmy: so what do you think about this sequence? So, eventually, Charlie Brown then goes and gives, Thibault the glove, and says, maybe he was afraid to fight him, but I just feel so good that someone thought I thought I was better than them. How do you feel about any of that stuff?
Harold: Well, to Michael's point, you were like, this is the first time we've had the one dimensional bully. Which is what everyone else has done in comics. Right. That's what he's doing. That kind of is jarring. I agree. It feels kind of odd that 20 years into a kid’s strip, this is the first time we've got somebody who's just unrelentingly mean.
Michael: That doesn't work.
Jimmy: That doesn't work for me either.
Harold: oh boy. Okay, I'm going to be a little contrary.
Michael: Schulz introduces a named character for an entire week’s strip and then drops him, which is I guess that's sort of like Charlotte Braun but I don't know if this guy was intended to stick around. I'm glad he didn't. Scary.
Jimmy: What do you think about it, Harold?
Harold: I think it's true to Charlie Brown and gives another layer to Charlie Brown using this two dimensional character against Charlie Brown. But the reason I think Schulz does this whole sequence is that somebody thinks, yeah, this totally resonates for me, that Charlie Brown is being where he is and he looks at this inferiority complex that somebody even just give the idea that, he thinks that Charlie Brown thinks he's better than him is kind of like
Jimmy: a great way to get out of a fight if you're afraid.
Harold: But that's not what's happening. Unless you think he's totally self deluded.
Jimmy: No, because he even says that later. He says maybe he's right and I just didn't want to get in a fight, but I don't care because I'm happy and I'm like,
Harold: well, that's the wishy washy version. I think that's the washy to his wishy here. He's genuinely 100% in a place like me? better than someone else me. I think that's 100% where Charlie Brown is in that moment, and then he questions himself because he's Charlie Brown. But anyway, that's my take on it. Is that's the piece that nobody else would pull out of that conversation. It's totally out of context. But that's the thing that Charlie Brown is like, I've never heard that before. That's amazing. Someone could actually think that I think I'm better than someone. That's so Charlie Brown.
Jimmy: All right, guys, we're going to take a quick break and then we're going to come back and we were going to discuss the last six months of 1970. Come on back.
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. And it's a really good time to be back because it is
June 22 and a little bird flies by Snoopy upside down. Snoopy watches and he thinks to himself, “I finally found out what that stupid bird's name is.” The bird flies back the other direction, this time upright. Snoopy looks at us and says, “you'll never believe it.” And it happens. “Woodstock.”
Jimmy: The bird is named Woodstock.
Jimmy: But I love it. But weird.
Michael: I find it weird that Snoopy is directly thinking to the reader.
Harold: Yeah, right.
Michael: in panel three.
Jimmy: Well, he does it.
Harold: Yeah. Ah, he is like someone else.
Jimmy: It's weird. He will do it once or twice in a panel. But the whole thing where the whole strip is being directly addressed to the reader is a real unique thing. Like, Schroeder did it all those years ago.
Harold: Yeah. But now it's like surrogate Charles Schulz. Snoopy's becomes the surrogate for Charles Schulz. We used to have Charles Schulz, as you're saying, the outside force, the unseen hand. But now I kind of feel like sometimes...
Jimmy: A lot of times I feel that way. And really, that is one of the key ways I think about Peanuts. And like I said, this didn't come from me. Other people said it. But yeah, I mean, Schulz gradually does allow Snoopy to become his avatar. And it's like you're watching the strip shift from the focus being on Charlie Brown, the loser, to Snoopy, the kind, of genius at just living life. And, I think that's what we're seeing, in Schulz as well. He's gone through tons and tons of changes, and Snoopy now just fits him better than Charlie Brown does.
Harold: Yeah, it's really fascinating to look at it through that lens. It's crazy how you can hop characters. I'm trying to think of another strip where somebody was developing as a person as well as his character’s is developing that you kind of sense. Well, I guess Nancy with Fritzy Ritz. I mean, the character that kind of takes over a strip. I don't know if that's because of the character, though, or the artist. Yeah.
