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1981-1 A Picture is Worth 810 Words

Jimmy: Hey, everybody. Welcome back to the show. It's Unpacking Peanuts, and it's me, your old pal, Jimmy Gownley. I'm your host for the proceedings. I'm also the cartoonist of Amelia Rules. Seven Good Reasons Not to Grow Up, and the Dumbest Idea Ever. 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. He's the original editor of Amelia Rules, the co creator of the original comic book Price Guide, and the creator of such great strips as Strange Attractors, A Gathering of Spells, and Tangled River. It's Michael Cohen.


Michael: Say hey.


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


Harold: Hello.


Jimmy: Well, guys, we are here in 1981. I noticed this is a year we have selected quite a number of strips to cover. So I think it was a very diverse year. I think in some places, it was a strange and poetic year. Harold, what are your initial thoughts about 1981?


Harold: Yeah, I guess if I was going to use a word, it would be soft. yeah, it seemed kind of in that low key, stoic mode that we've seen him going into here. I haven't done yet my angry and happy index. So next week, we'll be able to take a look at that and see if what I'm saying is true. And yet, at the same time, he did try out some new things in this year that know out of the ordinary, I don't think we'd seen before. So he's still innovating.


Jimmy: The thing that's really struck me since Michael said it a few episodes ago was the idea of middle aged Snoopy. Michael, are you still seeing that this year?


Michael: Yeah, we're transitioning slowly from kind of the 70s style to the 80s style. It's pretty slow transition, and I think Snoopy is the one character who has changed visually. Clearly, this is not even the early 70s Snoopy.


Jimmy: Yeah, for sure. He's put on a lot of weight, Snoopy, both on his nose and in his gut.


Harold: A lot of references to fatness. I think this year as well. I don't know what's going on.


Jimmy: Well, is this the year of Olivia Newton John's Physical, maybe. Everybody was getting in shape.


Harold: Yeah. So with Schulz doing a lot of jogging, Snoopy, middle aged Snoopy is golfing. That's interesting.


Jimmy: Middle aged Snoopy golf. There's definitely jogging. he's been doing the jogging thing for a year and clearly enjoys it as much as everyone enjoys jogging, which is not at all. Yeah, it is interesting because I think you could definitely see early on, Charlie Brown was Schulz's avatar. There's no question. But then as Schulz became a different person, as the strip changed, it feels like Snoopy became his avatar. And I think there's more of that now than there ever has been.


Harold: That's really interesting. And Peppermint Patty is a big fixture going forward, and it seemed like who we focused on in school, year over year, has you know. Linus had his time with Ms. Othmar. Then Sally had her time doing show and tells, and Charlie Brown even had a little bit of a time. And then Peppermint Patty really has the bulk of them now. Right. And she's the D minus. It's so fascinating. He makes her the D minus student. Everything's a D minus. She's going to move on, but just barely. That's been decided that she's very consistent. She's not all over the map.


Jimmy: Exactly.


Harold: Constantly getting those D minuses. So good for, Peppermint Patty for consistency.

Jimmy: There was an issue of Scott McCloud's Zot comic in the 80s where he, was doing this thing called the Earth Stories, which were, like, very slice of life. Really good. And one guy, the conceit is that he's the smartest one in their friend group, but he tries to get only D minuses. That's his goal, because it's really hard to be able to just stay right on that line. And that's how he judges his success.


Harold: Wow.


Jimmy: But by Peppermint Patty standards, he's not a success at all, because he's trying to do it. She does it effortlessly. All right, well, with that out of the way, I think, we can just get to the strips because there's a lot of good ones, and, I'm looking forward to talking to you guys about them.


Harold: great


Michael: Sounds good.


January 4, we got one of them there symbolic panels with Peppermint Patty, drowning under a sea of words, which represent, questions and answers that she, is being asked and doesn't really know the answer to.


Michael: Read this. Aren't you going to read this?


Jimmy: Virginia Pacific. Why? Constitution. I'll be blind by the end.


Harold: Well, that's the only reason I picked this one.


Jimmy: All right, then, settle in, everybody. 


So then the strip starts for real on tier two, where Marcie says to Peppermint Patty, and they're both sitting in class. “You look like you're sinking, sir.” And Peppermint Patty is doing just that. She answers, “I am Marcie. I'm drowning in a sea of unanswered questions.” At this point, her nose is barely above the top of her desk. Then she erupts as if through the top of the water. She yells, “now I suddenly surface. I splash frantically. Help. I cry, save me.” But then she sinks again, saying, “now I sink for the second time. Questions pour over my head. Who was Voltaire? Who was Cato the elder?” She comes up again. “Now I come up for the last time, sputtering half answers, spitting out verbs, infinitives, commas.” But then she sinks again. “I sink beneath the surface. I'm gone, Marcie. I'm gone.” This one, Marcie is now up on top of her desk, looking down to see Peppermint Patty, who's reduced herself to lying all the way on the floor. And Peppermint Patty cries out from the floor, “mark the spot where you last saw me. Mark the spot where I drowned in a sea of d minuses and incompletes.” And then Marcie says to the teacher, another scholar caught in the undertow ma'am.” 


Michael: well written.


Harold: I think this was in universities, people getting phds. They probably cut this one out and was in the cubicle all across the world.


Michael: This is how I felt when I had to take calculus.


Harold: Oh, boy.


Jimmy: Oh, really?


Michael: Everybody else was just nodding. I’m like whats going on!


Harold: I think this is the first time I've seen Schulz actually have a character cross over into the regular word balloon dialogue. Her hair is across the comma of the word infinitives before.


Jimmy: And, yeah, he really does that. He has Marcie breaking it in a couple of panels, too, especially in that next to last one.


Harold: And he’s having, obviously a lot of fun choosing these things that Peppermint Patty's asking about. There's no reason any elementary school teacher would be who was Voltaire? Cato the Elder. But while we're at know if we're wondering who Schulz is bringing up beyond that sea of words that you can look at if you go online to gocomics.com or open up your January 4, 1981 Fantagraphics volume.


VO Peanuts Obscurities Explained


Harold: Yeah. So Cato the elder, for those of you just on the edge of your seats, he lived from 234 to 149 BC. He was the Roman who was the first to write history in Latin that we really know of. And he opposed Greek influence on Rome. So that's, somebody, maybe Schulz just likes the sound of Cato the Elder. That is a pretty cool thing.


Michael: Well, the kid was actually smarter.


Harold: So that's what, Peppermint Patty is up against.


Jimmy: Mean, everybody learned their Cato the elder in third grade.


Harold: Yeah, we all had to learn that nursery song.


Jimmy: Cato the elder, he opposed greek influence. Everyone knows that.


Harold: wrote about agriculture, and nothing rhymes with that.


January 16. Linus is watching some tv. Lucy stretches and says, “well, I guess I'll go to bed.” But then she says to her brother, “before I go, would you mind a brief word of criticism?” Linus, without looking away from the tv screen, says, “yes.” Lucy, disappointed, says, “I was afraid of that.” Then she goes to bed covered up by her little quilt, and says, “it's hard for a critical person to go to sleep if she isn't allowed a brief word of criticism.”


Michael: How frustrating.


Harold: Poor Lucy.


Michael: can you imagine plugged up like that?


Liz: maybe that's why you haven't been sleeping well.


Michael: Well, there's always that danger of criticism at any moment, no matter what I'm doing.


Harold: Yeah, but, boy, she's so polite in asking.


Jimmy: That's what I was going to say. I'm surprised she even asked.


Harold: The new mellow, sweatshirt wearing Lucy.


