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1981-2

Jimmy: Hey, everybody. Welcome back to the show. This is Unpacking Peanuts. Today we're talking about the second half of 1981, a pretty eventful period in Schulz's life, and a pretty eventful period, in the run of strips as well. 


I'm your host for the proceedings. My name is Jimmy Gownley. I'm also a cartoonist. I did 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. 


First, he's a playwright and a composer, both 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 for 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, former vice president of Archie comics, and the creator of the instagram sensation Sweetest Beasts. It's Harold Buchholz.


Harold: Hello.


Jimmy: So we have, a bit of news that we have to break right at the beginning here. We're going to have to break form this episode because Harold is traveling and the anger and happiness index is therefore not ready. I know, it is shocking. So we are going to have to, kick the anger and happiness index back to next episode, if you're, not familiar with that. That's where we check out exactly what the mood of the strip is from year to year. But, hey, so why don't we, do we, since Harold, you never get to play in this game, right? Why don't you guess? We'll all guess what we think it is, and then we will check back next week and we'll get to see who got closest.


Harold: That sounds great and my apologies to everybody, but I'm sure tons of you were sitting on the edge of yours.


Jimmy: You ruined the whole show, Harold. 



Liz: It's a feature. 

Jimmy: I'm walking out like George Harrison in that first episode of Get Back.


Harold: So if you guys are playing along at home, you can also do this with us and, go to unpackingpeanuts.com and go to the obscurities section. This is something we've mentioned many times. Liz has done an incredible job of putting together things we've talked about all throughout the run, of this show that were oddball items like this anger and happiness index and William Payson Terhune. It's all sorts of stuff that we have some context of, or songs that were mentioned. There's all sorts of crazy stuff. Obscurity sounds like something you wouldn't click on necessarily on a website. But if you click on that, you will see a raft of fun stuff, and I encourage you to check it out. And every year, she's updating the anger and happiness index. There's literally a chart in here you can click on, and you can see these percentages. It's pretty cool, and you can play along with us. 


And so for us to go forward, let's just talk about where we were in 1980. I had been mentioning that the anger in the strip had been steadily dropping, that the strip was getting a little more stoic in terms of the characters, responses to one another. So where we are in the previous year is that we had 64 angry strips, which was the all time low. And we had 117 happy strips, which is, pretty high on the list. it's kind of middling to high. So with that said, these strips hopefully fresh enough in our minds, what do we think happened in 1981? Did these strips get even more low key, less anger? Did it stay even, or are we starting to see this go up again for the first time? All time low? If we say it's going lower, that's quite a commitment for us to guess that Schulz has a new record. What do you guys think? Do we have 64 and 1980? What do we got in 81?


Jimmy: I say it's lower. I say it's going to be all time low. All right, I'm going to say 60.


Harold: I'm with you exactly on that, actually.


Jimmy: Oh, exciting.


Harold: All right, so, Michael, what do you want to throw in for that?


Michael: well, I got to be honest with you guys. I never understood this whole thing at all. Some people actually enjoy being angry. Some people are angry about being so happy.


Jimmy: That's true. You just blew my mind.


Michael: Yeah. So anything I say is nothing more than a random wild guess, 


Jimmy: but you always get it right, so guess anyway.


Harold: Yeah, I don't know how you do it, Michael.


Michael: all right, so I will pick two prime numbers. 71 for happiness.


Jimmy: For anger?


Liz: For anger.


Jimmy: Oh, for happiness.


Michael: I can pick whatever I want?


Liz: Yes, you can.


Michael: Happiness.


Jimmy: Yeah.


Harold: We're screwing up.


Jimmy: Sorry.


Michael: no no Anger 71. And another prime number. 111 for whatever the other one is.


Harold: so it's 117. So that would mean it's slightly down in the prime number world. How about you, Jimmy, what do you think for, I think it's going.


Jimmy: To be down as well, because I think we're into his, as we frequently call it, his stoic phase. So I think we're going to be lower on happiness as well.


Harold: Okay. Got a number?


Jimmy: If it was one, let's say 97.


Harold: 97. I'll guess 112 down slightly. All right, there it is. anybody wants to, guess, register your number, and if you want to send it to us before this next episode drops, yeah, go ahead and send, us some, on our social media, or if you want to call it in any of those numbers anyways, to contact us, just let us know what was your guess, and then, we'll see who got closest.


Jimmy: And I just hope that for the week between now and when we reveal it that you can handle the white knuckle excitement of this cliffhanger. I just hope that you can hang in there. So if you want to be able to give an informed opinion about your guess on the anger and happiness index, what you're going to want to do is, read along with us. You can go to unpackingpeanuts.com, and there you could sign up for the Great Peanuts Reread, and that will get you one email a month from us, where my good pal Harold will put together a little newsletter, and that will tell you what strips we're going to cover in every episode that month. But that's how you'll be able to find out what we're talking about. And if you do want to get in touch with us and tell us what your guess is for next week's anger and happiness index, you can follow us at unpack Peanuts on Instagram and Threads and unpacking Peanuts on Facebook, blue sky, and YouTube. And we would love to hear from you on that. 


But as it is, we are in the middle of 1981. Like I said at the top, it was a pretty eventful year in Charles Schulz's life. He had a serious medical condition. Harold, do you want to talk to us a little bit about what Mr. Schulz went through this year?


Harold: Yeah, he, had heart bypass surgery in early September. And that's a big deal. The biggest deal for us as Peanuts readers is he made it clear that this essential tremor, which was what he had with the shaking of the hand that we know so well in later Peanuts strips, he had it already. It had already been diagnosed, but as a result of the bypass surgery, it gets more pronounced, and I can't imagine what it must have been like for him, this is his life. He's at the top of his game as an artist, and he has to deal with something he can't hide. Right. It's just built in now to what he does, and he has to come to terms with it. And if you're reading along in the strips, and we'll talk about it when we get to some of the strips this year, I noticed. I don't know if you guys did. I noticed something later in the year that was stronger than before, when that tremor. And then I went back and looked and said, was this the year he had that surgery? And it kind of lines up. So in a way, it's a little sad, because I just feel for the guy. I'm sure he didn't choose this. I did hear he came to terms with it and basically publicly said that he thought it added some character to the strip. And I'm glad he saw it that way, because he kept going. Some artists would have said, hey, I've peaked out. I've got millions of dollars in the bank. I'm good for life. I don't need to do this. That's not Charles Schulz. The strip was really a huge part of his life, and he was not giving it up. So what we're going to witness is how he deals with something that is genuinely debilitating. He said to an interviewer at one point, sometimes his hand shakes so much that he had to hold his wrist with his other hand while he's drawing and lettering. Can you imagine?


Jimmy: No.


Harold: when he was just a man of such tremendous precision, we noted that in the early, early strips, he was a guy of real precision. He's already loosening up his style, and I'm glad that's where he was going. Imagine if he was still doing the tightness of an early 50s strip, and all of a sudden this is happening to him. What's he going to do? But he incorporates it into a strip, he moves on again, the author is felt in these strips. I feel those tremors as a cartoonist when I'm seeing these later strips, and sometimes it's not comfortable. I'll just say that I feel for the guy.


Jimmy: Yeah. Because there is a level of, if not pain, discomfort. If you're shaking so much and trying to control it and then holding your. It's not a fun way to draw, certainly. And one of the reasons you would get into this, probably the number one reason you get into being a cartoonist, is that you just, on some level, get pleasure from drawing. And boy, probably no one more than him got enjoyment out of just being a cartoonist, it seems. And for it to become such a difficulty is really poignant, and it does add a flavor to the last decade, two decades of the strip, no question.


Michael: So remind us again, what's the lead time between him actually drawing a strip and appearing?


Harold: Well, typically for cartoonists, I've heard four to six weeks for the dailies and sometimes eight to ten weeks for the Sundays. And if you're Berkeley Breathed, you're too--


Jimmy: Inking it on the plane.


Harold: Yeah, there's stories of, him when he was doing Bloom County. He literally would have to book a first class flight to the Washington Post syndicate in DC, because he was trying to write and draw those on an airplane. Imagine what kind of tremor you're going to get there from the plane.


Jimmy: It's amazing that strip looks as good as it does. What do you think about it?


Harold: Yeah. Boy, his seat back and tray table was playing in his artwork, 


Michael: so we wouldn't expect to see, in effect, till the October strips then.


Jimmy: Well, because he also worked ahead, so he didn't lose any time for the surgery, which I think is important.


