Jimmy: Hey, everybody. Welcome back to the show. This is Unpacking Peanuts. Today we're looking at the second half of 1970. I'm your host for the proceedings. My name is Jimmy Gownley. I'm also a cartoonist. I did books like the Amelia Rules series, Seven Good Reasons Not to Grow Up, and the Dumbest Idea Ever.
Joining me, as always, are my pals co hosts and fellow cartoonists. He's a playwright and a composer, both for the band Complicated People, as well as for this very podcast. The co creator of the original comic book Price Guide, the original editor for Amelia Rules, and the creator of such great strips as Strange Attractors, A Gathering of Spells, and Tangled River, it's Michael Cohen.
Harold: Say hey.
Jimmy: He is 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. It's Harold Buchholz.
Jimmy: Hey, guys. It's, 1976. I say we just get into the strips.
Michael: Yes, let's do it.
Jimmy: All right, so if you guys out there want to follow along, what you could do is you hop on over to the old Unpacking Peanuts website there. You're going to sign up for the Great Peanuts Reread, and that'll get you one email a month from us letting you know what strips we're going to cover. That way you can, do a little homework ahead of time and read along with us. Other ways you can follow along, you can go to GoComics.com type in Peanuts. As I read the date, you type it in there, and away you go. So let's get started.
May 1. Snoopy is atop what is left of his doghouse. It is one spindly looking little, twig and a rough hewn corner. Snoopy yells to the cat next door, “hey, cat. I don't really appreciate this nick you put in my doghouse.” He continues in the next panel. “But I'm going to forgive you. You want to know why I forgive you? Because that's the kind of guy I am. That's why” he says as he lays back down on what's left of his doghouse. But then in panel four, he sits back up again and says, “just don't ask to borrow any of my Joni James records again.”
Michael: I had no idea what this was.
Jimmy: Oh, I would assume you would have known who Joni James was. I don't know who she is, but.
Michael: I have no idea. I still don't.
Harold: This is fascinating to me. First off, just to focus on the strip itself, I know, Michael, you said you didn't particularly care for these strips. I love the way Schulz has drawn this slashing of his doghouse, which is becoming a regular thing this year. It almost looks like the cat was moving so fast with its claws that it actually caused a little singeing and burning.
Jimmy: It does look burned.
Harold: But I like the relationship with Snoopy. You know, you never see the cat. It's one of those off screen characters. And, I just love that. It's just don't ask to borrow any of my Joni James records AGAIN. You know, there might be a more complex relationship between Snoopy and this cat than we are aware of.
Michael: But wouldn't the Joni James records be in the basement, which isn't there.
Jimmy: They must be in the basement rec room.
Michael: Yeah, but it's gone.
Jimmy: That's where all the action is.
Harold: Yeah, well, that's maybe why he's saying it, right? Somehow he's disintegrated all of that, shellac, but Joni James like, yeah, I think all three of us, we were like, this question mark popped up. And so I thought, okay.
VO: Peanuts Obscurities Explained
Harold: Maybe for some people, this is not an obscurity at all, but for us, apparently, it is.
Jimmy: No idea.
Harold: And this is the thing that blew my mind. Joni James had 25 top 40 hits between 1952 and 1960 on the Billboard chart.
Michael: Must have been, like, country western or something.
Harold: Well, she did do a cover. Her number two went to number two. The second biggest selling song she ever did was when Hank Williams recorded Your Cheatin Heart.
Harold: He passed away before it was released in 1953, and it went straight to number one on the country charts. But, just a few months later, Joni James did a version of it that went to the general charts, and it peaked at number two. And that was the second biggest hit she ever had. But she did do a number one with Why Don't You Believe Me? So these are songs that are often not played on the radio because it's just a little bit too old and not quite rock and roll, right?
Harold: But the fact that she had all of, these hit songs and that she's not remembered among our generation at all is pretty crazy. I mean, I don't know who else has 25 top 40 hits that we wouldn't know who it is. I actually saw her on YouTube and was just watching some of her stuff and yeah, she's kind of a little more old school in her performances, certainly. it's not all country by any stretch. It's just more kind of straight ballads and that sort of thing. The thing that also blew me away is in 1953 and 1954, she had eight songs, in a row that charted. And it was like, the most consistent charting I'd ever seen. It was like she had this must have this dedicated fan base, because the songs charted at 23, 27, 22, 22, 22, 23, 23, and 28.
Jimmy: Wow. It's the same exact amount of people going out every month or whatever it is.
Harold: That's right. The Joni James fan club was like, we are going to make a hit.
Michael: So do you think Charles Schulz was out there buying her records every week.
Harold: Schulz was a fan and a friend of Joni James. Yeah. In fact, he drew Snoopy for a CD cover. One of the last things he ever drew, outside of the strip was for her CD. So she was obviously involved. She just died last year.
Jimmy: Oh my gosh.
Harold: I think she was in her nineties. And, yeah. It's pretty crazy that there's this whole world of music that is just-- I'm fascinated by things that just get forgotten after their era. And this is definitely one of them, at least for us.
Michael: Something that I'm sure my mom always had the radio. I was like a kid, but she had the radio on all the time. So a lot of the pop music of the 50s sounds familiar to me. I didn’t know ho was who, but...
Harold: Yeah. And I'm sure we've got listeners who are like, you guys don't know who Joni James is?
Jimmy: Yeah. It's always embarrassing
Harold: What’s wrong with you?
Jimmy: Well, you can't know everything.
Harold: So yeah. If you're a Joni James fan, chime in, let us know. She's not alone.
Michael: that's obscure
Jimmy: I'm going to become a hardcore Joni James fan. I'm going to know everything. Next time we come back, I'm going to be like, I'll know everything about Joni James.
Michael: What I find odd is the first panel. Now, if you couldn't talk and you were thinking really loud, would you open your mouth like you were screaming?
Jimmy: I might. Now that is not to say I think it's a normal appropriate behavior, but I might do it.
Harold: Yeah. This cat and Snoopy, there's something else going on here that we don't fully understand.
Jimmy: Yeah, it is very strange. That does make me laugh when you pointed out that he's just thinking hard. Very funny.
May 9. Oh, no. It's a Mother's Day strip. Get ready, people. I know. All right. Poor little Woodstock is walking around with a flower and a Mash/ small worldwide conglomeration of signs spelling out mother in different languages. mom, I guess, actually in different languages. And in the next panel, we see him just with the flower. It's one of those old school 1950s super long flowers sitting on top of a hill. Snoopy comes up to, see what's going on with this pal. So then Snoopy sees him sitting there and he thinks to himself, communicates to Woodstock, “you know, you could sit here for the rest of your life waiting for your mom to fly by.” Snoopy continues. “She could be in Anchorage or in the Caribbean or Duluth for all you know. Or maybe she's in a birdcage somewhere.” And this does not go over well with Woodstock. He is shocked at the very thought of this. And in the next panel, he is sobbing uncontrollably. And Snoopy's extremely upset. He says, “oh, I didn't mean it. Cut out my tongue.” But Woodstock's crying. Woodstock is still crying in the next panel. And Snoopy's still yelling, “forget I said it, forget I said it.” And then the next panel, he hugs Woodstock tight, who's still holding on to the flower, and he says, “there there little friend. Don't cry, don't cry. Your mom's not in a bird cage. Don't cry.” And Woodstock sniffs. But Woodstock is crying. And then the next panel, Snoopy and Woodstock are sitting on top of the hill, and Snoopy has a little smile on his face and he says, “we'll just sit here together until your mom flies by and then you can give her the flower.” And then in the last panel, Snoopy says, “who invents these stupid holidays anyway?”
Michael: This is harsh.
Jimmy: It's really sad.
Harold: This is a beautiful and sad strip. This relationship between these two characters is just, we just know them and to see them go through this together, it really touches you.
Jimmy: Well, it's crazy. And you see that third from the last panel, and you've seen Snoopy hug Woodstock before, but it's always like a joyful hug, right?
Jimmy: And this is like this comforting again, you know, we've said it a million times with just the most minimal amount of drawing. Clearly, Schulz was not a fan of these Hallmark holidays, which is funny considering how much--
Harold: Yeah, this is essentially biting the hand that feeds you a little bit. It's obliquely referring to Hallmark. If you're going to choose anybody who you think is really pushing the holidays.
