top of page

1977 Part - May the Force Be With You, Sweet Babboo!

Jimmy: Hey, everybody. Welcome back to the show. This is Unpacking Peanuts, and we are up to the year 1977, which is very exciting. I was in kindergarten and buying my first Luke Skywalker action figure, so this was a very big year for me.

How are you guys doing out there? Are you doing well? I hope you are. I'm going to be your host for the proceedings. My name is Jimmy Gownley. I'm the cartoonist of Amelia Rules, Seven Good Reasons Not to Grow Up, and The Dumbest Idea Ever. And joining me, as always, are my pals, co hosts and fellow cartoonists.

He's a playwright and a composer for the band Complicated People, as well as for this very podcast. He's the co creator of the original comic book Price Guide, the original editor of Amelia Rules, 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: Well, guys, I have a lot to say about this year. I enjoyed it. But, what I want to sort of talk about with you guys, at least off the bat, is and I don't know if you guys noticed it, but I felt that there was a real shift in the art this year. I felt that he was putting more detail in the backgrounds. He was using different compositions. I'm thinking of tiny little Linuses on top of buildings, or I'm thinking of the three quarter buses, from the field trip and stuff like that. Did you guys notice a change in the art at all this year?

Michael: Yeah, actually, I picked-- two of the strips I picked were particularly because he was doing things in perspective, like that bus, which I don't recall him doing backgrounds in perspective.

Jimmy: almost never. Yeah, right. Yeah.

Michael: That was at the beginning of the year. I didn't notice it so much at the end, but yeah, there was definitely, a shift in the art style. And I'm definitely noticing Snoopy morphing into his latter day appearance.

Jimmy: Yeah, I can see that, too. Harold, what about you? Did you, notice anything like that?

Harold: Nope

Jimmy: Oh, alright

Harold: Actually, I did notice one thing that was a shift that I'll bring up when we get to it, but, I didn't really notice that much of a difference in the art style. Although I like the art style on this period.

Jimmy: Yeah, I like the art style, too. Absolutely. Do you have any Schulz background info for us here in 1977?

Harold: Other than what we will bring up as we go through the strips, there was one thing that was listed in the Schulz timeline that I thought was worthy of mention since we brought it up before, multiple times, is, this is the year that Schulz went to the doctor for the first time for his hand tremor because he was having trouble controlling his drawing. And that's a big deal because we know what's to come in the second half of his career. So it was interesting to know that in 1977, this is when it was significant enough that he went to see somebody about it.

Jimmy: Oh wow, that's amazing. I meant to mention this a while ago. This is going to sound like a bragging father, but my daughter Stella, she's a film student and she got her first documentary selected for a film festival in Philadelphia.

Harold: That's fantastic.

Jimmy: Yes, we were very proud of young Stella. But while I was there watching, they showed one about an artist. He was a commercial artist who did high end work for commercial clients in like the oil paintings and stuff for national clients. And he gave it up and came back in later life and wanted to start painting for himself. And the thing that inspired him was watching Schulz draw with the shaky hand because he had the same problem and he felt that he actually liked the later Schulz stuff more than he liked the early stuff. And that actually inspired him to pick up the brush again, which I thought was wild because he's not a cartoonist at all. I mean he is basically like a photorealist. But it was really interesting to hear his perspective.

Harold: That's really interesting. Now one thing that I will mention on the front end of this year is, it seemed like there was a lot of what I would call gentle absurdism that was coming into the strip that I'd never quite seen before, or at least it's moving in this direction. So I was kind of intrigued by that. There were a lot of non sequitur-y kind of things that just were kind of happening in the strip that had a different feel this year to me.

Michael: Yeah, it seemed like he definitely was letting go of the leash here and his imagination was going in some pretty weird places. Two sequences in particular are just bizarre. But I wonder if-- there is some Alice in Wonderland images.

Harold: Yeah, that's true.

Michael: I wonder if for some reason that was on his mind. I mean just kind of free flowing imagination that would not tie to logic at all.

Harold: Yeah that's a really interesting point because my sense was he's letting go of the sharp punchline sometimes and he's letting the final piece of that strip often become the jokes aren't as sharp sometimes. And it seems to be that's just where he is at the moment.

Jimmy: Because it's not that he's failing at writing sharp jokes is that he's choosing not to.

Harold: Well, what it seems like is he's added characters that are not as-- when he added Sally, and particularly Peppermint Patty, they can often have just more childlike actual kid things to say versus the smart adult-like comments that we got from the other characters all along. There's now this sense that he's actually treating the children as children sometimes and so what they say in their character seems to be maybe more true to what a child would say, or a Peppermint Patty who says she's the dumbest kid in the class and all of that. And so she's not saying the punchline that came know necessarily this really Oscar Wilde and so it changes the feel of the strip.

Michael: Yeah, well I think Linus is-- I don't think he has a handle on where he wants to go with Linus because Linus was the one who could throw those references out and it seems like he's more of a supporting character, like setting up the situations rather than being the punchline or giving the punchline.

Harold: Yeah, that's the feel I get.

Michael: My little quote is similar to yours, I'm surprised we agree on this one. Yeah, I just thought like it's punchlines lack punch.

Harold: Yeah.

Jimmy: Well I think it feels to me like there's no way to extricate the influence in the animated specials at this point.

Harold: I think so, I agree.

Jimmy: the difference really probably other than just the sheer weight of years, which I actually also want to talk about. But the other difference is I think back in those early days, really 1st 15 years he had to focus on the strip and then it gradually changed of course, a little bit. But then at some point it was well in the Christmas special, then that just unleashes a tsunami and I just think he is now thinking of Peanuts. I don't want to say a brand, because I don't think he ever thought of it just as a brand, but he's thinking of it as an entity. The show, the strips, is one thing.

Harold: How can you not, right?

Jimmy: How can you not right. And I definitely feel that that's what's the source of what you guys are identifying. I think the weirdness of it to me is that the rest of the world is going in the exact opposite direction, comic strip wise. It's wild that he except for adding things like Star Wars and Spiderman or whatever, you are not adding these continuity strips that just kind of have day to day stories. There's so few but For better Or For Worse.

Harold:, very few right.

Jimmy: But it definitely makes a difference. The other thing I wanted to talk, I do want to talk about just the fact that we are now in 1976, and he started in 1950 or 1977 rather. And he started in 1950.

Harold: Yeah.

Jimmy: Star Wars is debuting in 1977. The original Star Wars.

Harold: The culture is at a turning point here.

Jimmy: A total turning point.

Harold: Pop culture, for sure.

Jimmy: Yes. I feel that in a lot of ways, the 70s started ending in 77. I mean, you had things like, Star Wars. You had things like punk rock. It was a slow death, maybe, but things are changing.

Harold: I agree. Yeah. There's something significant that's changing here. And I was thinking Star Wars was there's so many things that people have said about Star Wars, but say when it came to film, and Charles Schulz is in the world of film because he's making competing animated--

Jimmy: He has a movie coming out this year.

Harold: you know, he's aware of what I I don't know what your take on Star Wars is. I know you've thought about it a lot.

Jimmy: I'm sure too much. Too much.

Harold: But to me, Star Wars was an interesting mix of the what was to come because it had the simple optimism of an old and it's kind of based like a Flash Gordon comic strip where there's good guys and bad guys. And it's just after getting so murky in the 70s with what was good and bad and who was a good character, who was a bad character and just delving in these gray areas, all of a sudden you had this thing where it was like good versus evil, and people were like, whoa, this is so refreshing. But the other piece of it that kind of is interesting to me is it's a grungy space that is 70s. There's dirt and there's grime on these machines. It's not like a 2001 A Space Odyssey where, the ships are pristine and these gorgeous, perfect imagery. You actually did have this kind of 70s grungy space, which did feel like the 70s portion of where Star Wars was embedded.