Harold: Who knows how much time he built in and how quickly this happened. I don't know if it was one of those things. We're like, oh my goodness, you're going to need surgery now. Or if he was given a couple of months to get his affairs in order. And I don't know the story behind that. I don't know if you guys do.


Jimmy: From what I understand. Yeah. He experienced some tightness in his chest. went to the doctor and said he's going to need, severe blockages. I don't know how much or how many, but he had to decide whether or not he was going to get, the open heart surgery. So I guess there was some thought of maybe it could be handled with medicine, or maybe it could be handled right some other way. But the recommended path was the surgery. And he spoke of it later as like a real moment of courage in his life, that he decided to do that, because it is scary. My dad went through it, and scary. There's no question.


Harold: Oh, my goodness. Yeah. And for those of you wondering what essential tremor is, people say that it can be confused with Parkinson's disease. Essential tremor is much more common, actually, than Parkinson's disease. And based on the people that listen to our show, odds are we've got some people in our audience who deal with some form of essential tremor. It's not necessarily just your hands. It could be your voice, it could be your legs. It's a rhythmic, shaking. And you can see that in Schulz's work, it's pretty steady. So whatever rate it's going at, it's going to be consistent in that part of the day. It can be elevated by stress. Now, imagine if you just got an off of heart bypass surgery. Now you've got that layered on top of this, which must have contributed to this. So when I saw some of the stuff later in the year, I was like, oh, okay.


Jimmy: Indeed. 


Harold: This kind of made it a little bit more pronounced or maybe way more pronounced. We can decide, and you can decide.


Jimmy: As you read the strips with him. It's interesting, actually, because his willingness to fight through it is what makes him a great artist. But also Watterson's desire to quit also made him a great artist. I think it's just being true and loving the thing and the audience and knowing the moment. So with Watterson, we had this ten year, perfect ish thing that everybody loves and is great And with Schulz, we have a man turning his life into art. For us, both of them are gifts, and it's great that we have them.


Harold: Yeah. So Watterson's, Calvin and Hobbes, just a ten year run, and that he was true to his own thoughts of what that should be. And Schulz was very different in how he saw his work, and he came to a different conclusion. And I'm grateful that Schulz did. And we got five times more Peanuts.


Jimmy: Absolutely. yeah. And I think that the middle path would be the one you want to avoid. Like, well, I'll get an assistant, and we'll put a studio together.


Harold: Right. Schulz could have gone that way. He absolutely could have. He had quite an industry going. He'd had people working with him before on other things, like the comic book, but, no, that was not who he was.


Jimmy: No, absolutely not. And, that's why we're able to do a whole podcast about him, because he's endlessly fascinating and the work is endlessly interesting. All right, so what do you think, guys? Should we just start, the year back up?


Michael: Yes, go for it.


May 28 Peppermint Patty's in class, very attentively, sitting at her desk with her hands folded, and she says, you know what Oscar Wilde said, ma'am? He said, nothing that is worth knowing can be taught. Then she. I don't even know. She puts her hand up as if to implore the teacher that, she wasn't meaning to be insulting. And she says, nothing personal, ma'am. And then in the last panel, with complete self satisfaction, she closes her eyes and says, carry on.


Jimmy: this strip. To me, it's all about that last panel. That last panel makes me laugh.


Harold: That makes me think of your Amelia Rules.


Jimmy: Oh, really?


Harold: The interaction with the kids and the adults. There's some really interesting things going on or their reactions to the adults. Now, I don't know how many D minus students Oscar Wilde--


Jimmy: Oscar Wilde!


Michael: I was wondering that myself. Because she's definitely not a reader.


Jimmy: No, but could you picture, like, she's walking by a tv, maybe Masterpiece Theater’s on or something like that, and someone quotes that and she's like, ooh, yeah.


Harold: I have a theory that, Oscar Wilde was featured on the front of a Snicker Snax box.


Jimmy: They're great wits throughout history series, I remember. Yeah, yeah. It was to compete with Wheaties. And the athletes, they went a different way.


Harold: That's right. Well, Snicker, right. It's humorous. great humorists.


Jimmy: Ah, that's know, I actually remember Kellogg's cornflakes when I was a kid. Had great inventors on the back, and you could cut out and save all the great inventors. I have one still to this day.


Harold: Oh, who did you save?


Jimmy: Orville and Wilbur Wright.


Michael: I had Thomas Crapper, the guy who invented the flush toilet.


Jimmy: Oh. Two things I have to tell you about how stupid I am. One we could save for later, but this one comes up about that. When I was a little kid, my mom told me, I mean, my mom was born in 1930, and she had siblings that were born before, and they had an outhouse in the earliest part of her life. And then she said something like, it wasn't until whatever year that your grandfather put in indoor plumbing. And I thought that meant he invented indoor plumbing. And I was baffled as to why we weren't rich. Anyway, so that's one example of how stupid I am. And stay tuned for one more later. 


May 29. Linus is, talking to Snoopy, who's up on the doghouse. And Linus says, (I'm actually laughing already). Here's something to think about. Life is like a ten speed bicycle. And Linus concludes, most of us have gears that we never use. Snoopy then turns around, lies back on his back on the doghouse and says, he's wrong. That isn't something to think about.


Michael: It's funny to have Linus in philosophical mode after a long period. Yeah, but he's not operating on the same level he used to.


Jimmy: No, you see, he's rusty. He has to work into it, right? He's like, is this something?


Harold: Yeah. no.


June 2. Snoopy and Woodstock are hanging around outside. Woodstock, inexplicably looks kind of forlorn. Even though he has no expression. And Snoopy says to him. Did it ever occur to you that you might be a dove? And Snoopy continues, doves represent cute cooing, sweet. Everything is oh, so nice, love. And Snoopy is, blissful, as he says this. With little hearts popping out everywhere. But Woodstock is having none of it. Because in panel three, he just boots him in the butt. And in panel four, Snoopy, says, okay, so you're not a dove. 


Jimmy: You know, the one strip for the last few episodes. That keeps popping up in my mind and making me giggle. Is the beagle. scouts in a rumble. And Woodstock with a couple of teeth knocked out. I like tough guy Woodstock.


Michael: Yeah, that's a good one. Was that this year?


Harold: No, that was previous year. Yeah. Here's my new t shirt nominee panel. Woodstock kicking Snoopy in the butt with a little boot sign..


Jimmy: Oh, very cute. Oh, hey, did you guys know there's some Peanuts news? They're doing a Franklin show.


Harold: Really? On Apple TV?


Jimmy: Yeah. I just saw it announced. Yeah. And, I have not watched the Snoopy show on Apple. But I'm going to give a little report next time. Because I'm going to watch it starting tonight. Just to see what's up about it. 


June 10. Snoopy and Woodstock are out in their beagle scout mode. And Snoopy says to Woodstock. This is a perfect spot. Guess what I brought? And then in panel three, he reveals two packages. Wieners and marshmallows. And then we see exactly how he's going to cook these things. Which is like a wiener marshmallow shish kebab. 


Jimmy: Which might be okay. Would you guys try that?


Harold: No.


Jimmy: In Girardville, there's a place called Tony's Lunch. Which is great Because Tony doesn't own it. And it's not open for lunch. But anyway, if you go to Tony's Lunch. And you ask Joe at 08:00 p.m.. To give you a fluff burger.


Harold: Oh, no.


Jimmy: Yeah. Tony's is famous for their screamers, which are hamburgers, with their hot sauce. Which we would go to this place all the time. And if my friend's screamer touched when they brought the food. If his just touched the bun of mine, mine, it was gone for me. Because these hamburgers were so hot. You just couldn't eat them, and I certainly couldn't eat them then, some kid invented about ten or 15 years ago, the fluff burger, which is a big slathering of marshmallow fluff to cool off the hot sauce. And this is a point. Now, there are people lined up on the street before this place opens to get their fluff burgers, okay? I've never had one because I can't eat the hot sauce to begin with.


Harold: Yeah, well, the heat thing with the super sweet is kind of intriguing. Apparently. It's working.


Jimmy: Let's go. Come on. Now. We'll make a strip, and we'll go get, some fluff burgers.


Michael: We'll see.


Liz: Maybe Tony's could become-- Tony's lunch, could become a sponsor.


Jimmy: There you go.


Harold: We need sponsors. Let's go back to Tony's lunch. I'm sure the overlap with their customer base has got to be immense.


Jimmy: Just, please remember that Tony does not own it and it is not open for lunch. That's the most important thing you need to know.


Harold: I have a question for you guys. In the third panel, we've got beagle scout Snoopy presenting to Woodstock, who gets a big smile. The wieners and the marshmallows in packaging. Now, the marshmallows, I'm guessing they look like they've been gift wrapped in a chocolate box or something. Little ribbons around them. What's going on there?