Jimmy: Pushing it's in, and, you know, obviously, the loss of his mom right before he went to, what a horrible thing to go through right before you're off to war, you lose your mother.
Harold: How lonely does that feel? Yes.
Jimmy: And clearly, here we are, 40, no, 35 years later, whatever, something like that. And, he's still feeling it, clearly.
Harold: Yeah, it's just a masterful little strip. The second panel, one of the throwaways, is a classic, too. It's this little, very tall, rounded mound of grass that Woodstock is sitting toward the front of with the flower facing away from Snoopy as he walks up. It's really nice. And definitely that hug, that third to last panel, a version of that has become so famous and so iconic for Peanuts. It's been in so many different, things of posters and the t shirts, you name it. That really struck a chord with a lot of people, for sure.
Jimmy: I always loved Woodstock because it was always a part of the strip since I was a little kid. But I love him a lot more since we started going through it strip by strip and doing this podcast. it's a very touching, sweet, sad comic strip.
June 5, we're at the old baseball field. Charlie Brown's atop the mound, Lucy's behind the mound. And she says to him, “you know what our team needs Charlie Brown? It needs to promote.” Charlie Brown says “promote what?” And Lucy answers, “promote me to president.” Then she walks away laughing, “ha ha ha ha ha.” And Charlie Brown looks out at us and says, I wonder if I could trade her to Charlie Finley.
Harold: you know, we got a double header.
Jimmy: All right, well, I do not know. Was he married to Joni James, by any chance?
Harold: No, I can't say we had that much of an amazing serendipity. But again, it's so fun diving into these things that Schulz found interesting and thought at the time, this is going to fly as a punchline.
Charlie Finley was the owner of the Oakland A's at the time, and he had owned them first. He'd bought them when they were the Athletes in Kansas City. And this guy is a huge character. So I'm guessing if you knew baseball at the time and you were really into all of the behind the scenes stuff, you knew this guy, especially living in California. And he tried to buy the Athletics back in 54, when he was only 36 years old, when they were in Philly. And he was this crazy promoter character. He said, he changed the, elephant mascot with a live mule once he had bought it. He was always tinkering with the stuff he could affect.
He has a Beatles tie in, really. He created the record for the most paid for a single concert to The Beatles by getting them to come to Kansas City. Paid $150,000 for them to do 25 minutes concert, 25 minutes show.
Harold: And, he promised the people, Kansas City, I'm going to bring the Beatles to Kansas City. And they were all booked up. He called up Brian Epstein. I think he actually went to meet Brian twice. And Brian turned him down the first time, he said, no, we don't have any breaks. We've got a New Orleans day, off that time. We are not going to do it. And then, so that's when it got up to $150,000. And then Brian, you know what?
Jimmy: We could squeeze it in.
Harold: I think we could maybe make that work. And he's also somewhat infamous for pressuring them to try to, try to pressure them to make them play longer than a half an hour for their $150,000, which John really didn't appreciate after losing his New Orleans. On the tickets, it said, Charles O. Finley is pleased to present for the enjoyment of the Beatles fans in mid America, The Beatles in person with a photo of himself on the back of the Beatles wig.
Jimmy: That is amazing.
Harold: This guy is crazy. So the A's won like, three World Series, 72, 74, 76. So they're definitely in the Zeitgeist at the time. So maybe a decent number of people who knew who was, and maybe Schulz himself had some contact, with him.
Jimmy: It seems like that's kind of a thing that could happen.
Harold: I'm guessing this guy reached out to Schulz for something. Come on out to the A's day and meet Schulz And but the other thing that he's famous for I thought was hilarious. And it's kind of tied in here to what we're reading in this strip is, Free Agency had just hit baseball, and Finley took advantage of that to sell off a bunch of his top players at really high prices. And the Major League baseball commissioner stopped him because he's like, you're basically stripmining your team. And Finley was so mad, he sued the baseball commissioner and.
Jimmy: He oh my gosh.
Harold: It's just crazy. He created a mechanical robot that would deliver new balls to the umpire at shows. I mean, he was a real character. Anyway, so that's the story.
Jimmy: Well, there you go. All right. Wow. This is the most educational podcast we've ever done.
Harold: Thanks, Wikipedia.
Jimmy: This is exciting.
Michael: Oh my god. Then he goes to Kansas City.
Harold: Kansas City, here I come.
June 21, Snoopy goes to Kansas City.
Michael: What is going on?
Here he is on the back of, a train, a trolley car, beautifully drawn. And, yeah, beautifully drawn. He hops off in Kansas City saying “Kansas City.” Then he thinks to himself, “wow, what a place.” And he's walking around, he thinks, “I should send that round headed kid another note or a card to let him know I'm all right.” Then he thinks to himself, “I wonder if you can get greeting cards in Kansas City?”
Jimmy: That's an in joke.
Jimmy: because of course, that's where Hallmark was.
Michael: Yeah, see, I would not know.
Harold: This, so I'm guessing I don't think many people you look at June 21 and then you go back to May 9 and we just read that the Mother's Day card. I'm guessing he's like, oh. I need to do a daily that maybe throws them a bone.
Jimmy: Yeah. you’re probably right about that because I'm sure they were very up on what the current Peanuts strip was doing because they're looking for art, they're looking for gags, all that stuff to fill their cards.
Jimmy: Who comes up with these stupid holidays? Probably didn't go over great on that Monday morning.
Harold: And this probably was scheduled to come out like the day before so that they would, in a forgiving mood. And maybe he went to Kansas City at this time as well. That's how they all got in there and met them.
Jimmy: Yeah, definitely could be. But yeah, that's definitely a reference to good old Hallmark, who I imagine still make Peanuts cards to this day because they've done all the little ornaments and stuff. And, they have a long, long relationship with the Peanuts folks.
Harold: Yeah, they've done them good.
July 11, we have a really psychedelic, abstract, first panel with Snoopy as a silhouette atop his dog house in front of a blazing gigantic sun.
Harold: I think that was a blacklight Hallmark greeting card at one point.
Jimmy: Yeah, probably was, yes.
Panel two, another throwaway. Snoopy and Woodstock atop the doghouse. Panel three, Snoopy's looking up at the sky and he says, “it looks like tomorrow will be another nice day. Red at night, sailors delight.” He says, “Red in the morning, sailors take warning.” This is an old, thing he is quoting. So then he looks at Woodstock and says, “red at noon, fly a balloon.” This tickles. Woodstock, “hee hee.” “Red at ten. A big fat hen.” Woodstock can't get enough of this. That's a four laugher for Woodstock. “Red at three, kiss a bee. Red at four, close the door.” Woodstock is dying, laughing. “Red at five. Don't give me that jive.” Woodstock laughs so hard that he falls off the dog house. Snoopy rolls his eyes and says, “red before bed. How's your head?” And Woodstock again thinks that's hilarious. Lots of hee hee hee hee.
Harold: Oh, my gosh. This was my mother in law's, one of her very favorite Peanuts strips. She loved this strip, and I remember it really fondly because I think this is the beginning of the two characters getting so silly on the dog house that they fall off and hit their head, which becomes a recurring theme, I think, through the second half of, Peanuts. So this is a little moment of history as well.
Jimmy: Very cute.
Harold: I know. I've seen other ones that were like, years later, he was still doing this motif of them getting silly.
Jimmy: Oh, yes. I'm sure it goes into the 90s, 100 percent.
July 27. All right, we're in the middle of a story here where a, young lad has, insulted Marcie by calling her Lamb Cake, and she has flattened him. So we pick it up with the kid flattened, just lying there on the ground. Peppermint Patty and Marcie are there. Marcie looks still angry, and Peppermint Patty says to her, “Marcie you can't slug somebody for calling you Lamb Cake.” The kid wakes up, he's like, “what happened? Where am I?” Peppermint Patty says, “Sorry, kid, my friend here doesn't understand.” And then the little boy, whom Marcie flattens, says to Peppermint Patty, “I like your friend. I think she's cute, sir.” This causes Peppermint Patty to go off, and she kicks him in the butt, yelling, “don't call me sir.”
Harold: Wow, this poor kid. He's just not dealing with the right two people.
Jimmy: What do you guys think of, know, razor or what would you call it? A hair trigger.