Jimmy: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I agree with all of that. Even as a kid, it struck you as this is absolutely something new. But what's strange-- not strange, but to bring it into the Peanuts world, 1950, those Flash Gordon serials hadn't even made it to television yet. The things that had inspired George Lucas. Right. So, I mean, you're just when you think about Lucas's life pre Star Wars, right, and all of this imagination that he eventually finds nostalgia for in 77 to create Star Wars all happened, and Schulz is just plodding along with Peanuts. When we think about how the jokes are, how the characters are, how the art looks, all of that. I mean, it's hard for me anyway, when I'm reading it this rapidly, to remember that this is a massive ocean of time that he has been creating these comics.

Harold: A lot has gone on from 1950 to 1977 culture.

Jimmy: Can you imagine them still making the Flash Gordon serials once a week or whatever, from 1950 to 1977, or it's just absurd to think something like that would happen.

Harold: Flash Gordon was obviously a comic strip that was going with different artists over all this period of time, and they're recording, but yeah.

Jimmy: With different artists.

Harold: Yes. You had the serials from the 30s, that came and went. But yeah, it's like the fact that he is a part of the culture, and as we're mentioning here, a lot is going on in his strip over these 27 years. We see these shifts, we see these changes in the characters, and his style of humor and focus is constantly flowing.

Jimmy: Absolutely. And Michael, do you have any 1977 memories you want to share with us?

Michael: Well, I pretty much divorced myself from popular culture at that point. Star Wars, obviously, was a major thing.

Jimmy: Right.

Michael: But, yeah, by that point, I was not paying much attention to music, current music, and I'd given up on sports, so, I didn't think I had a TV, and I wasn't reading Peanuts. I wasn't reading the newspaper comics. To me, it was kind of like a dead spot in the culture. But later on, I came to appreciate some of the 70s things that were happening.

Jimmy: Yeah, that's like around the start of new wave. Like Elvis Costello. I know.

Michael: And stuff like that. Yeah. There's the seeds of something new.

Jimmy: Yes, it is definitely the seeds of something new that start in 77. I think that is a great way to put it. As a matter of fact, it's such a great way to put it, I don't think we need to have any more preamble. How about we get right to the strips?

Harold and Michael: All right, great.

Jimmy: All right. Now, if you characters out there want to follow along, there's a couple of ways you can do it. The first and best way to do it is just go over there to good old and sign up for the great Peanuts Re-Read. If you do that, my pal Harold will send you a newsletter once a month, and that'll give you the heads up on which strips we are going to cover. Barring that, what you can do, you go over there to, type in the word Peanuts. Look for 1977. As I say, a date type in the date, and away you go. So I'll wait for you to do this while you hit pause, and then away we'll go.

January 2, We start off with one of those old symbolic panels with Peppermint, Patty in the midst of a mathematical, equation,

Michael: which is what they learn in like, fourth grade in those days. I mean cubed root of something comma pi.

Jimmy: I don't this is the only reason she's taking this is because she couldn't get in that theology, class that Sally wanted last week, so she had to take this one.

And so then Peppermint Patty is in school, slumped at her desk, and she says, “I hate being the dumbest one in class. I'm going to fail for sure.” Then she raises her hand and asks, “ma'am, I think you should grade us on a curve. The way I see it, that's the only chance I have to pass. If I can find someone who knows less than I do, then I won't be at the bottom of the curve. Right? Right!!” And then Peppermint Patty says, “Well, I found him.” And then we see she has brought Woodstock into the classroom.

Jimmy: And I have to say, Woodstock at, a school desk is about the cutest thing you could possibly draw.

Harold: Oh, my gosh. That's an adorable drawing of Woodstock.

Michael: Yeah. Once again, it's like this character is amazing because you can't identify him with him because, you can't understand a word he says. He's a bird, but when he smiles, it makes you happy.

Jimmy: So weird. Very true. The other thing, in all the list of the great 20th century things Schulz draws, did we ever mention desks?

Harold: No, I don't think so.

Jimmy: I don't think we did. But that's got to be in the old gallery, because he, draws a very good, clean, eight line desk that.

Harold: Like, uni-desktop, storage area, and chair all in one piece of furniture.

Michael: He tries to do it in perspective later this year, which is weird. He tries it once and that's it.

Jimmy: Yes, he does. by the way, I have had to draw desks in in quotes, perspective. It's no fun. Nothing perspective and I don't get along. Speaking of though--

January 3, Peppermint Patty and Marcie are in school, and Peppermint Patty seems to be giving a reading report. She says, “Christmas vacation reading report.” Then she continues, Marcie, is listening. “Reading is one of my favorite pastimes.” Marcie turns around. “I can't stand to listen to this.” Then Peppermint Patty says, “I read every day, and you know what I read.” Then she holds it up a cereal box, and it's a box of Snicker Snax. And then Marcie says, “AUGH.” And does, after 26 years, the classic feet up in the air because she was so shocked at the punchline.

Harold: and yet she knew it was coming.

Michael: But he does this from the point of view of the classroom, seeing the desks in perspective.

Jimmy: Yeah.

Michael: Which he never does. I mean, could have done this with the usual side view. I guess you want Marcie's reaction.

Jimmy: Yeah, I guess.

Harold: He seems to be very aware that his strips are being printed smaller and smaller. And so this is a way to get a real focus on Marcie, where she's large in the frame. The only way you can do that is to do perspective.

Jimmy: Yeah. Boy, if you could see the difference now between the Sunday lettering and the daily lettering, that really goes to show, I think, what's going on with the size of the strips.

Harold: Yeah. We had mentioned before that the strips are getting-- well, the newspapers, remember, this is the 70s-- remember, just after Gerald Ford, a couple of years, whereas whip inflation now, he had the little buttons WIN. And so newspapers and newsprint were not immune to this. And we'd say every once in a while, but the crazy skyrocketing price of like, oil, same thing for newsprint. It would just go crazy up high. And then it would drop really low as this huge commodity thing. And every time you had this period where there was a huge increase in the price of something like newsprint. The newspapers are a big part of their expense, right, is the paper they're printing on. And so the only thing they could really do, as we mentioned before, it's printed on this gigantic drum. You can't change the size of the drum that it's run on so the height of the paper stays the same. But they would tend to narrow the width of the paper because they could change the paper roll that went on that drum. And so you get narrower and narrower papers. And usually these papers were like two strips side by side and sometimes a column of single panels next to that. And everybody gets angry if you drop a newspaper strip, in your local paper, and they don't want to tick off their customers. So they don't drop strips, they just shrink them. And this has gone on for how many decades?

Where now, if you pick up a paper, you can pick up like, the New York Post or something. It's a tabloid, these things are so tiny. But, we were talking about how this was a space saving strip in 1950 because of this issue. And we looked at a paper that had the very first strip in it and it was fewer columns wide than a typical strip. And it's not tall, it's a short strip, right? So we had these big four oblong rectangle panels.

And I failed to mention this before, but in 1956, Schulz got his first reprieve. They actually heightened in relationship to the width because I think by this time, by 1956, pretty much Peanuts had gotten integrated into the regular strips. And it was the same width as the other strips because it was popular and people liked it and they wanted to find it on the regular daily newspaper thing. But his height increased. And so the aesthetic of the strip changes subtly, but definitely changes because of what Schulz can do in 1956. It's different than 1955. In 1975, I had to go back and look at this because I was like, oh, wait a second. When did this happen? And I went back and found, yeah, 1975. He has his second that I know of. He has a second change in the relationship of these panels and they're now squares. So the height compared to the width is now he's earned and fought back to get a full square for each panel. So he's got more to work with. But again, it changes the aesthetic of the strip. And I was really interested to see, that was on June 16, 1975.

