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1974 Part 2 - Let’s Hang Around the House and Deteriorate

Jimmy: You. Welcome to Unpacking Peanuts, the podcast where three cartoonists take an in depth look at the greatest comma strip of all time. Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. Hey, everybody. Welcome back to the show. This is Unpacking Peanuts. We are in 1974. We're about halfway through the year, and we're just going to go ahead and continue that this year. It's been an exciting year for Charlie Brown and the gang, and I hope you're looking forward to seeing what comes next as least as much as I am. Who am I? I'm Jimmy Gownley. I'm your host for the proceedings. I'm also the cartoonist of Amelia Rules, Seven Good Reasons Not to Grow Up, and The Dumbest Idea Ever.


Harold: We'll vouch for him.


Jimmy: Yeah. Joining me, as always, are my pals, co hosts and fellow cartoonists. He's a playwright, he's a composer, both for the band Complicated People, as well as for this very podcast. He's the original editor of Amelia Rules, the co- creator of the original comic book Price Guide, and the creator of such great strips as, Strange Attractors, a Gathering of Spells, and Tangled River. It's Michael Cohen.


Michael: Say hey.


Jimmy: And he's the executive producer and writer of Mystery Science Theater 3000, a former vice president of Archie Comics, and the creator of the instagram sensation Sweetest Beasts, Harold Buchholz.


Harold: Hello.


Jimmy: All right, guys, so we are at 1974. We are almost halfway through, this epic. So I say today, let's just get right to the strips.


Michael: Sure.


Harold: Did we get any mail or anything?


Jimmy: Oh, we did. You know what? It's so funny that you should mention that, apropos of nothing. Definitely not. That I forgot. Yes it's funny you should ask. We did happen to get a little tweet from Mr. Troy Wilson, who said that we are not only a highlight of his Mondays, we are the highlight of his Mondays. And he's, in British Columbia, Canada. So that's why he's listening on Mondays. But thank you, Troy. You know what? We appreciate hearing from you.

And this one this is for you, Troy. All right.


Harold: You're spinning the hits.


Jimmy: You're going to have a heck of a Monday. All right.


Yeah. So we're just here we're going to go through the strips. We are starting in June. So if you want to do this, if you want to follow along with us, the first thing you could do is you could go on to your brand new laptop. Everybody here at Unpacking Peanuts has brand new laptops, so we're very excited. So if you have one, or if you just have an old beat up one, you can go to GoComics.com, type in Peanuts, then type in 1974. Then as I read the dates, away you go. If you'd like a heads up on how to find out what strips we'll be discussing ahead of time, then you can go to our website, unpackingpeanuts.com, and, you can sign up for the great Peanuts reread. And then my pal Harold Buchholz will send you a monthly newsletter just once a month. We don't spam you. And that'll let you know what comics we're going to be reading and covering in depth from episode to episode. So go ahead and do that. Press pause when you're done. I'll be right here, and we'll be ready to go.


June 26. Charlie Brown is standing outside and he looks like he's ready for a baseball game. He's got the bat and the hat on and the glove. But Sally is running from the mailbox and she says, “look, big brother, they accepted my application not to go to camp. How about that?” She holds the paper out to Charlie Brown, who takes it and reads it carefully. Then she walks back smiling as she looks at her paper and says, “boy, am I ever lucky.” Then she sits down in front of the TV, head on a pillow, and says, “now I can hang around the house all summer and deteriorate.”


Michael: I did not realize that they lived in Russia up till this point.


Jimmy: Why do they live?


Michael: Well, because you have to apply not to go to, like, Youth Patriotic Camp.


Jimmy: I love that. I wish you could do that for basically anything. Just anything you don't want to do. Just for just apply application.


Harold: Send in the $25 application fee, and you're right.


Jimmy: Just get out of it.


Harold: You know what I love visually about this one is the, remember those little twisty wrought iron wrought iron fence that you have on steps? the little handrail he has that drawn here, and it just looks really cool.


Jimmy: Yes it does look really cool. It also looks a little bit like the shaky line he'll later develop, which, speaking of, take a gander at the paper on panel two, and you can see a little bit of that shaky line starting to develop, which, I'm not pointing out as a flaw. I think, it's an accent. It's a flavor that we're going to see in Peanuts. That's part of the fact that it is handmade.


June 27. Now Linus has one of these pieces of paper, and he's running up to Charlie Brown saying, “look, Charlie Brown, my application not to go to camp was accepted.” Charlie Brown takes the piece of paper and says, “you too?” An elated Linus says, “Boy, what a relief. No summer camp.” Then Linus points his finger skyward and begins to quote, “we have escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers. The snare is broken and we have escaped. King David. Psalm 124.” Then Charlie Brown is left alone, and he looks out at us and says, “I never realized that King David worried about going to camp.”


Michael: That was one of the highlights of my youth was never going to camp.


Harold: Well, I tell you, Peanuts definitely shaped my idea of what camp was. And I had no desire to go to camp because of Peanuts and never did.


Jimmy: It really feels like an excuse just to get the kids away for a few weeks.


Harold: It's so popular up here in Westchester County, New York. it's a thing. All these kids are going off to camp. They're gone for I mean, some of them are day camps, but some of them, they're gone for, like, weeks. It's crazy. And I used to see all those ads, like, in Boys Life, and they list, like, 700 camps with a little classified ads and types of thing where you could see all these places you could go. And I'm like, why would anyone want to subject themselves to the rigors of camp?


Jimmy: Right? Well, you just spent months and months having every minute of your day regulated and scheduled, and now you have some time off. Let's go to camp and have it done all again.


Harold: Yeah except gym is every hour.


Jimmy: Well, I went to Catholic school. The gym was the class was, like, the bare minimum that could even count as gym. You can't imagine how lame Catholic school gym classes are.

Harold: What did you do in Catholic gym class?


Jimmy: Nothing. They would open up the ball of, the cabinet full of balls, which would be like,


Harold: did you guys do like four square? Was that a thing where you or dodgeball?