Harold: Right. It's it's a she's a really interesting character, and I've actually really enjoyed reading the Marcie strips this year, getting to know her a little better. Yeah.
Jimmy: What do you think, Michael, what are your feelings about Marcie at this point, having come to her fairly recently?
Michael: I do like the character. I guess she's used to being laughed at because she thinks his kid's laughing at her. That's what I'm -- He's making fun of her by calling her lamb cake. She just doesn't understand how the world works.
Jimmy: Yeah, I guess that is right. Although these days, the kid would get punched again.
Harold: Probably she's ahead of her time, but I love the clouds in that first panel. It seems like in Peppermint Patty's world we've mentioned this before, things can subtly change in terms of the background that the world that she lives in. It's just got that more that looser. While we were kind of saying kind of that grungy 70s vibe.
Jimmy: Yeah. No, he definitely puts a little bit extra moxie on the line to make it just a little bit rougher for some reason. And I don't know if it was conscious or if we're just crazy.
Harold: It could be thinking-- we were talking about how Schulz kind of loosened his line up over the years. Yeah. And how that probably led a lot of other creators to do it. But I was just thinking, who was doing that before Schulz?
Harold: Feiffer was doing it. And I think Johnny Hart was doing it, too.
Michael: What do you mean? The kind of little funny looking clouds.
Jimmy: And abstract yeah, like the loose, abstract.
Michael: Krazy Kat, where it's just all surreal backgrounds.
Jimmy: That's true.
Harold: Yeah. Well, certainly there was kind of that scratchy, goofy, screwball, style for years earlier, but it seems like it really cleaned up, like in the see it's so pristine with Schulz when he's beginning in the yeah. I don't know if he's seeing other artists and following what they're doing, or he's just marching to his own drummer.
Jimmy: One thing that's interesting that we don't really think about a lot is these things are being reproduced in these newspapers, and they're being reproduced on newsprint, they're being reproduced on different presses all over the country. All over the world. I think probably there was a general movement towards a cleaner, more graphic, more maybe slightly more minimalist style in general, partly because of that. And of course, we know that the shrinking size of the comics affects it all.
Harold: Yeah. And you definitely see it here. I mean, look at the size of this lettering compared to say, what it was in the mid 50s. It's huge. And does it seem like his line art has the extent of the thicks and thins kind of maybe it goes more to this kind of thicker middle ground. I don't know if he changed size of what he was working with, because we know he's been using the same tool for a while. Or are we just looking at consistently reproduced images that kind of tend to thicken up? I don't know.
Maybe, one of our listeners at the museum who can go back and look and say, when did that strip change size? If he didn't change his tools, why does it look thicker here in the 70s. The line looked thicker. And I love the look actually here of these strips in the 70s. Although I do miss a little bit of the thicks and thins that I felt like I was seeing that were a little more defined in the late 60s.
Jimmy: Yeah. One of the things I find well, there's a couple of things I want to say. First off, I ran into a friend of mine recently and, said, oh, what are you doing? And I said, oh, we're doing this podcast about Peanuts. And he said, oh, that's great, because you know everything about Peanuts. And I thought, I hope no one thinks I think that, you know what I mean? I'm doing this podcast so I could learn things about Peanuts that I know everything.
Harold: I'm in awe of what some people know about Peanuts. I mean, some of them are writing us and telling us all these things.
Jimmy: Oh, yeah.
Harold: We just have no clue about whole huge swaths of Schulz.
Jimmy: Yeah. And at the heart of it, I'm a fan of it. This is why I became a cartoonist. I love it. So, one of the things it's funny with me is whatever era I'm looking at, I am always like, oh, you know what? This is my favorite. I think this is the best. And it doesn't matter where it is. Like, 1956 now this is my favorite. 1976. Now this is my favorite.
Jimmy: I'm ultimately just a fan, as we all are.
August 7. This storyline is now continuing with a very cute drawing of Peppermint Patty and Marcie in their little camp bunks right next to each other. And Peppermint Patty says to Marcie was “lamb cake such a bad thing to be called, Marcy? What about noodleneck? Or cementhead? People call each other lots of strange things without being really serious. You should think about that, Marcie.” Marcie rolls over and says, “I, will. Good night, Noodleneck.”
Harold: Yeah. There's a hardened defensiveness in Marcie here that's like, oh, she's been hurt.
Jimmy: Yeah. I think Michael's theory is right, that she can't conceive of this as the kid actually thought she was cute or whatever. She thought she was being made fun of.
Harold: Yeah. And I really feel sorry for Marcie that she's going to sleep with her glasses on, especially when she's rolling over into the pillow. That's got to be--
Jimmy: well, she would reveal that she has no eyes.
Harold: She looks like Little Orphan Annie if she takes her glasses off.
August 8. We're back at the good old baseball field. Charlie Brown's on the mound, of course, and his trusty catcher, Schroeder, comes up and says, “let's go over our signals again, Charlie Brown. We'll keep them simple.” Schroeder continues. “One finger will mean a fastball. Two fingers will mean a curve. Three will mean a drop. Four fingers is a knuckle ball. Five is a slider, and six is a forkball.” Good old Schroeder continues. “Seven fingers will mean an upshoot. Eight fingers a duster. Nine fingers a knuckle curve. Ten fingers a palm ball. Eleven fingers will mean a pitch out. Twelve, a roundhouse curve. 13, a change up and 14 your fast side-armer. 15 fingers will mean a sinker, 16 fingers will mean a screwball, and 17 fingers an overhead curve.” Schroeder finally finishes, and they're both atop the pitchers mound. And Schroeder says, “okay?” Charlie Brown says “okay.” And Schroeder starts walking back behind the plate. Then he turns and says, “on second thought, I have a better idea. Throw anything you want.”
Michael: That is one laborious setup for a punchline.
Jimmy: I Know. I thought about that when I was looking at this. I thought, I don't know that I'd want even if I had this joke, I wouldn't want a letter it all.
Michael: I wouldn't want to read it out loud. It could have been a four panel strip. First two panels. Last two panels. There you go.
Jimmy: Oh, yeah. First two, not counting the throwaway panels. Yeah. Well, it's funny that he's going over the allotted number of fingers.
Michael: that's definitely funny.
Harold: Given that he's a pianist, you think he might know how many fingers well.
Jimmy: I actually do remember in Little League kids having all kinds of signs for the pitcher, and in little League, you can't-- it's 40ft away. The ball is not going to curve anyway, even if you could throw a curve, which you can't, but it'd be like, all right. I knew a kid who thought he had a devastating knuckle curve. At 10,
August 9, good old Snoopy's atop the dog house, pounding away at his typewriter. Charlie Brown comes up and says, “I hear you're writing a book on theology.” He walks away saying, “I hope you have a good title.” And Snoopy thinks, “I have the perfect title.” And he types it. “Has it ever occurred to you that you might be wrong?”
Jimmy: One for the hall of fame, I think, and one that was very articulately spoken about by our pal Stephen Lind from A Charlie Brown Religion. Hey, Liz, can we go back in the old time machine and hear what he had to say? That line? I think that's so brilliant.
Harold: It really is.
Stephen Lind: And one of the things that was really fun for me to hear when I was talking with Schulz's family and friends was that apparently Schulz would use that line. Has it ever occurred to you that you might be wrong? Just in casual conversation, he would jab some of his friends and family with that. On occasion, he uses it at least twice in the strips. He uses it in another occasion where Linus is, away at summer camp. Turns out it's a church camp, and there's some end times preaching that Linus does not fully agree with. And so Linus asks the camp counselor that same question. To me, this is at least half of Charles Schulz's faith. Has it ever occurred to you that you might be wrong? And, this is not to say that Schulz was somebody who didn't believe. I think it's quite the opposite. This is somebody who believed with a sincerity and a depth that allowed himself to ask, in what ways might I not know? In what ways might I be wrong? And he was often struck by the maybe overconfidence of other religious thinkers or thinkers just of probably any subject who would be so dogmatic in their position that of course they could not ever be wrong. And so Schulz is asking us here, in his own simple comic strippy sort of way, he's really in a deeper way, asking us, does your theology ever allow you to doubt? Does your perspective on faith allow you to ask what you don't know and in what ways you might never know? And that is the Great Pumpkin side to the Charlie Brown Christmas version of theology. And the two for Schulz go hand in hand, that yes, you can believe, and yes, you can also doubt.