If you want to look at what we're talking about. And the first one that was added height in 56 was May 21. So there's 19 years where nothing had changed on the dailies, and now all of a sudden, he had more height in 75. And it does feel different.

And I don't know if Benjamin Clark or anybody who collects these strips and knows, like, the original artwork, if I had to guess, I'm thinking that Schulz, because there's two ways he could have drawn it differently. One way would be that he would add the height in to the strip as he's drawing every day and keep the width. But because the line art looks thicker, I'm guessing he, probably kept the height the same and shortened the strip, if you know what I mean, when he's drawing it. So it's a smaller strip that he's drawing because it's a smaller print. And it doesn't really make sense to be drawing something so much larger than what it's actually appearing in the newspaper as it continues to shrink.

Jimmy: Wow, that's really interesting, and it’s, you know. And actually, both of you guys, I like you to speak to this a little bit, especially Michael, because you shift it more in your work based on the concept or the content of your work. But can you guys talk about how it's different and how it's difficult to compose in certain panels and certain shapes? It's just very different.

Michael: Yeah. And some people will simplify the point where they will have a grid like the Watchman, which, hope all you are familiar with. In some ways, it frees up the artist, because that had a nine panel grid for the entire series.

Harold: A vertical rectangle for every panel.

Michael: Yeah. So the artist, even though it was a restriction, it also freed him up not to worry about the design of each page. And it was also a period of time where it was just trendy, basically, to just throw away any kind of regularity and just go for crazy. So, yeah, I've worked both ways.

Harold: Do you feel, Michael, Watchmen, which seemed to cross over into-- like The Dark Knight Returns, seemed to cross over in a huge way to the general public, and Watchmen seemed to also do that. Do you think the regularity of those panels, in some ways, made that particular story more accessible to the average reader who was struggling with those crazy panels?

Michael: It's really surprising because we grew up reading comics, but people who didn't often don't know where to go.

Jimmy: Right.

Michael: I always thought it would be kind of interesting to write an algorithm on what the rules are, that's-- this is off topic, but basically, Jaime Hernandez, who's at least Jimmy and my favorite artist, doesn't worry about crazy layouts. He will use a grid. And so all the layouts happen within the panel, which make it more like a movie. I mean, the screen isn't changing size.

Jimmy: It's interesting too, that you mentioned Dark Knight Returns because Dark Knight Returns is based on a 16 panel grid. And a lot of the times the text is-- most of the times really, the text is just at the top of the panel. And I really do think those things attribute, some of the success across the general public. Because like Michael said, they don't have to worry about figuring out layouts and where to look next.

Liz: And they were also both really great stories.

Jimmy: They were really great stories. They only offered 2000 copies of Dark Knight Returns through the mail, through subscription. And I had my mom and dad buy me one for my 14th birthday. but it was such a huge hit that no one anticipated. They sent me third printings, which I was 14. I didn't even notice. But about six months later, when they were going for like 50, $60 apiece, I got a letter and a package from DC Comics with first printings apologizing.

Harold: Really amazing. Wow.

Jimmy: Do you think that would ever happen? I think people must have complained. Oh, yeah. Who knows? I don't know. But I had it till this day and I saved it because it was going to be worth so much. And I took a ballpoint pen and wrote on the paper cover. Yeah, you can see where this is going. Mint Dark Knight. And now, if you take it out, it's carved right into the cover.

Harold: Oh no. Oh my gosh.

Harold: Because I remember they advertised the Dark Knight Returns in Like Rolling Stone.

Jimmy: Rolling Stone. Yeah.

Harold: Full page ad. That never happened back then.

Jimmy: No, because Warner Books put it out. Yeah. With like a painted cover and all kinds of fancy stuff. Yeah. But that's 1986. And we're still here in 1977.

January 9, we see Woodstock sitting, with Humpty Dumpty and the White Rabbit atop the thinking wall. And in one of them they're symbolic panels. Then in the next panel, we see Snoopy talking to Woodstock. And he says, “then she heard someone talking. And when Alice looked up, there was the Cheshire Cat.” He continues to Woodstock “you've never seen me do my Cheshire beagle trick, have you? Watch this.” Snoopy then smiles. And then slowly, over the course of a few panels, he fades away, leaving nothing but his smile. And Woodstock doesn't seem that impressed by this. He just leaves having said something. And then in the last panel, we see Snoopy's, smile turns to a frown. And Snoopy says, “well, I never said it would make a weekly series.”

Michael: But it does! But this is self referential. It's strange because it's not a great punchline. But for the first time, I think in the first time, the next bunch of Sundays are this concept.

Jimmy: Well, he did the famous golf tournament in 54. And I think there's one other one somewhere that we've discussed.

Michael: There's no continuity on the Sundays.

Jimmy: Almost never ever happens. Yeah.

Michael: Really? Strange. Now remind me, when was the first Cheshire beagle?

Jimmy: before this.

Michael: I know before this.

Jimmy: That's all I know.

Michael: I don't remember the but I think it was a while ago.

Jimmy: Yes, it was. Yeah.

Michael: Which I respect. Even though it's again, it's like you got to let go of the rule. I mean, he's letting go of his rules.

Jimmy: It's not even rules.

Michael: It's up to the reader to decide if I'm going to accept this world or not.

Jimmy: Right.

Michael: Yeah, that's what didn't bother me. But some other things do, which we're going to get to pretty soon.

Jimmy: What, do you guys think of the John Tenniel drawing in panel one? I think Woodstock looks really well, and I think he really does a good job there. with the white rabbit.

Harold: Yeah, I think looking at the drawing, because he probably spent a lot more time trying to get that right to match somebody else's art style. That's where you can start to see that tremor because he's taken his time with the lines.

Jimmy: Yes. Boy are you sure right about that.

Michael: I don't see it except in the ears.

Jimmy: the egg, if you look, I mean, we're looking probably at a low res.

Michael: Are you talking about the mouth on the egg?

Harold: Well, the actual right hand side of the egg. As you can see, he's trying to make this curve that he's usually not drawing that kind of a curve. on the egg, on the right hand side, you can see the tremor as he's going down. It looks like almost like a Rasterized image where it stairsteps its way down.

Michael: Yeah, you're right.

Jimmy: And that brings us to

January 16 1st appearance of someone smoking in Peanuts. Which, by the way, has been banned from Marvel Comics. I don't know if you guys know that. Not even the bad guys smoke anymore. They are allowed to rip people's head off and eviscerate them.

Harold: But I guess it's also our first drug reference in Peanuts.

Jimmy: Well, we don't know what's in the hookah.

Harold: although that it's vanilla flavor.

Jimmy: By the way, I thought some incense would be nice for the studio. Whatever. I like some incense. But I got something. I don't know what it is, but you could literally smell it outside.

Harold: It's called toxin.

Jimmy: Asbestos. I don't know about that. So that ended my incense.

Harold: Well, you should try the Febreze incense.

Jimmy: I have Febreze too. Those are awful. here, I have it right here though. Do you hear it? Well, it's crazy.

Harold: Something is supposed to get rid of a scent, right?

Jimmy: So powerful.

Harold: It actually overpowers the ability to get rid of scent. You know, something's going on there.

Jimmy: My mom, when she would make fish and chips, she made a good fish and chip, but she hated the smell of fish cooking. So she would then boil vinegar to get rid of the smell of fish.

Michael: How do you get rid of that smell?

Jimmy: You just live with it.

Michael: You get a wet dog.

Jimmy: Yeah, it wasn't the best plan.

Michael: I can see the shaky hand on the grass in that first panel. I would not have noticed that.

Jimmy: Interesting.