Jimmy: Honestly, in high school, we shot basketball. We just talked and shot hoops or played volleyball with no one paying attention to it.


Harold: Public school is much more themed. You'd have those dreaded football weeks. Oh, man, I remember I was playing soccer. We were having to play soccer. I'd never-- and the tennis guy, who was our best tennis player, I was on the tennis team. I was JV, he was, like, the top varsity player. And we're doing soccer, and I don't know what I'm doing. And I'm, like, kicking his shins, and he's got, like, what are you doing? He's trying to kill me.


Jimmy: Kicking his shins.


Harold: I was going for the ball, but I had about a 25% ball, 75% shin ratio.


Jimmy: We used to play street hockey, too, in gym in high school for some reason, because I think that was just, like, the most Lord of the Flies thing we could do. Basically. Our gym teacher, God bless him, he was a wonderful guy, but he was just there because he wasn't quite ready to retire, and he just needed to keep him out of the way, do something low stress.

July 6. Linus and Lucy are sitting outside on a log, like, half a log. Lucy says, “I can't imagine what happened to Charlie Brown.” Then Linus gets up and walks away, saying, “he didn't really want to go to camp, did he? Well, then I think it's quite obvious where he went.” Lucy, because Linus has walked away at this point, yells after him. “Obvious. It may be obvious to you but it's sure disobvious to me. unobvious, ex-obvious, anti obvious inobvious, sub- obvious, non obvious?” says Lucy as she tries to find the right word.


Michael: English is such a great language. There's so many options.


Jimmy: There are so many options.


Harold: Does anybody know what the correct word is? Not obvious. It's just not obvious is that it


Jimmy and Michael: unobvious.


Jimmy: Yeah. So again, this is, a part of a longer sequence and it is the thing that, the other kids don't have to go to camp, but Charlie Brown does.


July 7. We see the old pitcher’s mound with a sign posted on it that says, all conferences on the mound have been canceled until further notice. Then we cut to Lucy, who's still out in the outfield saying, “pitch it to him, Charlie Brown.” Charlie Brown is bearing down on the mound and we see Lucy walking up behind him. Just as Charlie Brown goes into his wind up, Lucy arrives at the mound and says, “what's this? You going to throw him a curve? This is no time me throwing a curve. A knuckleball is the pitch. A knuckleball will catch him flat footed.” Charlie Brown is baffled by what Lucy is doing as she kneels down behind him and starts rearranging his fingers. “Why don't I just fix your fingers here so you can catch this guy flat footed with a knuckle ball?” So as she does that, then in the next panel, Charlie Brown is still in his windup. Lucy is kissing him on the fingers. She says “there. And now we'll give each little finger a kiss for good luck. Kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss. And one extra little kiss for the thumb smack.” Charlie Brown is still revved up, ready to pitch. Then in the next panel, he freaks out, yelling, “if you don't get back in center field where you belong, I'm going to break all your arms.” Then as Lucy walks back out to center field, she says, “he'll apologize when the knuckleball catches that guy flat footed.”


Harold: Classic shtick.


Jimmy: Now again, Lucy in center field. Huge mistake. So that's just bad managing. I love the drawings of Lucy arranging his fingers. I love the drawings of Lucy kissing his fingers. I just think this is a really fun and really well drawn little Sunday page.


Harold: What do you think of Charlie Brown's head in the last panel on the second tier? That looks really strange to me.


Jimmy: Yeah it's a very hard angle because he would actually, if you think about like he would be turning it almost directly behind that, that just wouldn't work. The most he could probably do in that position would be the panel before it.


Harold: And it looks like Schulz does not have an angle for the ball cap that is know, basically straight off to one angle. So it's like his head turned, but the hat stayed in the--


Michael: It's easy to slide a hat around when you're bald.


Jimmy: You always say this weird things about bald people in hats. What do you think happens? Like people oil their heads?


Michael: I don't wear hats, and I'm not bald, so how would I know?


Jimmy: What I do know is and this is pretty amazing that's a real knuckleball that Charlie that she has arranged his fingers.


Harold: so Lucy's done her homework.


Jimmy: Lucy actually yeah a knuckleball is actually you're, just touching the ball with the very tips of your fingers. So it's curled like Charlie Brown has it. Your hand is curled like he has it in that panel. And the idea is that you throw it with no spin, and then the ball does uncontrollable but very strange things as it's flying through the maybe. And also, it's like kind of a pitch. It's a little bit like a trick pitch. You maybe have one or two knuckleballers in Major League Baseball at anyone time. But I think it's the way for Charlie Brown to go, because I don't think many kids are going to be pitching it, and I don't think they could hit it. So Lucy might be right.


Harold: Yeah. So you think Lucy's been holding out all this time? She knows a lot about baseball, but she doesn't want to let on, so it's in her favor.


Jimmy: I think she just Googled it.


July 27. Snoopy is leaving Charlie Brown's place with a party hat on his head. Charlie Brown says, “that's my dog.” Then he looks into the house and yells, “what was my dog doing here?” And then we see. We don't know who he's talking to, but he's talking to somebody who's still inside the house. And he says, “oh, excuse me, my name is Charlie Brown.” And then Loretta, a very strange little Girl Scout, comes out holding her box of Girl Scout cookies and says, “My name is Loretta. Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?”


Michael: She showed up to save somebody in the woods a while back, didn't she?


Jimmy: Yes. This is Loretta's star turn. I believe these are the only two appearances of Loretta.


Liz: And I think Girl Scout cookies were sold in February.


Jimmy: Oh, really?


Harold: Yeah but those thin mints would melt by July 27.


Jimmy: Loretta, maybe she does some sort of scam where she buys a bunch ahead and then upsells them later on in the year when people are jonesing for their Thin Mints or their--

Harold: Right. I think actually, that's probably a huge scam because they'll go to the Dollar Tree and they'll buy the knockoff version, but they'll keep the empty boxes, go around collecting them all, and they restuff them with the fake stuff.