Jimmy: All right, well that was Stephen Lind, and if you guys want to check out his book, A Charlie Brown Religion, you should do that. You can get it on the old Amazon. It's really an excellent book. Highly recommended. Five stars.
August 10. Snoopy is continuing to write his theology book. He writes “Theology and The Dog.” Charlie Brown is now reading it. “As it says in the 9th chapter of Ecclesiastes, a living dog is better than a dead lion.” Charlie Brown says, “what does that mean?” Snoopy says, “I don't know, but I agree with it.”
Michael: I agree with it too.
Jimmy: Sure. Right.
Michael: Who would disagree?
Harold: I think there was
Michael: a lion maybe. Harold’s lion character might not like it.
Harold: There was a movie from, was it the late eighties or early 90s called Something Wild with Melanie Griffith
Jimmy: and Ray Liotta
Harold: And that same quote is brought up multiple times in that movie, if I remember correctly.
Jimmy: They're clearly big Peanuts fans. And Snoopy proving again that he was well read, in his scripture and of course his classics as well. But he is a very refined dog.
All right guys, I think this is a good place to take a break. Why don't we do that? And you characters, can take this moment to do a couple of things if you wanted to. If you haven't signed up for the Great Peanuts Reread, you should do that. You could go to our website, unpackingpeanuts.com. And if you sign up for that, once a month my pal Harold will send you a little newsletter and it will let you know what comic strips we are going to be covering that particular month. So that'll be very helpful for you if you want to read ahead. So you could do that. You could also follow us on social media. We're unpack peanuts on Twitter, Instagram and Threads and Unpacking Peanuts on Facebook. And you can always just shoot us an email too at email@example.com. So if you need to do any of those things, follow us, send us an email or subscribe to the newsletter. Do that and we'll be right back.
VO: Hi, everyone. You've heard us rave about the Esterbrook Radio 914 and, what episode would be complete without mention of the Fab Four? Now you can wear our obsessions proudly with Unpacking Peanuts t shirts. We have a Be of Good Cheer Pen nib design, along with the four of us crossing Abbey Road, and of course, Michael, Jimmy and Harold at the Thinkin’ Wall. Collect them all, trade them with your friends, order your t shirts today at unpackingpeanuts.com/store.
Jimmy: And we're back. 1976. We're coming on the end of the year here, but first, let's see what's in the mailbag in our new segment. Sitting in the mailbox.
Liz: We got lots of mail this week, some great ones. Our super listener, Kathy, in Eastern Washington writes, I find it so bizarre that when listening to the podcast, I persist in picturing a very specific seating arrangement in the same room, even though I know only Liz and Michael are in the same room. Jimmy and Michael sit next to each other at a longish table. If it were a plane, Michael would be in the aisle seat and Jimmy in the window. Harold sits on the other side of the table, and there's a nondescript bunch of equipment on the table, partially blocking Michael and Harold's view of each other. Liz is about 15ft behind the table, almost in another room in fact. It's so weird, but it's always in my head as I'm listening.
Jimmy: My question is this do I have hair?
Liz: Kathy, you'll have to write and tell us. So I have a mental picture of what podcasters look like, but I've never pictured them in space.
Harold: That's fascinating.
Michael: Oh, I have a picture of, the Screw it, Let's just talk about the Beatles. Yeah. I have them all sitting in one room on the floor. They're not even in chairs.
Jimmy: It is very strange, and it's always disappointing when these people never look how you imagine in your head.
Harold: Yeah. So can we describe where we are, just to give people a reality check?
Michael: I'm on the purple couch.
Jimmy: Okay. The purple couch. So you guys know that I'm actually at my art desk in the studio.
Harold: I'm actually sitting with my back against the wall on, kind of sideways on a full size bed.
Jimmy: Nice. I'm going to have to get a new art desk soon, which is depressing because this has been around with me since the mid 90s. And it is it's on its last leg.
Michael: You can donate it to the Comic Book Hall of Fame or some such. I saw Jack Kirby's drawing desk.
Jimmy: Oh, yeah. I've seen, Schulz's and oh, one of my moments of impressing anybody in life, that's happened like two or three times. I was at the Disney Studios, and the art director goes, I bet you don't know whose desk this is. He drew Mickey Mouse. And I said, oh, is it Floyd Gottfredson? And he was so excited. And I got a picture of me sitting at Floyd Gottfredson's desk. It was very cool.
Harold: Oh, that's so cool. Yeah.
Jimmy: But now we're not sitting on a plane.
Harold: No, now you can have all sorts of weird pictures of the couch next to a bed in the office.
Liz: So in response to our Snoopy Personas episode, Puey McCleary writes, if you're looking for a comic strip precedent for Snoopy, perhaps you should look at Tige, who was Buster Brown's dog during the early 1900s. From what I remember, Tige seemed to be more than a normal dog. He made faces at the reader and seemed self aware to some extent. Another possible precedent could be Mr. O'Malley from Barnaby, the cigar chomping fairy godfather, who may or may not be real. This comic did feature a talking dog and other magical folk whom only Barnaby could see. Not quite the same as putting on personas or perhaps costumes as Snoopy does, but certainly examples of cartooning that Schulz would have known.
Jimmy: yeah, those are good calls. It's hard to even overstate how huge R.F. Outcault was. He originally created The Yellow Kid, which is considered by many like the first newspaper comic. Or is it just historically known as the first newspaper comic strip? I mean, it's what, 1896 or whatever. He created that and then was lured away from that syndicate to create Buster Brown. I think that's right. Right, Harold?
Harold: Well, yeah, Buster Brown. I think the mention of Tige is a really interesting one because there are all these things we take it for granted now. And when we go back in time and we kind of see if you go back in time and you see these things kind of getting shaved away, that doesn't exist. Doesn't exist, doesn't exist. But there's Tige around the turn of the century and he's mugging to the audience. He's aware that people, are reading him, which obviously The Yellow Kid was absolutely all about that. He's like looking at us with his yellow nightgown. And it's got the wording on the nightgown, which is a very also unique and odd and surreal creative thing that he just kind of invented, as far as I know. But yeah, Tige, it's a good call to say that Tige was a groundbreaker because, that cartoonist, he was amazingly creative. And I think he probably introduced a lot of things that we're not aware of into the strips that other people copied.
Jimmy: Yeah, hugely popular. And then, even to the point that when I was a child in the 70s, Buster Brown shoes were still insanely popular people. I mean, not popular like Air Jordans, but I mean, they were children's shoes for kids to wear to school, basically. And they were Buster Brown.
Liz: I can still sing the theme song to the Buster Brown shoes.
Jimmy: Oh, let's hear it.
Liz: I'll put it at the end of the episode.
Jimmy: Okay, good.
Harold: Wow. Are they still going? Because I know in the 90s they were still a thing.
Jimmy: I don't know. Yeah, I have no idea.
Harold: And there was a Broadway production with Tige, so certainly that wasn't a first for Peanuts to be doing, having a Snoopy on stage. Tige was there in 1905, so it's pretty crazy.
Jimmy: And Mr. O'Malley from Barnaby. Now, if you guys aren't super hardcore fans of comic strips out there, you might not know this one, but you probably know Crockett Johnson, who created it, if nothing else, from Harold and the Purple Crayon, which know a beloved famous children's book that basically features Barnaby, the main character from this comic strip. Barnaby just renamed Harold.
Harold: That's nice of him,
Jimmy: because that's a great name. But yeah, Barnaby is or, Mr. O'Malley is Barnaby's fairy godfather, who may or may not be real. Yeah, I could sort of see that as a fantasy character, certainly. And it, had a very spare graphic style which may have influenced Schulz
Liz: Shall I go on? We still have...
Jimmy: yeah, keep going.
Liz: So Jesse Fuchs writes, gentlemen, I discovered your podcast thanks to your great interview with Ivan Brunetti, and have been enjoying going back through the archive since. On Blue Sky Jesse is currently trying to spark debate about whether Woodstock is a cryptid because he has braces on July 14, 1973, his bar fight damage on October 27, 1980, and unlike any modern bird extant, has teeth. Your expertise will be appreciated.
Jimmy: Well, that's a Michael question, clearly. Is Woodstock some sort of cryptozoologist?
Michael: Does he have teeth?