Harold: because the character catches on, or because the writer just identifies with that, or there's ten times more ideas for this new character. But this is uniquely like a personality thing. It really does feel like Schulz--
Michael: Well, I think he was probably sick and tired of people writing in asking for the bird's name.
Jimmy: That's true.
Harold: Yeah. And to choose something that, again, was part of youth culture that I guess, in its own way was kind of divisive in the culture. I think a lot of older people look down on this. But Schulz was absolutely fine with naming this adorable little bird Woodstock with its representing peace,
Michael: I would suspect it was one of his kids, and he thought it was a great idea.
Jimmy: Yeah, well, it's such a great bird. Thank God it wasn't like the Lala Palooza Festival at the time.
Harold: Yeah. Here comes Altamonte
Jimmy: You'll never guess what this bird's name. It'd be like two birds go off panel, but only one bird comes back. Altamonte. Anyway, it's weird. I don't mean weird bad. Like it's Snoopy and Woodstock. It's great. There's no better name.
Harold: And only Schulz could actually add yes, only Schulz could add to Woodstock. It's like Woodstock the Event has happened a year ago. And then this documentary, I don't know when the documentary comes out, if it's, if it's around the time that this strip is coming out. But then Schulz, we now have another meaning to Woodstock, which had a bird as the logo, a bird of peace. And you've got Melanie Song. What's it? Let your white bird I can't remember what it is, but Lay Down, the song Lay Down was about Woodstock. So it's like Schulz, he puts the final stamp on Woodstock, that people are going to think of this bird in some ways more right than, the actual event. But he's not stealing it or taking away or denigrating it. He's somehow I don't know what he's doing, but it's amazing that the power of the strip, that he keeps that name alive with a positive message.
Jimmy: I remember going very clearly there was an anniversary of Woodstock, the concert, that they talked about on the news. And it must have been, I'll say it's the 10th or the 15th anniversary. Right. Probably I was ten or no, I was like eight or twelve or 13 or whatever. That's when I found out that it went the other way. I thought the concert was named after the bird. I had no idea there was a town named Woodstock.
Harold: That makes sense.
Jimmy: And I remember just thinking I remember seeing this strip and thinking, all right, his name is Woodstock. It was very weird, all of it. Never I had the puzzles to the jigsaw puzzle, but they were in the wrong order and there were few missing.
Harold: So they say that the release date for the documentary was March 26, 1970. Because it was a documentary, I bet it probably eased its way into theaters around the country. And it made $50 million at the box office for a documentary, that's nuts in 1970. So obviously because of the documentary, people had heard about it. But it's not until that documentary comes out that people are actually seeing what happened, except for the ones who were there. And then a little bit of probably news coverage at the time. But yeah, it's fascinating. Here he is again. He's just stepping right into where the culture is. And how would Woodstock be remembered if Charles Schulz hadn't named Woodstock Woodstock? Would it be 99% of what we remember it as? Would it be 90?
Jimmy: Keep in mind, there is no end to baby boomer, self mythologization, what's the word of it?
Harold: Yeah, but how did Schulz aid and abet that for it to be now, all these years later? I have a friend, Gary Adamson, who is a musician and a teacher, makes his living. And he started, Back to the Garden, this band, and they were performing. And then when the 50th anniversary, the 50th anniversary of this thing came along, then he was booked like he'd never been before. And that's 50 years of celebrating something that was so iconic and so special.
Michael: We're doing a podcast 23 years after the strip stopped.
Jimmy: Time, man. So, Michael, you were not in any way intrigued, interested, thought about Woodstock at the time. You didn't go to any of those festivals, the big ones?
Michael: It was far away.
Jimmy: It was 3000 miles away, right?
Harold: Would you have gone if it was like 10, 20, 50 miles away?
Michael: I'm not sure.
Michael: All my money went into comic books, so I didn't like spending.
Jimmy: I have to say, I love, all.
Michael: Probably like $3 or something.