Jimmy: It sounds like this was not something you just came up with. I don't know.


Harold: Well, we Boy Scouts had to come up with something. That soap on a rope was not moving.


Jimmy: Were you a Boy Scout?


Harold: Well, a webelo. That's as high as I got. I think before I dropped out, it was too much like camp.


Michael: I have a question for you Lettering experts here. Okay. So why when you read that first one wrong, that's my dog. And why wouldn't he use that's my dog, or that's my dog, my dog.


Jimmy: Just chose not to, I think, you know, honestly, as someone who gets into doing all that kind of stuff, you can overdo it.


Harold: Yeah. it's kind of like Mickey Mousing, they call it in music where everything hits the know. It's like Bolding can be like the Mickey Mousing of lettering. yeahI have the same problem where it's like I want to show the emphasis, but at the same time, I mean, there were some comic strips that did it all the time, but it certainly told you what to think about the lettering or the tone of the read. And this is so hard in comedy because when you write something, especially if it's kind of longer and it's got a rhythm to it, it's like you're asking a non comic or somebody who doesn't know where you're going with the joke to perform the punchline for you or to do the setup for you. And you're entirely reliant on the rhythm of the reader. And that's really, really hard. There's certain kind of jokes that are really hard to sell in a comic strip because you can't guide the reader to do the rhythm that makes the comedy funny or the surprise hit the way it does.


Jimmy: Right.


Harold: When we did Mystery Science Theater graphic novel, that was a real issue because we were throwing in all these jokes. And a lot of them are surprises because essentially we were taking these 1940s and golden age comics and we were inserting our characters into the comics and then adding riffs for all the different characters. And a lot of them are out of left field, or a lot of them are there's a certain kind of joke that where somebody kind of rambles through it.


Jimmy: yeah


Harold: And the funny thing is that they're rambling through it in this certain way. And it's really hard for a reader to kind of know your intention unless you know the voice of the person that's writing. And Schulz, I don't know, maybe he just avoids certain types of humor because he knows he can't do it. There's certain types you just can't get away with in comics because maybe 60% are going to read it the wrong way.


Jimmy: Right. Especially in, a property like this, which is something that is intended to be read by the widest possible audience. It's not comics aficionados that the first audience is.

Harold: from what I've discovered. It's like the fewer words you use, usually the better off you are.


Jimmy: That's true.


Harold: And that's the kind of the haiku of comics. There's just fewer ways you can read it. And it's not reliant on the delivery or a unique angle of stuff, but it's funny by this time, so many people have seen the animated version of these characters. I'm wondering if that in any way helps him because those deliveries have been decided. People maybe have in the back of their mind.


Jimmy: , yeah maybe I don't know.


Harold: Except Snoopy, of course.


August 16, Charlie Brown's out in the mound again. And he yells out to his outfield, all right, let's get together out there. He continues, “let's start calling for those fly balls.” Then in the next panel, we see Lucy calling for a fly ball. So I guess this is in the middle of a play that Charlie Brown is telling this. And Lucy with her glove out waiting to catch the ball, says, “I think maybe, perhaps, hopefully, if everything goes right and nothing unpredictable happens, possibly I got it.” Charlie Brown yells out. “That isn't exactly what I meant.”


Michael: She's really turning on the sarcasm these days.


August 21. Charlie Brown runs up to Linus holding a baseball and says, “look, I got an autographed baseball from Joe Shlabotnik.” In the next panel, he holds it up proudly and says, “this is the ball that Joe hit when he got his bloop single in the 9th inning with his team leading 15 to three.” Linus looks closely at it and says, “am I wrong or did he misspell his name?” Charlie Brown says “he did, didn't he?” And Charlie Brown, looking thoughtfully at the ball, says “he was probably excited over his bloop single.”


Jimmy: This is famously this is the only time that, Joe Shlabotnik has gotten a hit in the major. So that's very exciting. His team had a comfortable lead and he got a bloop single.


Harold: Yeah well, I feel good for Charlie Brown regardless, because he didn't get that baseball card.


Jimmy: That's right.


Harold: Where did he get now he actually has a signed ball misspelled. But even that is like the upside down airplane. It's like the best, highest valued US. Postage stamp. They printed it upside down. This got extra, right? That's because there's a story behind it. There's a bloop single involved.


Jimmy: Steve Carlton, who was a famous pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, came to the mall near where I lived and signed autographs and stuff. And, I wasn't able to go for some reason I can't remember. But I went the next week and they had a bunch of, baseballs that he had signed just there you could still buy. So I bought one. It was not as exciting, but I did have a Steve Carlton autograph ball. That was a big deal because at the time, he was going for the all time strikeout record against Nolan Ryan.


Harold: Now, you sure it wasn't some intern just fulfilling demand?


Jimmy: It could be, absolutely. Someone who worked at the Pottsville Boskov’s. No question. No question.


Harold: That whole autograph thing is pretty uncertain.


Jimmy: Pretty dicey.


Harold: Yeah right.


Jimmy: Oh, yeah.


Harold: He was just here last week. How plausible would it be that we had 640 extra baseballs that he signed.


Jimmy: He's a future hall of famer. He has nothing to do on a Saturday but sign cases of baseballs for us to sell later. Come on. But in my heart I know it was really him.


August 24. Oh, Snoopy in a classic position as the vulture on top of a very spindly looking tree. And his buddy Woodstock is perched in a similar pose on a branch beneath him. Snoopy looks down, sees Woodstock on the branch beneath him. Then in panel three looks somewhat upset by this. Then in panel four, Snoopy walks away from the whole scene and he thinks to himself, “suddenly I just felt very ridiculous.”


Michael: Well, but he doesn't know that his vulture is so good. He can't see it. It's no pelican, I'll tell you that.


Jimmy: A pelican will give you nightmares. Weird. Snoopy drawings in panel two and three, totally abstract, but I really like them just for their weirdness.


