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1984 Part 1 - Big Brother is Watching You, Charlie Brown

Jimmy: Hey, everybody. Welcome back to the show. This is 1984. So Big Brother may be watching you, but all he's going to be watching is you, listening to our podcast for the next hour.

Michael: He'll be listening anyway.

Harold: Tuning in, big brother.

Jimmy: I'll be your host for the proceedings. My name's Jimmy Gownley. 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 co creator of the original comic book Price Guide, the original editor of Amelia Rules, and the creator of such great strips as Strange Attractors, A Gathering of Spells and Tangled Rver. 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, we are here in, 1984, you know, the legendary Orwell year. Do you guys have any specific 84 memories?

Michael: Yeah, after I saw the movie, for around, six months, I looked under my bed every night because I'm sure there are rats there.

Harold: Ooh, wow.

Jimmy: Oh, speaking of the rats thing gets a call out, a, shout out in, Infinite Jest. So, as you get to the end there, Michael.

Michael: Oh, I can look forward to that.

Jimmy: You'll be terrified of rats for another year or so. Yeah.

Michael: I mean, how many years are forever enshrined in pop culture? I think there's only 2--1984. And 2001.

Jimmy: 2001, obviously.

Michael: Yeah, 1999 from, a song.

Jimmy: Oh, Prince.

Michael: Yeah, there may be three. Yeah.

Jimmy: Yeah, three. Yeah, you're right.

Harold: That's about it. Well, yeah, I was in high school, 1984. So that was a big year for me. And that was the peak of the very colorful, eighties.

Michael: Yeah. And, of course, there's 1941 by Harry Nielsen.

Harold: Yeah.

Jimmy: I don't think that makes the iconic. Anyway, the point is, there's only a few famous years.

Michael: Yeah. Anyway, you could. You could not ignore January 1, 1984. And I'm glad Schulz didn't.

Jimmy: And we're still there. In some ways, getting there, for sure.

Harold: So.

Jimmy: So, Harold, you're in high school. Any. Anyway, milestones this year. Were you driving anything like that?

Harold: Yeah, well, I was driving a car. Yeah. It's, it was a, it was kind of a good year to be a, senior in high school. Unlike the poor people who were going through COVID a couple years ago. That was a lousy year to be in high school. But, yeah, it just, it just, it was a bright, colorful eighties. Were pretty for, a teenager. It was a nice time to be around, I think I enjoyed it.

Jimmy: That'll be on the back of the 1984 yearbook. It was okay. I enjoyed it. Yeah, I was twelve. I was twelve in 1984. So, it was pretty good. Next year was my legendary 13th summer. I will remember that for the rest of my life. That was really, really fun. 

So I'm looking, I think, I think the eighties peak in the mid eighties and start to curdle towards the end of the eighties when things aren't, you're not quite sure what's happening, but we're here, it's 84. And, let's just start with the strips. What the heck? 

Because here we are in January 1, and, we're starting with one of them good old symbolic panels. 

Jimmy: Oh, by the way, if you want to follow us while we're doing this, you can go over to gocomics.com, type in the word Peanuts, type in the dates we discuss, and, you'll be able to read all of these strips for free. If you want to know ahead of time what strips we're going to be discussing, then go over to unpackingpeanuts.com. Sign up for our newsletter. It's under the Great Peanuts Rreread. And then once a month, we will send you a newsletter and you'll know ahead of time what we're discussing. 

So with that said, back to January 1, 1984. In that old symbolic panel, Snoopy is asleep atop not his doghouse, but the number 1984. And he looks a little worse for the wear. And in panel two, Charlie Brown is, following him as he walks. And Charlie Brown says to Snoopy, you look terrible. Drank too much root beer last night, huh? And Snoopy thinks to himself, not really. Charlie Brown says, and then you ate too many pizzas. Is that right? At this point now Snoopy is on top of his doghouse, looking super groggy. Not really, Charlie Brown says, and then you stayed up all night dancing, boy, a bit of a fun scold here, Charlie Brown. And Snoopy says, no, that wasn't it. That wasn't it at all. It wasn't the root beer, the pizza, or the dancing. And then in the last panel, he leans his face over the edge of his dog house and says it's thinking about all the George Orwell jokes we're going to have to listen to. 

Jimmy: In 1984, did you hear a lot of George Orwell jokes?

Michael: I don't remember any George Orwell jokes. It was mostly like, we're doomed. That was pretty much, yeah, I think.

Harold: Leading up to it, it was kind of like Y2K. You know, all the conversation was ahead of time.

Jimmy: Ahead of time, right. Yeah. Well, because, you know. Exactly.

Liz: Do we need to do an obscurity?

Michael: I hope not.

Jimmy: Yeah, people might not. I mean, there might be kids who don't know. We, back in the day, everybody read it in high school. But I'm shocked, frankly, by the American, approach to literature in high school these days.

Harold: Yeah, we didn't read it. We didn't.

Jimmy: Oh, really?

Harold: Yeah.

Jimmy: Now, were you okay?

Harold: People talked about it a lot.

Jimmy: Did you, when you were high school in English, was it a lot of literature you're reading or what else were you like? What was your high school? English. English?

Harold: yeah, there was a lot. I, took a english literature class my junior year, and so we were reading Madame Bovary and Huckleberry Finn and, all of that stuff. And then we had, like, an honors English class in 1984. Two I remember that we read were Crime and Punishment, which is not a short book.

Michael: No.

Harold: And East of Eden, those are the two I remember that we read. So, yeah, I mean, there's just so many books to choose from, and if you're going to do them justice, you're going to take up a good chunk of the school year, so you have to choose wisely. Right.

Jimmy: Yeah, we think we did like four or five. I think we did four novels a year and a Shakespeare play every year from freshman year to senior year. 1984. There were a couple 

Harold: back of a stereo box. 

Jimmy: Yeah, right, exactly. Yeah. So we did a couple good Sci-Fi ones. We did in 1984. We did Brave New World. So, yeah, so 1984 is a book written in 1948 by George Orwell. And it postulates a future where, everything that you do is spied on and, there's no room for emotional relationships among people. Everything is all very, locked down. And then, it's a story about some people coming to terms with that and trying to escape it and whether they succeed or not.

Harold: Yeah.

Michael: Clearly one of the most influential books ever written in history.

Jimmy: Ever written, yeah.

Harold: Yeah.

Jimmy: He probably wrote two of those because Animal Farm is.

Michael: Yeah, Animal Farm is, like the Hobbit to Lord of the Rings.

Jimmy: Right, exactly.

Harold: So I heard that the, was it the CIA helped fund the animated Animal Farm that was made in England in 1954.

Michael: That's pretty scary.

Harold: That's pretty wild.

Michael: It's not piggy friendly. it's not Happy Piggy Land. I'll tell you that.

Harold: It is. Sure not.