Jimmy: yeah, because marshmallows are generally packaged in a big plastic see through bag. Right?


Harold: And the wiener bag looks nothing like I've seen either, so I'm not sure.

Jimmy: I think he's trying to package these for his strip. Little lines, or maybe that's just supposed to be text. Yeah, I don't know. We won't put that one in the gallery.


June 24. Good old Marcie is hanging out. This is part of a little sequence where Peppermint Patty and Marcie are being caddies at a local club. And one of the other caddies, rather, who, looks a little bit like Thibault from back in the old days, says to Marcie, who are you, kid? And Marcie says, I'm a caddy. Who are you? And this caddy says, I'm caddying for Joe Rich, Kid. He's going to win this tournament. Marcie is, completely confrontational and says, that's what you think, niblickhead. Women's golf is on the upswing. This confuses the other caddy, who says, niblick head. And then Marcie yells at her golfer. Hit it a mile sir.


Michael: My introduction to the word niblick. My only introduction to the word niblick, and the only time I've ever heard it is in a Steven Sondheim song..


Jimmy: Oh, what song is it, really?


Michael: Pour Le Sport


Harold: So you guys know what a niblick is?


Jimmy: I do not,


Michael: no.


Harold: Okay, so this counts as an official obscurity for us.


VO: Peanuts Obscurities Explained. 


Harold: Right? Now, I'm sure we've got people listening who know what a niblick is, and, like, this is not an obscurity, but it's basically kind, of a wedge iron that will chip up a ball, not to go very far, but to go high, like a nine. I in my infinite knowledge of. So it's something that, again, Schulz would know. He's definitely into golf in this period of his life, but, yeah, I had never known that. It's a great word. It's irresistible to use as a cartoonist, even if not everybody knows what it is.


Jimmy: I love the fact that Marcie is yelling about nothing that the kid is even talking about. Right. And she's not a woman. Right. Because she says, hit it a mile, sir. Unless she's talking about Peppermint Ppatty, because Peppermint Patty is another caddy. So it's just, I feel like Marcie just has this women's golf is on the upswing thing in her head, and why aren't people paying more attention? Whatever. And this kid just gets in the way.


Harold: Isn't that. Yeah, yeah. It's almost like Schulz, maybe he wrote this and then he changed up who was playing, but he kept this in. I don't just. It is kind of odd because. Yeah. You would think somebody, some female, would be playing golf for her to say that.


Jimmy: Right?


Harold: Because he said nothing about that. Now, I have a question for you guys. Schulz would do this every once in a while when he introduces new, the characters that we get to know and that, we know and love, like Snoopy and Linus and Sally. They're pretty complex characters, but when he introduces a brand new character, Schulz's tendency is to stereotype them to the nth degree. Joe Rich Kid is the kid's name.


Michael: Joe Rich Kid.


Jimmy: I love that.


Harold: Why does Schulz do that? I mean, when I see it, it's kind of jarring, and then I kind of get used to it. But because it's new every time with a new character, it's jarring every time that he introduces characters who are named three and five.


Jimmy: Yeah.


Harold: And here he's naming a character Joe Rich Kid. And obviously, we're not seeing. Yeah, we don't even see Joe. Well, we do see Joe at another time. He is introduced as a character.


Jimmy: Right?


Harold: But it's like his name is Joe Rich Kid. Why do you think Schulz does that in such an otherwise nuanced strip?


Jimmy: I don't know.


Michael: that seems lazy to me. It's just like a first thought.


Harold: It's shorthand. Right.


Jimmy: But what's really weird about it is in several interviews. Well, not several, but at least one or two interviews I've read, he has said he hates the Idea of the funny name.


Harold: I know.


Jimmy: what are you talking about?


Harold: I don't know if it's one of those just unusual blind spots because he sees it in other artists, and maybe it's jarring to him when he sees it, but when he does it, it's okay. It doesn't seem jarring because it came from himself. I think of Joel Hodson, who was the creator of Mystery Science Theater, who I worked with on the show. He said, no puns. No puns. Don't do puns when you're adding jokes to Mystery Science Theater 3000. And then we'd be sitting in a room, and Joel would come up with this hilarious pun, and then we'd say, that's a pun. He's like, no, it's not, because a really good pun is not a pun. Right, right. The word bad usually goes before the word, right. Puns have this bad reputation. But when it's a funny pun, it's undeniable. It's an unstoppable force. 


Jimmy: Well, I'm sure this is not something Schulz was thinking about, but there is, like, a trend in 20th century literature, like, guys like Thomas Pynchon or whatever, who will do the joke name in a serious context. It's a really weird thing.


Harold: It's like Dickensian.


Jimmy: Yeah. It's like a weird throwback or whatever. And I do think expedience is part of it. It's just like, okay, you're going to know who this kid is in shorthand, at least immediately. But you're right. Like, five and three and four. Like all that. When he starts that way, they very rarely become anything.


 July 5. Sally is, standing out on the beach, looking at the vast expanse of water. And then in panel two, she is very happily playing around in the sand with her little bucket. this is a Sunday strip, so when it starts up for real on tier two, because as we know, that first tier can be removed by editors, we see she has made quite a nice little sandcastle. But then in the next panel, she looks on in horror, as in the next panel, the wave comes up the beach and washes everything that she has built away, which happens over 1234 panels, or three panels, rather, because in the fourth panel, she walks back away from where her sandcastle once stood, sits on the beach blanket next to Charlie Brown, who's reading a comic book.


Harold: Hooray.


Jimmy: Yay. 


Then she looks back at the ocean and says, how do you get even with an ocean? 


Jimmy: All right, what do you have to say about that, Michael?


Michael: Well, this one struck me. it was like it didn't look Schulzy.


Jimmy: No blacks, right?


Michael: Yeah, there are absolutely no blacks. Realizing now, I just realized, oh, it was in color, but still. But the first impression was this almost looks like a pencil drawing that someone else inked over on an overlay.


Jimmy: Yeah.


Harold: which panels look the strangest to you?


Michael: No, it's just the whole page. without any black. Just looks much sketchier. There's usually some thick lines and somebody's hair or their clothes. Yeah, but he was thinking in color, obviously.


Harold: What do you think of the waves that are splashing in? 


Jimmy: That’s the one, It feels like. It looks like, very much like it was inked on an overlay. Ah, that looks like he never penciled one line of that. That just was bam, bam, bam. He threw those lines.


Harold: Now, what do you think of Sally's bare feet? They have big shoes that they're always wearing, but to see Sally's gigantic bare feet in this one is kind of jarring.


Michael: Yeah, no, it looks perfectly fine.


Michael: It just does not look like his inking.


Jimmy: It really doesn’t.


Harold: Interesting.


Jimmy: July 17. Now, this is a real weird story that basically, to sum it up, what happens here is Peppermint Patty is having a little snooze out on a rock in a field somewhere, and a butterfly lands on her nose. And Marcie tells her it turned into an angel and flew away. Right. That's the basic thing of it. And we could read it here in this next strip. I didn't even have to explain it to you because-- 


Peppermint Patty on July 17, Peppermint Patty and Charlie Brown are out at the thinking wall, and Peppermint Patty says, and that's what happened, Chuck. First the butterfly landed on my nose. Then while I was asleep, it turned into an angel and flew away. She continues, the butterfly chose me, Chuck. Doesn't that just make you shiver all over? And then in the last panel, again with supreme self satisfaction. She says, I'm trying to stay humble. Chuck. 


Jimmy: what do you guys think about this story? I like it.


Michael: I think we've experienced that for some reason, we have this huge need to feel like we are somehow the saviors of the world. And occasionally butterflies will land on us, or a bird will, like, I had a bird, a chickadee land on my hand one time. And we seem to think like, yes.


Jimmy: This is the sign.


Michael: I am  the chosen one. I mean, we really want to believe that.


Harold: Well, it's interesting that it's not coming from Peppermint Patty. Initially, it's the brainchild of Marcie.


Jimmy: Right.


Harold: Which is really interesting. And in reading this, I was just thinking, we talk about who's the avatar for Schulz's character wise in here, and I think it shifts around from year to year. The, more I see this, the more I'm seeing Marcie is kind of being this more naked version of things that Schulz is putting into the strip. If he has an know, Marcie can be incredibly opinionated about certain things, and he just lets her go wild. And I feel like she represents something in him that he didn't have in the strip before, where he can just channel himself through it to say something or do something that's a little cheeky. And because she's such a blank slate in terms of the blank eyes, and she's often very stoic, it's interesting to me. I, kind of feel like he's sometimes inserting himself a little more nakedly, I guess. Meaning that the nuance of her character isn't necessarily the thing that gets her to be the one to say it, if you know what I mean. It's more like, hey, Schulz wants to say something, and Marcie's the perfect vehicle to do it, to kind of mix it up a little.