Harold: Yeah he's having fun again. We were talking about the sketch thing where he would share with people that he would often just start the day sketching. Goofy stuff. This seems like maybe he had come up with some really wonky sketches of Snoopy. So these are hilarious. I got to find a way to put them into the strip.


Jimmy: They are really funny. I do think it's wild and great that Schulz is going back to the vulture 20 years probably after he started it or whatever.


Harold: Yeah. And I would have loved to seen Snoopy climb that tree, how he got up to that top branch.


Jimmy: It's also just a great image of having the two of them on the tree together like that. That first.


Harold: Why isn't why isn't that a mug and a bedsheet?


Jimmy: Yeah totally.


Harold: Waste basket.


Jimmy: I went for a walk around the Ameliaverse recently, and a turkey vulture landed not 10ft away from me. We are like plagued by turkey vultures around here. It must have been close to 3ft high.


Harold: Wow.


Jimmy: I took a little picture, but it's not a great picture. So maybe I'll send it to Liz and if it's worth it, she'll put it on the website.


Liz: I will do.


Harold: Did you do a selfie with it?


Jimmy: I did not, no.


Harold: I'm assuming it was a him. I don't know. Could have been a female turkey vulture.

Jimmy: I think this turkey may have been a-- turkey vulture may have been a they/them. I don't know.


Harold: A They/them.


August 30. Snoopy's atop his dog house with his little typewriter. And Lucy comes up and she says, “sometimes I think you must be very naive. No one is ever going to pay you for those dumb stories you write.” Snoopy does not take this criticism well. And he starts crying. Lucy walks away saying, “and crying won't help. Publishers very seldom pay authors just to keep them from crying.” And in the last panel, Snoopy thinks, “what's wrong with those guys?”


Jimmy: By the way, I can confirm this. Publishers do not pay you to keep you from crying.


Harold: Well, how do you know?


Jimmy: Oh, I know.


Harold: Because you've been weeping openly before them, and they're like weeping.


Jimmy: Stop torturing me. Your idea isn't as funny as you think it is.


Harold: Stuff like that that's going to get them into AI.


Jimmy: Oh, hey, you know what? We'll talk about this a little bit. Harold and I actually had a very interesting conversation with someone from the biz. And they were saying that both publishers and studios are, like, jumping on the AI Bandwagon as something they could use as an early tool to, in quotes, create the intellectual property. And then they could just hire any knucklehead like me or whatever to write the story based on what the AI came up with. And then you would never have rights to your creations anymore. And they'd be able to

Harold: They would own their own universes. Right. That sounds familiar, huh? Because I was just thinking, like Marvel comics in a way, the entire work for hire system of comics. Marvel had how many years of different creators inserting all of their different ideas? It's kind of like the AI thing, but there's somebody who's just looking at the whole spectrum of the performances of Spiderman based on different writers and artists, and they saw, wow, this works amazingly because we had how many hundreds or thousands even of writers and artists who approached this character in all these different ways. They took all their different cracks at it. And now we've got this database that we use to pull from to make the Spiderman movies. And it's like, when they look at that, they can't help but think, wow, if we could create those worlds with AI. AI Fills in. I just have the slightest idea. I'd write two sentences and put it into AI. And all of a sudden, it spits back this world to me. And then I hire some artists that I know will, not claim ownership. Gosh, that is awfully tempting, I would think, to somebody who's not the creative type, who because how many times have you seen, like, in a movie pitch or a TV pitch or a series, there's an executive like, well, hmmm what if you put them in outer space? And it's like, that was my idea, right? It's like, wow, now they can say that to AI. And AI will generate something horrible. But then you pass this ream of 20 pages off to some unsuspecting writer who will then actually have to flesh it out.


Jimmy: Here's what I would suggest. If you were a young author, a writer, a cartoonist, whatever, especially if you're a cartoonist, let's say, coming up right now, and you're like, this is terrible. This is awful because it is terrible and awful. Don't make it your goal to write someone else's trademarked character. Did I talk about my hamburglar rule.


Harold: Your Hamburglar rule?


Jimmy: Yeah I don't think so. All right, well, whenever I got a book from a publisher, that I work with, right, and it was a guide for their trademark character, and it literally starts with, like, all the wonders and glory of our creation starts with this character. And you must treat this with great respect. And you start that, oh, it's a real honor that I get to work on this trademarked corporate character. And as soon as you think that, replace the character you're working with with Hamburglar and see if you still feel honored. So if you're working on Batman and you think, wow, what an honor it is that I'm working on Batman, change it to Hamburglar, because that's all it is. All it is, is someone's corporate IP that's selling money. It's not Hamlet.


Michael: You just alienated all the cartoonists in our audience.


Jimmy: No. Well, you know what? Look, the older ones, they've made their beds and they have to lie in it. That's the way it is. But we literally have come to a world where you don't have to rely on publishers. You don't have to rely on you don't have to rely on almost anything.


Michael: And you don't have to feed your family either.


Jimmy: No. Well, no, you can. People can clearly do-- look, I'm not criticizing people doing work for hire. I do work for hire every single week. I'm writing Disney bedtime stories as soon as we get off this. But it's not the only thing I do. And what I'm saying is it's tragic that we have all these other options, but we're not going to use them. Because comics are so traditionally, the cartoonists are so apathetic about their own treatment that they never stand up for themselves, ever.


Harold: What's interesting to me is if this is where things go and more and more and more of the percentage of the large, highly backed monied entities, whether it's movies, television, publishing, are going into creating their own brands in their own world in a way that's going to make a more sharp delineation between what the independent creator it's like shop local. It's like, this is the creation of this person. And that will become a delineation in people's minds and say, well, do you want to read the thing that because there are obviously great stories that someone can write using someone else's character and they'll add something to it. But there's something existentially different when it's a character that came from your very being from the very start.


Jimmy: Right.