Jimmy: He does. Yes, he does.
Michael: So he's an ornith-- I can't remember whether he's based on coming out of the raptor family, but, winged raptor creature.
Jimmy: Oh, there you go. That is definitive. Woodstock is merely--
Michael: Archaeopteryx. The first archaeopteryx member of the bird family, at least in 1950 he was. Things have probably changed.
Jimmy: Yeah, that's true. Well, I think that settles, it for me. Harold, do you have a take on this?
Harold: Oh, no, I think I'm going to defer to Michael on this one, for sure. All right.
Jimmy: We are all deferring to Michael. That sounds good.
Liz: Jesse goes on to point out a mistake that we might have made.
Jimmy: Oh, never.
Liz: He says, I don't think they ever played poker, though I could be wrong, and would be delighted if there was an example or two out there. But the vast majority of the time, the birds are playing contract bridge.
Harold: Yeah. Yeah.
Jimmy: Schulz was a huge bridge player. I have a question. Does anyone know how to play
bridge? Any of you three?
Liz: I've been playing since I was eight.
Jimmy: Have you really?
Liz: I have.
Jimmy: I've never played.
Harold: Well, I was always amazed by it because you read the comics as a kid, and right next to it was all this, like, Goren On Bridge kind of stuff. And it was like, there's a daily column on how to play bridge better that ran for, like, 100 years. So there must be something to this game if you can--
Jimmy: I remember when I moved to Harrisburg in the 90s. That column was in the Harrisburg Patriot with the little diagrams of hearts and spades and stuff from each seat to show you how to play.
Harold: Yeah. It was like learning how to do morse code, as far as I could tell.
Jimmy: I was just like, yeah, I have no idea.
Liz: Our last message is from Joanne Rubenstein, and she is writing in response to the world famous grocery clerk.
Jimmy: All right.
Liz: And she says, regarding running the cash register, another part was to push the no tax key before ringing in non taxable items.
Harold: Oh, my gosh.
Liz: She got hired at Medimart, and she asked for a list of those items and was told there was no list. Just use common sense. She was 16 and had no common sense, so she hit the no tax key willy nilly and hoped for the best.
Harold: Wow. Made a lot of friends at the checkout.
Jimmy: I'm so happy that, she, wrote this, because this brings back a really strong memory of mine that I haven't thought about in a long time. I worked at a grocery store, and I started as a bag boy. And then when I was getting my promotion to checkout clerk, I had to go to a school for, like, three days in Scranton, which was, like, over an hour away from me. So it was me and two girls from my store drove up, and there was another guy from another store who was doing the training at the same time. And they had in Scranton Wilkesbarre area, a whole Acme. That was the name of the supermarket I worked at that wasn't a real Acme. It was just for training. And it was crazy. Yes, it was a full grocery store filled with boxes that had nothing in it, and you would have to go do this. And one of the last things was the taxable non taxable test. And they want you to pass. You know what I mean? It's like, they will do anything. So we took the test, and three of us passed, but the guy from the other store did not. And, so when you don't pass, they just basically do it with you, with the whole group orally, so that you have to pass. And it's like, okay, question one, bleach. Now, is bleach taxable or non taxable? And the guy goes, non taxable. And the guy goes, no. Think about it. Can you drink bleach? And the guy goes, Yes.
Harold: Oh, no.
Jimmy: he worked through it. He still got his
Michael: and became President of the United States.
Jimmy: And that's how I met him.
Harold: It just shows what you can do in this. Have a I have a question. So I'm assuming you had the cash registers, Jimmy, that were like the modern calculators with the easy touch buttons. Because the thing that really struck me with those old cash registers is those things look like heavy duty more than typewriter kind of buttons.
Jimmy: We did have them, they weren't working, though. They were in the office, but they still had two of them. So I know what you're talking about. And they are big buttons that you.
Harold: Really have to push down. You'd have to build some muscles. Right? I mean, that's like typing all day, nonstop.
Jimmy: And the worst thing about it, though, is because, working, this was like, I don't know what it was like, 1990 or whatever, and you'd be scanning a bunch of stuff, and then one of those would come up with the purple writing on it and you'd be like, oh, no, I have to do it myself.
Harold: It's terrible. Oh, yeah, right. They used to have those little purplish things, with the circle around it, with the price.
Harold: Boy, that's a blast from the past.
Jimmy: So you can't drink bleach though, people. So it is, in fact, taxable.
Harold: Thank you.
Jimmy: All right. Is that the mailbag?
Liz: Yes, that's the mailbag for this week. Thank you, everyone.
Jimmy: Thank you so much for writing. as always, we would love to hear from you. You can, do that, like I said, by checking us out on social media at Unpack Peanuts and Unpacking Peanuts on Facebook. Or you could just send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you. And remember, if I don't hear from you, I worry. So all right, let's get back to the strips.
August 16. Charlie Brown is firing one in from the old pitcher's mouth. And of course, it comes flying right back out at him, knocking all his clothes off and sending him on his back on top the mound. Lucy comes over and says, “I'm a reporter for our school paper, Charlie Brown. Can anything be done about violence in sports?” Charlie Brown sits up in just his shorts and says, “tell them not to hit the ball so hard.”
Michael: I would really like to see more of Lucy as the reporter for the school paper.
Jimmy: She would be a good investigative reporter.
Michael: You'd think that would be, the start of something big. But she never did.
Harold: Well, I liked her as the pollster when Linus was, running for class, that was that's such a neat role for her to have know she wants to shape the world, but sometimes reporting is not enough for her, which makes it kind of interesting for her.
Jimmy: Boy, that's a great character, though, the school reporter. They do that in Harriet the Spy at the end. But boy, that's something that really hasn't been explored that much.
Michael: Wait a minute, what was that TV series? The fake documentary. A fake documentary about a horrible crime at a school. Someone spray painted, like dicks on cars. And then the main characters were like the school reporters.
Jimmy: Yeah. What's that called?
Liz: American Vandal.
Michael: Yeah, American Vandal Two good seasons.
Harold: Yeah, I agree. That is a really interesting setting to have student journalists who are like kids because you can deal with all the ethical questions that come up about journalism. Right. And ones that would be like Lucy would shaping their own world.
September 5. Woodstock in one of those symbolic panels is all decked out in a top hat and Putting on the Ritz cane. But in the next panel, he seems very upset. Sighing atop Snoopy's doghouse as they both sit there. Then in the next panel, a very wistful and forlorn Woodstock, asks Snoopy a question. In the next panel, they hop off the doghouse without a word and they walk somewhere panel after that, Snoopy shows Woodstock a glowing streetlight. Then they walk back, a big smile on both of their faces, but particularly Woodstock, as Snoopy thinks “Woodstock is happy now.” And they both go back to the top of the doghouse. And Snoopy thinks “he can finally say that he's seen the lights of the city.”
Harold: Big smile on Woodstock's face.
Michael: Yeah, easy to please.
Jimmy: He is easy to please. When I wanted to go to a city, I grew up in the tiniest little town in the world. And I thought every city was like New York. And we went to Shamokin once. And my dad goes, oh, you know, you always wanted to see a city. This is officially a city. Shamokin, Pennsylvania is not officially a city. It's a huge disappointment, if that's what you're going for. It's about the equivalent of what Woodstock got here.
Michael: I know Shamokin from a Alan Sherman song.
Michael: Shamokin. Yeah. Was it a borsch belt? I always assumed it was a borsch belt town.
Jimmy: No, just coal region.
September 26. Snoopy is feeling restless. He thinks to himself, “I'm restless.” He's still atop his doghouse and he thinks, “I can't hang around here all day.” He proceeds to continue to hang around for the next panel, though he says, “I feel like going to the park. Let's take a vote on it.” His stomach says something that we can't read. And Snoopy says “they don't have anything to eat there. Stomachs never want to go anyplace where you don't eat.” Then his nose by the way, for you guys at home, you try reading and describing this thing. So then his nose thinks a question mark. So in the next panel, Snoopy says, “the nose never knows. How about the ears? All right, ears, pay attention.” The ears are shaking. “And the trouble with ears, they never listen. Do you want to go to the park or don't you?” The trouble with ears, they never listen. It's pretty cute. The next panel, this is still going on and he says “if there's a band playing, that's what the ears think. How do I know if there's going to be a band playing?” Now he looks down at the feet. He goes, “there's no use in even asking the feet. Feet always want to stay home. I don't care what any of you say,” Snoopy says as he jumps off the doghouse. “We're going to the park. I'm still in charge.” Yes, you have it all together, Snoopy. “It never fails. They all complain about going, but after we get here, they all have a good time.” And he's doing the little Snoopy dance.