Jimmy: No, absolutely. You know, with what Michael was saying, that I must be the chosen one, you could almost do a YA pitch of a story, like, where, you know, once told, they're this chosen one, but they weren't. It was just a lie or whatever. but the kid believes it and goes on and maybe even succeeds. It could be an interesting.


Harold: Well, that's the ending. It's like, well, maybe in some way, you were the chosen one all along. All right, but not the way you thought.


Jimmy: We'll put that on the old Idea pile, maybe. Okay. I mean, the whole story, not just the ending. 


July 21. This story continues. Now it's, Peppermint Patty talking to Linus, who's, lying-- looks basically on the same rock Peppermint Patty was lying on earlier. And she says to him, I think I was chosen to bring a message to the world, Linus. I really do. Then she looks and says to him, why else would a butterfly land on my nose and then turn into an angel? Linus says, well, the world can certainly use a message. And Peppermint Patty very thoughtfully says, how about this? If there's a foul ball behind third base, it's the shortstop's play.


Harold: Boy, that's channeling Oscar Wilde.


Michael: Is this a general rule of baseball or did she make this up?


Jimmy: yeah. Well, I've thought about this at great length without googling, and I do think it would make the most sense. Yes, because especially if you're not playing with the shift, the shortstop is deeper than the third baseman, right? So if it was behind third baseman, that he'd have to run backwards, he'd have to backpedal, so there's a greater chance he could slip or lose the ball and the lights, whatever, so the shortstop can just run over and catch it. So I think Peppermint Patty is probably right.


Michael: Yeah, she probably right. But is this something they teach you in sports camp?


Harold: I don't know.


Jimmy: I never heard it. I always heard the shortstop can call anybody off because they're the captain of the infield. So I think basically, I always thought, like, well, if the shortstop calls, if the shortstop has it, I never heard that. As a general rule, the shortstop had to go over behind third. But it does make sense.


Harold: Maybe our baseball fan listeners might give us a little insight as to whether she's going out on a limb here or if she's speaking, an obvious.


Jimmy: Yeah, it would be great if this was her going out on a limb, right? Like if she had some radical thought about this game, that would be great But, I think it's probably just the smartest play. But she is continuing with it because here on July 27, now she's at, Lucy's position at Schroeder's piano.


Michael: What is she doing there? Is she going to get beat up?


Jimmy: That would be an interesting matchup.


Michael: She saw what happened to Frieda. Boy.


So Peppermint Patty says to Schroeder, an angel appeared to me, Schroeder, and told me to give this message to the world. Then she points her finger skyward and says, if a foul ball is hit behind third base, it's the shortstop's play. Schroeder says, that's a very disturbing message. I expect to be persecuted.


Harold: Now, here in my world of theories about where some of these concepts might have come from, total conjecture.


Jimmy: Let's go for it. 


Harold: We'll put that on there as we always do. I had mentioned in a previous episode that Schulz's daughter is currently on a mission, and I believe in England for the Latter Day Saints. And, I'm sure that she's talking with her mean, it's clear she's talking with her dad about her newfound faith. And they're having a conversation, which apparently he really has not had within his family before, about religion. They're just--  People weren't interested other than him to the extent he was. You know, anybody who's familiar with the, Latter Day Saints beliefs, it starts with an angel in the United States revealing, something to Joseph Smith. And so I kind of see echoes of things that he's processing in the conversations he might be having with his daughter at this time. I'm sure she's on his mind while she's overseas.


Jimmy: No, I could absolutely see that. It does make a lot of sense. I'm looking at this on go comics. What's up with the lettering? Is it getting thicker in places? Because he's not able to control, the ink as well? Like, if you look at the words give this message, or in panel one, or the shortstop's play in panel two, but I can't tell if that's just.


Harold: Yeah, if you look at the Fantagraphics book, it looks a lot crisper, like you might expect.


Jimmy: Okay. although you can definitely see the hand tremor in the word balloons, particularly panels. Well, panel three goes right across. You can see it.


Harold: Yes.


Jimmy: Peppermint Patty looks good hanging out at, the piano, though. that was nice to see that.


Harold: And I'm glad Schroeder is just letting people come and hang out at his piano. He's not shooting them away.


Jimmy: Right.


Harold: He's so focused. It doesn't matter.


Jimmy: He's into it.


Michael: These characters don't have a history.


Jimmy: No.


Michael: As far as I remember.


Harold: Right.


Michael: It's weird. Occasionally there'll be a pairing that you haven't seen before.


Jimmy: Yeah. I wonder if, when he does stuff like that, if he's doing it thinking, I wonder if this will spark, put these two characters. never interact really.


Harold: Yeah, it could be, and in context here again, if you're looking at Peppermint Patty kind of being on a mission to spread the word. Of course. Where am I going to find Schroeder to tell him to be at his piano.


Jimmy: There's also you could see a relationship forming between them because she's a pitcher and a good one, and he's a catcher, and I always assumed a good one for some reason.


Harold: Right? Yeah. We never heard him dropping the ball. He's throwing these wild pitches, and he seems like Schroeder's taking it all in stride.


Jimmy: Right, exactly. So maybe he should have, put in for a trade. He once put in for a trade to another comic strip years and years ago. He should put in, it for a trade on the baseball team, I think. Again, I love the understated, I expect to be persecuted. What do you think about the ellipse at the end of that? I mean, okay, I understand that we're not talking about an ellipse, but let's talk about that. That's a strange way to end it, isn't it? He does that quite a lot with weird punctuations and stuff.


Harold: What does that do to you when you read it? Anything, versus if it had just ended without a period or had a period.


Jimmy: I think if I'm just reading it or reading it in a newspaper, I wouldn't even notice it, but. Looking at it at this molecular level, I do think, I wonder why he did that. It's like the idea that I expect to be persecuted, and then she just sort of drifts off into thoughts as opposed to I expect to be persecuted.


Harold: To me, it adds a little bit of gravity to it.


Harold: It's not just a punchline. It's something to think on.


Jimmy: Right. Yeah, that makes sense. 


August 2. One of them good old symbolic panels. This is Charlie Brown standing between two math equations. The first one is one heart plus a second heart equals two hearts. It's a doctor who.


Harold: Correct.


Apparently, two hearts minus a heart equals one heart. And then we have a great drawing of the two goofballs, Peppermint Patty and Charlie Brown sitting underneath their tree, their favorite spot. And Peppermint Patty in panel three starts the conversation saying, do you know much about love, Chuck? Charlie Brown says, probably not. then Peppermint Patty says, well, if a likes b, but b likes c, who likes d and e, who both like a, who doesn't even know that d exists, should f try to have g talk to b? So e will know that c likes d and e, and that c will pound h. If she comes around again, butting in, Charlie Brown says, may I think about that for a minute? And then Peppermint Patty continues, says, sure, chuck. In the meantime, here's another one. Say a person who has kind of a big nose and another person calls her baseball nose and tells her not to go near the ballpark because someone might autograph her nose. Should she be offended? What do you think, Chuck? Charlie Brown says, g shouldn't get involved, and an autograph on a nose would probably wash off. Peppermint Patty says, you don't know anything about love, Chuck. Charlie Brown, who hasn't really moved throughout this entire sequence, says, probably not


Jimmy: I think that's one of the all time greats. That's a classic strip.


Harold: That's a lot of lettering. They are buried underneath the lettering.


Jimmy: I almost read six as, G shouldn't get involved. I almost did read it as a six and say, six shouldn't get involved.


Harold: Because of that closed g point right into the curve of the g. Yeah. I don't know why he does that. Interesting.


Jimmy: It's interesting here, Michael, too, because with just the black of the know filled into greater or lesser degrees, you avoid that empty look that we had on the beach thing.


Michael: Yeah. And the tree is not black in the first, decision to sort of balance out the page a little.


Jimmy: Yeah, absolutely. It's a good looking strip. I like it.


Harold: Do you agree with his analysis about g?


Jimmy: Yeah. Well, I think, just, don't get involved is a great Idea. Any situation that gets that complex emotionally, you want to not get involved.


Harold: Yeah.


Liz: Well read, Jimmy.