Harold: And I wonder if that's going to start to make a difference and in a way, help the individual creator, because there will be people looking for those things that are the heart and soul of whoever came up with it in the first place and saw it through to the end. And that's really going to be the trick for any creator who's doing things in order. For them to be able to do it. This has always been the case. They have to be the one that takes it to the finish line. They have to do the finished work, find the way to create from beginning to end and get that under your belt so that you can do it on your own and you can as something that has your unique stamp on it that maybe doesn't rely on, too many others to fulfill its existence. And that's tough in comics because you have to wear a lot of hats.


Jimmy: Yeah you do. No, I mean, it's next to impossible to be a cartoonist. There's a lot of skills that you have to somehow have, even an illustrator, or like a fine artist, you can spend your whole life as a fine artist avoiding all kinds of things you don't want to draw. But a cartoonist has to draw whatever the story calls for. If you're going to talk about this, you have a lot of business sense and business ideas, or if you don't, at least try as best you can. It's hard. But I think if we put the focus as cartoonists, if we put the focus on cartoonists and instead of constantly walking into rooms and apologizing for ourselves, constantly keeping our head down, be proud of it and own it and say, I'm the creative person. You could not do this without me. Stand up for yourself a little bit, and you won't be run over when the terminators come to take you down.


Harold: Well, and you just touched on another wonderful positive of being your own creator, because you take the things in the direction you want to take them. So if you don't ever want to draw a Land Rover, you never have to draw a Land Rover.


Jimmy: In my new book, I am giving up anything I have no interest in doing. I'm not even attempting, like, perspective drawing. It's like, no, not even going to attempt to make perspective right. Just not even going to do it. And it's amazing leaving all the hang ups behind, how much more fun and free it ends up being. Just the stuff you want to do.


August 31. Sally is at her school. She's looking at the old brick wall and says, “okay, school summer is just about over.” She looks very annoyed. In panel two, she says, “you've had your rest now. You'd better watch out this year. I'm going to bring you to your knees,” she says. She angrily yells at the building in the last panel, Sally has left. But we see the building left alone, and the building itself sighs.


Michael: you may think this is the kind of stuff that I wouldn't like.


Jimmy: Of course, but no, now you're going to throw a curveball.


Michael: Totally, a knuckleball.


Jimmy: I love this.


Michael: I love these!


Jimmy: I don't understand you at all, Michael.


Michael: Because I believe, like, everything has consciousness.


Jimmy: It does. Yeah. Right. It's a very eastern way, right?


Michael: Yeah. No, for sure. I hadn't seen any of these before, and actually, I think they're great.


Jimmy: Wow. That is mind blowing. I am shocked out of my mind. Harold, what do you think?


Harold: I didn't remember reading these myself. And what makes it work is he really gives a personality to this building in a way. It's an adult in the strip. Right. You've got someone who's been around for a long time, and I kind of like hearing that perspective from this inanimate side of a school building and it has opinions about things, and it's not quite an adult in the sense that it's a building and it thinks like a building. I don't know how Schulz does it, but he pulls it off.


Michael: It can't be an adult. It has to be a kid building because he doesn't do adults well.


Jimmy: That's what he's saying, that this is his way of skirting that.


Michael: Anyway, I loved all of these.


Jimmy: I don't understand my friends at all. Okay.


Harold: what do you think, Jimmy?


Jimmy: What do I think of it? It's not my favorite. Well, I was prepared, actually. Totally. I'm shocked by this, to tell you the truth. I'm caught flat footed because I thought there was zero chance either of you would have a single nice thing to say. So everything I prepared is irrelevant. So I'm just going to move on. All right.


Michael: Alright, Move on.


Harold: So all of your statements are dependent on our initial statements?


Jimmy: Yes, exactly. Because I was going to refute them all. Okay.


Harold: You were actually going to defend the thing that you didn't like.


Jimmy: Correct.


Harold: Okay. I can respect that.


Jimmy: Yeah. Just to make it an interesting show. Okay. And actually, I could explain it in a way that's still relevant. When I was 14 years old. The Dark Knight Returns came out by Frank Miller. And, they only offer, like, 2000 subscriptions. I was one of them and I was 14 and I felt like I was reading something adult, even though I was reading something very adolescent. But I loved it and it had a huge effect on me and whatever. 15 years go by and they make a sequel and it's hated. It's reviled. It's terrible. I was so disappointed at the time. It's a mess. It's like, whatever. Then a few years go by and they bring another writer in to help right the ship, and they do a sort of professional fine version of The Dark Knight Returns for, like, part three. But in retrospect, the second one, that's nuts, that's one guy just putting crazy stuff on the paper. That's actually what I'd prefer. So, ultimately, do I think the bricks talking or the buildings talking works? It's not my favorite. It's down lower on the list. But I want the artists to be taking swings like this. That's how you get the World War I flying ace or the psychiatric booth or anything like that. So I'm here for the ride.


Harold: Yeah I can't say it's my favorite, but I find it fascinating.


Jimmy: Well, just the fact that you talked about it being like an adult, that blew my mind. Not as much as Michael saying he liked it. I'm going to be up at night just staring at the ceiling going, I don't understand anything.


Michael: Well, but it is Sally.


Jimmy: It is Sally. That's true. And that you are a Sally--


Michael: So maybe if it was Charlie Brown, I wouldn't like it.


Harold: Well, they do show up later in the strip, all having their individual interactions. Do you like those?


Michael: I don't remember those.


Harold: Well, I guess that answers the question.


Jimmy: It does always seem like this is a Sally thing. This is primarily a Sally thing. Sally talking to the school.


Harold: Yeah she started it.


Jimmy: And she becomes the one that it happens to the most.


September 18, We're still at the old school. Now, Lucy comes up to Sally and says, “good grief, don't tell me your whole family talks to buildings.” Sally walks away as Lucy yells after her. “You're as crazy as your brother.” Panel three. The building gets revenge by dropping a loose brick on Lucy. And then in the last panel, Lucy is knocked silly on the ground and the building says, “we're all a little crazy, kid.”