So Woodstock and the caterpillar are doing drugs. And then Woodstock comes back to Snoopy and he asks them a question. And then, that's in one of those symbolic panels, by the way, just so you know. So Woodstock and the caterpillar aren't really doing drugs. Then Snoopy says to Woodstock, “you want to see my Cheshire Beagle trick again? Okay, here we go.” And then Snoopy does the Cheshire beagle trick. This time it makes Woodstock smile. He says, “how's this? You like, huh?” And then Snoopy says, “uh oh.” As his mouth gets very, very small. And Woodstock has a question mark of concern. And then Snoopy says, ‘I think we have a little problem here.” As he's trying to sort of force his way back into visibility. And then he yells, “I can't get back.” As we see just his mouth floating in midair. Woodstock takes off because he needs to get help. And Snoopy yells, “you better go for help. Call my owner. Call Houdini. Call Albo the great. Call anybody.” Then in the next panel, he says, “no, wait. Don't call the” and we see Snoopy getting doused with water, “Fire Department.”

Jimmy: So there we go. That is week two of the Cheshire Beagle weekly show.

Harold: So, does anybody know who Albo the great is? Is this actually another obscurity, that we don't know what's going on?

Jimmy: Obscure for me.

VO: Peanuts Obscurities Explained.

Michael: Probably an Ed Sullivan reference.

Harold: I don't know.

Jimmy: Not in 77, I don't think. Oh, maybe it is.

Harold: Who knows?

Jimmy: Oh, we don't know. I assumed you just knew. Let's look.

Harold: Well, there was a classic magic series by Robert J. Albo. Oh, that must be

Jimmy: American physician, surgeon and amateur illusionist.

Harold: So I'm seeing here this thing says Conjuring Arts in the Albo family. Proudly and exclusively. Dr. Albo's Classic Magic. Between 1973 and 2005, Dr. Robert J. Albo produced one of the greatest sets of books in magic literature. The classic magic series. Eleven volumes. Wow. So I guess Schulz knew about Albo the Great.

Jimmy: I don't know. Well, there you go.

Michael: All right.

Jimmy: Well, Albo the Great was apparently great at least at collecting books and writing books.

Harold: yeah. Maybe Schulz was practicing prestidigitation or something.

Jimmy: Oh, yeah. Maybe to get the little facility back in the old hands he was trying to-- He was trying to do some coin magic. I sort of, doubt that. I cannot imagine. Can you imagine him having any hobbies? Yeah, watching sports and reading or doing sports. I cannot picture him being like, I really got to learn how to tie a fly, or, you know, it'd be great baking. It's just not happening.

Harold: can make a good Windsor knot?

Jimmy: Oh, I'm sure he can make a good Windsor knot. That's just being a civilized man in the 20th century, my friend. I used to have to tie knots for people at the TV station. I worked with a couple of guys who didn't know how to do it. And we'd have meetings. So three of them, eventually, I just tied them for them. And then they'd leave them hang over their lamp on their desk.

Harold: At least, like on air personalities?

Jimmy: No, they knew how to do it. This was people who didn't have to wear ties.

Harold: Reporters? No.

January 18. All right, now, this is a story. this is another one of the long sequences that we do. And this is, Sally in Linus's school is going on a school trip. So we see them getting off the bus here and Sally says, “what's the sense in taking a field trip in the snow? What are we studying? Washington at Valley Forge?” Then she holds her hands up to her ears and says, “Maybe we're studying frostbite.” And as they continue to walk and Sally continues to cover her ears, she says, “if my ears fall off, I'm going to sue the school board.”

Jimmy: This is one of the ones I wanted to point out. This is where I started noticing the extra detail because we get in panel three, we get the, bus in perspective. Just like we had, the desks. And three of the four panels feature this bus in some form, which is something that he was avoiding for a long time. And we see, as this story continues, like, in the next strip, there's even more of that.

Michael: Yeah. It is pretty jarring. Especially because it seems like there's more black happening on these objects, which they aren't really necessary. I mean, when you're doing this minimal background thing in, like, the second and fourth panel, it's almost no background. It seems like it's overdone. And I think he probably realized that.

Jimmy: Yeah. Do you think it has to do with maybe the shifting size of the panels? And he thought, well, maybe I could do a little extra here or I could do a little extra, or maybe I have to because the shape is different. because it's definitely like you different. It's a different lock.

Michael: Yeah. But it doesn't add anything. That's the weird thing. It's like you establish there's a bus in one and then you don't need it. So it was actually distracting.

Harold: I wanted to ask you, Jimmy, I think you had mentioned earlier that one of the things that Schulz did to stand out on the page and I think we've quoted him maybe saying this was I was the smallest strip in the newspaper. And one way that I could get people to look at the strip is I had the most white space. Everyone else was filling in all these blacks. I'm wondering if, since everybody is now copying know you got, BC and all these other strips where maybe there's more and more people using the white space because they're copying his style. Maybe he's like, hey, maybe I can stand out by actually dropping a black in.

Jimmy: Yeah, I mean, that could be it. I think there's another part. Well, we're seeing a lot of things. One, that's definitely part of it. The changing of the size of the panels a year or two ago is definitely part of it. The changing of the size of the strip in the newspapers, just, the sheer time, like I said. And I think there might be another element of is if he's feeling the effects of this tremor to the point that he went to the doctor, which means he's probably felt it for a while.

Harold: Right.

Jimmy: There is a real confidence level you have to be at to draw three lines and present it as a finished panel. And if you draw those three lines, each one has to be perfect. And I don't think there's anything I think he's drawing beautifully. I love this style. But do you think in the back of his mind, he's like, I need to jazz this up a little bit because I've lost a little bit of my fastball. So I'm going to start putting more detail in to compensate. I mean, it's speculation, but I don't know.

Harold: Do you think he actually drew those lines vertically and he was like, ooh, they don't look good. So I'm gonna basically it's the old if and when in doubt, black it out thing.

Jimmy: Possibly. Yeah.

Michael: I don't know. I mean, he doesn't stick with it that long.

Jimmy: No.

Michael: So I don't know if, that was it. Yeah, I mean, it's weird. It's probably just in the mood.

Jimmy: Just in the mood. You know what? There's a lot of that. That's 100% sure.

Michael: So we did two shows on duos, famous Peanuts duos. And it looks like this year he's doing a lot of Sally and Linus. Yeah, it's another unrequited love thing. I don't know if it works that well. I don't know if people are going to even think of it when they think of famous Peanuts duos.

Jimmy: Oh, yeah. Is it Sally and Linus?

Michael: Yeah, I think maybe later she develops more.

Jimmy: No, they definitely-- considering there's wedding cake toppers of Sally and Linus.

Harold: I think one of the quotes in the second half of Peanuts that I think did kind of hit the consciousness of a bunch of people was the sweet, babboo thing that Sally would call Linus. Because I think we're going to see less and less of those types of things in the culture that enough people kind of are familiar with it, that he can continue to reference it. And I did hear that that actually was what, one of the terms of endearment Jeannie had for Charles Schulz. So it's kind of cool that her influence is definitely in this it's so cool.

Jimmy: Yeah, Sweet Babboo. Come on, there's nothing better than that. so here goes these two knuckleheads here on

January 21, they're still on their field trip, and Sally says, “oh, I hate these field trips. When are we getting back on the bus?” Then Linus looks off in the distance and says, “that barn. Now I remember.” And he looks in the window of the barn and says, “Truffles.” And it's good old Truffles from last year. And she yells, “Linus.”

Michael: Boy, she looks like she's a three year old drawing, like pasted on the wall.

Harold: It's like those Lucy are back when they first introduced Lucy. With the little circles and the two dots.

Jimmy: Well, here's an example where there's not a punchline at it's. It's literally just the recognition of this old character. And come back next week for the continuation of the story. Classic story strip structure.