Jimmy: Yeah, I love the picture of her stretching. I think that's great


Harold: Yeah, it looks one of those fake arm, stretching ones where she's like, I'm really just thinking about talking to you. But, what a show that I'm about to leave here for the evening.


Jimmy: When you get to this point of this art style, which is changing morphing from the 70s into the 80s, like Michael says, I don't even know how to describe. It's so much like just his handwriting. Now, for everyone that's influenced by Schulz, there's no one who draws like Schulz, really, because if you try to draw like that, it just looks like a direct ton. Obviously, I was influenced by, and South Park and stuff, but he has this little visual language completely to himself.


Harold: Yeah. And I was marveling over the lettering this year. This is larger. As we've said before, the strips are shrinking in the newspapers. And so he's been making the lettering larger and larger in relationship to the characters within each of these panels. And his lettering is uniquely his as well. He kind of came to his own interesting shorthand and we used to talk a lot about letters at the beginning of this run of podcasts. But I will kind of jump in here. One of the things that struck me, he's breaking a rule on the G's. These are capital G's, and you circle around and then you come up, and then you go to the left with the g. And he makes his G's generally go all the way to attach themselves to the side of the curve, which looks kind of like a six. And that was a big no no. If you were ever learning cartoon lettering, is you don't connect those. You keep some air in between so it looks like a g. But, a Schulz G is a closed g, at least at this point, for the most part. And I don't know why he does that.


Jimmy: And he really keeps-- Well, he keeps such little space, in between the letters, too, which is taking a risk in the newsprint, like, just looking how close the letters are in, sweetie, in that last. Oh, sorry, we didn't read that one. That's the next one. but let's, try something else. Well, like, look at the words in brief or criticism. He really has those letters right next to each other and get as many words as he can.


Harold:, but he will not connect. That is a rule that he follows. He will not connect them, even if it would look kind of cool. He always has the space. And he started out as a letterer. We mentioned this before. He was doing it for Timeless Topics. They were just paying him, I think, by the hour, which is kind of weird to letter their comics. And he learned those Rules very well. Taking art instruction courses. you know, he learned this stuff, and then gradually, he would find ways to break the rules. And I think one of the things that he did, I think that makes it look like a little more like handwriting, is it seems like whatever flows best, he'll move into. He'll curve letters that should be straight, an a might have a little bit of curve going up and down, instead of it being exact, hard line. So it's somebody working fast. Right. And somebody who knows what he's doing. Yeah, but it's uniquely. I don't. I haven't seen anybody who does lettering like Schulz, that if they did it, people would say that's you know, because he somehow, like you said, did it himself, did it his own way, and found his own tool that wasn't being used for the drawing. That radio 914 nib, which was for handwriting. And it's interesting, though, that he is using a more traditional speedball nib on the lettering. But he's found a way to write in a way that nobody else does. The one thing that I have noticed that he didn't used to do in the past that he does now, maybe it just doesn't matter enough to him is when you have to redip that pen into this India ink bottle, and then you have to kind of draw it up against the edge so that you don't get a giant pool of ink for the very first line you draw. When, he's lettering more and more, you can see where that dip was. And you get the thicker pen line. Like if you look at this January 16, 1981, strip. And the second panel before I go, would you, You is obviously the y is the first in that dip because it's thicker. And he used to control that fastidiously, and now it doesn't matter to him. It's not worth it.


Jimmy: Right, Yeah, right. You can clearly see it there. it blows my mind that he chose to stick with a dip lettering pen all the way into the 80s. When you think he could have converted to something that's a little more streamlined, like even a rapidograph, like a big, thick rapidograph, it definitely would have changed it changed the look, and he just was not willing to do that.


Harold: Well, I'll say for someone who tried to use a rapidograph, it's a heck of a lot easier to use a dip pen than a rapidograph. Oh, my gosh.


Jimmy: Best thing I ever drew in my life, I swear to God, was in college. It was a duck, and I did it with a rapidograph. and to this day, I think, well, that was the peak of my--


Harold: That's the peak of your career in life?


Jimmy: I drew that duck. Couldn't get anything else to ever work with it. They never stay clean. You're constantly trying to fuss with them to get them to work.


Harold: Michael, did you ever mess with rapidographs?


Michael: I think so. I have a vague memory.


Harold: of using them before throwing them out the window.


Jimmy: Now, when you went to digital, before any of us, really, right. You've been doing, digital drawings since the late nineties or the year? No, not the late 90s.


Michael: Yeah. I think my first one was like 2000 something.


Harold: Wow. I know. People swear by them and say, oh, no, once you figure it out, they're amazing.


Michael: I went a little overboard because I was, like, magnifying the panel so big that I was spending like a half an hour doing the eyeballs.


Harold: How big were you blowing this up?


Michael: Well, it didn't matter. It's just you blow it up till the eye is, like the whole screen. And so you can get all those little lines just nicely in there.


Harold: Right?


Jimmy: Yeah.


Michael: It had an interesting effect when it was actually printed. But at the time I thought, well, let's go for some realism here.


January 23. Charlie Brown and Lucy and Snoopy are all sitting outside in the grass. And Charlie Brown's reading something. He says, “I just found out why camels can go so long without water.” This looks like a newspaper he's reading, by the way, or something. Just some sort of pamphlet about camels. So then in panel two, he turns to Lucy and says. “It has something to do with their big noses.” Lucy is and Snoopy both just take this information in. But then Lucy turns to Snoopy and says, “if that's true, I know someone who shouldn't need a drink for ten years.” But Snoopy takes it in stride and says, “if I were a camel, sweetie, I'd take you out in the desert and leave you there.” And he gives her a kiss in the cheek.


Michael: Actually, Snoopy's nose never struck me as being particularly big.


Jimmy: No.


Harold: In that first panel, I think Lucy's, giving Snoopy a run for his money there. Yeah, pretty equivalent. Charlie Brown's nose, I guess, is, the winner in these, the first two panels.

Jimmy: Well, it's funny, know Peppermint Patty has a big nose, she says all the time. And it is. It's like the smallest. It's like a millimeter bigger than Charlie Brown's nose. So therefore it registers as a big.


Harold: Yeah. So so odd. But, yeah, it was kind of fun to see the little exchange here going down the line between Charlie Brown, Lucy and Snoopy.


Jimmy: What do we think he's reading? Maybe one of those Scholastic--


Michael: Yeah, the newspaper would be as big as he is.


Harold: Yeah.


Jimmy: So it's the weekly reader. All right. There we go. And it was this all about camels.


Harold: That's right. Unless it was Highlights. Could have been Highlights, but it looks a little floppy.


Jimmy: I still remember, like, in social studies, I remember studying just, Thailand for, like, four months in fourth grade. Like, knowing every single thing about Thailand. And I thought, well, this must be the most important thing anyone in the world could ever know. And it's never come up again. I don't know why.


Harold: Wow.


January 28. Snoopy and Charlie Brown are inside, watching tv. 


Jimmy: Although it kind of looks like there's a tree canopy above them. No, that's how I would draw a tree canopy if.


Harold: I was thinking, this is the era of Jeff McNelly’s Shoe, which he had a really rough brush style. And I noted this year that there were a few things that Schulz seemed to mess around with that made me think of Shoe. I was wondering if he was admiring what he was doing and occasionally incorporating something he saw.


Jimmy: Well, that guy could really draw. He had, like, an editorial cartoonist style, and looked real good.


Harold: Yeah. But he had these kind of anthropomorphic animal or birds, I guess. Right. It was bird journalist. 


Jimmy: Yeah In a treehouse. Yeah.