Jimmy: It's not Happy Piggy Land-- that is up there. That is a, Watership Down level of terror in that animation.

Harold: Yeah, that it. Yeah. They definitely pushed the animated medium ahead a little bit with that one for more adults.

Michael: Oh, and then they did the remake of 1984. They changed the ending. They did suddenly in the remake, it was actually very, very, very good. And then at the last minute, they chickened out and, you know, it's, it's, they're all shouting big brother. And Julia's there and ignoring him completely, of course. But in the movie, she like, looks at him or something. There was something in the end which hints that No, she's not totally programmed. She's still herself.

Harold: Oh, interesting.

Jimmy: When, when did that come out?

Michael: I saw that, you know, like Netflix. So it might have come out like ten years ago or something.

Jimmy: Oh, wow.

Harold: Yeah.

Jimmy: No, I was not aware. Very interesting.

Michael: Well, I have a better final, panel. This giant rat slashes at the dog house.

Harold: Oh, man. Well, Snoopy's eyes in this are very spiky, Spike esque. He's got the full round eye with the slit through it. And it looks very much like Spike.

Harold: That image in the lower left corner of the eyes of Snoopy, it seems like as Schulz had the tremor that we've been talking about. And, he's getting used to, I think, some of the looks that he's getting out of his hand, whether he likes it or not. Particularly this year I've seen a lot of expressions in the eyes where he really takes advantage of these kind of rumpled expressions that we haven't seen much before. Lucy, I think, started it maybe last year, but this year we got Linus and Snoopy and Spike and, a lot of characters who are they really take. He really takes advantage of the shake in the hand where the eyes just turn into this mass of jiggly lines and like, especially if someone's, like, sulking. Yeah, it's, it's pretty effective. Peppermint Patty does it a lot.

Jimmy: Yeah, Peppermint Patty lends herself to the looser style, for sure. General, scraggliness a lot of times. 

January 3, Snoopy's atop the doghouse and he is typing away, and it seems as if he's writing a love letter. He says, dear sweetheart, without you, my days are endless. Days seem like weeks. Weeks like months. Months like years. Years like centuries. Centuries like, you get the idea.

Michael: Did, I miss something? Who is this sweetheart he's writing to?

Jimmy: I don't think he exists. She exists. I think it's just a bit, you know, he has millions of girlfriends that give him those, Valentines, so I assume it's one of those.

Harold: Okay, well, that's right. Yeah. He's got quite the list.

Jimmy: Yeah, you got get the idea. Just made me laugh. Absolutely hardcore. I really, really enjoyed it. I also like, and we're going to see a little bit more of this. I picked one, strip just for it. But we're seeing, as you were discussing in the last strip …, more pen techniques like that. That scratchiness of the way he's doing the shadows on the doghouse, which he's never really done. That second panel, which I think looks great, where he's not filling it in with the brush. He's just scratching away at it.

Harold: Yeah, but notice those storm clouds, floating beside.

Michael: Storm clouds are crosshatched.

Harold: Unless it's fog. I don't know.

Michael: Clearly the-- They went in front of the sun, so that's why the dark.

Harold: Yeah.

Jimmy: Whoa.

Harold: Interesting. Interesting.

Jimmy: That's really cool, actually.

Harold: He's changing the. This. Like, I can't think of another time when, without any explanation, he changes the weather. It's not part of the game.

Jimmy: That's really interesting.

Harold: Nicely done. It really is. Does make an interesting looking strip. Yeah.

Jimmy: Ah, as a matter of fact, the next strip I chose, both because it's funny, but also for this very discussion, of the artwork, which is

January 10, Sally's inside, and she has worn a new outfit to school. And she says to no one, in particular, I knew I shouldn't have worn this purple dress to school. And then panel two, we see Charlie Brown is in the room as well. And she says, mom made me. Charlie Brown said, did anyone say anything? Of course, says Sally. Somebody always says something. Then in the last panel, she says, they said I looked like a tall grape.

Michael: I wonder if this was originally intended to be a Sunday.

Jimmy: It's weird to do a color gag in a black and white strip, for sure.

Harold: Yeah.

Michael: But it'd be hard to pad this out.

Harold: Yeah, there's a. There's a lot of really nice shading in this.

Jimmy: Again, like you were just saying, it's all different. Look at that. We're seeing. I think it's an umbrella stand in, panel one off to the far right.

Harold: Yeah.

Jimmy: That's like Joe Kubert lines almost. It's, it's, you know what I mean? And the way.

Harold: Very rough.

Jimmy: Very rough. And the way he goes in with slashy with the pen again, and is just scribbling her purple dress in, which is also a weird choice, considering it's purple.

Harold: And.

Jimmy: But we're seeing it as black.

Harold: Yeah, but it's a really nice looking strip. I mean, I really like that he's doing that here. It's, it gives it some visual interest in unique ways we haven't seen before with him. It's a lot of things we've seen him do before, but he's pulling it all together here.

Jimmy: Yeah.

Harold: Really nicely. That, you know, I wonder if he started with just trying to color in the purple, and then he's like, wait a second. This isn't working. Unless I put other blacks, in the strip to match.

Jimmy: Yeah.

Harold: Her outfit.

Jimmy: Yeah. And he didn't go with the full black on Sally, I think, because then it would just be black. We're seeing those little scratch marks through as if maybe that's. It's almost like it's velvet. Right. And you're seeing those lighter parts.

Harold: Yeah. Wonder why mom made her wear that purple dress.

Jimmy: It was a gift from her grandma, probably. Right. Something like that. You're wearing it.

Harold: Very good. And she got a photo. Going off to school.

Michael: He is spotting blacks, which something he didn't do back in the old days when we last paid attention to that. But even in the, the second panel with the tv, he, he puts the little potted plant some black in there, which balance.

Harold: Yeah. And that tv is as detailed a screen as I've ever seen. It's usually just, I think all of.

Jimmy: This has to do with the fact that he is navigating the hand tremor and is trying to find new ways to achieve the things that he achieved previously. Because you're absolutely right about all of that.

Harold: I do love his lettering. His lettering. Sometimes he's struggling with this lettering, it seems like, but here he's not. I mean, that's really nice, clean, interesting lettering. 

Jimmy: Sure is.

January 22, panel one. It's a Sunday here as Linus is, hanging out with Snoopy. And Snoopy is leaning up against a small pile of snow and, like a 45 degree angle. And he also has a smile on his face because it looks like he's up to something. Linus says, she's coming. Play it cool. Then they both play it cool for a panel with Linus whistling, nonchalantly. And in the next panel, because where the strip really starts, because that first tear is removable, Linus says, she's getting closer. Don't look. What in the world do you call this? Says Lucy as she appears. And then Linus very delicately places a, Snowball on top of Snoopy's nose. And he's still lying on top of that pile of snow. And, Linus says, we haven't quite decided yet. Then he steps on Snoopy's foot, which sends Snoopy standing up like, as if it's a rake that you stepped on, which, has the added bonus of sending this snowball that was on Snoopy's nose flying and hitting Lucy in the head. So he made himself a little catapult out of Snoopy. And then the last panel, Snoopy and Linus are both delighted with themselves as they run from a furious Lucy. And Linus says, but I think maybe we'll call it a success.