Jimmy: Well, then once the fence came down, you could go for free. But I do have to say it doesn't look super appealing to me.
Harold: In reality, I wouldn't want there for three days. I'm not walking all the way to that sewing machine store to buy that ticket.
Jimmy: No way.
Harold: And then traveling, traveling, parking my car 15 miles away from the venue.
Jimmy: The mud, and listen to ShaNaNa and Arlo Guthrie. No, I'm okay. Because, you know, I would have left before Hendrix and stuff. It'd be like, forget it.
Harold: They're going to make a documentary about this, aren't they? I'll see it in the theater.
June 30. Snoopy, is reading a little letter on top of his doghouse. And good old Lucy comes up and she says, “I hear you're going to give a 4th of July speech.” She decides to give him a little, advice. She says, “I suggest that you speak on the new Women's Liberation movement because it's really the most important thing that--” Snoopy kisses her on the nose. And then Snoopy thinks to himself, “I don't recall asking for any advice, sweetie.”
Michael: This is the second one where the girls should just punch him in the mouth.
Jimmy: Well, Snoopy is in over his head. So this is a sequence where this is still Snoopy involved with being the head beagle, right? Yeah. But has he already been removed as the head beagle, or no, I think.
Michael: We're into the Daisy Hill puppy farm.
Jimmy: Yeah, we are. I was just wondering if he got to make the speech because of his post as the head beagle.
Harold: Yeah, right. He was invited because he had been the head beagle. So now he's on the speaking circuit.
Liz: But do you guys recognize how offensive his statement is?
Michael: Yeah, that's why she should have punched him.
Jimmy: Well and it's classic. Yeah. He is absolute power corrupts absolutely. I guess Snoopy is. And he's about to get his comeuppance for this, because here on
July 6, Linus is watching the speech on TV. “A riot.” He says. Maybe Snoopy, took some of my advice. Charlie Brown is apparently just wandering around Linus's house. And Linus says, “look, Charlie Brown. There's a riot at the Daisy Hill Puppy farm. It's on the news. See?” Charlie Brown says, “but that's where Snoopy is. Have you seen him? Have they shown him? Where is he?” In the last panel, we see Snoopy being pelted by supper dishes and bricks of some kind. actual bricks, I guess. And he thinks to himself, “doesn't anyone want to hear my speech?”
Michael: I think we're jumping the shark right now.
Jimmy: This is what you don't like?
Michael: Yeah, this is absurdity level four.
Harold: Now. Which is the most troubling piece of it that's on TV?
Michael: All of it. A dog who can't speak, giving a speech to a bunch of dogs
Harold: on TV.
Michael: There's a riot on TV. I'm sorry, I can't buy it.
Jimmy: How about you, Harold? What do you think of this sequence?
Harold: It is a really odd sequence. 1970 is a really odd time, too. there's just been a lot of division in the country at this point. We're in violence mode, and we don't know which direction it's going to go. Is it going to just escalate and escalate and escalate? Is it going to peter out? Is it going to run itself out?
Michael: But wait, it gets weirder. Let's go on to the next one.
Jimmy: Which is
July 10. Linus is doing the favorite thing of all Peanuts characters, which is to walk around the neighborhood reading a newspaper. And he says, “according to the paper, the riot was about war dogs.” Wow. And, he shows Charlie Brown the paper and he explains, “apparently there's been some trouble about dogs being sent to Vietnam and then not getting back,” which is a wild thing to drop in panel two. And then panel three, Snoopy, who has been overhearing this, thinks to himself, “all I know is I went to the Daisy Hill puppy farm to make a speech. I got swamped with a dog dish, trapped in a riot, lost in the smoke. And then I met her” he says, putting his head in his hands with a big, goofy grin on his face. Charlie Brown says, “good grief.”