So panel one, Charlie Brown, Snoopy, are in a very decorative late 70s, early 80s chair watching tv. And Charlie Brown says, “they said, it's going to get colder tonight.” Then he in panel two has two, woolly socks that he shows Snoopy and says, “maybe you'd like to borrow these woolly socks.” Snoopy takes them out to his dog house. And then we see in panel four, he tries them on, one covering his entire top of his body and one covering the entire bottom of his body. And he thinks to himself, “I don't think they're going to work.”


Michael: That's a good sight gag there. That made me chuckle.


Jimmy: It is a very good sight gag.


Harold: Yeah. And it kind of looks like, they work as Spanx as well. His little tummy there, some heavy elastic.


Jimmy: I mean, he's going to be warm as long as he could breathe. I don't know. I love the panel three with, just the moon and the sky. I'm assuming he used, like, circle templates for those moons because they're perfectly round, but, yeah, maybe not.


Harold: That would be amazing if he did not. Although then I look at Charlie Brown, maybe, right?


Jimmy: Yeah. Okay, so now we go to January 30, and we're seeing that black at the top of the panels again. Very strange.


Michael: There must have been some kind of wallpaper around that had kind of, like, foliage at the top.


Jimmy: foliage. It's really interesting and weird. 


Anyway, Lucy and Linus are watching tv, and Lucy says to Linus, who has the blanket, by the way, and he's sucking his thumb.


Michael: We haven't seen this in years. this combination.


So Lucy says, “do you realize I haven't yelled at you all day?” Linus, without really, moving at all, says, “that's right, and I appreciate it. Thank you very much.” Lucy then stands up and says, “you're welcome.” Then before she heads off to bed, she turns and screams at him, “GOOD NIGHT.” 


Jimmy: So do you think she saved that one up all day? Yes, that was the plan.


Harold: Not sure.


Michael: She had to get it out somehow.


Jimmy: What do you think it is that brought the blanket and thumb back for Schulz?


Michael: I don't know. There was a bunch of callbacks this year. We have the kite callback. There's a couple of others.


Harold: I wonder if he's going through old strips for animated specials and stuff, and he's like, oh, yeah. Or if he has to read them for book collections, because, I mean, those Fawcett Crest things were pretty random. But I was wondering if he was, like, going further back for some project or something, and maybe that was triggering something. what's interesting to me is he does have the blanket here in the first three panels. And then for the punchline, it doesn't make sense to show the blanket. It only messes up the visual image of Linus flipping upside down with Lucy's loud good night. And there's no sign of the blanket. You could argue, of course it's behind him or it's been thrown off somewhere, but the fact that it's there in the first three panels and then he opts not to even have it in the final panel is interesting.


Jimmy: Yeah, I wonder if it was this. Well, I'm sure it was just the type of thing. he just went for that iconic pose because he knows it works and didn't think or care about the blanket at all. But also, it could have been that he drew the figures and was like, oh, well, there's just really no room. It will just make it like you say, it'll just make it more difficult to read.

Harold: Yeah, but it's interesting that if that's the case for the final panel, that he has it in the first three when he hasn't done it for so long.


Jimmy: We also see Lucy back in her classic dress.


Harold: Isn't that. Now, we don't know that he had a drawer of ideas. It always sounded like he was fresh every day. He wouldn't go back and look at old things. So I'm assuming this is not something he just pulled up and go, oh, yeah, my golly, I never did do this one.


Jimmy: I doubt it. I think they're just like Michael says, they're just throwbacks. But, I mean, anything's possible. You hear about songwriters that'll have a song laying around unfinished for eleven years or something and then finally comes out on a record.


Harold: Writer is like, yeah, Mairzie doates and dozy dotes and little lamsie divey a kiddly divy too-- Now what? I got to ruminate on this one.


Jimmy: If you want to never think about that song in the same way again. You got to watch your Twin Peaks. And you'll find that it's actually, like, the most terrifying song ever written.


Harold: I think I'll pass, thanks.


February 5. Lucy looks really annoyed at Linus, who's just sitting there eating something. And she says to him, “well, why don't you answer me?” Linus turns to her innocently and says, “oh, I didn't hear you. I can't hear a thing when I'm eating toast because it echoes inside my head.” Lucy walks away with just a look of contempt and disgust on her face as Linus says, “actually, it's very peaceful.” And then in panel four, he says, “eating toast is like getting away for the weekend.”


Jimmy:  I love that punchline. That is just great


Michael: We're seeing a lot of Lucy this year, aren't we?


Jimmy: Yeah, yeah, we certainly are. And she's in full crab mode.


Michael: We're picking them anyway.


Harold: And Linus certainly, knows how to make something out of nothing here. Who else can turn a piece of toast into a getaway? That's, pretty amazing.


Jimmy: Yeah, see, that's his genius showing itself again for me, other than the punchline, which I love. panel three, the look on Lucy's face as she walks away is great cartooning.


Harold: You couldn't have a mouth lower on your face.


Jimmy: Lower. Oh, man. 


February 7. Lucy and Charlie Brown are hanging out the old thinking wall, and Lucy says to Charlie Brown, “I discovered something. One picture is not worth a thousand words.” She has a little piece of paper in her hand, and she's clearly been calculating something. And she says, “according to my calculation, one picture is only worth 810 words.” Then she walks away as she says to Charlie Brown, “from now on, if anyone tells you that one picture is worth a thousand words, you'll know it's actually only 810.” This leaves Charlie Brown alone to contemplate it. And he thinks, “I guess that could be nice to know.”


Harold: Well, this is stagflation at work again. We've lost 19% of the value.


Michael: Sure, but I think most cartoonists would have made panel two the punchline.


Harold: That's a good point. Yeah, I think so. And I'm impressed with Lucy, going to all the trouble with her arithmetic.


Jimmy: Yeah. So what calculations did she use, do you think?


Harold: I don't know.


Michael: Insane belief in crazy science?


Jimmy: Well, yeah. Which, again, goes back to the  of it being a throwback kind of year in some ways.


Harold: Right? yeah.


Jimmy: Because that's, like, 50s stuff.


Harold: Minus the stagflation.


Jimmy: Minus the stagflation. Oh, boy. This is a good one. 


February 22. It's a Sunday. We see a really nice first panel of a bunch of geese flying south, I guess. And Woodstock is leading them. Or are they supposed to be actual eagles? I don't know what type of birds they are. Eagles don't flock like that. Anyway, panel two. Woodstock is asking Snoopy a question. And Snoopy says, “you, could be. Why not?” Then, in the next panel, they're just sitting, talking. And Snoopy says to Woodstock. “I read once about an eagle carrying off a small child.” He continues, “it'd be a good way for you to find out if you're an eagle. Do you think you could carry away a small child?” Just at this moment, Linus walks by. Woodstock stops him by chirping at him, calling. And we know it's a chirp because it's a musical note. That actually does stop Linus. And then we see in the next panel. Woodstock trying to carry Linus away. But he's doing it by lifting with his wings. And Snoopy, says, “no, no. Not like that. You're supposed to use your claws.” Which in the next panel, has Woodstock pulling Linus by the hair. Trying to lift him off the ground and failing. Snoopy says, “that's right. You got him. “Lift lift up up up.” The next panel it continues with Linus. His hair still being tugged violently by Woodstock. And Linus says to Snoopy. “All right. Tell this stupid friend of yours to get lost.” In the last panel, Snoopy and Woodstock are just sitting on the ground again. And Snoopy says, “I guess I never did really believe those eagle stories.”


Harold: Oh, man. This has, some great visuals.