Michael: I think this is a really good gag. It sure had me wondering what was going on, right? But I do want to point out, since we were talking about spotting blacks, first of all, spotting blacks is a way in comics where you, you put the blacks in a way that they make a composition by themselves. So if you took away all the lines except the blacks, it would create something that balanced out, a harmonious composition. And you see here, every single panel, he's balancing them. And he made Linus's hat mostly black to balance Snoopy's ears.

Jimmy: Interesting.

Harold: Yeah. You know, and as we mentioned earlier, earlier, I did not know what the term spotting blacks meant. I always heard it as a cartoonist, and I didn't know what it was until you guys got, me up to speed. So I'm grateful for that. That's one great thing I learned from this podcast.

Michael: If you read enough Comics Journals, you'd know that whenever they're talking about a cartoonist, they'll say, yeah, he's like the greatest, greatest. Alex Toth is a genius with spotting blacks.

Harold: Yeah, I'd read that and think, I knew it, what it was, and I had no idea.

Michael: Because I hated Alex Toth. And I kind of went, so it's not important.

Jimmy: Oh, take that, Alex Toth.

Michael: Yeah, take that. Boy, I never liked him.

Liz: Draws like Toth

Michael: Yeah, we used to, our expression, for a cartoonist who we hated was really bad, was like, boy, he draws like Toth.

Jimmy: Well, I'll never forget, Michael and I were having a signing at, Claude's comics, the late, great Claude's comics in hatboro, PA. Cause we were going out that night to the pittsburgh convention or something like that. And, Michael had a brand new issue of Strange Attractors. And there was a bottom panel on one of the pages where it's like a wide shot and there's a lot of action going on. And I'm like, oh, I love that panel. It's very Tothian. That was the code for me and all my friends for the worst art of all time.

Michael: Oh, by the way, Robin Snyder, a fan of the podcast. I apologize, because Robin is a huge Alex Toth fan.

Jimmy: I like Alex Toth.

Harold: Michael. I was just thinking of this, you, when I read this strip, Michael, because there's two places that Linus could have put that snowball. And we've talked about how Snoopy's forehead has changed over the years, and he kind of loses the opportunity to put it in the forehead because Snoopy's losing. Yeah.

Michael: Well, I'm wondering on panel five, if the snowball would actually stay there. It looks like it would, it would roll down.

Jimmy: I think it would depend on how, the consistency of the snow. Yeah, if it's like a wet snow, he'd probably.

Harold: Right, right. Yeah, I bought, I bought it. Of course, I see Snoopy on his doghouse all the time. On that little point, I'm like, okay, anything's possible. I love the little drawing of, Linus and Snoopy happily running away in the final panel. That's, that's another great t shirt.

Jimmy: Yeah, it really is.

Michael: You'd think a dog could run faster on four legs.

Harold: That's a good point. I sure love that drawing. His ears going backward. They don't look like they're running very fast, do they?

Jimmy: But, I love it. And I love the smile on Snoopy's face in the first panel that he's just totally up for this. I love it.

Harold: Little cheesy grin.

Jimmy: Hey, you know, we talk about cartoonists and strips that maybe the general public aren't familiar with, and I always just try to figure out some way that they might know it. Alex Toth, if you are not a comics head who's just in the know of everything, I mean, you've seen everything. Space Ghost, he did the design for that, all of those Hanna Barbera shows, from 

Harold: Johnny Quest?

Jimmy: No, that was Doug Wildey.

Harold: That was Doug Wildey

Jimmy: But, he did like the Herculoids the Super Friends, all kinds of stuff like that that you would definitely know. Now I'm blanking on the other ones. But all those Hanna Barbera model sheets were designed by him from those early seventies shows. And if you want to, one of the really cool Alex Toth things, and you can kind of get it still cheap, is in the seventies, DC comics and Marvel used to do these giant collections. They're called treasury sized editions. They're like nine by twelve or something. Huge comics that they sold for like a buck 50 in the seventies. And he has an original Super Friends story in there, which is neat, but it also has a complete, like five page essay, all written by hand by him, of how they made those cartoons. So it's like a complete time capsule. Yes. Of how Hanna Barbera cartoons were made in 1973 or four or whatever came out. It's really cool.

Harold: So was Alex Toth the guy with people wrote him. He'd, like, write them back in postcards and all caps. And he was famous for sending mail.

Michael: And Robin, again, was corresponding with Toth a lot. So he had a whole bunch of those.

Jimmy: They usually ended badly. Like at some point he got sick of you and, you got in a fight. I know that happened with guys like Paul Pope.

Michael: No, I feel a little guilty. Cause he is considered one of the great masters.

Harold: What didn't you like about his art? Was it just too rushed looking or too.

Michael: No, it's Caniff style, where I liked really detailed. I mean, it was so called realism. My favorite guys, you know, like Al Williamson and Wally Wood. But, but, Toth was more of, let's simplify everything and just put in blotches of black.

Harold: What do you think of Joe Kubert stuff?

Michael: I don't like it anymore. I used to love Kubert. Too scratchy for me. Anyway, that's another podcast. Yeah. My, tastes are changing.

Jimmy: The one thing I always, the people used to talk about, oh, those Milton Caniff women. He would draw, like, have you seen real women? Real women are a lot better looking than Milton Caniff’s women. I don't know what you're talking about.

Harold: But all right, maybe a certain era, they're remembering that we, 

Michael: Eisner was definitely the master of drawing women in those days.

Jimmy: Yeah.

January 27, Schroeder and Lucy are hanging out as Schroeder's pounding away at the keys. And Lucy is in her classic position at the piano. And she says to him, if we were married, I'd fix your cold cereal for you every morning. Schroeder says, and then you'd probably talk the whole time. So I couldn't eat and the cereal would get soggy. Schroeder was back to playing the piano. Lucy looks shocked, and then she turns away from him and says, our marriage is in deep trouble. 

Jimmy: That's just a great punchline. That made me really laugh out loud. I didn't remember it and I didn't expect it, and it was really funny.

Michael: Well, how about that big black blot?

Harold: That's what I was just gonna say. Ah, yeah, he just started doing this this year.

Michael: Yeah. There is no. That's the opposite of spotting blacks.

Jimmy: Well, yes and no. It depends. It's. It's, Yes and no. I think it's the kind, because it's like, how you would occasionally go for, you know, a bluesy note if you're soloing or something. It's not technically in the scale or whatever, but it gives it that little extra. I think it works in the. In the sense, you know, it's.