Harold: Yeah, I guess all I can say is, if Peanuts is jumping the shark here in the sequence, I think 1970 kind of jumped the shark. And he's reflecting it in the strip in this weird way, and he's not going to go back here again, but the fact that it's tied to Vietnam, I mean, he's leaning into this. If there's any if there's any question that what Schulz is referring to in his strip, he takes all that question away. And, the idea that it was televised, I mean, there were all these terrible things televised in the previous couple of years. People being shot, assassinated. It's a really rough time, and no one knows where it's going. And I think Schulz is reflecting that in the strips here. And then the thing that makes it so weird to me is that it's dealing with Vietnam. And there's earlier strips for Snoopy's like, well, we don't have the right to vote, but we're being sent off to war. And yet the last panel is Snoopy blissing out over touching the soft paw of this beagle that he didn't see in all of the smoke. that is even stranger. Right. Because we're dealing with this heavy thing. And then Snoopy's is off in his own little bliss world. It feels very strange, weird.
Jimmy: It's great in its own way for me. yeah, I agree with all that. The 1970 jumped the shark in some ways, is the line of the episode, because, boy, is that true. But also, I think the original sin of this whole sequence and this series of sequences is that making Snoopy the head beagle and bringing all of that stuff so into the forefront feel like an awkward fit, which is the problem Michael's having. But then the thing what Harold is saying, where all of this stuff is sort of an awkward fit, almost makes it meta cool again. It's a very weird thing to do.
Harold: Because, again, this is Schulz avatar being Snoopy. He is in this super divisive time in the country, and he's at the top of his game, and he's beloved by practically everybody, but he knows that could go away in an instant. Right, right. He is so exposed.
Harold: That something he could do, could just turn on in an instance. And that's what I see in this strip, is that he's processing that. It's like, if I make a wrong turn, I could become a pariah among half the country. Right.
Harold: And yet, at the same time, that doesn't make him back down. That actually makes him lean into his fear. And even as he's dealing with this romantic Snoopy, it only works because it's so specific to Schulz. Where Schulz is at this point, it seems like to me. And so it feels real. It feels authentic to me. So it doesn't jump the shark in that sense. I mean, it feels like this is very coming from the soul of Schulz. And so, as strange as it is, I can't say, no, you can't go here, because that's where he seems to be right now.
Jimmy: And I think the thing about when we're using jump the shark, there's no coming back from jumping the shark. And that's not really what happens here. What happens here is and he's done this a million times, where pursue a thing until you realize, oh, maybe it's not 100% a perfect fit, retreat from it, and then you'll reintroduce it again. But a modified yeah.
Harold: and it never happened. The old version doesn't even make a difference.
Jimmy: Look, okay, we might as well I don't want to get too far into this, but
July 16, Snoopy has continued to think about the girl beagle he met. And he's lying on top of his doghouse, and he's thinking, “that girl beagle I met at the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm is really something.” He sits up and he just looks delighted. “I wonder why I liked her so much. I think it's because we teased each other.” Then he continues to just be lost in this reverie. “We laughed a lot, and we teased each other,” and then he is just like a toddler, happy. And he thinks to himself, and “then there were those soft paws.”
Jimmy: Wow. Now, what's obviously happening here in real life, I don't get into it, but Schulz's marriage is falling apart, and he begins a brief affair with, somebody else, a person who is not his wife. And all of this and all of this gets played, out a little bit, I think, through Snoopy, which, is wild, because on the one hand, because I think that's what Harold well, I shouldn't put words in your mouth, but is that kind of what you were alluding to when you're talking about?
Harold: Yeah, I mean, you just sense that this is absolutely something that Schulz is processing. It's just a part, and it just pops up over and over and over and over again throughout this year. It's unmistakable. It's just right there at the forefront of this year.
Jimmy: It really is. Now, let me ask you this. Do you think he's aware of that? Do you think he's aware of how obvious this is once you know the behind the scenes stuff?
Harold: Well, like, did he spell GEM out in those balloon strings? Right? I don't know.
Michael: I don't know any of this. I don't think you've explained it. Is there a girl named Gem?
Harold: Well, I mean, Peppermint Patty is talking about a rare gem. I don't know what kind of I mean, this is, again, total conjecture, and I don't want to go too far into this either.
Michael: This woman is named Gem?