Michael: So this is some kind of psychiatric condition.
Jimmy: He's having problems. It's going south, I think, when you're having conversations with your own body parts.
Harold: Yeah, and I love the comics rule that, Snoopy thinks with thought balloons, but his stomach speaks and his nose. And whenever you have a question mark or an exclamation point that has a pointer on it, it's not thought right. When you'd think a question mark would be a thought.
Jimmy: That's true. This is weird. It's a very weird, but it also grows out of the idea of what can I make have consciousness? Can the school building have it be conscious? Can, the baseball pitchers mound have consciousness? Can my dog's toes? It's very strange.
October 16. Now this is the end of a long sequence where Peppermint Patty has decided that she needs a change of schools so she could do better. And she accidentally enrolls in Ace Obedience School, which is obviously an obedience school for dogs.
Harold: but not to her.
Jimmy: You know what? But not to her. She thinks it's a regular school. It's very strange. She's doing well at it, though. And apparently they don't have a problem. But I'm having trouble even remembering what this storyline is. Can someone remind me why the lawyer is here? I can't remember at all.
Harold: Well, because they're saying that she's gotten this diploma from the obedience school. She doesn't have to go to school anymore. And the principal calls her in and has the conversation. And so she thinks she needs to bring her lawyer, Snoopy, in to defend the fact that she has this legitimate diploma. And Snoopy's the one who put her up to this in the first place. He can't resist being lawyer. So he's getting himself into this incredibly difficult situation where if she finds out what this is while he's there, he's in big trouble. But he wants to put the bow tie on. He's there with her, the principal's office.
Jimmy: And he is anxious to leave here because here we are.
Michael: That third panel is so funny.
She has him by the collar/bowtie in panel one. She's like “excuse me, Sir.” She's talking to the principal. And as Snoopy's trying to get away, she's hanging onto the back of the bow tie. “I don't know why my attorney is so anxious to leave.” then. As Michael says, panel three, you just got to see it. Snoopy is desperately trying to get out of here. Anyway, “that's my diploma from the Ace obedience school.” And at this point, Peppermint Patty catches on, and she yells, “what? As she lets go of the collar. And Snoopy looks like rolls out of the panel.
Michael: Really, really did not like this sequence.
Jimmy: Yeah, this was my least favorite of the year.
Michael: It's so weird you know, we know she's bad at school, but this just says she's stupid.
Jimmy: Yeah. There is an element of Peppermint Patty where she just willfully sees what she wants to see. and a lot of times I feel like that really works, because it's an interesting-- I mean, I know people like that-- I can be a person like this. I don't think I could be so closed off that I would accidentally enroll in an obedience school. And, I mean, I know believability is not really the gold standard here, but yeah, for me, this was my least favorite of the year.
Harold: Yeah, I kind of enjoyed it. I didn't mind the surreality of it. It seemed to be kind of consistent with the strip at this point. and there are a lot of really funny set pieces, and this being one of them, with, know, Snoopy the lawyer being brought back. And then you've got a really interesting side of Marcie that you're seeing, because once, you know, Marcie knows, obviously, this is an obedience school, and it's funny, she won't really hit Peppermint Patty over the head with the fact that it's an obedience school. I think she's kind of angry that Peppermint Patty doesn't see reality, because, I mean, Peppermint Patty thought Snoopy was a kid. So this is not out of line with what we've seen with Peppermint Patty before, but there was at least a couple times after Peppermint Patty's kind of like, hey, I never have to go to school. The the punchline is Marcie just kind of angrily glaring at her and saying, Heel, sir. And again, this could only exist in this strip, what he's built up here. And while I kind of get the uncomfortable nature of that, you really have to stretch far to go along with this. I did enjoy it, because it's a world he's created, and he's taken me out on a limb, and I'm willing to hang on.
Jimmy: Look, even the worst ones, I always enjoy, like I said.
Harold: Yeah. And I love the little thing where you see her running around, the obedience course. Why aren't any of the other kids doing? They're just having their dogs. Do know? You get to see her logic. And I do see one little oddball thing in this strip where Schulz forgets something in his drawing that happens to you when you're a cartoonist on a deadline every once in a while. Do you guys see what I'm talking about? It's very minor.
Michael: No eyebrow
Jimmy: No eyebrow on panel one.
Harold: Well, there's something else on panel one that's not there.
Jimmy: Oh, her freckles.
Harold: Yeah. No freckles.
Harold: But such a great drawing of Snoopy in all three of these first panels. Yeah, it's great. It's fun. Yeah.
Jimmy: It's Halloween,
October 31. We see the symbolic panel of a tiny little ghost atop a tree. Probably Woodstock in a costume. It's amazing, right? I think we should have a whole strip of just the ghosts.
Harold: Yeah, you think Woodstock would get a rock with that outfit.
So by the time the strip really starts on, tier two, Woodstock walks up and he sees-- this is actually very strange. Okay. He walks up and he sees this pumpkin, but we only see it from behind. Then in the next panel, we actually see the front, which means Schulz has flipped the drawing 180 degrees, which is a, big no no. But he has done it because he can. And who's going to tell him otherwise? So in panel four, we see that, it's a jack-o-lantern. And this has scared Woodstock. Woodstock goes back to Snoopy's house and explains what's going on to him. And now he seems actually annoyed by it. He goes back to his little nest and with a wicked grin on his face, is seen carving something on something else. And then in the last panel, we see Woodstock with a tiny little smiley face jack o lantern in his nest, looking very content with himself. And Snoopy says, “that's good, but how many people are you going to scare with a grape?”
Harold: I just love this. This Woodstock is just, such a great character. And the fact that even in his little devilish moment where he's going to scare people, he winds up with the cutest little smiley face you ever had on that grape. That's just so wonderfully Woodstock.
Jimmy: It's great Woodstock. What do you guys think about that second tier with the switch from the back of the pumpkin to the front of the pumpkin? I mean, that is strange thinking about it.
Michael: It's bizarre because it's not necessary.
Harold: What do you mean?
Michael: Well, he's surprised when he sees it, but he could definitely do away with the panel before and just do the middle one. Also, if you're flipping sides, he should be on the other side. So that's more disturbing.
Jimmy: No, if you took the camera and rotated it 180 degrees, you know what I mean?
Harold: Well, he's got to get Woodstock from I guess he could have had Woodstock like walking on the ground so you at least get the sense of motion that he's going to this other place. But visually, both of them work so incredibly well and they're so incredibly clean. I didn't even think about it. And I had absolutely no problem with it's. Only that it's breaking a rule that somebody said is a rule that I would have any problem with it at all.
Jimmy: Well, yeah, but the reason it's a rule is because 99.9% of the time it will be confusing to the point that you're not sure what's happening. It'll look like people switched places.
Harold: Right. But what Schulz is working with here is he's seeing one side of something, and it's clearly and he's got the thing going off to an angle. Like the little stalk is going off to one side. So he's got all the clues that obviously this is the other side, so you don't need any more in this world. you have the point of reference that you need. So at least to me, it's not jarring at all.
Jimmy: No, it wasn't just jarring. It's more jarring when you're explaining it, though. You know what I mean?
November 23. So Snoopy is atop his dog house, wearing his famous mustache disguise, which I always thought looked like a Bill Melendez mustache. He says, “how is this?” He says to Woodstock. And he stands up and he says, “this is one of my famous disguises. I'll loan it to you till Thanksgiving is over.” This, is because Woodstock is very afraid that he might be eaten as a turkey on Thanksgiving. Snoopy says, “if you wear this disguise, no one will mistake you for a turkey.” And Woodstock, in the last panel puts the mustache on, but he puts it on top of his head, and it makes it look like a little like a flipped up bob.
Harold: Yeah, it kind of looks like Marlo Thomas in That Girl.
Michael: so this was my one laugh out loud moment for the year.
Jimmy: More so than the next one. Oh, my gosh.
Michael: Well, they're both very good.