Harold: So can you describe what you're. What you're seeing?

Michael: Well, the. You just get a profile of Schroeder's head in panel two, but the part of the panel behind his head is all black, and the part in front is all white.

Liz: Like yin and yang.

Michael: Yeah, it's a yin and yang look, which I don't have any problem with it, but it's. It defies what we were talking about earlier about spotting the blacks to balance the panel. It throws it off balance, which gives it a certain tension.

Harold: How about the whole strip itself?

Jimmy: yeah, balances the whole strip, I think. Because of the black of Lucy's hair. Yeah, that's sort of what I think.

Harold: Does it a lot this year, but.

Jimmy: And yet it also. Because not just balance. Because the other thing you can do with spotting blacks is that you can draw attention to a place. So it's not only balance if you have something there, you have to have something on the other side. It's about using also. It is that. But it's also using the blacks to guide the eye to what is and is not important.

Harold: Yeah.

Jimmy: You know, so, like, I think, like, when Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez will do a back, a silhouette in the background of the whole town, and it'll just be, you know, three black rectangles or whatever, that's spotting black too, because he's telling you that, well, the most important thing is this person over in the corner of the panel or whatever.

Harold: Yeah.

Michael: And just for dramatic effect, it doesn't have to make sense.

Harold: Right.

Michael: But if it wasn't, if that black spot wasn't there, you would never notice anything wrong with that panel, correct?

Jimmy: Right.

Harold: For those of you who are listening along and are trying to visualize again what we're doing and talking about here, Michael, described it really well, that the black is to the back of the head of Schroeder, and then there's white to the right of his face. But this design, he's doing quite a bit in 1984, and I think he maybe introduces it here. Maybe he did it before, but I'd really noticed it all this year. But what he's doing is he's got the head of a character, pretty much. You're just seeing the head maybe down to the shoulders, and then the top of the head actually goes up into the word balloon, which, of course, is a big white space underneath the lettering. So there's a clear delineation of the bottom of the balloon to the left of the character if he's facing to the right. And it just, it works. And I just, it's a neat little innovation that he came up with that I think he liked quite a bit. At least he did for a period of time.

Michael: Well, let's look for it in following strips.

January 29, another Sunday, Sally is, starting to make what looks like a snowball. But then as she goes on for the next several panels, we see she has rolled up what looks like the bottom of a snowman. and then in the penultimate panel, she is carrying Snoopy. And in the last panel, we see she just stuck Snoopy in the snowball. so he is the snowman's head and arms, and Snoopy says, I hate playing snowman.

Michael: Okay. we have the happiness index. We have the anger index. For me, I'd like to have something called the laughter index. This is the one time I laughed out loud in the 1984 strips. And, it used to be fairly common. I always surprised myself back in the fifties and sixties because I'd read those, like, dozens of times, and I was still laughing out loud a lot.

Jimmy: Yeah, but that's why you were laughing out loud, I think.

Harold: Because you think.

Michael: Yeah, well, maybe, yeah. But this was the one time this year I guffawed because it's so funny now.

Harold: Michael, you say you often your eye will take you to the last panel. Is that true? In the Sundays as well? Did you, do you remember, like, do you, would you have seen this before you saw the context? Where, where would you laugh? Would you laugh by the time you hit the last panel. Were you already laughing because you saw it before you?

Michael: Well, I mean, peripheral vision. It just depends whether you flick your eye to focus a little bit more. I think I was actually managed m to be surprised when I got to that last panel, so I did not look at it.

Harold: And I love the impossibilities again, that Schulz does with his characters going off model and, like, his. His little right paw is so far away from his body, there's no way in a typical Snoopy strip, if he was putting out his arms, that they would be in this. This snowman pose. But it's so funny. Again, he breaks the rules, and he knows when to break the rules.

Liz: Isn't it a callback to a previous Sally? I hate playing stuffed animal or something like that.

Michael: She did use him as a stuffed animal, didn't she?

Jimmy: That's right.

Harold: They do Sally once. Sally's very, very least amount of work, you know, just roll one big ball and then grab your dog stuff to the top, and then you get a couple pieces of coal that look like his nose and your dog.

Jimmy: Sally's smart. Hey, when I worked at that tv station, by the end, I had streamlined my job down. I could do it in about 50 minutes.

Harold: Yeah.

Michael: Did you have to paint. You had to paint a cow every year, too? Did you get that?

Jimmy: Just one year, I had to paint a cow. That was.

Harold: That's de rigeur in the, Pennsylvania television world.

Jimmy: Oh, gosh. All right. I'll tell you. So, I had just had. Oh, I didn't have. But we had just had twin daughters, baby girls, twins. They were less than a year old.

Harold: Right.

Jimmy: And the cow parade came to Harrisburg, Pa, which is this organization, and they, they sculpt these giant 12-15 foot cows out of fiberglass, and then local artists paint them, and they're auctioned off. So, okay, so I was working the job. I had the two kids, that were babies, and I was doing Amelia. This was in the middle of the superhero storyline, and I'm working, and I am, not sleeping at all. Circles around my eyes, and I walk through the newsroom, and the reporter goes, guess what. You're going to be so excited. I volunteered you to paint the cow parade. the ABC 27 cow. Are you kidding me? It was absolutely awful. And someone bought it for thousands of dollars. I'll never understand.

Michael: Somewhere there’s a...

Harold: Do you know where it is now? Is it, like. Is it, like, happily on display somewhere? In Harrisburg.

Jimmy: Yeah, someone bought it. It's on their front lawn.

Michael: Okay.

Harold: The HOAs are, very lenient in here.

Michael: I thought it was part of your job. You had to do it every year.

Jimmy: But every year. Paint the cow.

Harold: Your art director. It's in the contract.

Jimmy: Oh, my lord. 

February 6. Peppermint Patty shows up to Marcie's house. It's before school, and we can see it looks like a snowy day. And Pepper, and Patty says, put your ice skates on, Marcie. It rained last night, and the sidewalks are all frozen. We can skate to school. The kids in Holland always skate to school. Pepper and Patty says, as the two of them head off on their skates, Marcie, very shaky on her skate, says, I don't believe that, sir. Pepper and Patty says, peggy Fleming skated to school every day. Marcie says, I don't believe that, sir. Last panel. Pepper and patty skates away and saying, we'll get to school a lot faster this way. But we see Marcie is already upended and is, headfirst in a snowbank. And she says, I don't believe that either, sir.

Jimmy:  I picked this one for the drawing, that last panel. You never see a tiny little drawing of a character like that from the back skating away. I think that's a great little, drawing. And I also loved anything, like, when I. If I was a little kid and I heard of the concept of kids skating to school, like, I would be so jealous. That's all I would want to do. Oh, they skate to school or anything like that? Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Michael: I was in LA, and I'm like, boy, in, northern California, they can, like, skate to school.