Jimmy: Oh, well, thank you. I appreciate that. you know what? On my triumph of reading that strip, how about we take a little break and we'll come back on the other side and we'll finish this year up?


Harold: great


Jimmy: Sure. All righty.


BREAK


VO: Hi, everyone. I just want to take a moment to remind you that all three hosts are cartoonists themselves and their work is available for sale. You can find links to purchase books by jimmy, Harold, and Michael on our website. You can also support the show on Patreon or buy us a mud pie. Check out the store link on unpackingpeanuts.com.


Jimmy: And we're back. Hey, Liz, you got anything in the old mailbox for us?


Liz: I do. We got a message from a new listener, Lisa Clemens Dalbeck, who says, I just started these, and I'm, up to the recap of 1950 through 55. I'm loving what you're doing in the ones I've been listening to. I've been doing a lot of laughing, and it warms my heart, which is very much needed in the world.


Jimmy: That's awesome. Thank you.


Liz: Yeah, I want to say, too, my dad was a barber and he used to bring home the paper every single night after having it in the shop for the day. And as soon as I could read, I was always looking for the comics and Peanuts to read. That's how I fell in love. So from about 70, 71 on, I could read them myself. Then on Sundays, we would stop by his shop after church to grab the Sunday paper, as that was where it was delivered.


Harold: Oh, man, that's great


Jimmy: Yeah. Well, thank you so much for sharing that. And thanks for, being a part of our little community here. It's, been growing a lot lately, and that is so exciting and so fun because this is just the best day of the week that we get to hang out and talk about our favorite comic strip.


Harold: Definitely.


Jimmy: I didn't get anything to the hotline, but this is part two of how dumb I am. If you're ready. So do you remember several episodes ago, I put out the call for the Woodstock thing? The Woodstock toothbrush or toothpaste rolling device?


Harold: Yeah.


Jimmy: All right. So I went to see if, I had anything in the old hotline, mailbox. It didn't have anything, so I thought I'd clear it out. And I looked, and there was the picture of Woodstock, which two different listeners sent to us. And I looked at it and I said, oh, that's weird. This guy has the same email as my friend Jeff. And then about an hour later, I'm like, no, he doesn't. That's my friend Jeff.


Harold: You just thought they shared it.


Jimmy: Yeah.


Harold: Very hospitable. What are the odds?


Jimmy: Hey, thanks for listening, Jeff. Hope you're doing good. He used to be in PA. We worked at the station together. Tv station. But he lives in Virginia now. Thanks for listening, buddy. 


We'd also like to thank our brand new patreons who have signed, up. We have Rich Izzo, Shaylee, Robson, and the man known only as John. One of my favorite things on the Internet is this, YouTube channel that talks about the Lord of the Rings, and they read all their Patreon subscribers at the end. And it's always like the eye of Sauron, the dark haired one. Hobbit 632. And Debbie. Yeah, you go, Debbie. So thank you, guys, for--


Michael: Debbie the gray, not Debbie the white.


Jimmy: Of course, that would be absurd. So here's the thing, guys. If you want to sign up for Patreon, that'll give you access to our upcoming live event. we did one, a few weeks ago. It was a lot of fun. Just hung out with a bunch of listeners and chatted and talked comics and Peanuts and music and all sorts of different things. So if you want to be part of our next one, you could go over to Patreon and kick in a couple of bucks, and you'll be put on the guest list. And when is that coming up, Liz?


Liz: March 3.


Jimmy: March 3. It is right around the corner, people. So, be there or be square. All right, what do you say we get back to the old strips? 


August 31, Charlie Brown's watching tv in his beanbag chair, and Sally says to him, what if I get to school next week and can't remember my locker combination? She continues, what if I forget my lunch? Then, looking completely overwhelmed and upset, she walks away saying, what if I can't remember who married Louis the millionth? Charlie Brown cocks his head towards us and says, Louis the millionth?


Michael: I have one thing to say about this.


Jimmy: Yes.


Michael: 28. 2. 46.


Harold: Wow.


Michael: I do not know what my phone number is, but I remember my high school locker combination.


Jimmy: wow, 46. What kind of a dial was that?


Harold: 46.


Jimmy: Oh, yeah, mine went as well.


Michael: Yeah, this was a big LA high school.


Harold: Oh, my goodness. we had cheap locks.


Jimmy: Okay. Wow, that's impressive.


Michael: And I love this one. I love this one because it's an example of something Americans do. I don't know if other people in other countries do this, but I call it super exaggeration. Where you want to emphasize how many Louis, King Louis there were in France. You don't say 20, you don't say 100. You have to go for a million, right? So Louis the millionth is great.


Jimmy: How big was it? It was ginormous. Or your favorite new one from my scook upbringing. We're going to go way the far out. Louis the millionth. Love it. 


September 13. It's Sunday, and Peppermint Patty is at school and looks happy to be at school. She says, yes, ma'am, more than ready. Then, very confidently and with a certain bit of aplomb, she says to Marcie, they're going to love this, Marcie. So then we see Peppermint Patty at the front of the classroom, and she says, this is my report on what I did this summer. At the conclusion, I will answer questions. Peppermint Patty begins. One day late in the summer, I was lying in a meadow when suddenly a butterfly landed on my nose. This makes everyone in class laughrously. Ha. this shocks Peppermint patty, but she continues, well, I didn't want to brush it away because I might hurt it. After a while, I must have dozed off. When I opened my eyes, the butterfly was gone. You'll never guess what happened. She continues, it had turned into an angel and flown away. Makes the class erupt in laughter again. But Peppermint Patty is undaunted. She continues, well, this was obviously a miracle. I had been chosen to bring a message to the world. What was this message I was to bring to the world? After much thought, I decided it was this. A foul ball hit behind third base is the shortstop's play, and everybody loses it yet again. Which leads Peppermint patty, clearly angered by the whole series of events, to say to her teacher, ma'am, if it's okay with you, I'll take the questions after school out in the alley behind the gym.


Harold: This is a way to cap it off. And that question you were asking, Michael, what is the lead time on the dailies and the Sundays? This might give us some bit of a hint, because he had run the dailies and then this isn't one of those rare situations where he overlaps with the Sundays, but he's doing this 48 days or almost seven weeks after the last strip he'd done before. So maybe that's a clue to us that he might have been like seven weeks ahead on his Sundays, which is, of the dailies. And if the dailies were like six weeks ahead, these are like 13 weeks ahead. So maybe this plays into that Idea that this has actually come out, I think, about ten or eleven days after his surgery, but he probably created it back in maybe June. So it's interesting, maybe he did know that he had to kind of stockpile because he had no Idea what was going to come of that.


Jimmy: Oh, yeah, that's definitely documented that he did stockpile them before the, or at least in interviews he stated that he did before the surgery.


Michael: Now, is this the finale to this story?


Harold: This is it.


Michael: Because it's all that. It came so much later than the--


Jimmy: Yeah, it's interesting because I guess you don't need to know the story, you obviously don't to understand what the strip is. But it's a lot better if you've read the story that it's a callback. But I, can't imagine a lot of people were paying that close of attention to remember. Maybe they were, some people were because they were clipping them out of the strip, or out of the paper and stuff. 


September 24, Charlie Brown and Linus are at the old thinking wall, and Linus says, my grandfather has to start watching what he eats. The doctor told him he should change his lifestyle. Linus continues, my grandfather hates to take advice. And then he finishes up with. He said he may consider switching to low fat shoe polish. 


Jimmy: It's weird because we're seeing the shift come from the kids talking about their fathers and their father's weird, old fashioned things to now talking about their grandfather's.


Harold: Yeah. And it is something he's probably dealing with for right now.


Michael: And do we need to do an obscurity on shoe polish?


Jimmy: I was wondering, does it still make it. Do people polish their shoes? Yeah.


Harold: I bought one within the last, I don't know, five years. Yeah. Shine up those shoes for an event.


Michael: I don't think I've ever polished my shoes.


Jimmy:. I used to have to do it, for Sunday church with the altar boy being an altar boy because that was the only part of your outfit that could be seen. So Anna Mae was not going to let you go out there with unpolished shoes, for God's sake.


Harold: Right. For God's sake.


Jimmy: Now it's more for the people in this pews. 


September 29. Snoopy's atop the dog house with his typewriter, and Lucy comes up with a sheet of paper. She says, here, I read the first two chapters of your new novel. They were terrible. She walks away saying, novels should be funny, sad, witty and expressive. And in the last panel, Snoopy says, sick doesn't count. 


Jimmy: The thought of Snoopy writing a sick novel. What on earth is it?


Harold: Assume I don't want to know.