Harold: Yeah, maybe he thought the name Truffles was so funny, it would carry the strip.

Jimmy: Well, maybe so.

Michael: Maybe I don't know if anybody was going like, oh, boy, Truffles!

Jimmy: Truffles.

Michael: Now we're into this. I remember you mentioned this years ago. Talk about things getting too weird. You guys just wait till the helicopter strips. Now I know what it is, and you're right.

February 3. So Snoopy, as a helicopter, is now rescuing Linus in this storyline, who has, found his way to the top of the barn, can't even remember exactly why. So Snoopy is rescuing him, Woodstock is the pilot, now, with a little helmet on. It's crazy, but I love them. So we see them flying away, chop, chop, chop, chop, chop, chop, chop, chop, chop. That's Snoopy's ears making the propeller noise. And Linus, who is hanging from Snoopy's tail in this rescue operation, says, “you're a good pilot, where'd you learn to fly a chopper?” And Woodstock says something. And then Linus, swinging wildly from Snoopy's tail, says, Nam”

Michael: Weird. This might be one-- This is one of the weirdest single strips in the whole years.

Jimmy: Oh, it might be the weirdest. Oh, my God.

Harold: First Nam reference in the strip.

Jimmy: That's exactly my sense. No no no. The dog at the riot.

Harold: Did they specifically? I can't remember-- did they specifically call it out? Oh, man, I'd forgotten about yeah,

Jimmy: they specifically say Vietnam, yeah.

Harold: the weirdest thing in this sequence to me is so Linus climbs up on the roof to get away from the arguing Truffles and Sally over who he is, the boyfriend to. And in a Saturday strip on January 29, we hear the Snoopy coming. Basically, it's called a helicopter. And Linus goes, that's a helicopter on January 29. Then we have our regular Sunday strip, and then on Monday, the chopper hasn't even taken off, which is what's, so bizarre to me. We have this little sequence with Woodstock charging for his helicopter services, charging Sally, and then the next day's, strip Woodstock gets into the Snoopy Copter, and they take off. It's like he has the strips out of have that thing where Linus is going that's a helicopter should be two strips later, because now Snoopy is flying.

Jimmy: Interesting. Yeah, no, you're right. You're definitely look, you know, they're dealing with issues from Nam.

Harold: Maybe Schulz is thinking about the Saturday cliffhanger. I don't know. He just got to jump the gun and then wait, I got a couple of funny gags here-- Woodstock overcharging for his services.

Jimmy: Yeah, it's very strange, aside from the fact that Michael does not like flying dogs as helicopters with bird pilots, for some reason, I love that last panel with Linus. I love the way Linus is swinging. I feel like, there's weight to that drawing. I could feel like he's tossing back and forth. I think it's just super cute for a very surreal and very odd strip.

Harold: Well, the addition of Woodstock really makes it fun to me.

Jimmy: That's the genius. That's the twist. Especially Woodstock wearing a helmet.

Harold: Yeah, they're really a duo. And Snoopy's allowing Woodstock to pilot him, shows that Snoopy has grown as a character.

Jimmy: Well, the funny thing is, Woodstock flies regularly and doesn't wear a helmet. But for this one, got to put the helmet on.

Harold: Yeah, well, I guess Snoopy, he knows, well, Woodstock on his own is not a very good flyer sometimes, but it's pretty amazing that he can pilot Snoopy pretty well.

Jimmy: Okay, so how about we take a little break right here and then come back in a few minutes and pick up where we left off?

Harold: great.

Michael: Okay.

Harold: All right, we'll see you guys on the other side of the break.


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

Jimmy: And we're back.

February 17. Peppermint Patty is sitting in the classroom reading a little book, and she says, “could you repeat the question, ma'am?” Because she missed it. Then she says, “yes, ma'am, I understand.” Then she repeats the question so that we can hear it. “What was the author's purpose in writing this story?” Then Peppermint Patty answers, “Maybe he needed the money.”

Jimmy: This gives me an opportunity. Next year, Disney 365 bedtime stories will be released. You will be able to read your child a bedtime story, one a night for the whole year. And I did it because I needed the money.

Michael: I noticed you picked this one. I thought you were making a statement here.

Jimmy: Definitely making a statement.

Harold: Yeah, but often that can bring some great art, right?

Jimmy: Well, you know what the terrible thing is, there is a part of me that would love to blow it off, but then there's another part of me going, this might be some kids only book. I don't know, maybe not everybody. But when you're writing for kids, it feels like there's a huge responsibility. Even if you're just writing some junkie thing for the money because it's a kid, it's going to impact them one way or the other. I remember having a massive, book that I loved, just about Bugs Bunny working at a pharmacy, and I had my mom read it, like, a thousand times. Loved it, right?

Harold: Yeah. It's not junkie if you make it not junkie. Right?

Jimmy: Right. Exactly.

March 1, Sally comes in, to Charlie Brown, who is watching TV. She's holding a letter, and she says, “here, big brother, you got a letter.” Charlie Brown reads the envelope. It says, “the Environmental Protection Agency.” And then Sally says to Charlie Brown, who is now reading the letter, “it's something about you biting a tree.” Charlie Brown turns to Sally and says, “do you always read my mail?” Sally asks, “do you always bite trees?”

Michael: Good rejoinder.

Jimmy: I like how you can see at the top of the envelope in panel two that she has, in fact, opened that envelope. You could see the little raggedy edge which I like.

Michael: Bit it open, I think.

Jimmy: All right, so there you go.

Harold: So what do you think about this Idea that Charlie Brown-- so the context is, he's mad at the kite eating tree, and he threatens to bite it, and he does, and there's a gigantic gash in this tree, and then somehow the EPA hears about it. So what do you guys think about this?

Michael: It's not a strong concept.

Harold: I mean of crazy ideas that Schulz puts in the strip, this is definitely up there. Not only does Charlie Brown take a gigantic bite out of a tree, which is much bigger than he could possibly have taken, and it looks like he's gotten a mouthful. Right. Or multiple mouthfuls. And then the EPA hears about it, and writes him that was just like, wow. Well, the EPA is pretty yeah, the EPA. That's, a thing, right? Did Nixon start it or just gotten into it's?

Liz: Nixon.

Michael: Nixon, actually.

Jimmy: Yeah, Nixon started it. Yeah. But you figure it probably took a little while for it to ramp up, so yeah. This is only a thing that's only two years old. Three years old at the most, at that point.

Harold: And yet they are on top of, things here.

Jimmy: Hey, man, they know what's going on.

Harold: In the neighborhood, right? Hennepin county.

Jimmy: Yeah. they're the bad guy in Ghostbusters, which I always thought was phenomenal. But Ghostbusters, when he watches one of these adults, you watch it and you go, I see the heroes are terrible. They don't do one thing right this entire movie. Yeah, it's weird, for sure. But, it's that element of him going for the zeitgeist perhaps a little bit, too, because environmentalism is ramping up, for sure in the 70s.

Harold: Yeah. And that it's, you know, and Charlie Brown is the one who's getting in trouble here.

Jimmy: Don’t go biting a tree. I mean, what do you think about, like what do you think about Charlie Brown losing it?

Harold: Like, it's just it's one little surprise after another in this strip. It's just know, he's gotten angry at that tree before, though. So I guess it's not unprecedented that this would be the one thing he would really take it out on, right?

Jimmy: Yes. Well, I guess so because it has been torturing him for quite some time now. But hey, Charlie Brown got a letter. that reminds me of our old segment sitting in the mailbox. Liz, did we get any letters?

Liz: Yes, we did. And they are kind of appropriate to what we've been talking about.

Jimmy: All right, let's hear them.