Harold: Yeah. Although he establishes this year that they are not in California, at least for this. That particular strip they mentioned going to California or something like that. So that's interesting. It's also interesting, again, from the different angles that Charles Schulz will draw. Here he is drawing Peppermint Patty from the back, which you say is unusual, Jimmy. And he could have shown the poof of Peppermint Patty's hair at the top from the back, and he chooses not to.

Jimmy: He did that with Sally when he showed her from behind in a couple episodes ago. I think it works better here than it did with Sally because Sally. Sally's hair is ridiculous. Sally's hair is like Ronda's from Amelia Rules. And that. It doesn't make any sense. so when you draw her from behind, you know, it's got to make something else. It is what it is. But this, actually, I would if I just knew that was aPeanuts character, I bet. Oh, yeah, that definitely looks like Peppermint Patty.

Harold: There are so many sports and activities all over this year. I mean, we mentioned before that Schulz is maybe one of the more athletic cartoonists that we know of from this era or any era. cartoonists are not ten. Don't tend to be famous for that. He sponsored a, I think was. I don't. They call it like a mixed. Basically a mixed doubles golf tournament this year. And he's just been super involved in sports in so many ways. We know he's running the, the ice rink. And I just started to write down all of the activities and sports that are in this year, and the list is crazy. It's. I see hockey, football, jogging, baseball, basketball, horseshoes, fishing, sack racing, ice skating, bicycling, hiking, aerobics, golf, tennis, dancing, sledding, and desert hockey and fishing.

Jimmy: Wow.

Harold: that's quite a, quite a range in a single year for. But he's very active, and we know he had the surgery on his heart. And those, are the things that he's very, very into. He already was. But I think it's very important to him now to be active. And he's thinking about being active because it's m. The stakes are higher. Right? Yeah. For him. So there's lots and lots of activity in sports, in these. And, it's because he himself is living it. I bet. Yeah.

Jimmy: That's really interesting. The other thing I would say is I officially believe that these new pants that the girls are wearing are corduroys, because not everybody could be walking around wearing striped pants all the time. Right. And Marcie has them here, so I think they are definitely corduroys.

Harold: Oh, yeah. What did you think of corduroys? I kind of. I kind of liked corduroys as a kid. They. Yeah. [sfx]

Jimmy: That was the downside.

Harold: Having the ribs of them rushing against themselves, which it's fun or it's not fun if you're trying to be in stealth.

Jimmy: It drove me nuts.

Harold: Corduroys were not…

February 10. Charlie Brown, has some stationery out, so, you know, that's gonna go well. And he says to Sally, this year, I'm not going to buy any valentines. Instead, I'm going to make my own. So there we see in panel three a giant smudged mess of dear Valentine. And then Sally says, who are you sending them to? People you don't like? 

Jimmy: I don't have much to say about it. That's just funny.

Harold: Good stuff.

February 23. Charlie Brown is in class, and he very forcefully raises his hand and says, and that's the way I see it. Absolutely. For sure. Linus, who apparently has skipped the grade and is now fully in Charlie Brown's class, says to him, actually, you have your facts mixed up, Charlie Brown. And Charlie Brown says, I do. I guess maybe you're right. And Charlie Brown says, I have very strong opinions, but they don't last long. 

Jimmy: No, I can kind of relate to that. Especially in the sense of I find that when I'm a hundred percent certain, for some sort of new thing that. No, way, that is not true. I'm almost always wrong. Almost always. You can judge my wrongness by how sure I am that I'm right in the initial conversation.

Harold: Can't trust the gut. yeah. No, I can totally relate to this as well. Yeah. Sometimes you just have those moments where you're like, this is the way it is. And then, like, 2 hours later, it's like, not really. Yeah, perfect Charlie Brown stuff.

Jimmy: Great, great Charlie Brown stuff. And I, you know, he can still do the minimal, clean drawing when he needs to. But if you look at those word balloons, you can really see how much of a struggle the tremor is becoming. Especially the second half, the right side of the word balloon on panel one and all, really, of panels, especially two.

Harold: Yeah. You wonder how much it, like, came and went for him. You know, if you just have a day where it's like, oh, my gosh, I can actually do more. It's less. It's less strong. Yeah.

Jimmy: I'm sure,

Harold: I just can't imagine how frustrating that must have been for him and the adjustments he had to make. Yeah.

Jimmy: And it's tied to something like your heart.

Jimmy: It's a very nerve wracking situation to be in. You know, you're already dealing with just that, and it has this sort of side effect that's right to the heart of your art. I'm grateful and wildly impressed that he just kept going and that the work is still so good. I'm really happy that he did this for us.

Harold: Well, me, too.

Jimmy: He didn't do it for his money or for anything else, really. He did it because he liked his readers, I think, and this was his life. 

February 8. Peppermint Patty arrives at Marcie's house. Marcie comes out to greet her, and she says, you're going to be proud of me, sir. My skating. She continues in panel two. There's an indoor arena across town with a big ice rink and a nice coffee shop. Mercy, spreads her arms out as she's discussing this animatedly. And we see that one of her arms is, in fact, bandaged up. Peppermint Patty says to her, what happened to your arm? And then, in the last panel, Marcie says, I fell down in the coffee shop.

Harold: And then he had added the coffee shop in his own ice rink, which I think was pretty funny that he's. He's given himself a little indirect plug there.

Jimmy: And apparently you can go there and you can get a, Pig Pen hot chocolate for yourself. So.

Harold: Ah, ah, that's cool. Well, and that's the. That seems to be the other thing that. That Schulz, seems to have a little bit of an obsession of. Even more so than usual, is food this year. And again, maybe that's because, you know, when you. You restrict, you know, sports, you got to do more of it, more activity after heart surgery, and then there's certain things you can't eat. And I made a list of all of the foods he talked about this.

Jimmy: Oh, God. What do we got?

Harold: We got a chocolate sundae, cereal, pizza, cupcakes, baguettes, root beer, doughnuts, pancakes, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, lemon pie, chocolate cake. There's quite a list of things that. And most of them are things you.

Jimmy: Couldn't eat, probably you shouldn't be eating.

Harold: So I was just wondering if, again, is that something that is influencing him? Because I can totally understand. You start to obsess over the thing you can't eat. So I've had some food allergies. Corn was a big thing for me for years, and unfortunately, I'm better about that. But, you know, I liked corn, but all of a sudden, when you have corn in America. Oh, yeah. Corn syrup, corn flour, cornstarch, popcorn, corn chips. Yeah, it's, But you do obsess over the thing you can't have. And, yeah, if you're just sitting in a studio and maybe, it's a little before lunch, you might start thinking of some.

Jimmy: Well, speaking of food, I kind of need to go get a snack. Why don't we take a break here, and then we come back, afterwards, have a snack, read the mail, and try to get through the rest of these strips.