Jimmy: cat murder or something.


Michael: Is that novel supposed to be terrifying, boring and, interesting?


Jimmy: Hey, that's right. How is Infinite Jest going?


Michael: Terrifying, boring and interesting.


Jimmy: Perfect. You're getting everything you need out of it. Then I feel so bad because if you've been listening, for the last few weeks, I finally coerced Michael into reading Infinite Jest, and he's doing it by going along with podcast. And we had a whole episode about end of the world. And I didn't ask you about the Eschaton game in Infinite Jest, which is like the highlight. 


Michael: I think it's good. 


Jimmy: There you go. That's going to be on the--


Harold: You heard it here.


Jimmy: Yes, on the jacket for the next anniversary edition, 


October 3, Linus is hanging out in his beanbag chair watching tv. 


Jimmy: I don't know if we ever added beanbag chair to the list of great things Schulz draws because it's so amorphous, but it is a great it's such a part of latter day Peanuts and such a part of childhood at this point in time. Kids in their beanbag chairs. I think we should add it.


Michael: Yep. And it's easier to draw than.


Jimmy: Are you kidding me? a lot easier


So Lucy comes up to him and she seems to be taking a survey. She says, which would you rather have, a stomachache or a headache? And then Linus says, I don't know. A headache, I guess. Lucy says, good, I'll put you down for a headache. Then Linus, a little, worried as he goes back to his tv show, says, it's nice having someone in charge who's so considerate. 


Michael: This is a real mystery. What is she doing with this information? And have you ever noticed that the word stomachache looks like 

Stomachachi?


Harold: Isn't that those little watches that you have to take care of or the character die?


Jimmy: Oh, yeah. I love the sto--. That's right. Whatever happened to those? They were great Yeah. I don't know what she's doing.


Harold: I don't want to know. Yeah, maybe she's making his lunch.


Jimmy: I think I would like to start doing this, though. Going up and just asking people random questions as if you're taking a survey and just have them be maybe vaguely sinister. 


October 16. Another thinking wall. Peppermint Patty and Charlie Brown this time. And Peppermint Patty says, I need to talk to someone who knows what it's like to feel like a fool. Someone who knows what it's like to be humiliated. She's continuing, Charlie Brown's not reacting at all to this and looks very upset in panel three, as she says, someone who's been disgraced, beaten and degraded. Someone who's been there. And in the last panel, Charlie Brown steps back from the wall, opens up his arms wide as if to offer himself as that person.


Michael: Isn't he saying, C’est moi?


Jimmy: I think that's real sweet. Real sweet.


Michael: That's a good one. That's a really good one.


Harold: All three of us picked this one. I think it's the only one we all unanimously nominated for this year. That's a rarity.


Michael: Maybe like a year


Liz: , a, real year, not a Peanuts year. 


October 18. It's a Sunday. Charlie Brown is sitting in his chair reading. A little reading. He's doing a little heavy reading tonight. And then panel two, he walks because he hears something, in the kitchen. And in the kitchen we see Snoopy is raiding the fridge. Charlie Brown says to him, hey, what are you doing? You can't just take things out of the refrigerator. Then, as Snoopy is walking away with a bowl piled high of food. And I don't think it's dog food. It looks like it might be some leftovers and stuff. Charlie Brown says, look, it says here in exodus. Thou shalt not steal. Snoopy thumbs through the book. Charlie Brown is quite pleased with himself having pulled this out. And then Snoopy opens the book to a specific page and shows it to Charlie Brown. Charlie Brown reads, Deuteronomy 25 four. Thou shalt not muzzle the ox while he treads out the grain. Charlie Brown yells out after Snoopy, who has split. At this point, I don't see you treading out any grain. And then we see Snoopy on the top of his doghouse, enjoying his snack, saying, got me out the back door.


Harold: This is one I definitely remember reading. and remember fondly, I did not know that verse, but it's come to my mind many times because of Peanuts. when in context, the Idea. Yeah, don't muzzle the ox while he's treading out the grain. That makes sense.


Jimmy: Got me out the door.


Harold: I love doing the work. Don't cut him off. Don't choke him off.


Jimmy: Now, he could have gotten the same effect by just looking at any verse, right? Just go read this. And then while Charlie Brown's reading it, hightail it out.


Harold: But I do like thinking of Snoopy as an ox.


Jimmy: Oh, for sure. 


October 20. Whoa. Mind blown, Violet walks up and says to Pig Pen, Pig Pen, I haven't seen you for a long time. Then Violet continues with a look of complete contempt. Obviously, you're just as messy as ever. Pig Pen's annoyed by this and yells out to Violet as she walks away, the world needs messy people. Otherwise, the neat people would take over.


Michael: Now, I have a theory. based on the date, this is such a throwback. It could be a strip he did 20 years before and for some reason didn't want it published and put it in his drawer.


Harold: You think if he's trying to get a lot of stuff for his surgery, that maybe he is going back and looking at old.


Michael: The date works out.


Harold: Kind of does, yeah.


Michael: He's not up to drawing right now. And, he says, look in the old drawer. See if he has, like, any sketches or something. I mean, he hasn't used this pair since the 50s.


Jimmy: It's pretty funny, too, because she says, I haven't seen you for a long time. It's like, well, we haven't seen you for a long time either, Violet. The fact that it's Violet. Because that could just as easily have been Lucy, right? Or anybody, really. Yeah, that is strange. Pig Pen is a great looking character design.


Michael: And why is his name in quotes?


Jimmy: quotes are great I love it. As a matter of fact, I think I want Jimmy in air quotes. Now. Whenever I say I'm Jimmy Gownley, it's in air quotes.


Harold: Yeah, Jimmy. Just Jimmy in quotes.


Jimmy: Now, do you know we've talked about that, right? The unnecessary quotes from my parents on birthday cards that would say, like, happy birthday in quotes. And then say to our son. Son would be in quotes like, dear lord.


Harold: you were wondering, what are they telling?


Jimmy: What is going on here?


Harold: Yeah. So if anything ever came up later, they're like, didn't you see greeting cards?


Jimmy: That's how we were telling you an Obiwan kenobi situation. Thanks. 


October 24. Oh, my gosh. It's the psychiatric help booth. And prices are skyrocketing. Thirty four cents.


Michael: Oh, my God. Comic books were starting to go.


Harold: Yeah, we're talking from, like, 35 to.


Jimmy: Like $0.60 around here. And before you know it, in two years, $0.75 mad. Yeah.


Harold: What it was is this a 50 cent era?


Michael: I cut out after the 15 cent era.


Harold: Well, I remember that Star wars comic was, cents was when I was junior. Let's see, that would have been 83. So, yes, probably around fifty cents. Boy, they were just going up like crazy.


Jimmy: Now they're like $5.


Harold: Yeah, that's right. Crazy.


Jimmy: And I wouldn't even mind if they were really conscious of making them self contained, satisfying units, but they're just not. They're just relying on people who are addicted to the, you know Wednesday haul. 


Anyway, Charlie Brown is, sitting here at the old psychiatric health booth, and he says, you say I'm hopeless. Would it bother you if I asked for a second opinion? And in panel three, Lucy says, not at all. And then she leans back in her chair and says, you're hopeless. Charlie Brown rolls his eyes.


Harold: Wow.


Jimmy: What do you think about, that, Is that advice worth thirty four cents? I don't know.


Harold: Yeah, well, it's $0.50 later. in this year, I think so. Boy, she's finding it's not affecting her clientele.


Jimmy: Yeah, I guess. Charlie Brown has been going here for decades. Has never improved, really. so he's probably going to just keep coming back regardless of the price.


Harold: Yeah, she wanted some pennies for the gumball machine, so had to put a little. If you round it off, you're just going to get nickels and quarters and dimes.


Jimmy: Right.


Harold: So what do you think of this gag here. So the second opinion, I think it's great I was wondering, there's two ways you might have been able to do this joke. So the second opinion could have been. She could have come up with a synonym to hopeless instead of just say it a second time around. Would that have been better or not?


Michael: I think it's a great joke.


Harold: So it doesn't bother you the second opinion is the same opinion from the same person?


Michael: That’s still an opinion.


Jimmy: That's true.


Harold: Well, that's Lucy.


Jimmy: And Lucy, it wouldn't occur to her that anyone else's opinion would matter.


Harold: Right. And that she would have to come up with a second opinion herself. She's already said it, Okay.


Jimmy: Yeah, but I think it would have worked. it would depend on what the word is. If you could come up with a synonym that's very funny or unexpected.


Harold: You're hapless. Yeah, that's what I would have done.