Liz: So we heard from Layla Sadiq, and she says, I love hearing your different takes on the Peanuts comics through the years, down to the tiniest details. My favorite decade is the 70s. She could talk about Peanuts all day and even wrote an essay titled How Do Charles M. Schulz and Bill Watterson explore what it means to be human through the eyes of children.

Harold: Wow.

Liz: My favorite part of Peanuts is how all the characters deal with unrequited love. I think it's so realistic, especially Sally and Linus. I love Sally so much. She's sassy and assertive and not afraid to yell at Linus when he messes her around.

Harold: Oh. The complexity of their relationship. I guess Michael was kind of saying this is maybe not one that has that much cultural relevance. And I'm wondering if that's maybe because it's one of the more complex relationships. Probably the most complex relationship in terms of her being totally into Linus. And then, you know, Linus is the kind of character who's not going to just reject her and walk away from her or ignore her, like, say, Schroeder will ignore. Right. And you've got a pretty complex relationship with Peppermint Patty that know, what is the relationship? Does Peppermint Patty really like Charlie Brown at first, and then he kind of becomes clear that she does. But here with Linus and know, number one, she's younger in the earlier strips in relationship. Now she's in class with him. So there's something different in that dynamic. But it's interesting to see because Sally can go from being just totally enamored with Linus and he can do no wrong to, being quite critical of him. It does make for a rich relationship, which isn't quite as iconic because it's not just one thing with different facets of one thing. It's kind of multifaceted.

Jimmy: Yeah, I definitely think when you think of the things that are iconic and resonate as a meme, basically one image that you can it has to be something that is more simple, like the World War I flying Ace on top of the doghouse, or Schroeder and Lucy and Lucy leaning on the piano. There is nothing like that that equates visually with Sally and Linus. but I do think sweet babboo for sure.

Harold: Well, maybe for those who know the Christmas special, it's her with her head on his shoulder, or when she's taking the train of his blanket when he put it over his head as he walks away. I mean, those are the things I think of when I think of the Linus Sally relationship, just because I've seen that famous special so many times. great.

Jimmy: Well, thank you so much for writing. And, be of good cheer and write again.

Liz: I have to add that she watches Mystery Science Theater 3000 with her dad.

Harold: That's so cool. As you guys know, I've been traveling around the country meeting Mystery Science Theater fans, and it's been so much fun. I hear so many stories of people who say, I started watching this TV show with my parent often on Saturday mornings. They grew up that way. And it's fascinating to there aren't a whole lot of TV shows like that that cross the generations. And you just over and over and over again and see that usually it was the parent who said, you're going to sit down and watch this with me. And for those of you who haven't seen the show, it's essentially you're watching an old B movie along with, three characters in a movie theater who are in silhouette in front of the screen that you're watching this movie. And they're joking all the way through it. And one of the cool things about it is there might be 500 comments, funny comments, during the cost course of this film. There's tons and tons of jokes, and some of them land and some of them don't. But one of the cool things is there's so many pop culture references that you might be laughing as an adult because you get a joke about Ajax the foaming cleanser or something from your era. And then there might be a song reference that, a child would get that the parent wouldn't. And so you're laughing at the same time, but you're also laughing at different times. And it's often a way to get to know each other because it's like, well, what are you laughing at? What was that about? And they get to explain to each other what they're laughing, about. And I think that's a cool thing about Mystery Science theater.

Jimmy: Absolutely.

Liz: And Layla, if you want to send us a link to your essay, we'd be happy to share it.

Jimmy: Yeah, we'd love to see it. I want to read it, if nothing else. Thanks, Layla.

Harold: Yeah.

Liz: Then Drew from New England writes and says, I found another great addition to everyday items that Schulz masterfully draws. In this case, February 25, 1976 includes crutches. Besides already being a hilarious strip for that month, the crutches somehow feel like they're from the 70s. Even though I'm too young to have any authority on the 70s, it's probably because the arm padding is a dull gray and looks skinnier than today. Anyhow, Drew says, be of good cheer.

Jimmy: All right, Drew, be of good cheer.

Harold: Yep. That's a good-- did you guys notice the cast had these little details that are only for somebody who's obsessing over this horrible cast on his leg all those months that he's got, like, a little patch type of thing? I don't know how it works if that's where the last of the bandages get stapled into the cast. I don't really know how casts work if it's like a plaster of paris-y kind of thing. But I always noticed that he would put that little detail on the bottom of the cast, which I never see other cartoonists do.

Jimmy: Yeah, boy, back in the day, every year there'd be some kid in a cast in your grade.

Harold: That was back when people did skateboards. Yeah. that was a huge one, right?

Jimmy: Yeah. Yes. All right, so that's going to close up the mailbag. If you guys want to get in touch with the gang, we'd love to hear from you. You can find us on Instagram, Twitter and threads. We're at Unpack Peanuts and on Blue Sky now, fresh on Blue Sky and on Facebook we're Unpacking Peanuts, and we would love to hear from you. You can also just email us So we would love to hear from you. So if you have a moment, drop us a line.

Harold: Hey, well, if you have a difficult to pronounce first or last name, if you want to give us a little clue so we can do it justice, let us know.

Jimmy: And let's get right back to the strips.

March 6. Snoopy is playing tennis, and he asks his partner, “what's the score?” And we see his partner is Woodstock, holding the world's smallest tennis racket. Snoopy then says, “we're behind five three? Not to worry, partner. Not to worry.” Then Snoopy lays down his plan. “We'll break this guy's serve, then we'll win your serve. Then we'll break the other guy's serve. Then I'll give him four biggies, and we'll be in. Okay, partner.” Woodstock says something, and Snoopy concludes with, “he agrees with everything except the four biggies.”

Harold: I laughed out loud at this one. It just didn't make my cut. I'm so glad. I think. Jimmy, did you pick this one?

Jimmy: Oh, I don’t know if I did or not, but

Michael: I didn't. I'm not a fan of the tennis strips. There's a lot of sports this year. It's probably half.

Harold: Generally not. But the four biggies made me laugh for sure.

Jimmy: Four biggies is what did it for me. And it's you know what it is unnecessary quotation marks right there. Bringing it home for the laugh.

Harold: yeah, because he's quoting himself. Or quoting Woodstock quoting himself, which just makes it even funnier. And I love the fact that the tennis ball I mean, there's almost no way that Woodstock, could hit that ball and it not hit the wood on the racket.

Jimmy: Yeah, you're right, Michael. There is some more sports coming up here.

March 13. And now we're back at the classic, the good old baseball game. And Charlie Brown's team is losing by a lot to nothing. And Lucy is writing on something, while she's sitting on the bench. Then she walks up to the mound and says to Charlie Brown, “hey, manager, I'm making out our lineup, see what you think. I've got Schroeder down for catcher, Linus at second base, and Snoopy at shortstop.” “How about DH? Who's our designated hitter?” “I put down Shermy.” “Okay, Shermy. That's fine. Shermy’s a good hitter.” “And I've put you down for DG.” “DG,” says Charlie Brown. Lucy walks away saying, “designated goat.”

Michael: I picked this cuz Is this the last time Shermy's even mentioned?

Harold: I believe so, yes.

Michael: And then but we can add to the list because, he's a good hitter.

Jimmy: That's right, we can. Oh, my gosh.

Harold: He's not just a background character.

VO Let's check the Shermometer. Charlie Brown.

Liz: Yeah. And maybe we should explain for new listeners what we're talking about.

Jimmy: So, our pal Shermy, you know from those early years of Peanuts, everyone would say, hey, there's no personality to this guy. Well, we decided early on that we were going to do something called the Shermometer, and we were going to add a character trait that we saw in the strip for Shermy. so, we could, by the end of his last appearance, which we've now seen, be able to give you a complete breakdown of the character traits of one, Mr. Shermy. So, are you guys ready? This will be the final Shermometer.