Harold: Sounds good.

Jimmy: All right, we'll see you on the other side.

BREAK

VO: Hi, everyone. We love it when you write or call to tell us how much you enjoy the show. But don't just tell us. Tell yourself, friends, tell complete strangers. Share your appreciation in a review. it doesn't have to be on Apple podcasts. 60% of you listen on other apps. Some of those apps have review sections. Think of all the poorPeanuts fans out there who haven't found us yet. There are review instructions on our website@unpackingpanuts.com. Spreadtheword. Thank you for your support. And now let's hear what some of you have to say.

Jimmy: Okay, we're back. I hope you're all rested up as we get, to the second half of the year. But before we do that, Liz, do we have any mail?

Liz: We do. We got a lot this week. Super listener Debbie Perry wrote, and she says, it's been a while since I wrote last time, but I'm still here.

Jimmy: All right.

Liz: She says, when you mentioned the book Kiss Her, You Blockhead, it hit me why I remembered so much of the material you covered from 1982. At least two of these stories ended up on the Charlie Brown and Snoopy show a year later. The one with Linus and Snoopy planting Lucy's garden and the one with Charlie Brown losing his ball field. Someone must have liked those two a lot to rush them into the Saturday morning show so quickly.

Jimmy: yeah, right.

Harold: And you wonder, is Schulz thinking, hey, I want to do some longer form stuff, because I know there's a use for it, because he probably would have known about that show around the time that came up. So I I don't know how much he was influenced by that or if he pretty much kept it pure and whatever he was led to, I think.

Jimmy: There had to be some influence, because especially with the rerun stuff coming back. Like, he rerun was a non entity for so long, and he's being animated in that first season of this show, and suddenly we're seeing him in the strips again. And I think that has to be like Schulz saying, people need to somehow familiarize themselves with his character again, or.

Harold: Maybe because he's seeing it for the animated show, it just reminds him. And he's like, oh, I could do another rerun strip.

Jimmy: Well, yeah, it could go. Yes. It could go either way, right? 100%. Yes. Well, thank you, Debbie.

Harold: Yeah, thanks, Debbie.

Liz: We also heard from Simon Lunt. He says, I'm an avid listener here from North Yorkshire in England. I lovedPeanuts as a kid, and your passion and deep dive is a delight to listen to. We're a neurodiverse household, and there's always been something comforting and anxiety reducing in peanut strips and cartoons. To me, at least, the pace and pitch of your podcast mimics this warmth, and it is to be commended.

Harold: Oh, thank you.

Liz: And then he asks a question. Do you have any thoughts about the tone, style, and characters as to why they appeal both across the pond and also across different diverse communities.

Harold: What a great question. 

Jimmy: It is. First up Yorkshire, home of Def Leppard, Gang of Four, and I think Human League. So that's cool.

Michael: And the terriers, 

Jimmy: there you go.

Harold: As opposed to the Boston terriers, who were more stateside. But, you know, that is. I mean, to me, a simple answer, but maybe it's an important one, is simplicity, right? Yeah, it is so spare that I think a lot of the details that could be in some other medium when it comes to that has a visual to it. There are fashions and styles and things that, if they're front and center because you're watching a television show or whatever, it can place something a little bit more thanPeanuts, which is in, a very sparse setting. And the clothes that are being worn are, again, very simply drawn. And, you know, I've often talked about animals, how much I love drawing animals, because you can't easily type them based on the fashion that they're wearing or whatever. They're just the animal walking around. And that always was appealing to me because it's more the personality of the character that you, hopefully are relating to. And Schulz is not big on puns, so it seems like a lot of the strips probably translate well versus another kind of cartoonist who would be more bound in his space of readership. That has to have a knowledge. Now, certainly, he's making references to people that we don't even know who they are sometimes. So I'm sure there are certain foreign translation strips where the translators like, oh, what do I do with this? Because no one's going to get this.

Michael: I have a question for Simon. How did you react to the baseball strips? I know quite a few Brits, and it seems like the majority of them know rounders or some other--

Jimmy: Cricket has a bat 

Michael: English forms of baseball. But Peanuts gets pretty technical in baseball slang, and I wondered if you understood those, or maybe they just didn't reprint them.

Jimmy: See, you didn't know you were going to get a homework assignment when you wrote. Anything else, Liz.

Liz: Yes, we got a wonderful five star review from Beagle Scout Wannabe, who writes, what a fantastic podcast. It was a very good day when I happened upon this podcast. It's an absolute gem. I was a total Peanuts nerd growing up, and I'm now really enjoying reliving the strips through this podcast. You all have such an easygoing rapport, too. Listening to you makes my boring work commute go by in a flash. Happiness is Unpacking Peanuts.

Harold: Wow.

Jimmy: thank you. Thank you.

Michael: Slogan.

Liz: And there's a Ps. Andy Capp was one of my dad's favorite strips, but it never worked for me.

Jimmy: I never got it either.

Michael: Too British.

Jimmy: Too British.

Harold: But it wasn't a ton of papers over here. Talk about a strip that goes, the other side of the pond. That is probably, that's probably the most successful strip that was being done in England. That was in the United States as well. And I think of, like, Fred Bassett, I think, was also not quite as popular over here. But, yeah, it was kind of a rarity to get something in the United States that was being made overseas.

Jimmy: Yeah.

Liz: So how about the hotline? Did you get stuff on the hotline?

Jimmy: I got two texts from the hotline. So the first one is, if there was going to be a new animated movie where the characters were voiced by adults, who would you cast as the voice actors? BOGC, Jake. Boy, I would, I know. I would pick, I would pick Adam Scott from Parks and Rec for Linus. And I'd pick Ellie Kemper from Kimmy Schmidt for Sally. Those are the two I can think of.

Michael: I'll go with James Earl Jones for Charlie Brown.

Jimmy: Yeah, that's, well, that's a no brainer. That's why I didn't even mention it.

Harold: How about you, Harold?

Jimmy: Do you have any pics?

Harold: No, I'm so out of touch with, Well, you gotta do right now.

Jimmy: No, no, it doesn't matter. we're in the world of AI. Pick something you could be from any time.

Liz: You can do your Ronald Colman impression again.

Harold: I'll get myself in trouble here with Ronald Colman impersonation since that's what all the kids want these days.

Jimmy: Oh, they love it. Holding out.

Harold: But, yeah, I mean. So these are characters as, as they are as kids, or is it,

Jimmy: I don't know. You heard the text. Just, Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's, it's, yeah, it's gonna be an animated movie of the Peanuts characters, but instead of using kids, they're using adult actors for the voices. That's what it is.