Jimmy: To me, that panel of Woodstock lifting Linus is one of the funniest things he's ever done. And so are the ones of him pulling the hair. But the one of him lifting. If you zoom in close and you really look at that, look, know, resolve and strain on Woodstock's face. That's amazing.


Harold: Yeah. And pulling the hair. Trying to lift him by pulling up his hair. That would be a great t shirt.


Jimmy: Boy. In the next to last panel, you could fully see Linus's dented head.


Harold: That's true. And Lucy was probably involved.


Jimmy: Yeah, I imagine so. The first time my dad ever took me to the park. Apparently when I was, like, two years old. I went on the sliding board and fell off and landed on my head.


Which I think explains the career in comics years pretty neatly. 


February 26. Another scene we've seen a lot in Peanuts. Charlie Brown is, sitting alone on the bench in the schoolyard. Eating his lunch. And he says to himself, “wouldn't it be something if that little red haired girl came over here and gave me a kiss? I'd say, thank you. What was that for? And wouldn't it be something if she said, because I've always loved you?” Panel three, Charlie Brown is absolutely giddy as he reaches in his bag, to eat something else for lunch. And he says, “then I'd give her a big hug and she'd kiss me again. Wouldn't that be something?” Then in panel four, we see Charlie Brown eating a french fry, and he says to himself, “wouldn't it be something if it turned out that french fries were good for you?”


Michael: First of all, I thought she moved away.


Jimmy: Yeah, she just moves back and forth sometimes.


Michael: Yeah, it's clearly delusional, but it doesn't reflect good on him.


Harold: How do you mean?


Michael: Well, he's generally a fairly sensible, down to earth kind of guy, so this is clearly not going to happen. And so why is he indulging in this ridiculous fantasy?


Jimmy: Well, my version of this is when I see someone on tv or hear something on the radio or whatever, I will have an imaginary argument with that person that I will never meet, never talk to, and I will defeat them in an imaginary argument. I mean, that's pointless and is never going to happen either. I think we just let ourselves daydream and delude ourselves about lots of different things.


Michael: Yeah, but this in particular. I don't particularly like these strips.


Harold: You mean in general?


Michael: I know, because that's a big thing that people always talk about, and you just think it's probably-- Everyone talks about him like he's pitiful, but in this case, he actually is.


Harold: So you don't think he is generally, and this is an exception to that rule, generally.


Michael: except for pitching, which is pitiful. But generally, he's not a buffoon. You're supposed to identify with him as being kind of an everyman, but people talk about him like he's like a total loser. And this is a case where he actually is a total loser.


Harold: Well, this is really interesting. So, Jimmy, what is your general take on Charlie Brown to you? This doesn't seem out of line that he would go to a place like this? It sounds like what you're saying. And, this idea that Charlie Brown, to the reader, is a little bit more reasonable than the characters around him would make him think. Is that part of you think Schulz's design? So that that's a way to get some instant sympathy for somebody if they're being put upon unfairly over the course of a strip, you really kind of get that feeling toward them. Or what do you think Schulz is doing here?


Jimmy: I think that it grew into the  that Charlie Brown is slightly more competent or know better a person than people generally consider him. But I don't think this is. If this is pathetic, then I think everyone in the world is pathetic, because I guarantee you, everybody has thought things like this. I feel like. Anyway, it doesn't bother me. I feel like if he were talking about this in front of people, this is just his own private reverie. I think the reason people talk about it is because people relate to it.


Michael: Yeah, but if somebody was sitting there in the schoolyard and saw him on that bench in panel three, they go like, this kid is insane.


Harold: Or, this kid is happy. I wish I could be happy like him. who knows? Maybe the little red haired girls. I was like, say, who is that fellow?


Jimmy: That kid cackling to himself, eating french fries for lunch.


Harold: from a bag, which means they're cold.


Jimmy: I think that's what we should be concerned about.


Harold: Maybe it's those Andy Capp french fries, those little sticks, potato sticks.


Jimmy: Oh, cheddar fries, which would have an Andy Capp comic strip on the back. The weirdest licensing tie in of all time.


Jimmy: It is because it was like a British comic strip that we never had.


Harold: What was the tie in? Chips.


Jimmy: Oh, that makes me think, though, I have right here, we were talking with Gary Groth about the cartoonist, Seth, who designed the complete Peanuts books. And he's a great cartoonist in general. And there was this magazine that came out called, it was called Comic Art magazine. It was years ago. And, these have all kinds of little extras in it. And one extra is this book that Seth put together. It's a 95 page book, 96 pages. And it was, a freebie with this magazine called 40 Cartoon Books of Interest. And it's just all these different, rare, strange, oddball books, that he found throughout the years. One of them, though, is an Andy Capp collection. Andy Capp was a British comic strip about a guy who was like, a layabout drunkard. And the book was die cut, so it looked like a flask. It's the wildest looking little product.


Harold: that's interesting.


Jimmy: Yeah, we eventually got Andy Capp in our paper for some reason.


Harold: Yeah, we had it in our paper.


Michael: It never occurred to me the entire time I was reading that strip for, like, 50 years, that it was actually a pun never occurred to me.


Harold: Right. Yeah. I think I was many years in before it dawned on me. Yeah.


Jimmy: It doesn't dawn on me to this moment. What is it?


Michael: Think about the words.


Jimmy: Oh, for God's sake. Oh, that's embarrassing. Wow. I don't want to get canceled twice.


Michael: Well, it's cockney, too, so. Dropped the H.


Jimmy: Yeah. What is this handicap? Is it the drinking?


Michael: Well, no, the handicap. Is he a gambler, too?


Jimmy: Yeah.


Michael: So it's like the horse-- playing the horses or something.


Jimmy: Oh, for God's sake. Handicap. Wow.


Harold: Well, for those of you, let us know, those of you listening who knew this strip, did you know about that connection to the title or were you having that same revelation with us as we?


Michael: Well, I sure didn't know.


Jimmy: Well, it is shocking to me, the things I miss for someone who likes to think of himself as a, Thought I knew who Rorschach was in Watchmen from panel one. I didn't know it was a mystery.


Harold: Well, it's a test.


Jimmy: If someone told me it was a mystery, though, I never would have figured it out ever in a million years. I miss sometimes the most obvious things like that. That's a great one.


Harold: Yeah. Well, another thing I want to mention about this strip, which is unusual. It's almost always the same angle when we see it. And if anybody has read these strips, you can picture it in your mind or you see it in an animated special. You're looking at him at a slight angle and he's off to the left. He's facing left, strip left, or whatever us reader left. And this one, he's looking in the other direction. We've got a tether ball in the playground and a waste basket. And then we change angles for a close up on him. And then we change angles closer back to what you would typically see. But you see the side of the building, you see a swing. It's like he's mixing stuff up here in a big way, which is interesting. This far in, like you said, this year is a lot of callbacks. But in this case, he wants to mix up the visuals. And in part, he has to, at least for the second panel, because the words have to be so large in the strip that he has to do a close up of Charlie Brown or we would have cut off his head or something at the same angle because there's so much room for the letter.


Michael: It's kind of interesting because here he's using a lot of background objects. And then we go to the next one, which is really unusually blank, for Peanuts, where he easily could have put in all kinds of school stuff. Yeah, these are pretty much blank backgrounds.

Jimmy: All right, let's read that one. 