Jimmy: That could be it. Oh, wait. Actually, you know what? I misread my notes. There's a mistake. You're not hopeless. You're hapless.


Michael: Well, we're not going to second guess Schulz.


Jimmy: No.


Harold: Well, I am.


Michael: He found the best punchline.


Jimmy: that is his purview, for sure. 


November 5. Snoopy, wearing a football helmet, gives the ball a good punt boot. And it lands on Woodstock's head bonk. Sending Woodstock flying. Then in panel three, we see Woodstock looking completely dazed with a star over his head from being hit with the football. And Snoopy says, but that's the name of the game. Boot bonk. Then in last panel, Snoopy's walking away. I don't think he believed me.


Harold: I love this one. I love boot bonk. It's in quotes, so it's funny.


Jimmy: Yeah, exactly.


Harold: Boot bonk. That's the name of the game. Boot bonk. That's so Schulzy. And, yeah, I love it. It's very endearing.


Jimmy: Do you guys make up games when you're a kid? Like, play it with different.


Harold: Oh, yeah.


Michael: I'm still playing.


Harold: Absolutely.


November 14. It's starting to rain, and Snoopy and Woodstock are out on the top of the doghouse. And Snoopy says, don't complain about the rain. We need rain. Without rain, nothing would grow, and we'd have nothing to drink. So never complain about the rain. But then in panel four, it is pouring rain. And Snoopy says, whimper, but don't complain. 


Jimmy: How about that drawing? I would love to have seen that drawing without the rain over top of it. Because that's such a strange Snoopy that's.


Harold: Reminding me of another artist, and I can't place it. That picture of this November 14, Snoopy.


Michael: Oh, it looks a little like the Mona Lisa


Jimmy: It does. Yeah. That's who you were thinking of, Harold, da Vinci?


Harold: Yeah. I don't know, but okay.


Jimmy: I do sort of know what you're talking about, but I can't place it.


Harold: Yeah, it's like some 50s cartoonist, but I can't. Or animation 


Liz: looks a little like Truffles. 


Harold: Like truffles? Yeah.


Michael: Who was that sad dog?


Harold: Oh, Droopy in the little Tex Avery in there. Okay.


November 19. Oh, this is a classic, I think. Anyway, Snoopy's on top of his doghouse, and he's typing away at the typewriter. It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly a shot rang out. Lucy says, isn't there enough violence in the world today? Can't you write about something nice? And then in panel four, Snoopy takes her advice and says, it was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly a kiss rang out. 


Jimmy: Now, have you ever gotten stuck? I bet. Actually, Michael, maybe this happens more in songwriting, but it happens to me sometimes when I'm writing, where you get some turn of phrase or like an opening or whatever it is, and you just really want to use it, and even if it doesn't work, you'll do anything to keep it. And that just sort of reminds me, he's always going to do dark and stormy night, no matter what. But you guys ever get,


Michael: Yeah. Well, for me, it's rhymes. I can come up with a great line, and I can't find a good rhyme, and I'll throw the line out. That's happened a lot of times, but night and out don't rhyme.


Jimmy: I would absolutely stick. I'm actually thinking about this because it's the first page of this long book I've been working on for years and years, and I love what I've written. The words in my notebook, like, too much, because it's not that good. It's not to be or not to be or anything like that. Right. But for whatever reason, I'm fixated on getting this opening like that. And I have drawn the page 100 million different ways. See? Oh, they're pointing out Michael's.


Harold: Yeah. American exaggeration.


Jimmy: So I've drawn a hundred million different ways, and for what? I think the answer is I got to rewrite it. Because if it was so good, I'd be able to draw it. Right. But I'm not there yet.


Michael: Okay, keep going. Never give up.


Jimmy: Never give up.


Jimmy: I give up.


December 16. Charlie Brown is, again at the old psychiatric help sign. And now, indeed, it has, risen to $0.50. Lucy, kicked back in her chair, says, think about this, Charlie Brown. Maybe you're the kind who's afraid to allow himself to get upset. She continues in panel three. Sometimes people actually catch colds just because of some severe frustration or disappointment. Charlie Brown, of course, sneezes immediately. Ah. Chew. And we see the classic question mark, air quotes, feet of Lucy just sticking up because she's been knocked over by the surprise and shock, of the sneeze.


Michael: Okay, I have a question here.


Harold: Yeah.


Michael: Ah, well, is it a question or. It's a topic of conversation. It's 1981. Schulz used, often talked about he loved comic books, and he read comics all the time. Do you think there's any chance Schulz was still reading comics in 1981?


Harold: I think so.


Jimmy: Maybe.


Michael: What would he be reading in 1981?


Harold: It's a good question. Well, so the comic book shop, as a thing has just begun. So I would guess he would have been intrigued, given what he read such a broad range of things, not just comics, that, when he heard that there were comic book shops around, I'm guessing he was visiting them. And I know that there was some stuff later on about underground comics with Rerun that we're going to be running into. I bet he was reading a wide range of things, and he was keeping up on it. He's going to national cartoonist society events and various cartoonists. He's running into them, and I'm sure he's checking out their work. So I would guess he might have been getting a pretty broad range of stuff still, including underground comics. I mean, he was probably looking at just a little bit of everything. That's my guess.


Michael: Do you think he is reading Love and Rockets?


Jimmy: I doubt it. That would be, you know, he did know Crumb, because Crumb tells it talks in an interview about how they both were in San Diego one year. And Crumb was coming out of some building or whatever. And Charles Schulz said, oh, hi, Robert, I'm Charles Schulz. And like, Crumb was shocked that he had any Idea who he was.


Harold: Yeah, that's interesting. Now, I nominated this strip because this is the strip where I see that tremor like I'd never seen before. Read the psychiatric help. His lettering of that and how he's typically done it. Look at Charlie Brown in that last panel. Look at the doctor is in. That is just, I just feel for him there, because I've never seen the tremor like that.


Jimmy: Well, and now look at the straight line of the arm. That's holding up the psychiatric help sign in the last panel, you're seeing that rigid wave thing that you were talking.


Harold: About earlier, which would suggest he's going incredibly slowly to draw those lines, because the tremor is just, like, a fraction of an inch every time he moves.


Jimmy: Well, I do have a bit of a hand tremor, weirdly. I was talking to my cousin, was it last week, I guess, and for the first time in years, and she's like, oh, that's like a Gownley family thing. We all have, like, a hand tremor. I'm like, really? I never knew this. And it's never gotten.


Harold: It used to be called a hereditary thing. I don't know how many people are hereditary, but the thought was, that, yes, this would be something that would be passed down from generation to generation within a family.


Jimmy: When it's bothering me particularly, I have the brush pen, which is what I use, and I can basically slam my side of my hand down on the paper, and it keeps it relative. Well, very steady. But if you followed me on Twitter, which you can follow me on Twitter, I'm @jimmygownley. I post a bunch of stuff from my new work that I'm working on, and you'll notice that it's inked a lot heavier, and it's partly because of that, but he didn't have that option. He's still going with a very delicate instrument and trying to make it work. I'm sure this might have been one of those times right after the surgery that he had to balance it with the other hand.


Harold: Yeah. And there was also something I didn't mark where this is. Oh, yes, here it is. It's not until next year, but he dates the strips for just a few days, month, day, and year.


Jimmy: Oh, wow.


Harold: And I was wondering if that had anything to do with, him working so far in advance that he didn't want a mix up. If someone found one of his strips that was dated, like, way far out, that his secretary wouldn't file it.


Jimmy: File it away for the previous year or something.


Harold: Yeah. Because she wasn't used to seeing something months in advance. I don't know. But, that was fascinating. I was like, why is he. There's probably a very good reason he did it. it's not going to be the absent mind. And he does it for, like, maybe eight days, and then he stops. Wow.


Jimmy: That's very strange. Yeah, I think you might be right. 


December 19, the World War I flying ace and his pal Woodstock are out. walking across the fields and he says, here's the World War I flying ace and his mechanic walking out to the aerodrome. It is dawn. We see them in a beautiful silhouette. And Snoopy in panel three says a low fog is moving in. It quickly covers the aerodrome, much to the annoyance of my mechanic. And then in the last panel, we see it is a low fog. It's about three inches off the ground, but it has completely covered Woodstock, who is letting loose with some cuss words, it seems. 


Jimmy: Oh, man.


Harold: Yeah. Roughness here, too.


Jimmy: Sure.


Harold: Really rough. drawing. He's coming out of something. I'm sure that was very traumatic.