Harold: One actor who I would love to insert somehow in here because he has this wonderful, goofy, stilted delivery, especially now in his, later, more recent years, is Matthew Broderick. My wife and I joke that he's got an amazing sense of humor and I don't think he's had enough opportunities to show it off, but we've seen him on Broadway a couple of times. And I don't know. Diane and I are laughing out loud at virtually every line he's making. The people are silent around us, but I think he's hilarious. And this is notPeanuts, but if I could cast Matthew Broderick in an animated special, he would absolutely do hermy the elf from Rudolph the red nosed reindeer.

Jimmy: Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Harold: Oh, joy. I'm wondering, where would Matthew Broderick fit or would he fit into any of the characters?

Jimmy: Yeah, he could be Charlie Brown, I think. I absolutely think he could do the sad sack Charlie Brown. if you see him on 30 Rock, he plays like a, put upon bureaucrat in the Bush administration. Administration who just wants, like, pens, but he can't get any pens. And it's really funny. And, you know, I think I could hear that.

Harold: Yeah.

Jimmy: All right, so we got matthew Broderick, Adam Scott, Ellie Kemper, James Earl Jones. That's the cast.

Harold: That's a good cast.

Jimmy: That's a good cast. Yeah.

Harold: We can always bring Kristen Chenoweth back. She's great voices. Yeah.

Jimmy: If you want to sob, watch her, sing happiness at Schulz's memorial service. Beautiful. And I also got one on the Hotline. Just, found your pod. I'm loving it so far. As an aspiring artist, I am always looking for insights to my chosen crafts. Can you each recommend something? Book, podcast, video, to help me learn more of cartooning. Be of good cheer, Kashvi.

Harold: Mmm. Wow. Good question. I have an oddball recommendation. I don't know if you would get into this at all, but there was a book, two books that came out in 1980 and 1983 by the same artist, and they're specifically about comic strip cartooning, and they're pretty much forgotten. And I find them to be an absolute hoot. The secrets of professional cartooning by Ken Muse. Now, he was an animator, and he also had a comic strip called Way out in the late mid to late sixties, early seventies, and particularly, I mean, get them as a set. If you want to see somebody who was, like, getting you into the nitty gritty of how comic strips were done in this, right now, in this era ofPeanuts. But the second book in particular, after you read the first book, the total cartoonist is absolutely hilarious because he puts all of these strips that he pulled together to submit to syndicates that were rejected. And some of them are actually quite horrible. You know, there's, one I remember called Rudy Rude and the. And Rudy Rood is basically the last panel. He's always just yelling at somebody. Well, but he's, he's a very talented cartoonist. But I, mean, those books just showing the struggle of a cartoonist, trying to come up with the next hot, amazing strip that you could draw for years and years. Going through those strips, I think, are a delight, as he kind of shows you inside of his, you know, his, his filing cabinet of the stuff that didn't quite make it.

Jimmy: That's very fun. Michael, what about you? Something, to help them out as a cartoonist. Any recommendations?

Michael: Well, we had a guest a few months ago, a, great cartoonist who's also a teacher, and he's created a course where he has his students start with, one panel strips. And as the course progresses, they do more and more complex work, and then they finally have to do a comic book story. And this is Ivan Brunetti, who has, really studied the art and has spent a lot of time learning how to teach it and how to break it down into some basic principles. So I can't remember the name of.

Jimmy: Cartooning Philosophy and Practice.

Michael: Yes, Ivan Brunetti. And he was a great guest and nice guy. And if I was going to do a strip, which I had no intention of doing, I would definitely study his little course.

Jimmy: That's a great pick. yeah, I would add to that, Mark Crilley, who, was another guest of ours and has amazing YouTube videos just about drawing, and he's an incredible draftsman that can draw in essentially any style, so. And he has a year's worth of videos that will keep you, busy. And, of course, it has to be said, but Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics.

Harold: If you haven't read that and you're an aspiring cartoonist, it will be an eye opener for you. We kind of take it for granted because it's around for so long, but books that have been around for a long time often kind of fall by the wayside that one should not. It's absolutely inspiring. It'll change the way you think of the possibilities of comics. It's a masterpiece by Scott McCloud.

Jimmy: Absolutely.

Harold: Yeah.

Jimmy: And when you go into it, go into it, assuming it's all right, you could argue points of it later, but take it all in the first time, you know, it's a brilliant, brilliant book by a brilliant guy. All right, let's get back to the old strips. 

February 29. this becomes a long running Peanuts thing. The tiny tots concerts and, Peppermint Patty and Marcie are attending one, and Marcie is looking at the program, and she says, this next piece is called Peter and the Wolf. Peppermint Patty snaps her fingers to this and, Marcie says, don't snap your fingers, sir. It isn't done at concerts like this. And Pepper and Patty says, what am I supposed to do? And Marcie says, just sit still and listen to the music, Pepper. And Patty says, weird.

Michael: It's kind of a callback to a strip, I think it's late fifties, where Lucy is kind of puzzled, listening to some music. Says, oh, he's supposed to dance to this. He's supposed to like walk around, march around the room. No, you're supposed to just listen.

Harold: Lots of nice spotting blacks here as well in this dark. And, you really feel like you're in this theater with the two of them. Did you guys ever experience this kind of children focused concert? Was that ever a part of your life?

Michael: Oh, yeah. No, this stuff was big to me. Especially Peter and the Wolf.

Harold: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Michael: And also the Leonard Bernstein shows, the tv shows he did.

Michael: Of music for, well, explaining music for kids.

Harold: Yeah.

Michael: I mean, to the point that I think I've mentioned this before, I was such a classical music fanatic as a kid. I resented the Beatles doing Roll Over Beethoven. I was like, offended.

Harold: That is pretty strong, language there.

Liz: It was my 1st major role was playing the duck in Peter and the Wolf. And it was first grade. Casey Haskins was the wolf.

Harold: Oh, that's great. I mean, the duck. I loved the duck. Was it Sasha? Is it the name of the duck?

Liz: I didn't have a name in 1960.

Harold: Oh, I'm thinking, I'm sorry, I'm thinking of the 1946 make mine music segment, Walt Disney animation. And that's what I had. I had the album Peter and the Wolf. And it was very influential for me because in the fourth grade in Rochester, New York, that had the Eastman School School of Music was very, very music oriented. And they would have, like, the crazy thing is they would have like the principal oboist from the symphony would be the one teaching the fourth grader.

Jimmy: Wow.