March 1. So, panel one, Sally and Eudora are standing outside, and apparently Sally has just asked Eudora how much time is left in recess. And Eudora answers, saying, “I'd say about five minutes.” Then in the next panel, we see Sally has split. She's left Eudora and run off to, another part of the playground. And then the strip really starts on tier two. And we see her say, “hey, kid.” We don't see who she's talking to. With each panel, her head turns a different direction. So we go panel one. “Hey, kid.” Next panel. “Recess is” and she turns her head to the left. “Just about” turns her head to the right. “Over. How about” turns her head to the left, “giving me” back to the right. To the left again. “A chance” to the right again, “too.” And in the last panel, she walks away annoyed, saying, “rats. You can't talk to somebody who's on a swing.” 


Jimmy: So it's definitely one you should look at visually. By the way, if you want to follow along with us, here's a couple of ways you could do it. First, off, you could sign up for the old great Peanuts reread on unpackingpeanuts.com, and that'll get you access to one email a month from us. That'll give you a little newsletter telling you what strips we're going to cover in the episodes, or most likely we'll cover in the episodes. And if you want to just read them for free, you could just go on gocomics.com and type in whatever date we say, and away you go. And of course, if you're bougie and fancy, you could buy yourself one of the Fantagraphics editions. So that's how you can follow us. But anyway, back here to the strip where Sally's talking to the kid on the swing. This is a weird one. This is definitely a formal  he had. And does it work?


Michael: Yes. I mean, I was a little confused what was going on. Took me a while to figure it out because I'm kind of stupid. but, yeah, no, I've never seen anything like this. And it's very unusual for Peanuts because there's almost no black in here at all. Put something black in just to make things pop a little more.


Harold: What does throw me a little bit, and I don't know why he made this choice. we see the back of Sally's head in the alternating panels, and we see her from the front and the others. But instead of just having her turn her head, her feet move and it almost looks like we're looking at her from a different angle. And I don't know why he chose that rather than kind of planting her and then just having her turn her head and her shoulders to follow that what we've been trying to do.


Michael: Yeah, you almost have to, because if, ah, you're watching someone swinging, you wouldn't shift your whole body.


Harold: So that was an interesting choice. And then they're identical where she's shifted to. Either we're moving or she's moving every single time. I wondered why he'd--


Jimmy: clearly her moving, because if we were moving it, the joke would not work.


Michael: Well, no, you could shift the camera a little bit and maybe that's why he didn't put any background in, because that would have to shift.


Harold: yeah, right. And obviously he was thinking this through and trying to figure out the best way to make it read.


Jimmy: The easiest way to do this, if you were going to do it, is have her start looking directly at you. Then alternate left, right, left, right with profiles. I think the reason he didn't is because then he felt like, well, where is the kid on the swing? The in quotes camera would have to be between the kid on the swing and her. Yeah, I think by doing this angle, it's supposed to be he's off panel to the right.


Harold: Unless she's looking toward us on either side and he's behind us like we're in between.


Michael: Technically, it was an interesting decision because we'd be the kid on the swing if she was, which would be interesting. Breaking the fourth wall.


Harold: We couldn't be the kid on the swing because then we'd see something from that angle which would have been much more extreme. Right? Yeah, it's an interesting choice. I mean, it reads, and virtually anything Schulz has ever done, it reads. and again, he's choosing what works versus what is sometimes logical or consistent. And that is the genius of a cartoonist.


Jimmy: Now, here's what you want to do. We'll go ahead and zoom in to one of those panels where it's just the back of her head. Like really zoom in on it. And that is the weirdest looking thing. You can't register that if you don't know it's Sally as a kid with hair. It looks like the back of a cat.


Harold: Well, it's od because the neckline does not have a hairline. And that's going to be fixed when it's colored, but, in black and white.


Michael: Yeah, this was a little jarring for me when I went, what is going on here? Yeah, because it really looks like their head disappears.


Harold: Here's another thing about, again, drawing what looks good and right versus what is consistent. She has that big poof of hair on the top of her head that you see from the front and from the back. There's no evidence of it,


Jimmy: and we should be able to. Right. Interesting.


Michael: I have a question about Eudora. Is she another Shermy?


Jimmy: She is a total female Shermy.


Michael: Because I'm not detecting too many character traits. Is it about time we came up with a eudorometer?


Jimmy: A euderometer? let's put that to our listeners. Do you want a uteroma? I can't even say it. It sounds like something that you would go see an Obgyn for, though. 


Liz: Or one of the books of the Bible. 


March 6. Sally is, working on some homework, and Charlie Brown is watching her. Sally writes, “this is my report on Haley's comma.” Charlie Brown asks “Haley's comma?” Sally says to Charlie Brown, “it's a very famous comma.” And then the last panel, “he probably wrote home a lot.”


Michael: I actually disagree with Jeannie Schulz on, this. She really liked his wordplay and puns, and I don't think that's his strong point, tell you the truth. Okay, that's me. Sorry Jeannie, if you're listening.


Harold:, what makes me think that the man that she lived with and that she knew, I bet he indulged himself even more than he did in the strip. And that was probably a part of the fun of the I mean, Imagine looking at the strip through the eyes of someone who's living with Schulz all the time, and pieces of him get into the. So, the way you see that strip's got to be different than someone who doesn't know him at all or maybe met him for five minutes. Right, because the pieces that are exaggerated, maybe in real life, are the ones that you're going to remember when you see in the strip, because they are there. Like you say, the wordplay is there, but I bet she was the victim of many, many puns.


Jimmy: Well, the other thing is, he's a dad. And for whatever reason, when you become a dad.


Harold: Oh, it's a given.


Jimmy: Making jokes that other people don't find funny is one of the great joys of life. I can absolutely see him putting in this in and having. That's terrible. And he's. Yes. Yes, it is. And that's the joy of it, I think that's a real high level of art to at least comedy art. And he would stretch for is to that. The not funny funny. Like guys like Norm Macdonald used to be able to do it, or Andy Kaufman and you're just like, wow. Or Steve Martin even.


Harold: Yeah. The way my wife Diane Cook, the way she puts it, is they know better and they do it. So if she sees somebody who doesn't think she doesn't know if they know better, it's annoying, right? But if you know they know better and they do it anyway, then it's hilarious.


Michael: I had the awkward experience last night of some using Peanuts to help, my Ukrainian student with english-- new words and slang and American expressions. And I picked one kind of at random. And so I'm having her read them like Jimmy does. And she got to the last panel, read the punchline and did not think, anything of it. And then I explained it like twelve times and she still didn't think it was very amusing. And I thought it was--


Jimmy: Really weird because usually explaining a joke makes people find it really funny.


Michael: Well, I had explained the words, but it's one joke that I found particularly funny because I've incorporated it into my daily routine.


Jimmy: What is it?


Michael: And it's basically where Linus is making a cup of hot chocolate for Lucy and he looks at the box, he looks carefully at the box of the chocolate mix and says, no, I don't think you should drink this.


Harold: And she says, why not?


Michael: And he goes, it's full of ingredients. And just kept explaining ingredients. You have these boxes and it's just like. She did not see why that was funny.


Harold: Yeah, that's an interesting one. Yeah. What does make that funny? I mean, is it because everything has ingredients? It says ingredients at the top. And that's the word that you usually, the only time you ever see the word ingredients is when it's the list of the small things inside of a box.


Jimmy: Right. There's no ingredients to apple. Yeah, right.


Michael: Well, but I mean, I've sort of incorporated that into my lifestyle too, because I don't buy things that have a lot of ingredients because generally that means there's going to be sugar and weird food dyes and stuff.


Harold: there was something we bought a couple of years ago that I found hilarious. It said free from 146 additives and preservatives. I was like, what about the other 207?


Jimmy: Do you remember we used to go to a place in San Diego at Comic Con. Do you remember Fred's Mexican restaurant?