Jimmy: Well, look at panel three. Look how the helmet that he's wearing. If you look at the underside of the helmet, it doesn't actually connect to the goggle. It just kind of ends.


Harold: Yeah. An interesting choice. Not, quite sure what he's doing there.


Jimmy: I think he just didn't hit the mark.


Harold: Yeah. Because he starts the head up way further on, his left goggle there. Yeah. And I'm not used to seeing on Snoopy's, that arc of Snoopy's from his forehead down to his neck. That's a swish that Schulz seemed to do. Not effortlessly, but you know what I mean, like all in one really fast stroke here. It's trembling all the way down in a way that you just don't see at this point until now.


Jimmy: Yeah. No, you're absolutely seeing the effects of this tremor. It speaks to his pure genius and just the overwhelming nature of his talent that it doesn't end his career. Yeah. No one else could get away with having what is clearly that kind of issue in their art form and have people just accept it.


Harold: Well, this is one thing, it's a wonderful thing about comic strips. It's also a not so wonderful thing about comic strips that we've heard throughout the years as cartoonists. I think we're super aware of this, but I think generally people would get what we're talking about. Once you get into a newspaper with a comic strip, they, say you're only as good as your last movie. Or if your tv show goes down and the ratings instantly drop, people know.


Jimmy: Right.


Harold: But in the case of a newspaper comic strip, you might have gone through three or four artists and writers, and you might have somebody who's really not into what they're doing and they're just hacking it out. But that was the hard. I think if you wanted job security do a comic strip.


Jimmy: Sure.


Harold: Because once you're in, it is incredibly hard for an editor to take you out because there will be people, who even have just memories of a favorite character. And what they've been reading has been terrible for 5, 6, 10 years. If they take it out, they're going to hear from those readers and they're like, well, it's not worth it for us to lose 30 readers or whatever. We'll just keep that old strip in. And that's another piece of this is nobody is throwing in judgment. We talked about those reader polls.


Harold: And we see that Peanuts is slipping around this time a little bit, but still way up there. And the fondness of the characters. Everybody knows them, they love them. They don't want to see those characters go away in their strip. And to this day, Peanuts reruns are still in the papers, in hundreds of newspapers. So, yeah, he happened to be in a field where he didn't have to deal with instant, criticism.



Jimmy: Right?

Harold: You wouldn't hear it. So if someone's saying, oh, this doesn't look as good as it used to, or this or that, he could go on for years and really not get that kind of a feedback, which again, I'm kind of grateful for, because if it had been a more brutal world where you get judged based on box office or Nielsen ratings or whatever, or just a critic is going to review your latest show and, well, it's not what it used to be. That's not really the world of comic strips.


Jimmy: Right.


Harold: So I think Schulz was able to weather really another 20 years where I'm sure he was hearing people say things, people were saying things that would get back to him. But more or less, you're not inundated with it. You're not obsessing over, I'm down 20% in my readership or whatever, or the sales of this or that are down. He probably is seeing book sales, right?


Jimmy: I'm sure plummet.


Harold: He's probably peaked right around now and he's just the rest of his life. He's going to see that drop off, but you're going to see lots of success as well. The specials are going to continue to do really well. The animated stuff, there's plenty of evidence. There's tons of, obviously, millions of dollars coming in. Ah. At one point at the end of his run with that strip, the goodwill of 50 years is still there with the characters. And so the licensing is crazy.


Harold: Bigger than it's ever been. So it's interesting that that core thing that we're looking at here the strip itself might be at a place where, yeah, he didn't give up. He's still going. And the nature of the strip allowed him to do it. The nature of what comic strips were as a medium works in his.


Jimmy: You know, the other thing that I just, along those lines, after our conversation with Gary Groth, it made me know. He said he was anti licensing and the purity of it, but he did understand the Idea of licensing. And then he said, I don't think it actually affected people one way or the other. He's right to a degree. But I actually now think the licensing is super important. And the reason is we go, oh, there's millions of kids on TikTok who are learning about Snoopy, but they don't know anything about the strips. But a percentage of them will, even if it's 1%. How many people are discovering Doonesbury now?


Harold: Right.


Jimmy: Not a lot. Or, not to pick on Doonesbury. I just mean any strip, really. I think having the, like you said, the goodwill generated by those characters exists, it transcends the strip, but it also drives people back to the strip, because a percentage of a million is a lot better than 100% of nothing.


Harold: Yeah, I think that's true. I really do. I feel like the ways to experience and be introduced to Peanuts are so great that still to this day, I would love to know, like, if you went into an elementary school or a kindergarten and you picked up a picture of Snoopy, how many of those kids would say, that's Snoopy? Or if you picked up a picture of Charlie Brown? Or, more interestingly, let's say Franklin. Now, once this Apple show comes out, I bet there's going to be a ton of kids saying Franklin, who happen to have Apple tv. So, yeah, it's interesting that it keeps it alive. The strip is so 17,000 plus strips that, when you do see younger people relating to Snoopy in this unique way that is so timeless, but also somehow relevant to them uniquely, I'm grateful that there is just a ton of Peanuts stuff out there for them to discover. We were talking about Skippy early on in this run. Percy Crosby, one of the most popular strips of the 1930s, utterly forgotten today.


Harold: And those things, nobody reprinted them. Nobody chose to make them available. And so Skippy is forgotten.


Jimmy: Right.


Harold: And Schulz never went away from the public consciousness, and I'm very grateful for that.


Jimmy: Me too. 


December 28. Charlie Brown is, delivering Snoopy's evening meal to him, a big bowl of dog food. And then after presenting it to Snoopy. He stands up and says, major funding for this meal was provided by a grant from our family. And Charlie Brown walks away, and Snoopy looks after him and thinks, if they have a pledge night, I'm leaving. 


Jimmy: So Sparky was watching a lot of PBS.


Michael: Is this of an obscurity?


Jimmy: Probably.


Michael: People used to watch PBS because it was the first non commercial channel, but now there's, like, thousands or billions. there are people bothering to watch PBS.


Jimmy: I do believe PBS is still effective. And I know for a fact that public radio is like the one aspect of radio other than talk radio and am, but the one aspect of FM radio that's still really strong, which is pretty wild and a good thing.


Harold: Yeah, but you're right. I mean, PBS probably skews just about the oldest I would have to of all of the channels.


Jimmy: Well, we're not going to have a pledge night, but we are going to have a live event. And if you want to be a part of it, you can, well, make a pledge. You can go over to our Patreon and kick in, and we'll send you an invite. We did one a couple of weeks ago, and it was a lot of fun. So if you want to keep this conversation going, you can follow us on social media. we are at unpack Peanuts on Instagram and Threads, and we're at unpacking Peanuts on Facebook, Blue Sky, and YouTube. So that's going to be it for this week. until next week, all I'm going to need is for you guys to give me your strips of the year and your nominees for most valuable peanut.


Michael: Okay. I will go first. I am going to give it to Sally.


Jimmy: All right, good pick.


Michael: Not for Peanut of the year. For strip of the year. I just love the Louis the millionth. Again, it was. It's such a good line that it becomes the punchline when Charlie Brown repeats it.


Jimmy: Right.


Michael: I mean, how would this read if it was three panels?


Harold: Right?


Michael: Somehow you needed that reaction to emphasize how bizarre that statement is and funny. Anyway, I'll give it. So, that's August 31, 1981, and I think for the first time, I'm going to give my most valuable peanut to Peppermint Patty.


Jimmy: All right.


Michael: Not my favorite character, but she does seem to be dominating things this year.


Jimmy: Yeah, she really has.


Michael: So I think she's definitely the driving force. And it looks like Schulz is using her as a mouthpiece for a lot of things that's on his mind.


Jimmy: Yeah, I agree. Harold, what about you?


Harold: All right, so my, Peanut of the year is also Peppermint Patty. She dominates this one. And, my favorite strip is October 18, which is Charlie Brown and Snoopy, swapping some, scripture with each other back and forth. do not muzzle the ox while he treads out the green.


Jimmy: Well, guys, this is going to be possibly, a first. I think I'm picking Peppermint Patty as well for MVP. So she has swept it this year. And for my strip of the year, I'm going to pick her hanging out with Schroeder, because that's wild to see. And it ends with the classic I expect to be persecuted, which I love. 


So remember, though, guys, if there's one thing we can take away from this episode, it is that if a foul ball is hit behind third base, it's the shortstop's play. So keep that in mind, and we will see you next week. For Michael, Harold, and Liz, this is Jimmy saying, be of good cheer.


Michael Harold and Liz: Yes, be of good cheer.


Liz: 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.


Jimmy: Boot bonk.

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