Jimmy: Let's take a look at that.
November 24. “Hey, that looks pretty good,” says Snoopy as he's looking at something from a distance. “I'd never recognize you. Come closer. Let's see.” And then the last panel, we see Woodstock in his disguise. It's a bowler hat, a giant pipe, and the mustache. Now, in correct place. And Snoopy says, “let's try it without the pipe.”
Jimmy: Now, what do you like about this? Just the actual drawing of it, or just the, Woodstock's character?
Michael: in the strips, it's just hilarious image. I mean, his beak becomes the nose.
Jimmy: Those are really cute strips.
Harold: Yeah, it's neat. Snoopy looking off with a big smile, as he's coming to him, and he thinks it actually looks pretty good from a distance. So that's probably what matters, right?
Jimmy: That really is what matters.
Michael: Where is the pipe sticking into? It’s not in his mouth.
Jimmy: No. It must be like, maybe I don't know, it's affixed somehow, some sort of a harness.
Harold: So with so little time left in this year, this is as close as I can get us to a segue for us to do the Anger and Happiness Index.
Jimmy: Oh, that's a good segue.
Harold: So let's check where we were in 1975. we had 85 angry strips and 106 happy strips. How did this year feel to you guys for Anger and Happiness? What do you think for Anger is is it up or down?
Jimmy: I think anger is exactly the same. It has not changed a bit.
Harold: How about you, Michael?
Michael: Oh, it's down a little bit.
Harold: Well, it's actually gone from 85 to 92, so it hasn't changed much. It's up a little. Yeah so in 75. We had quite a few more happy strips. We had 106.
Jimmy: You didn't let me guess. I was going to guess 106.
Harold: Well, that was back in 1975. Are you saying it hasn't changed? You were going to say 106.
Jimmy: Well, no, I was lying. But now I have to say 106. 106.
Michael: It's exactly 111.
Harold: It's actually way up. It's 136. And one thing I've noticed, which I think is kind of cool, so Schulz got married in 73, and every year since 72, his happiness index has gone up.
Jimmy: That's actually really nice. All right, so we're on an upward happy trajectory.
November 28. Symbolic panel. Here Woodstock in a chef's hat sitting on top of a loaf of bread. And then the next panel, we see him, out in a very desolate, wintry landscape, looking at some breadcrumbs. And, then this brings him back to Snoopy's house. And Snoopy says, “those are breadcrumbs. There's nothing wrong with eating breadcrumbs. People have been throwing breadcrumbs out to birds for thousands of years.” Woodstock says something else and then hops off the doghouse. And Snoopy says, “I'm sure they wouldn't think that at all. That Woodstock is so proud,” thinks Snoopy. Then he lies back down, thinking “he doesn't want anyone to get the impression that he's on welfare.
Michael: This is really a rare foray into current politics.
Harold: Yeah, right after an election, too. It was during an election he drew it.
Harold: So who was running in 76? That would have been Ford and Carter.
Harold: So I want to ask you, are, you talking about, like, crossing the axis in the comics with the jack o lantern? Is that what he's doing from panel two to panel three again, basically, we're crossing his line of sight.
Jimmy: No. He's just turned Woodstock.
Michael: He's looking around.
Jimmy: Yeah, right. He looked right, and then he looked to his left. If they had switched the whole thing, those little swiggly brushes would be on the opposite side.
Harold: It looks like the breadcrumbs are, like, also a mirror image of him. Like, he didn't change what he's looking at because they're kind of strewn out in front of his line of sight, evenly on either side. Then he's looking the other way. They're strewn out evenly on either side of his line of sight. So that's why I was asking.
Michael: You're not supposed to think about these kinds of things.
Harold: I guess it's different in comics because everything's static, right? Yeah. It doesn't seem odd or wrong at all to me. In fact, because of the layout, you're seeing one panel in relationship to the other panel, all in a big grid. It never goes away. So there's also something about the symmetry of design that maybe argues for you doing something you never would do if you were going from one shot to another, in a movie.
Jimmy: Yeah. Well, it's one of those rules, like, if it works, then you can do it. If it doesn't work, don't do it. you know what I mean? It's that simple. Yeah. And there is a certain level where you get where it's where you get where one gets I assume I'm not speaking from personal experience, but this is from looking at other artists that are like this level. There is a point where the rules don't matter to you anymore, because you're just creating magic, and it does flow.
Harold: Yeah. And he almost never hits a sour note. Why did he do that? Everything makes sense.
Jimmy: Right. Whether or not you like the strip or find it funny or whatever, it's always impeccably crafted.
Harold: Definitely. Yeah. I just wanted to bring up I had mentioned that there were newspaper polls for popularity of comics. last time we got together, and I promised I was going to try to look something, up, it appears that that became more of a thing starting, let's say, in the early 80s. Being the weird kid I was when I was in college, I learned that you could get a really cheap student subscription to Editor and Publisher magazine. And so I did. So it was like $12 for 52 issues of this thing. And basically, it was for editors and publishers of newspapers, but they had a syndicated section in every week's paper. There was something about syndicated columns or strips, and so I could keep up on the polls, what new strips were coming out, any controversies that were happening in was I loved it was great to read the thing. That's how I became familiar with these polls, because a lot of know, if the Des Moines Register Tribune did a poll, they would send it in to Editor and Publisher, and they would run it, and they would show you how popular the strips were in any given town where the newspaper was. And I thought that was fascinating, but I guess I was in the sweet spot when I was subscribing to this, that it happened quite a bit. The whole thing. The whole archives you can find on Internet Archive now, which is kind of cool. And I did find some polls. the earliest one I could get, there were two from 1983. So this is we're seven years ahead, and it's kind of fascinating to think. And what they would ask of the people who were reading would be different in different polls. And sometimes they ask multiple questions about the strips. One of them was, which strips do you like? And then the top of the poll was the highest percentage of people said they liked the strip. Then the other ones were, which do you read? Not whether they liked it or not. And then the other ones were like, which one are you most loyal to? And it's fascinating. Sometimes they would have three different questions within a single poll, and the things shift based on those. You'd think it would all kind of be aligned. I like it, I read it, I'm loyal to it. But they actually shift. And it's fascinating.
But the 1983 poll from the Lake County, Ohio News Herald had the top five strips by likes the percentage of people who said they liked the strip. Peanuts was number 1--93. Percent liked it. Number two, just behind it was Hi and Lois. 92% liked it. Number three, just behind that was, Beetle Bailey with 90%. Number four was BC with 87%. And number five was Hagar the Horrible with 85%. And shout out to the, Brown Walker crew that they got 3 of the top 5.
Jimmy: II was going to say that these guys, masters of popular cartooning.
Harold: But Peanuts was on top of that particular pile and at the bottom, which always, every once in a while, they will share, the bottom ones. And, at least one was mentioned, the story strip. Yeah. Brenda Starr was toward the bottom. But, they say they had the most loyal readers. So, boy, if you drop a continuity strip, you are in big trouble. So that was always a difficulty. It's like, people don't like this, but the people that do like it, they're going to cancel their subscription.
So the other 83 poll was from the Monroe Evening News. And, this was interesting. This was in Michigan, and I'm guessing it's probably a suburb of Detroit. And so it could not run the papers, the strips that the newspapers in Detroit carried. So they have all of the second and third tier strips. And so number one is the Lockhorns. Number two is Beetle Bailey. Number three is Hagar. Number four is The Born Loser. And number five is Blondie. But they asked people, which strips would you like to add? And they were sorry to tell people that the top three choices were not available because of territorial rights. But the number one choices was Garfield. Second was Peanuts. Third was Family Circus. And fourth was For Better, for Worse, which they actually could get. So they did add it to the Monroe Evening News. So those are the 1983 choices. as we go along, I can share some other ones, that are maybe more contemporary to the strips. When we're reading these strips.
Jimmy: It's pretty wild, though, that Peanuts was in 1983 that popular still. That's amazing.
Harold: Well, and that's the thing that they often would marvel over. There's one that's coming up that I'll talk about, that Calvin and Hobbes had been in the Chicago Tribune for less than a year, like eight months. And it was the 7th most read strip. And it was number one for favorite and loyalty. Just in eight months, so that just shows you the brilliance of Bill Watterson and how he upended the whole comic scene when he came along.
Jimmy: Yeah, absolutely.