Michael: Okay? Should you do it to like a Gilbert and Sullivan Patter song thing?

Jimmy: You work on that, and then, we'll try that maybe for the series finale. All right, so, as of 1977, his last appearance in the strip, Shermy was a good hitting inquisitive, shaggy, expository, cool, straggling, bystanding cynical, philosophical, history loving, empathetic, aggressive, compassionate, patient, pedantic, emotional, good listening, vain, friendly, hypocrite. So please, everyone, remember, he is a rich, complex character. But at the core of it all, he is a hypocrite.

Harold: He's the very model of a major minor character.

Michael: Very good.

Jimmy: March 15. Okay, now, this is a long sequence, and I have to say this is one of my favorite sequences in all of Peanuts. Talk about weird. This is deeply, deeply weird. This is Charlie Brown runs away from home, and he ends up managing a baseball team of even littler kids as he takes up life as a homeless man living in a cardboard box. It's fabulous from beginning to end. I, will hear no. Negatives about it, or at least what we're covering right here begins with

March 15. There's Charlie Brown sitting on the ground, and he says, “Where am I?” And then two little kids come up. One kid answers helpfully “right there.” And the little girl says, “we were practicing, and your head got in the way of our ball. We're looking for an older person to coach our team. Do you know anything about baseball?” We see Charlie Brown with the biggest cheesiest grin he's ever had right there. He does indeed know something about baseball.

Michael: I kind of like these, these are named characters, which is unusual.

Jimmy: Yeah.

Michael: Austin and Ruby. And I think it's interesting that, he's adding a lot of characters this year and really ignoring the whole second string of Peanuts characters in this year. Franklin 1, Violet 1.

Harold: That's interesting.

Jimmy: Now, here's something I noticed, and I didn't put this together ‘til you said they're named characters. These also look like Peanuts characters in a way that a lot of times the kids in camp don't. Or like the unnamed kids in camp.

Harold: Yeah. Austin and Ruby. I love these little deadpan characters saying these funny things. I mean, I thought both of these characters lines were kind of fun. Right? Where am I? And the kid points at him right there. I can't help but think that, again, there's this silliness factor in the deadpan thing. I just remember again reading that Jeannie said that you never knew when her husband was joking or not because he'd say these little absurd, bizarre things. And he just seems to be in this zone of he's allowing himself to be silly. I think probably in real life as well as in the strip, that's the sense I get. And because Jeannie was kind of off guard with it, but she was okay with it, or off balance, I should say. That's the vibe I get is that saying these little silly things like that he probably got rewarded for it in this new marriage. That's the feeling I'm getting. He was having fun saying non sequitur-y, just silly things. It's like in the letters that he wrote. you see this when he knows somebody really well, he gets into this really silly place. And when I see these characters, I think of that.

Jimmy: Well, I think what's interesting, too, is that we think of this goes back a little bit with our conversation last episode with the setup punchline scenarios in Peanuts. You think of it always as panel, panel, panel punchline. But here we see there's three jokes. The first three panels each have a joke that he had to write. And then the whole thing has, like, a meta joke. Where am I? Right there. That's a joke, that he had to think of and write. And it's a throwaway.

Harold: And the first panel, it could be a t shirt. Right?

Jimmy: Where am I? Right there. Yeah, you're practicing, and your head got in the way of our ball. That's another to write. So we now have two funny lines in two panels. Then the third joke is an older person, and Charlie Brown's clearly just another kid, even though he has alopecia. And then the meta joke that Charlie Brown sure does know a lot about baseball. But he's also, of course, we know terrible at it. That's not easy on a, daily deadline to write something like that while you're designing two new characters.

Harold: I bet he was very pleased with this.

Jimmy: Amazing. Oh, yeah.

March 17, St. Patty's Day. Leland comes up and says, “Charles.” First time he's been referred to as Charles, I believe. “my name is Leland, and I don't want to be the catcher anymore.” Charlie Brown looks at Leland and says, “let me decide that, Leland. Put your mask on and let's see how you look.” Then in the last panel, we see Leland wearing the catcher's mask, which engulfs basically half of his body.

Harold: Nicely drawn.

Jimmy: Nicely drawn catcher's mask, for sure. I love the design of the little two head high characters. Leland's looking good.

Harold: Yeah, it kind of reminds me of, those young what was the name of the Two by Fours, the comic he did, for the church? That was little kids, and he had stopped doing long ago, but it kind of takes me back there now.

Jimmy: our next selection is going to be a Sunday strip, but why don't we skip that? We'll close this episode with the March 20 strip. Let's finish up the Charlie Brown as manager storyline. That goes to March 22, what we're going to look at next.

So Charlie Brown has been coaching the team, and Ruby comes up to him and says, “where will you be spending the night, Charles?” Charlie Brown says, “oh, I found a little place.” Ruby says “good. I was worried about you.” And she walks away. Charlie Brown says, “don't worry, Ruby. It's very comfortable.” And in the last panel, see a beautifully drawn Charlie Brown asleep in a cardboard box out in a field at night. Well, not asleep.

Harold: He's just sitting there the full moon.

Jimmy: I don't have any memory of this, from reading it in the newspapers. I don't have any memory of it. I never had it in a book. So the first time I remember reading this was through the Fantagraphics books. I just love everything about it. I love that last drawing. I think Charlie Brown looks great. I think it's so sad and so strange.

Harold: I think it's so sad that there's been no search party sent out for Charlie Brown and his family. Nobody seems to care that he's gone. Sally's not-- well.

Jimmy: Maybe they're looking.

Harold: I guess there's a whole untold story of what was going on at the Brown household.

March 29, another little kid from the baseball team wakes up Charlie Brown in his box and says, “Good morning, Charles.” This is Milo. Milo says, “I brought you some cold cereal.” And we see him holding looks like actually a pile of cereal in his hand. And then Charlie Brown says, “thank you, Milo. That was very nice of you.” And Milo, says “you'd better eat it fast Charles. The milk is running through my fingers.” Because Milo did not bring a bowl.

Jimmy: Further integration of the cast. Another African American character.

Harold: Milo yeah, I love the little characters in their kind of stoic way of seeing the world. It's pretty delightful.

Jimmy: Oh, yeah. I would love to see a little Bad News Bears style special with these kids. So now what happens is we, see who Charlie Brown has been training his team to play, and it turns out it is, in fact, his old team. And we wrap up here on

April 2. Linus says to Charlie Brown, “you should come home, Charlie Brown. That kite eating tree fell over during the storm. The Environmental Protection Agency has no evidence against you.” “Are you an escaped criminal Charles?” says, Milo. “No, not really Milo.” And then Milo says to Charlie Brown, “when I grow up, I want to be like you, Charles.” And then Charlie Brown yells, “did everyone hear that?”

Jimmy: All right, so that wraps up the baseball, storyline of Charlie Brown, the runaway fleeing from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Harold: Yeah, I just like to see those little moments when Charlie Brown gets a little respect, especially from these little kids, because I find them so funny and charming, and they see him in a way that his own neighborhood doesn't, obviously. And it's just like a little release on a pressure valve. Every once in a while, you get something for Charlie Brown that it's a good thing. I'm happy for him.

Jimmy: Absolutely. Warms the cockles of the heart for good old Charlie Brown. All right, so now we're going to go back to March 20. this is a Michael Pick, and this is what we're going to wrap up this episode with. So March 20.

Michael: Well, actually, I want to say something before you read it.

Jimmy: Oh, okay, go for it.

Michael: Which is breaking precedent. So we're going into unexplored territory.

Jimmy: Very exciting.

Michael: I had an earth shaking revelation.

Jimmy: Okay.