Michael: I remember a Mexican restaurant all right.


Jimmy: Well, that's Fred's. and when we went there originally, there was a sign up that said, no cat is served in any of our food. Do you remember this? And I know the answer is no. You don't remember any of this. But anyway, it did happen, I assure you guys. Then, like five years after I was going there, they, had a new sign that said no cat or dog in the food. So that five year window, I think, was pretty sketchy about what we ate.


Harold: Or somebody asked the right question.


Jimmy: Yeah. Fred's is no longer in business, sadly, but


March 8. Snoopy's atop a Z, as in the letter z, and asleep. Then in the next panel, he comes up to Charlie Brown, who is watching television. In the panel after that, he lies atop Charlie Brown's head, like on his stomach, and he falls asleep. He sleeps there for the next few panels while Charlie Brown gets up and walks outside. Then, with Snoopy still perched on top of his head, Charlie Brown goes running towards Snoopy's dog house. Then, puts on the brakes and stops, sending Snoopy flying off his head where he lands perfectly on the doghouse and continues to sleep.


Michael: This is a great, I mean, Peanuts is thought of as fairly wordy in general.


Jimmy: Yeah.


Michael: And every now and then, Schulz pulls off a wordless strip. Because I think that's the way to prove you're like the master of the form. If you can do something like this, that's totally readable, totally understandable. Says something about the characters and is really funny.


Jimmy: Yeah. And a ridiculous thing to draw or even think about drawing. like you say, it reads completely clearly. Like, if I had to draw a dog sitting on top of someone's head, I think it would be a rough day for me.


Michael: And it establishes an important, fact.


Harold: What's that?


Michael: That the dog house is directly across from the door and maybe only 30ft away.

Jimmy: Yeah. I also say this is pretty slick of Charlie Brown. Oh, yeah. With his athletic ability, there was a chance this could have gone horribly wrong.


Harold: That's true. Yeah. Maybe he should take up running or something. Maybe that's what he's missed out on.


Jimmy: Yeah, maybe.


Harold: Things not working.


Michael: There's one other important thing that I want to point out, because I'm going to write my dissertation on this. I think sleep is really important in this comic strip, not this particular episode, but in general, everybody wants to sleep. It's the most important thing.


Jimmy: Yeah, well, I agree with that. I think if I don't get my 20 hours I’m a basket case.


Harold: Wow. it is one of the joys of cartooning, to have someone with their eyes closed and a little z in a balloon next to them?


Jimmy: I just drew that last night.


Harold: Really?


Jimmy: You know what? Yeah. But you know what's really strange? I think some of the formal elements of cartooning that we take for granted, like the z or the dotted lines indicating a whisper and stuff. Some younger people don't know all of those anymore.


Harold: Really.


Michael: It's like, trying to read manga when you don't know.


Jimmy: Yeah. Those symbols,


Michael: what all these weird little squiggly lines mean.


Jimmy: Right.


Harold: So you think impediment to people, like, if someone's reading it, they may have a speed bump there.


Jimmy: I do think so, yeah. The reason I really, I haven't done this in years, I used to do school visits all the time, and I used to do this thing about how I'd write the word wow on a piece of paper three times and then show that just by how I draw the word balloon around it, you know how I intend you to read that word? So it'd be like the pointy explosion one, and all the kids would yell, WOW. You do the dotted line around it, and they would whisper, wow. As I started doing it longer and I got towards the end of it, kids less and less knew what the dotted line was.


Harold: Do you think that's been fixed or they just don't use it? And they just,.


Jimmy: I just don't think they use it much. Yeah. Another thing kids don't recognize is thought balloons, because thought balloons have been banned from mainstream comics for a zillion years, and it's one of the best tools that we could. It's, like, so unique.


Harold: I love thought balloons. Yeah. I was really sad to hear people proclaiming that bought balloons were lazy writing and not good. I was like, what you get to see in someone's head, that's magic.


Michael: Do you guys use squiggly borderlines to indicate past, somebody thinking about something or a dream or someone telling a story to somebody?


Jimmy: I have, but I wouldn't now.


Harold: Okay. I've done it in the little half circle series, balloons, if someone's thinking of somebody or, like, a visual inside of one of those, if that's what you're asking.


Jimmy: Yeah.


Michael: But also, if someone's starting to tell a story, like, I remember when I did this, then you flash back. I put those in squiggly borderlines.


Jimmy: Well, the reason I don't do it is because I don't use a ruler for the panel borders. Yeah. Well, it looked just like I got, What happened?


Harold: It's stung by a bee here.


Jimmy: Right, exactly. So I had to stop that, actually. You know what I love to do with panel borders, and I still buy it, actually, Seven Good Reasons Not to Grow Up. that book I did completely this way with border tape, where you actually just rolls of black tape that you put out on. You could do this in 2 seconds on the computer, but I love doing it and having it all over the board, and it makes these really sharp edges. Anyway, you know what else I love? taking breaks. So why don't we take a break now and then come back, we'll check out the mailbox and, read some more scripts.


Harold: great Sure. All right.


Jimmy: Be right back.


BREAK


VO: Hi, everyone. We're doing another bonus event for our Patreon supporters. On Sunday, March 3 we'll be doing a live get together with the hosts, and who knows what fun stuff they'll have in store for you, but you have to be a Patreon subscriber to participate. Details are available on our website, unpackingpeanuts.com. We hope you'll join us live on Zoom, Sunday, March 3 at 02:00 p.m. Eastern time.


Jimmy: and we're back. Hey, Liz. I'm just hanging out in the mailbox. Do we got anything?


Liz: We do, we do. We got a message from Tim Nimtz, who writes, I just found this podcast a week ago, and I love it. Just finished the last two about 1980. I get to follow along in my Fantagraphics books. I have them all up through 1990. So I have a couple left to acquire. And then he says, I'm glad it was noticed, toward the end of the latest episode that Lucy was wearing pants. I had wondered for a while now, when exactly did the girls make the transition from dresses to pants? Looks like it's around this time. Well, I have some catching up to do. Can't wait to rekindle my Peanuts memory. Be of good cheer, Tim.


Jimmy: Oh, be of good cheer, Tim.


Harold: Yes.


Jimmy: Yeah, I think I read something in an interview a long time ago that, the pants thing was partly inspired by Schulz's now adult daughters saying, dad, Lucy's wearing a 1930s dress or something like that. And that was part of what inspired him to update the wardrobe. I like. It's a good look.


Harold: All right.


Jimmy: And I got two from, the old hotline. these are text messages, and you can always write, us at the hotline. you could either text us or, call us. It's 717-219-4162 all right, so we got this one from super listener Shaylee Robson. She writes, good afternoon, gentlemen and Ms. Sumner. I was finishing up part two of 1980 today while drawing, and I couldn't help but feel piqued by the question of squish squash applesauce and what variation we are familiar with. For me, I remember it being crisscross applesauce, much like how Jimmy heard it used with his daughters when we were asked to sit down. I think it was the same with both my little sisters. Also, I seem to notice a lot of the Peanuts camping strips have a similar tone. Namely, everyone hates camping. They do some fun activities, and in Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown, they go around the lake in a race against each other and some bullies. Anyway, just an observation. Hope you are doing well. And BOGC, that's how the hip kids are saying, be of good cheer.


Michael: It's bogsy, actually.


Jimmy: Bogsy?


Harold: You don't know about Bogsy?