Harold: But the loyalties and there's another one I'll show where it's like going between those loyalties and things, seeing how read Peanuts is, but how much of a favorite is it? it's kind of sad because you think about it, it's like, I'll still read Peanuts. I love it, but I just don't like it as much as I used to. And so it doesn't do so well in the favorites and the loyalty. I know the strip, when it was in these later years, I think there was a general consensus that it wasn't as arresting and fresh as it had been before. But they've still loved it. They still love Schulz they still love the characters, but they're kind of rooting for it. They're going to read it, but it's like-- eh-- it’s not my favorite.
Jimmy: Well, you try doing it for 35 years, people, but it's like yeah. And the thing that Watterson has said about this, that he did not think Schulz fell behind, it's just that after 30 years, the industry caught up to him.
Harold: I think there's definitely truth to that. And I'm really going to be interested in the years to come. A lot of these, which I haven't read, these are kind of lost years for me with Peanuts to see what are we finding in it? And once you take in a whole year at a time, what is this strip? How does it feel?
Jimmy: right. And that's my whole viewpoint of going forward with this stuff is I really like some of the odd corners and I want to find them and dust them off and show them to people who maybe, didn't give. It as much a thought, because I'm sure I said this I am of the opinion that if REM made twelve albums, they'd be considered the greatest American band of all time. There would be no question. They, made 15 albums. Right. That's the issue.
Harold: Yeah. Well, and I've said that about Laurel and Hardy, right? They were picked up by studios that didn't give them the same way to make the films. And so they just basically had to recycle the stuff they had done all of their earlier years. But I'm so grateful for every single one of them.
Jimmy: That's how I feel, too.
Harold: And I feel like and I read when I was looking for all these polls, I read this article, this I can't remember it was at the Boston Globe, and I don't know if it was an opinion article in the newspaper or whatever. It didn't have a byline. And thank goodness, because this guy was basically saying, why did Peanuts go all the way to the end, in 2000? He should have quit all this other time. And he specifically mentions Laurel and Hardy and saying how terrible it was that they had all these later works and pieces that weren't up to the snuff of what they had done before. They should have just thrown in the towel. I'm like, no.
Jimmy: And also it’s their life. Shut up.
Harold: Yes. And they're better than 99.9% of others. Even when they're redoing what they did in the past.
November 29. Marcie and Peppermint Patty are in school, taking a test. Peppermint Patty, on the sly, whispers to Marcie “hey, Marcie what's the answer to the third question?” Marcie says, “Why should I tell you?” Peppermint Patty writes “number three. Why should I tell you?” Then she says to Marcie “thanks, Marcie. We'll probably be the only ones in the whole class who'll get it right.”
Jimmy: Maybe Peppermint Patty just is stupid. That's okay.
Michael: Yeah. Certainly looking that way.
Harold: I'd like to see the teacher's reaction when they're reading that answer.
Jimmy: It’d be brilliant. Reminds me of, Sally's classic, I could not possibly care less.
December 2. Linus and Charlie Brown are out for a winter stroll, and Linus says, “Today is my grandfather's birthday.” Charlie Brown asks, “how old is he” Linus says, “63.” Then at the Thinkin’ Walll, Linus says, “it's hard to believe that he was once a human being.”
Jimmy: That one always bugged me.
Michael: This one really hurts, I got to admit.
Jimmy: How could you do this? I know. And from Linus, no less. Yeah. I feel that this is a joke of someone who is getting older and a little self conscious and puts it on the kid. I'll confess to something. I do this comic strip for Scout Life magazine, of all places, and, I did a joke that was kind of like this in that it was sort of making fun of the position of the kid of not understanding something. And as soon as I sent it in, I wrote I knew I was getting it rejected because it's the opposite of what you need to be doing when you're specifically writing for kids. It has to be the kids perspective. But I read this, and that's how I feel. That's how Schulz is feeling. And then he puts it in the mouth of a kid, because I don't see that coming out Linus’s character.
Harold: Yeah, it's it's it is a little odd, but I will say it's well observed. It's a well observed little piece that people you're older, you start to feel like you're in the shadows. People just, don't see you. I remember as a little kid, I mean, when I was around older people, it's strange. I didn't understand them. I didn't understand where they were coming from, how they saw the world. It's kind of like a little well, it's interesting, I think, as a kid. I don't know. I don't remember the strip, but I don't know if I ever would have felt a little bit of a knife in there myself as a little kid, because I'm really not treating these people who are older than me the way I should be.
December 9. Charlie Brown is looking at something at the top of a snowy hill. And what he sees is Snoopy jetting by on.
Jimmy: What are those kind of sleds called? The little round toboggan type things.
Michael: I thought this was his supper dish.
Jimmy: No, it's just a, sled of some kind. They used to have these in the had one. I can't remember what they're called. They're like saucers that you slide around on.
Anyway, Snoopy zips by. Panel three, Charlie Brown looks up to see what else is happening. And in panel four, Woodstock zips by in his version, which is just his, nest.
Harold: Big smile, very cute.
Michael: I always like to see Woodstock happy.
Jimmy: Yeah, it is always good to see Woodstock, happy because that, makes me happy. Hey, you know what else makes me happy? Getting to hang out here every week with you guys and talking Peanuts and having our fantastic listeners out there listening.
So this will bring us to the end of the year. We're going to get our MVPs and stuff later. But as we wrap this up, I just want to remind you, please go to our website, unpackingpeanuts.com, and you can sign up for our newsletter. If you want to send us an email, you could just send that to email@example.com. Find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Threads at unpack peanuts and good old Facebook. We're Unpacking Peanuts. And if you're really ambitious, you could call the Peanuts hotline. And you could ask us a question or leave a comment and you could even text that number. And that number is
Jimmy: So we would absolutely love to hear from you. But until next week, the only thing I need is Michael and Harold, give me your strip of the year and your MVP. Michael, why don't you go first.
Michael: Okay, well, this is very superficial, but I'm going to go for strip of the year to the one strip that made me laugh out loud. So this is November 23 and it's the mustache on his head. It was just great little sight gag.
Jimmy: Great piece of cartooning, excellent pick. And who is your MVP?
Michael: Well, I didn't actually have one, but I think I did notice that Snoopy seemed to really carry the year. He was I don't know, we're not counting appearances, but I think he definitely had more action than anybody this year. So I'll give it to him. But not my favorite year.
Jimmy: Harold, how about you?
Harold: Well, I'll just say before you have to say yours, jimmy, we can both have the same favorite if you want.
Jimmy: Go for it.
Harold: It's the May 9 Mother's Day strip with Snoopy and Woodstock. That thing is a little masterpiece. I love that strip. and it's so touching and poignant and funny at the same time. As far as the favorite character for the most valuable peanut, I've kind of got a three way thing going. I already gave it to Snoopy last year. I think he's pretty deserving this year, too, like Michael was saying. And, Woodstock is definitely really making a mark, but I think I'm going to give it to Marcie this year. We revealed some things about her character that are pretty fascinating. I love the web of crime thing when Peppermint Patty is trying, to get as many baseball caps as she can by scamming the baseball stadium. And her response to the kid who likes her in camp. There's just a lot of interesting things going on with Marcie that are making me enjoy her character more and more.
Jimmy: All right, well, those are great picks. Yeah. Obviously, I love the Mother's Day one. I won't pick the same one because-- all right, here's what I'm going to to I am going to agree with Michael and give Snoopy most valuable peanut. I do think he carried the year. I'm going to make a last minute change of strips, though, and I'm going to go with April 11 because Pig Pen came back after nine years. And not only that, it has Patty and Violet. So there you go. So that's going to be my strip of the year.
That's it, guys. So much fun. I loved reading these strips. I can't wait for 1977, and I hope you guys are here to listen to us talk all about it. Remember to be in touch, between now and then on all those ways I told you. Until then. 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 Gownley, Michael Cohen and Harold Buchholz. Produced and edited by Liz Sumner. Music by Michael Cohen. Additional Voiceover by Aziza Shukralla Clark. For more from the show, follow Unpack Peanuts on Instagram and Twitter. Unpacking Peanuts on Facebook and YouTube. For more about Jimmy, Michael and Harold, visit UnpackingPeanuts.com. Have a wonderful day and thanks for listening.
Michael: What is going on here?