Michael: This building's got poisonality. And that's what I like.


Harold: Yeah I picked this one, out of these strips because Schulz is just taking this to such a strange, unique you know, that this building is dropping bricks, knowing that someone's going to put them back in, I guess, by the next strip, on these characters.


Jimmy: Well, I learned I know nothing about my friends. I don't understand anything. But you know what I do understand? I understand that it's time for a break. So why don't we do that now? You guys get yourself a refreshing beverage or whatever, and then, we'll come back and finish up this year. So while we're doing that, if you want to, get in touch with us, you can go onto our website, unpackingpeanuts.com. That's where you could sign up for that Peanuts reread, which is where you'll get our newsletter. You could shoot us, a text or send us a voicemail at 717219. What's the last numbers?


Liz: 4162. I was going to be so impressed If you knew it.


Jimmy: No, never going to happen. You could do that and on social media, on Instagram and Twitter. We're at Unpack Peanuts. Facebook. Unpacking Peanuts. So while we're getting our beverages, you take care of all that, and then we'll see you on the other side of this break.


BREAK:


VO: Hi, everyone. Have you seen the latest anger and Happiness index? Have you admired the photo of Jimmy as Luke Skywalker? Or read the details of how Michael Co created the first comic book price guide? Just about every little known subject we mention is referenced on the Unpacking Peanuts website. Peanut's obscurities are explained further, and other stories are expanded more than you ever wanted to know, from Albert Payson Terhune to Zipatone. Annette Funicello to Zorba the Greek, plus the latest tier list. And, of course, the Shermometer. check it all out@unpackingpeanuts.com/obscurities.


Jimmy: And we're back, heading down the home stretch.


September 28. Snoopy, in a fetching football helmet, is running. He looks like he's about to kick a football. And in panel two, we see poor little Woodstock is holding the football, waiting for Snoopy to try to kick it in. Panel three, Snoopy does give the football a giant boot. And panel four, we see Woodstock has clung to Snoopy's foot. Snoopy sent the ball flying.


Michael: I got to admit, this is the rare case where I don't get it. I'm not following what's happening here. Now, if Woodstock clung to his foot, you'd see him in panel three behind it.


Harold: He’s behind Snoopy.


Michael: Behind what?


Harold: His snoot or his foot. Yeah. If you want to see the cutest panel of 1974, check out September 28. I chose this one because it's just an adorable last panel.


Jimmy: It's a great panel, and I think that's going back to Schulz working on his little yellow legal pad, scribbling stuff around. That seems like something that could have come out of that process for sure.


Harold: Oh, see, maybe that's why Woodstock is yellow, because it was right there in front of him on his legal pad when he was sketching away.


Jimmy: You're right.


October 22. Schroeder is pounding away at the old toy piano, and Snoopy is dancing on top of it, this irritates Schroeder who says, “look, dog, this is a brand new piano. If there's one thing it doesn't need,” says Schroeder as he kind of clears away the top of the piano, “is a lot of claw marks.” Snoopy jumps right back up and starts dancing and says, “how about a distressed finish?”


Harold: yeah I laughed out loud at this one.


Jimmy: Are you guys familiar-- I'm sure you're not. One of the things I love to do is find the lowest stakes possible entertainment that will arouse almost no, emotion in me. And one of the things I found is guitar YouTube. It's just, like, the most boring.


Harold: When you said that, I could just see a guitar propped up against a wall and, like, going, all right, what do you think, kid?


Jimmy: Basically, yeah. That is basically the video.


Harold: I was played once by a guy who was the second stand in for the guy who left Blue Oyster Cult.


Jimmy: Well, no, one thing that it's a trend now that you could go and you could buy yourself, like, a Les Paul guitar for $2,000, which is insane to me.


Harold: That needs to be Less, Paul.


Jimmy: Yeah or you can spend ten grand and have someone age it for you. They make it look hideous


Harold: acid washed.


Jimmy: Yeah it's acid washed. Guitars-- basically spend an extra eight grand to make it look like someone left it in their attic for 60 years.


Harold: that's worth every penny.


Jimmy: I would love to have that job. Could you imagine the stress relief? You're just like, attacking guitars with knives and axes. Great. I assume that's how they do it. They attack them with knives and axes?


Harold: Yeah. I think Brillo must be involved.


Jimmy: Steel wool is a big part of it. Yes. I have seen some videos of them doing it.


October 24. Hey, we're at the building again, the old school building. Sally's talking to it, and she says, “It wasn't even my fault. The teacher thought I was talking, but I wasn't, and she wouldn't believe me.” Sally looks at her hands. She's upset. She says, “and I had to write I will not talk in class a thousand times and now all my fingers are falling off.” She very upset, leans against the school building, and the school building says, “poor sweet baby.”


Michael: I don't like this. I don't like catchphrases that are funny just because they exist.


Harold: Why do you think it's just there because it exists?


Michael: Well, because it's not particularly funny. And he's used it, like, five times in different situations. So it's sort of like a virus. Everyone suddenly is saying this thing.


Harold: I like it.


Michael: It's only funny because he's done it so many times before.


Harold: What if it wasn't funny? What if it wasn't funny, Michael? What if this was just a little moment of pathos with Sally?


Jimmy: Yeah. It's not. Know if we were talking about we were talking in our last episode or maybe the episode before where Harold, you read a thing from that cartoonist profiles piece and he specifically says he's talking about this period of strip. He says, I'm doing less gags now and just relying on the personality of the characters to carry the strip. So he's intentionally trying to do less gags.


Harold: The reason I do like this may be along the same lines why you don't like it, Michael, is because and goes back to Jimmy's theory about Schulz being a character in the story. If all the different characters are using this phrase, then I feel like it's Charles Schulz using the phrase. It feels more like the author because multiple characters are saying it. And that's probably why it turns you off, Michael. But maybe there's something reassuring to me because it's coming from Schulz himself.


Michael: Well, it is self referential.


Harold: Yeah.