Harold: no, but the idea that you might call somebody gem that might be in your vocabulary,
Jimmy: like a pet name
Harold: for some reason. I have no idea. I have no idea. But it is showing up in the strip in these various ways and escalates into this year. Jimmy, you probably know, how the timeline fits this better than I do. I have not read the huge biography on him.
Jimmy: Yeah, no, I don't, actually, because I, have this superpower of when I don't want to know too much about something. I just set up a static force field.
Harold: Okay. Yeah, I hear you. You're the one who said don't read it. And when you said that, I just.
Jimmy: Yeah, and listen, I mean, I've alluded to the fact that I'm not a fan of this book before. I mean, we're 20 years into the Strip. I might as well talk about it. The problem I have with the book and I actually alluded to it when we were talking with Steven Lind because he didn't do this, which is, I have a psychological theory, and I'm going to find all the things in this life that, supports my psychological theory, and I'm going to jam it all in. And if that means something is a period that lasts six weeks. But to make my theory work, it needs to take up 150 pages, then that's what I'm going to do. And it distorts the way a life is. I feel like I know a little bit about this because I wrote that Dumbest Idea memoir, which is the story of how I became a cartoonist, except it's not, because there's no story. Life has infinite amount of detail and no forward momentum, no plot. Right. So you're just pulling stuff and trying to make a story out of it. And sometimes that's what a biography does, actually, all the time, that's what a biography does. But sometimes, if you're enamored too much with what you want to put in, or maybe you think you got a juicy scoop and you want to highlight it, it distorts things. And that's why I've never recommended that book too much. Aside from the fact that it it’s a good book in lots of ways.
Harold: I think I've skimmed through pieces of it or looked at it, and I was like, yeah, okay, I can see tremendous amount of work. When it came out, I had this reaction because prior to this coming out, one of my other, I guess, heroes in popular culture and entertainment is Frank Capra. And he also had the unfortunate experience of having the definitive biography done on him by somebody amazing researcher, did incredible amount of reviews. But the reason you're attracted, usually, to the subject of a biography is because there's something that you are just like a magnet, something's drawing you. And I think sometimes, like in the case of Capra, Joseph McBride, who's just an amazing researcher and biographer, but I have a real problem with this book called The Catastrophe of Success is the name of the thing. So you got to get a sense of where it goes with his version on Capra. And he has tremendous insights to the things that are related to his own connection to Capra. But it does skew things so amazingly to the point where I can't believe that the biographer of Frank Capra that is THE biographer. If you look at the chapter on Say It's a Wonderful Life which is my favorite movie of all time-- I've gone to the Seneca Falls, New York, every year to give a presentation on aspects of this film because, just like Peanuts, I keep getting more out of it every time I look into it. He, says almost nothing about that movie. It's like, that's not the Capra that he connects to. And I'm like, oh, that's a shame. And this guy was so he doubled down because people like me were not happy with his book. He wrote a second book just as long about why everything he wrote was so true and how he was put upon by all the people that didn't like the fact that he was being critical.
Jimmy: That's insane. And I do appreciate that level of insanity. I could get behind that. Oh, you think that was bad?
Harold: Yeah. And he's got the details to back up what he has to say. It's not lying about the guy. It's just what do you focus on? Right, exactly.
Jimmy: It is what do you focus on? Yeah. But this is what Schulz is going through right now, and it is playing out in Snoopy's world. And it's going to lead to he's going to get divorced coming up and a, real shift in his life. You can almost look at the Peanuts, experience as, like, the Joyce years and then the Jeannie years. And there are differences. There's lots of differences, but we'll follow that as it goes along. In the meantime,
July 26, Snoopy, with a stocking cap is looking for something to read. He finds it, and he heads back to bed. Only for this night, he's sleeping in bed with Charlie Brown, which is the cutest little thing. And Charlie Brown says to him, “okay, what shall we read tonight? Treasure Island? Hans Brinker?” And then Snoopy shows the book. He has selected The Six Bunny Wunnies and Their Pony Cart. “Again, I don't understand why you want to read the same book every night. Oh, well.” Charlie Brown sighs. “It was a warm spring day and the Six Bunny Wunnies decided to go on a picnic.” Snoopy is listening, and he has a huge grin on his face. Charlie Brown continues. “I'll fix the lunch, said Pam Bunny Wunny. I'll hitch up our pony, said” and Charlie Brown slowly falls asleep. “Peter Bunny Wunny.” great little lettering there. Charlie Brown completely falls asleep. Snoopy checks to make sure he's asleep. Looks, that the coast is clear, then runs out, makes himself a snack, and watches a little late night television.