Jimmy: No, I don't know, siga. so thank you for writing, Shaylee. Yeah, I'm one, hundred percent doubling down on Schulz hated being in army camps, and that's where the disgruntled camp life comes from. We also heard from listener Barb, who said, just listen through the apocalyptic camp sequence. Both the strip and the discussion were top tier. I'm so glad you took it on. And you're right. Those last two strips with Linus and then Peppermint Patty are equally poignant in their respective ways. Burning critique. Ten of ten. No notes on sticking the landing.


Harold: Thank you.


Jimmy: Very true. Yeah, well, thank you guys for writing. We love hearing any of your observations. If you have any questions or comments, or if you just want to chat and say how you're doing, you can always call us or text us. I love hearing from you because if I don't hear, I worry. What do you say? That's the mailbox. We could close it up and, go back to the strips.


Harold: Sure.


Jimmy: All right.


Michael: There's a postcard we forgot.


Jimmy: You're right. There is.


March 18, Charlie Brown is delivering a postcard to Snoopy, and he says, “here, you got a postcard from Woodstock.” Snoopy looks at him and goes, “from Woodstock. I didn't even know he was gone.” Snoopy reads it. “Dear friend of friends, am, on my way to San Juan Capistrano to see the swallows return. We'll write more later. Your friend Woodstock. P. S. Where is Capistrano?”


Jimmy:  That's great I love that 


Harold: he knows where the post office is, there are lots of those that only one Capistrano.

Jimmy: Where is Snoopy going to write this?


Harold: Right? How's he going to reply? And hopefully Woodstock won't get angry for him not replying. This came out on my 15th birthday.


Jimmy: oh. Very nice. Happy birthday. Retroactively. You guys like Woodstock's voice in the notes? I think we've talked about that before. I love that.


Harold: I love the friend of friends.


Michael: Does that work?


Jimmy: Oh, yeah. I think it's great


Michael: this implies that, the little slash marks can be differentiated and translated.


Harold: I guess when he's writing, maybe he's typing this through.


Jimmy: I don't think it implies that. I think you infer it. 


March 23. Peppermint Patty is on the phone. A great little pose, sitting, on the floor. She talks to Chuck and says, “hey, Chuck, how would you like to help out my team this year?” Charlie Brown on the other phone is just ecstatic and says, “you mean you want me to pitch” I mean, come on. Peppermint Patty says, “no, we're trying to raise a little money, and we need someone to sell popcorn.” In the last panel, Charlie Brown looks utterly deflated. And Sally comes in and says, “that was weird, big brother. I could hear your face fall clear out in the other room.”


Jimmy:  I think that's a great punchline. And that's another great low mouthed face in panel.


Michael: Good. It's kind of cruel. I mean, it's very cruel on her part. Or oblivious.


Jimmy: Oblivious. I would say. Yeah. This ends up, being a larger sequence where Charlie Brown and does end up helping out and selling popcorn, but he ends up pitching and ends up, plunking Peppermint Patty with the ball, which, actually, it's a pretty good sequence of Peppermint Patty coming over his house and looking for a little revenge, which is pretty cute. 


March 29. One of the weirdest panels. This ranks right up there with the Frank Miller inked, Snoopy in a war zone. There is a monstrous kite that's kicking Charlie Brown in the butt. That's panel one. Panel two, we have Charlie Brown and Peppermint Patty. Peppermint Patty is flying a kite, and it is clearly way up in the air. The string goes almost straight up. Charlie Brown says, “wow.” In the next panel, Peppermint Patty says, “some kite, huh? Chuck?” Charlie Brown is amazed. He says, “beautiful.” Big smile on Peppermint Patty's face as she continues to fly the kite. And Charlie Brown says, “I don't know how you ever got it so high.” Peppermint Patty says, “it wasn't hard here. Would you like to hold the string for a minute?” Charlie Brown actually looks a little concerned about this and says, “are you sure you want me to?” Peppermint Patty says, “of course, Chuck. Why wouldn't I?” And then she hands the string over to Charlie Brown. And in the last panel, we see the kite is crashed to the ground. Charlie Brown is covered in the string, and he says to Peppermint Patty, “no reason.”


Michael: This is Schulz as the evil, godlike force tormenting his creation.


Jimmy: Yep. Poor Charlie Brown. As soon as he touches it, you know what's happening. What do you think of that kite in panel one? That's a weird drawing.


Michael: Yeah, I would say so.


Harold: Yeah. Especially, I think, the feet, the gumby feet or something. I'm not sure what those are. Yeah, it's a pretty cool looking mean kite there.


Jimmy: It looks like they're maybe on top of the hill that they saw ducky and a horsey on.


Harold: It feels like.


Michael: Oh, yeah, that's the same clouds.


Jimmy: Yeah, totally same clouds.


Harold: I think I can see, St. John the Baptist.


April 12. Peppermint Patty is flattened on the ground, and she's being covered up by a pile of answers. Literally, the word answers 123-45-6789 times just piled on top of her. In panel two, we see she's in school, and she says, “me again.” In the next panel, we see her and Marcie at their desks in class, and Peppermint Patty says, “yes, ma'am, I agree. The answer really lies deep within the hearts of all of us.” Peppermint Patty continues, “the answer is actually a part of our heritage, our culture, our whole way of living.” The next panel, “the answer is the way each of us contributes a little something to our future.” Marcie gives a little golf applause and “says, that was very good, sir.” Peppermint Patty says, “thank you, Marcie.” And then last panel, Marcie says, “except the answer was twelve.” And we just see not even Peppermint Patty's feet, just her sandals lying in the air.


Harold: Oh, yeah. I'm Harold Buchholz, and I approve these sandals. I love that. I mean, that's so old school cartooning, but I think that's the first time he's done that. Right. Where everything's gone except some footwear.


Jimmy: Yeah. I mean, the only thing you would see similar to that would be when Charlie Brown gets knocked, with a pitch on the pitcher's mound, but not from just the shock of the situation, which is what happens.


Harold: Yeah. Right. Yeah. And we get to see the whole body and all the pieces coming off in every which way. But I love, I mean. And it's Marcie giving the deadpan reply, and it's such a hokey joke. It's great


Jimmy: He is into the stoic deadpan thing big time this year, though, and we've seen it for the last few years, lots of time.


Harold: And Marcie fits into that so well. And it's, know, then he's happy to give Peppermint Patty this very deep conversation that she's able to say these things. It's just they're one step out of sync with what she's supposed to be answering. So she has the answers. She just doesn't have them matched up to the right question. So it's kind of like Jeopardy. Upside down. I don't know.


Michael: It's a great answer.


Jimmy: It is a great answer.


Harold: Yeah. I'd love to hear what the question of a match would be.


May 17. Sally is in the kitchen, and, she's making herself a sandwich, or making someone a sandwich, and she says, and “maybe a little mayonnaise.” And then she piles the sandwich high. Then in the next panel, we see she's actually making it for Charlie Brown. She says, “here's your sandwich, big brother.” Charlie Brown is pleased as punch and says, “thank you very much.” He's just watching tv. Then the next panel, Sally says to him, “if you were like your dog, you'd dance around when someone fed you.” Sally demonstrates this. She continues demonstrating it, and she goes, “sometimes he goes like this” as she kicks her leg out. And then Charlie Brown goes into the complete Snoopy happy dance pose, saying, “how about when he goes like this?” Then they're dancing around together, going, “supper time. Supper time. Yeah, it's supper time.” And then they laugh their heads off and fall into the ground. A really sweet moment between brother and sister. But in the next, is Snoopy, just peering in from outside through the window. Then he goes back to his dog house, where he thinks, “I never realized they laughed at me behind my back.”