Michael: I sort of wonder if people reading this one strip a day would know. Four months ago, somebody said that we're reading it the whole year in, like, a day or two.


Harold: I think it stands on its own.


Jimmy: Do you feel that they need to.


Michael: Uh well, no, because it's not a good punchline.


Jimmy: But if he's not trying to make it a punchline right.


Michael: But I think the only humor in it is that if you remember that boy, everybody's saying this now.


Harold: Yeah I think you're right. If you're looking for humor, that's going to be the reason. It would be considered funny. Yeah I think so. All I can say is, I feel like Schulz got the wall right five years before Pink Floyd. We do need some education. We don't need the thought control.


November 4, Peppermint Patty is skating out on a frozen pond, and Marcie is watching. She says, “I didn't know you could skate, sir.” Peppermint Patty continues to practice, saying, “I'm really into sports, Marcie. It's my life. When I grow up, I'm going to play professional ball in the summer and skate in an ice show in the winter.” Then in panel three, there's a glorious shot of Peppermint Patty sailing through the air. As she says, “during the offseason, I'll probably do a little bowling or pop a wheelie in a motocross.” Then last panel, Peppermint Patty has landed headfirst into the snow with her feet sticking out. And Marcie says, “you're an amazing person, sir.” Peppermint Patty says “stop calling me sir.”


Jimmy: I actually think if I had to pick, I think this is my favorite long sequence, this skating one, because it was all of these I bought in that book, or that box set from Scholastic Book Fairs. I remember reading this on that day I took the day off just to read my Peanuts books and just being so impressed that it goes on and on and on. And this is, in fact, the longest sequence in the Peanuts run.


Harold: In the entire Peanuts run.


Jimmy: How long is yes, long.


Harold: We could go back and count.


Jimmy: Here it is several strips, but it's very long. And, I love all the drawing in this, because this shows Schulz is spending time at that ice arena, and he really does know skating. Those look like very observed drawings. And I do love that third yeah.


Harold: That is with the clouds below her. I think that's just a beautiful touch there. It's interesting. We've been talking about how sports really took over the strip in these recent years. And I was just thinking about, obviously, he built an ice arena with his wife that to this day, is being used by the community there. But it's kids know, it wasn't just him who was into sports. which of the daughters, was the ice skater?


Jimmy: I don't know if it's Jill or Amy.


Harold: You can easily look that up. But the motocross, Craig, was a dirt bike racer, so he's kind of alluding to his own children in these sequences that they got into sports, which I think is kind of neat.


Jimmy: Yeah very much so. To give like, I thought about actually requesting doing this entire sequence as a standalone thing, but to just give people a summary of it. Peppermint Patty signs up for a skating competition, and it follows her entire saga. Her practicing with her coach, who ends up being Snoopy. Then we see Marcie trying to make her a dress for the show. And it all comes from Peppermint Patty has this vision of the world that she thinks is true, and she just ramrods her way through things and then finds out that a lot of times she has things kind of wrong. She wants Marcie to make a dress for her, but doesn't seem to acknowledge that Marcie doesn't know how to sew. She's just going to sort of magically think Marcie into being able to make her a dress. And this leads us up to November 30, where Peppermint Patty wanted to look as nice as she could for this, so she decided to go get a fancy new hairdo. So who did she go to but Charlie Brown's dad? And here on


November 30, we see Peppermint Patty with the worst haircut in history, a boy's haircut. And she's screaming at Charlie Brown “Chuck, look at my hair. You didn't tell your dad I'm a girl? Look, he gave me a boy's haircut.” In the foreground of this panel, we see Snoopy making a snowman. In panel three, Peppermint Patty, with her terrible haircut, is yelling, “I can't go to a skating competition looking like this.” Then she starts crying, waah, as she leans up against the snowman. And Snoopy says, “easy with the tears, please. You're melting m my snowman.”


Michael: I think they are in Russia.


Harold: Snoopy's little hat and coat. Yeah. So we're back in Minnesota, at least here I don't but so does that mean Charlie Brown's dad is really a terrible barber?


Jimmy: Well, he's just know he's not hip to the changing fashions of the world. That a girl could look like Peppermint Patty and act like Peppermint Patty. We see in an earlier it's a great strip. We should have picked that one where she's like, talking to Charlie Brown's dad and says, you know, I could strike out your son on three straight pitches. Which the dad's probably like, all right, big deal.


Harold: So Jill jill is, the skater here. I didn't realize this. it says she is the executive producer, director, and choreographer at All Wheel Sports Productions. So she is still deep into that world.


Jimmyl: All right. Way to go Jill.


December 22. It's a Sunday. Snoopy's on top of his dog house, and he's typing away. He types “The gift.” Then in the next panel, “it was the holiday season.” Snoopy continues to type. “She and her husband had decided to attend a performance of King Lear. It was their first night out together in months.” Snoopy is typing throughout all of this. “During the second act, one of the performers became ill. The manager of the theater walked onto the stage and asked, is there a doctor in the house? Her husband stood up and shouted, I have an honorary degree from Anderson College. “He finished his typing by saying “it was at that moment when she decided not to get him anything for Christmas.”


Harold: Well, it's funny how he begins the year referring to himself in the Rose Parade as the-- was with grand marshal. And here he is, kind of alluding to himself, in December, end of December, because he did get an honorary doctoral degree in 1963 from Anderson College in Indiana. So that's kind of fun that he's--


Jimmy: go Anderson.


Harold: Yeah he just seems very present in the strip right now.



Jimmy: Yeah very much. That's why I find it very satisfying to approach it that way. Almost like this is Schulz's diary. And he's using these characters as some sort of letters forms almost to move.

Harold: Around alluding to his children, alluding to himself.


Jimmy: Yeah. And poor sweet baby, is a Jeannie thing, right?