Michael: It could changed the foundation of the entire podcast.

Jimmy: Not ready for that.

Michael: Yeah, I had this revelation earlier as I was reading, I think it was around February, and I went like, oh, my God, this is huge. Why haven't we noticed this before? And I was wondering if maybe people didn't think it was worth mentioning, but I think, it was actually a very big deal. So actually, I went back to our picks of last year, 1976, and checked there, and then I started reading the rest of this year with great anticipation until I got up to March 20. And then I went, oh, okay, so maybe it's not such a huge revelation, but it's interesting. So why don't you read it and then figure out what I'm talking about?

Jimmy: All right.

March 20. Symbolic panel. Charlie Brown is in the lens of a camera. Panel two, he is carrying something over his shoulder. Looks like it's a long tube of something. he comes upon Linus and Lucy, and Lucy says to him, “what in the world is that?” We see Charlie Brown has been carrying a poster. He unrolls it, and he says, “It's a life size poster of myself.” He says to Lucy, “I had it made from a small snapshot. I'm going to give it to my mom and dad as a surprise.” Lucy says to Charlie Brown as he walks away, “that's a great Idea. I'd like to do something like that myself.” Then Linus says, “Don't. It's too risky.” And then in the last panel, he concludes, “after the parents get a poster, they might decide they don't need the kid.”

Michael: Okay, so what do you think I'm talking about?

Jimmy: Well, I mean, I obviously know, but I don't want to step on Harold's chance at glory here. So why don't you tell us, Harold.

Harold: So, Michael, you're saying that there was something that you noticed going back to last year's strips.

Michael: Well, I noticed it early on this year. And then you went back and then I didn't go back the whole year. I went back and checked the ones we picked, and then when I hit this strip, I went, oh, okay. my theory is not great. But I think it is.

Jimmy: I know

Harold: the theory was undermined with this strip?

Michael: Yes.

Harold: Does it have to do with the parents? No.

Jimmy: Does it have to do with the layout of the panels.

Michael: No. Shall I tell you?

Harold: Yes.

Jimmy: Oh, I got it. Charlie Brown's naked in five panels. I didn't notice that. No, I'm just kidding.

Harold: People are going to What on earth is he talking about?

Jimmy: Okay, what is it?

Michael: We hadn't noticed this before. Linus had stopped using his blanket.

Jimmy: Whoa. You’re right.

Michael: This is the first time this year he has the blanket. Last year, at least the ones I looked at, he did not have a blanket. And for the rest of the year and Linus is in a lot this year, actually, at least 20. There's four strips where he has a blanket, but basically, he does not have a blanket. And there's no jokes about the blanket. There haven't been for a long time.

Jimmy: Yeah, that's amazing. That's a really good catch. I did not notice that. I do know in a later interview, possibly the one with Gary Groth in Comics Journal, Schulz says he does note that, and he says he doesn't even draw Linus carrying the blanket much anymore, but he'll never renounce it. That's wild. No, I did not notice.

Harold: I thought there was a gag with the blanket this year

Michael: There's there's three more blanket strips, and one was definitely a blanket joke, but generally Linus is no longer addicted to the blanket which is really the core of this character. If you're going to describe Linus that's what people would say. He sucks his thumb and he has a blanket.

Harold: Do you think he's a more secure character now? He does seem to be more.

Jimmy: Yeah I feel that's why he's not ranting about scripture. That's why he's not constantly this because he's come to peace with some of this stuff. And I know this is all off camera and this is all off panel rather and just conjecture but yeah I feel that I think now Linus enjoys the know but he doesn't the fanatic.

Harold: Part of Linus it's still there in the Great Pumpkin to some degree. But he does seem to be less inquisitive about things. Well more like living in the moment.

Michael: We've pointed this out a couple of times the last few years. It looks like Schulz kind of lost focus on the character because he was my favorite character for most of the then it's sort of like he doesn't know what to do with them. And Linus does seem much more grounded.

Jimmy: Yes yeah I mean that's I see as like I see it differently because I don't have the emotional connection to him as their favorite character in the same way you guys do. And so it's not related specifically to the strips that stand out to me or whatever. So to me honestly I don't feel like Linus has lost focus at all. I think Linus is just a normal centered, calm person now. I think Linus probably in some ways reflects Schulz's spiritual journey. Schulz's intellectual journey. Schulz isn't on about all this stuff anymore either and I don't get a sense of that it's coming from a place of dismissing it or a place of it not being of interest to him anymore. But just in a place that he's more at peace with it. So he doesn't need to talk about it as much. Because the problem is when you're at peace and with your own thoughts and feelings about big things right. It's harder to put it into art because when you do it comes off as pontificating. It comes off as holier than thou just a know it all whatever it is. Right. So I think a person who is more at peace with themselves just tends to be quieter. Yeah as you can tell because I never shut up. I’m the opposite.

Michael: His ambition was to be like a wild eyed fanatic and he doesn't strike me as anymore. Except for the Great Pumpkin.

Harold: No.

Jimmy: no, no, definitely he's outgrown it.

Harold: I keep putting thoughts into Schulz's mind, but that's well, gosh, we've been talking about this for how many hours? And I just keep thinking of Jeannie. I mean, just having met Jeannie, and I know she's got this very centered, calm, friendly, sweet nature. That's the way I would describe her. And it seems like there are tensions that have melted away in Schulz's life, because being married to somebody, it's a big piece of your life based on what that dynamic is. And it just seems like this is somebody who loves him very much, obviously tells him if she's calling him her sweet babboo, he's being told he's loved. And I don't know obviously I don't know the history of what it was like around his previous wife or his kids, but it just seems like there's something fresh in his life where he has calmed because something is being fulfilled. And that's lovely to see.

Jimmy: And you see it in a wonderful that's a wonderful way to put it. And Michael, that is, an outstanding catch. Good eye. I never would have known.

Michael: Yeah, but we didn't catch it.

Jimmy: Well, you caught it now.

Michael: Well, we got it now, but for last-- It might have been gone back--I'd like to go back and see when he stopped.

Harold: Yeah, that would be really interesting to see when it starts to fade away.

Jimmy: Absolutely. Well, that's what we could do in our time off. Or better yet, that's what you guys could do out there in podcast land. Find out when did Linus stop carrying his blanket around all the time and let us know. All right, well, with that blockbuster insight into the strip, we're going to wrap this week up.

I hope that you guys, want to hang out with the gang in between now and the next podcast. And you can certainly do that by finding us online. You can email us through You can find us on Instagram, Threads, and Twitter at unpackPeanuts. And you can find us on Blue Sky and Facebook Unpacking Peanuts. And please write and let us know what you think of Peanuts and the podcast and anything else that's going on. Because, you know, if you don't write, I worry. Until then, just keep reading Peanuts. Have a wonderful week. And for Michael and Harold, this is Jimmy saying be of good cheer.

Harold and Michael: Yes, be of good cheer

VO: Unpacking Peanuts is copyright Jimmy Gownley, Michael Cohen and Harold Buchholz. Produced and edited by Liz Sumner. Music by Michael Cohen. Additional Voiceover by Aziza Shukralla Clark. For more from the show, follow Unpack Peanuts on Instagram and Twitter. Unpacking Peanuts on Facebook and YouTube. For more about Jimmy, Michael, and Harold, visit Have a wonderful day, and thanks for listening.

Jimmy: Chop, chop, chop, chop, chop, chop, chop, chop, chop.

Recent Posts

See All

1983 Part 1 - I See You Have A Security Blanket...

Jimmy: Hey, everybody. Welcome back to the show. We are discussing 1983 here. So get your new wave shades on, and, let's go back to the 80s. I'll be your host for the proceedings. My name is Jimmy Gow


bottom of page