Harold: I love those little stocking caps.
Jimmy: I do, too. And the Six Bunny Wunnies, by Miss Helen Sweetstory. Harold and I are Big Bunny Wunny Partisans.
Harold: Oh, my gosh.
August 25. Oh, now we're talking the peaks of Western art. This is my vulture. Snoopy is standing on top of, his doghouse, wearing a little apron. He is, in fact, the world famous grocery clerk. And, he's ringing someone up. “Butter, 98, twice. Bread, 39. Here's the world famous grocery clerk working at the checkout counter.” He thinks, he continues, ringing up an order. “Eggs, 59, tea 79. Milk” and Snoopy looks out at us and thinks, “actually, there aren't more than a dozen world famous grocery clerks.”
Michael: It's an outrageous idea.
Jimmy: Why did any of this happen? Why did he think this? Why did having thought it, do you think yeah, I'm going to draw that.
Harold: Several times as a little kid. I'm exposed to this probably when I'm nine years old. I think I was kind of in awe, looking up at that person with those heavy buttons on those old fashioned cash registers. These people are just burning through it. They did kind of look like a superhero to me. I remember that. And then when Snoopy started doing yeah, that's cool. There's one I picked that didn't get in because, I was stupid enough not to type it in. That is I think the favorite one I remember is Snoopy. It's a Sunday, and I won't make you read the whole thing, Jim, but I think it's from August, 27th. Anyone wants to look it up? And while he's typing and he's just doing all the things and he's doing the banter with everybody, and then he's yelling for this and that, but he's talking to the customers and he rings up the magazine. And then he says he's doing a little heavy reading tonight?
Jimmy: Whenever a customer buys a magazine, you always ask him if he's going to do a little heavy reading tonight. I used to say that I love that, to every person that bought a magazine when I was a grocery clerk. And I mean, no, I got zero reaction. No one what the hell I was talking about.
Jimmy: Gonna do a little heavy reading tonight, eh? Just blank stares.
Harold: I'm so glad you did.
September 3. Sally walks up to Charlie Brown, who's watching TV. She says, “School starts next week. Where am I going to get $3 for another desk?” Charlie Brown, without looking away from the TV, says, “you don't have to buy your own desk. Where'd you get that idea?” Sally says, “really?” And she looks really angry and says, “just wait till I catch the kid who sold me that one last year.”
Harold: Brilliant. that's just a funny gag in and of itself. And it being Sally makes it much funnier. And boy, is she miffed at the end there.
Jimmy: So, Michael, since you're like a new Sally fan, is it the fact that she is this type of more real kid in the classic Peanuts world that appeals to you because she feels like she doesn't quite fit there's, like some sort of grip between her and them? Or do you think you could just take her out and give her her own strip and it would be just as funny?
Michael: Oh, yeah. Well, I mean, Charlie Brown's a straight man.
Jimmy: You'd have to take a couple with you.
Michael: No, it's just a funny character who's very much like a little kid who you just don't know what's going on. And you're making guesses and you have no idea what's going on.
Harold: Plenty of opinion.
Michael: I Identify with that.
Jimmy: we talked about that in the past. And it is so funny. You only can grok a certain percentage of the world when you're a little kid and it's all flying by you. You get taken advantage of once or twice.
Harold: Yeah. And she's not taking it lying down.
Michael: Yeah, I hope she never grows up. I can't see how we could keep her at this little kid level forever. I hope she doesn't grow up too fast.