It's Christmas, December 25. Snoopy is lying atop his dog house, wide awake. And he thinks, “poor Woodstock. He'll never know the joy of waking up on Christmas morning and finding a new bicycle parked under the Christmas tree.” Snoopy jumps off his doghouse to go comfort Woodstock. “I'd better go over and console him,” thinks Snoopy. But then in the last panel, we do in fact see Woodstock riding a tiny little bicycle.


Jimmy: I picked this because of the picture of Woodstock riding the tiny little bicycle, which I just love that picture. I love that whole panel.


Harold: And this gets explained, which is not necessarily the case. Right. The surreality of the strip would have allowed him just to end. Do you like Michael? That it gets explained? It actually built into the story.


Michael: Absolutely. Yeah. I want everything explained.


Jimmy: Well, I was thinking about know that actually makes a lot of sense though. You and I have so many similar way. We have very similar tastes in absolutely everything. But they're like five degrees off. And I think part of it is like you're a science fiction writer and a fantasy writer. You have to make the world make sense. Because if fantasy contains an additional element of unexplained surreality, the whole thing truly does fall apart.


Michael: Right.


Jimmy: Whereas if I'm working in a day to day, whatever you call it, slice of life thing, I might want to put a little fantasy in just because my topic is so dry and and so it's this weird sort of almost a cognitive dissonance. But of course, if you're going to have a fantasy, it has to make sense. You think it should be the opposite, but it's not.


Michael: Well, in my days as your quote unquote editor on Amelia, you once had one of your characters actually floating, know, with some kind of heavy emotion. And I went like, why is he floating? What is this? I don't understand this.


Jimmy: Don't understand. Well, actually, it was worse then. And I'm like, well, you know, he's feeling love. He has a crush. So he's kind of floating. And you said, yeah yeah. But she's grabbing his hand and trying to pull him back down. I'm like I have no answer. With Amelia, actually, though, I could get away with all of that because it's Amelia telling the story, right? So she could always be exaggerating or it doesn't matter. You're just seeing what she tells you.


Michael: But I was very happy when the bicycle got explained.


Jimmy: Do we want to explain the bicycle you guys want to do? Yeah.


Harold: Well, it's in December 27. I'll go ahead and share this. So Charlie Brown is writing a letter at the famous desk, the rounded desk in his house. And he says, gentlemen, I ordered a toy bicycle for my sister's doll set. It was supposed to be here by Christmas. Perhaps it was delivered to the wrong address. Snoopy has shown up, and his ears are straight up in surprise and awareness. And then Charlie Brown, with this pencil to his mouth, holds up the paper looking at it, says, would you look into the matter, please? Thank you. And then we cut to Snoopy, looking at Woodstock on the bicycle, who just has that blissful look of happiness riding around. And Snoopy says, I refuse to be the one who tells him.


Jimmy: Yeah I like it. I like it a lot. I think it's a great, fun way, to end the year. I agree with Michael. It's great that it gets explained. I think he's ending the year on an up note.

That brings us to the end of the year, guys. We are one year away from being at the exact midway point of this epic, which is right. So, guys, so that just leaves then, I guess, for the end of the year here for you guys to give me your MVP and your strip of the Year. Michael, why don't you go first?


Michael: Okay, well, gosh. I'm, just going to be kind of obnoxious and pick the school building as Most Valuable Peanut.


Jimmy: I think Michael just likes to do things just to upset my apple cart and just be like, I can't figure anything out anymore. It's a great pick. And how about your strip?


Michael: Okay, I'm going with May 29. Just because Linus has such a great little snarky comeback. This is where he says, I have a better idea. Why don't you have your mouth boarded up? And it's totally worth getting slugged in the face for.


Jimmy: That worth one hit.


Michael: Yeah.


Jimmy: Harold, how about you?


Harold: Well, this is a freewheeling 1974. So in that spirit, I'm going to agree with Michael. It is the brick building, the school.


Michael: No shit.


Harold: And in that freewheeling spirit, I'm going to give it to Sally, April 29, when she didn't want to see a movie with all that throwing up in it. That was my runner up.


Jimmy: Oh, that's a great strip. That is an absolute great strip. Okay, boy. Well, I can't let you two seem like the freewheeling ones, for God's sake. So I'm going to go with Loretta.


Harold: The Girl Scout. Yeah.


Jimmy: As my MVP, and my strip of the year, I was going to go with the old knuckle shoe just because that was on my lunch can all those years ago. But I think I'm actually going to go with August 24 Snoopy and Woodstock as the Vultures. Pure drawing and just I think Woodstock as the vulture is awesome. So those are my picks.


We would love to hear your picks. Who's your most valuable Peanut? What's your strip of the year? You can tell us these things by emailing us. You can do that by going on Unpackingpeanuts.com. you can find us on, Instagram and Twitter, where we're at unpack peanuts


Liz: and Threads!


Jimmy: and Threads, where we're unpackpeanuts.


Harold: All snazzy threads now.


Jimmy: Threads, baby. And we're Unpacking Peanuts on Facebook.


Harold: Oh, and you can also correct all of our egregious errors when you hear us saying something, no, they're wrong. This happened.


Jimmy: Yes, you could let us know we're wrong. You could do that by reaching out directly to Harold. Or could also, if you wanted to, you could help us out. You could buy us a mud pie. You could buy a t shirt. You could support us on Patreon. You can find all that stuff by going to Unpackingpeanuts.com. And, basically, we just love to hear from you as we continue this journey.


So what's coming up next? We're going to wrap up this season with a big finale. We're going to have a very special guest coming up, Mr. Ivan Brunetti, a wonderful cartoonist that we had a great conversation with. Then we're going to take a couple weeks off before we hit the back nine, as they say. So until next week, for Michael and Harold, this is Jimmy. Be of good cheer.

Michael and Harold: Yes, be of good cheer.


VO: Unpacking Peanuts is copyright jimmy Gowley, 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. Unpacking Peanuts on Facebook and YouTube. For more about Jimmy, Michael, and Harold visit, have a wonderful day and thanks for listening.


Jimmy: I don't understand my friends at all.


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