Michael: This is genuinely one of the saddest Peanuts.


Jimmy: So sad. And so. Oh, poor, Snoopy. Last year, he found out that he wasn't really invited to stay there forever, and now he finds out that they make fun of him behind his back.


Harold: Yeah, well, I mean, the solace to you, Snoopy, is that they aren't necessarily making fun of you, but they are admiring your joy.


Michael: Yeah, but he hasn't done that in years. I haven't seen the happy dance in years.


Harold: We're back in the callback stage. Right? There's a lot of.


Jimmy: I think so. at this point, he has to be aware of how many of the things from the past of this strip are huge cultural things like that. Supper time. They're singing it, obviously, because it's part of the musical and the blanket and all of this stuff that he can get away from because he has so many other things he can bring out. It's actually amazing. I remember a few years ago, like, U2 did a concert tour of the Joshua Tree. They just did that album. So when they did their next tour, they're like, we're not going to do any of those songs. Even though most of their big hits are on there, they're able to do it because they have so many hits. And that's just where he is. I don't think there's a comic strip that has so many things that just became a part of the pop culture that he can, even if it didn't happen for ten years in the strip, he can call out, and everyone knows it because they've seen it in the musical, they've seen it in the shows or whatever.


Harold: It's pretty amazing.


May 20. Woodstock asks Snoopy a series of questions, which are manifested by six question marks. Snoopy says, “a group of questions doesn't bother me.” Then Woodstock asks tiny little question marks, a whole bunch of them. And Snoopy, while thinking, thinks to himself, “I don't even mind a bunch of little questions. One thing, though, I admit, I just can't handle.” In the last panel, Woodstock unleashes a giant question mark, and Snoopy says, “the really big questions.”


Michael: Yep, this is really good. I mean, it's a visual gag, but it's got, implications.


Jimmy: What do you think the big question is that?


Michael:  why are we here, or something like that.


Jimmy: Where is Capistrano? Yeah, it's really good. And he's so clever because he has the scratch marks for his regular conversation. He has the notes for when he's doing birdsong. Now he's got these question marks. that, somehow Snoopy groks, which is really cool.


Harold: And I learned something today. 


Jimmy: What's that? 


Harold: That small questions are sans serif. And large questions are serif.


Jimmy: Whoa. Fancy. Well, you know what? If it's a big question, it should give it the extra dignity that a serif affords. 


May 21. Charlie Brown is writing to his pen pal in ink. And, it's a very shaky but readable penmanship. He writes, “dear pen pal,” Sally is watching this in panel two, she says, “your writing is too stodgy, big brother. You need to write with more flair. Loosen up.” And in panel three, Charlie Brown just smears the entire thing. He's writing, much to his frustration. And Sally says, “that's better. Smudge with flair.”


Michael: Is that a commercial endorsement?


Harold: The Flair? 


Jimmy: For the Flair pen? Harvey Kurtzman did one for Flair, I think.


Harold: Really?


Jimmy: Yeah. TV commercial? Yeah. Where he drew, like, Little Annie Fanny on a cell wall. Yeah. They have stills from it in, that art of Harvey Kurtzman. But Kurtzman is the guy who founded Mad, for those of you out there who don't know, but he is sticking with it.  1981, there were erasable ballpoint pens and Flairs. Why is Charlie Brown and Charles Schulz sticking with this one?


Harold: Again? He's going back to the well with these old. The old ink well with these, former things he would been doing, and we hadn't seen it as much recently. The thing that struck me with this panel, first panel here of him writing dear pen pal, in cursive. I was wondering, is this now where Schulz's tremor is, if he's not trying to just fight it? Because this is all curves and long lines and unending lines. theoretically. I mean, there's different ways you can do it with cursive, but I was just wondering if he was just trying to write dear pen pal. Now, is that what with the tremor in his hand, that would look like.


Jimmy: I sort of suspect that, yes. But, I mean, I don't know.


Harold: And for some reason, the third panel with the giant smudge made me think of Jeff McNelly and Shoe again, this big black 


Jimmy: Shoe started in the 70s?


Harold: I think so, late 70s


Jimmy: the other way people might know Jeff McNelly-- for years, when Dave Barry ran his newspaper column on Sundays, there came an illustration with it, and McNelly did those illustrations as well. Yeah, that could definitely be something that Schulz is influencing. It's a real brushy, messy, intentionally messy kind of line, and it's kind of.


Harold: Stylish in its own weird way. Right?


Jimmy: Oh, I love his art style.


Harold: I mean, even that smudge is someone that'll put that on a shower curtain and people would spend $50 on it.


Jimmy: Yeah, I think you're probably right. I think that might be. That doesn't look far away from his latter day signature on letters and stuff.


Harold: We'd mentioned that Schulz really is maybe feeling the new guys coming along more. Yeah, because there really are some remarkable strips that are popping up around this time, either for art or for-- I mean,  I think the Far Side is showing up around now. So things are still happening in the comics world, even though they're dealing with a tiny canvas. With the shrinking newspapers. There were some really good things coming out that were fresh and different. And he's the old guard now, and it's kind of interesting. we've seen some things where he speaks to that and some of what he sees he likes, and some he, And I think that's probably maybe where Schulz is the most opinionated was when it comes to the world of comics. That's, like, his area.


Jimmy: The one place he truly let loose.


Harold: And even know those are his colleagues that he's got to meet at a Reuben awards dinner. He still could say some pretty strong things that we've heard stories that he could be kind of sharp tongued in just his day to day life. He tried to keep a clamp on it, but every once in a while, he could say something biting because he's got a strong wit.


Jimmy: Right.


Harold: But it seems like when it came to comic strips, he felt like he had the right to make his opinion known, and not just about his work, but others as well.


Jimmy: The one of the most shocking ones for me was in that Gary. We talked to Gary Groth last week, two, weeks ago, I guess it was. And, he was talking about interviewing him, and in that interview, he asked about another cartoonist, and he's like, do you admire his work? And Schulz just goes, no. And it's a big cartoonist. But, like, all right, that was where he felt that he was going to just lay his unvarnished truth down. And I don't blame him. I mean, who knew more about this, world than him?


Harold: Yeah, people would look to him and those words. I mean, I can't imagine being that artist. If Schulz is just summarily dismissing your work, is not something he admires. that wouldn't go away quickly. That is something that you probably would remember for quite a while.


Jimmy: this is a bit of a big year with Schulz in that he ends up having bypass surgery, which a lot of sources claim is the, the real source of the hand tremor getting worse, although I have seen it, eventually diagnosed as Parkinson's later in life. But that's going to be something that we're going to be discussing next episode.


Michael: Well, how old is he right now? In 81?


Liz: 58


Jimmy: No part of that's fun, as we all know. by the way, I'm off soda people, it's the thing that might kill me. And I finally have gotten rid of it because I'm getting old, too, so I'll be a week older, when next we get together. But there's nothing that can be done about that. 

In the meantime, if you want to hang out with the gang, keep the conversation going. You can email us over at our website, which is unpackingpeanuts.com. Just email us. We are unpackingpeanuts@gmail.com. You can find us on Blue Sky, Facebook, and YouTube. We're unpacking Peanuts. And on Threads and Instagram, we're at unpack Peanuts. So until then, just have a good week for Michael, Harold, and Liz. I'm, Jimmy saying be of good cheer.


Michael: BOGC


Liz and Harold: Yes, BOGC


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 Threads. Unpacking Peanuts on Facebook, blue sky, and YouTube. For more about Jimmy, Michael, and Harold, visit unpackingpeanuts.com. Have a wonderful day, and thanks for listening.


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