Harold: Who was learning oboe for the first time. I had Mister Woodworth. What a great name. I'll never forget this, because you actually had to take a test in order to get into the band. And then you had to list your, I think was your top two or, choices for what instrument you wanted. And I just listened to Peter and the wolf and being a cartoon fan, and I'd seen, you know, I had, we had the album with all the images of the characters and being a little kid. I was like, well, I like the duck. So I put oboe as my first. And oboe is a pretty rare instrument, especially for fourth graders. Right? There aren't a lot of fourth graders playing the oboe, but they did it in Rochester. And I remember the teacher called us out, those of us who had been accepted into the band. We were in an old high school building where our, elementary school was. And they walked us to this beautiful old, dark theater, very much like what we are getting the vibe of here in this peanut strip. And we walked down. I remember it was dark, and you're coming in from the back, going down. And there were all of these teachers, mostly from the Eastman school of music, all sitting there. And you had to find the person who was going to teach you the instrument. And I was like, the only oboe there. So I got to meet Mister Woodworth. I remember just coming down. He was lit at the bottom of the stage. It just felt like this magical moment. And I wound up playing oboe, through the beginning of college. So, yeah, lots of fond memories of Peter and the wolf.

Jimmy: Schulz also had a, real connection, to the Peter and the wolf, because he was once asked to be the narrator for some concert somewhere. And he talks about being very nervous because he doesn't speak or he doesn't speak. He doesn't read music, so he had to make little notes explaining. Yeah, right. Yeah, yeah. So that's Peter and Wolf. I don't know that I've ever pretty wild experienced it.

[Liz and Harold sing]

March 10, Linus and Lucy are hanging out at the thinking wall, and Lucy says to Linus, I don't understand heredity. I thought about it a lot. Linus asks her, what is it that you don't understand? And Lucy says, how come you got all the stupidity? 

Jimmy: Oh, that's classic Peanuts.

Michael: It's classic Peanuts. But does Lucy actually think she's smarter than Linus?

Jimmy: Oh, sure she does, of course.

Michael: But Linus is a genius.

Harold: Yeah, well, she's the older sister.

Jimmy: Yeah, she absolutely does. And by the way, she might be, you know, that's possible.

Harold: Yeah, it's a different type.

Jimmy: Yeah, it's a different type of brain she has, but I wouldn't put much past her. 

March 11, it's a Sunday. We see a symbolic panel. Peppermint, patty. And we see a little r pointing to one side of her head and an l pointed to the other side of her head, but they're reversed because, you know, it's, brain right and brain left. And we're looking at her. Then panel two, she yawns, and stretches. She's in class, so she's obviously gonna fall asleep. And then the strip really starts. She is asleep, and she is asleep at her desk between Marcie and Franklin. Marcie, yells past her to Franklin. Hey, Franklin, did you read the chapters on left and right brains? And, she continues, I think I'm a left brain person. I'm sort of analytical, and I like numbers and symbols. Franklin says, I guess I'm a right brain person. I'm good at jigsaw puzzles. I like music, and I think I have a pretty good imagination. Good old pepper. And Patty is sleeping through all of this. Then Marcie says, and then, of course, we have the no brain person. And this wakes Peppermint patty up, who in the last panel yells. I heard that. 

Jimmy: I love, I love the look on Franklin's face in the last panel. That's just really great.

Harold: I also love that Schulz is taking the opportunity to put Marcie's glasses on the top of her head so we can actually see her roll her eyes along with Franklin.

Jimmy: Yes.

Harold: I love that little touch. The, visual for those who are following along or willing to look it up on this March 11 strip, that is fascinating to me. Again, keep talking about how Schulz will go off model or do something that doesn't necessarily make a lot of anatomical sense, because it just looks good. Is that second panel of Peppermint patty yawning. And look where her elbow is. I mean, she's got. It's almost like the end of her sleeve is the beginning of her shoulder. As he's drawn it, you see this little arm that's, that's bending because he needs to show. It just has to be higher for it to look like a stretch.

Jimmy: But it's not just. It's like a stretch and bending towards her head. Right. So it's like, yes, right. He could have just drawn them straight out. Right? straight up, as if she's, like, stretching fully, but he's doing, like, that half stretch.

Harold: Well, there's this weird angle on the back of the arm as well that doesn't match where it would be in the sleeve. It's a really interesting choice, but you don't. You generally, if you're not really looking, looking at these strips, it reads beautifully. But when you start looking at the anatomy, you're like,.

Michael: I disagree. I think the, upper part of the arm, the hand, and the forearm are in perspective.

Jimmy: Yeah, that's what I think, too. Yes.

Harold: But look at. Look at that sleeve, then. Should have a different line on the arm to show a little bit of curvature, and we don't get it.

Jimmy: I think that, too. Yeah, I agree with both.

Michael: You're both right. Wishy washy.

Jimmy: Wishy washy. Hey, speaking of, I don't know what we're speaking of, but look at the tremor on the desks in that second panel. And I don't want this to be the show, the podcast, where we just point out where he's struggling with it. But I do feel that it's worth drawing attention to sometimes because it's happening quickly, and it's just when you have to make those long, long stroke.

Harold: Yeah. And this. And you and I do love that. It's a, record of how fast he worked with each line, because that tremor is rhythmic, it's consistent. But you look at the back of Marcie's shirt, and you see how far he gets in a curve. You see the faces. He will just make a commitment to draw the curve of the lines around the mouth and all of that, and he's working super fast. It's interesting how that looks really clean and then everything else. It's kind of like we talked about before. You focus usually on the face, with a lot of these characters and their expressions and the fact that there's a tremor on the edges of the things that have straight lines and that sort of thing. I don't know. It's interesting because it makes. It also helps with that focus. Again, you see the really clean lines, and then the tremors are kind of off on the periphery.

Jimmy: It has to do also, not with just speed, but how hard he's pressing. You know, if you. If you really root that pen and you can move at a fairly decent speed, even if you have a tremor, you're gonna be able to mask it a lot of the time. But when you have to do a big, sweeping thing, that goes. Especially if something that either has to maintain a rigid thickness, like the desks, or if you're intentionally trying to go from a very thin to a very thick, like, say, the back of her head, those are the things you're gonna have to slow down and adjust the pressure. And that's when,

Harold: Interesting, just because I deal with it every day. So.

March 12. Oh, this is just adorable to me. Lucy's out in the outfield, and she blows a giant bubble of, bubblegum, and she floats over the outfield fence. And in the last panel, Charlie Brown looks out after her and says, when you're playing in the outfield, never blow bubblegum on a windy day. We could actually kind of go ahead and read the next one, too, because this is a little bit of a sequence of Lucy, floating around in the window. Schroeder, in his full catcher gear, says to Charlie Brown, what happened to Lucy? Charlie Brown says, she was blowing bubblegum, and the wind took her over the fence. And now panel two, we see she is still floating via the bubble gum over the fence. Schroeder says, look, the wind changed. She's coming back. And, Schroeder says, she's your outfielder. Aren't you worried, Charlie Brown? And then Charlie Brown says, why? This is only a practice game.

Michael: Schulz has no problem with suspending the laws of physics occasionally. Generally, it's pretty good. I mean, he worked out the little catapult with Snoopy in a logical fashion. It might even work. We should try it on a dog sometimes. but here he just goes, okay, this is funny. He must have just been sketching in that.

Jimmy: Sketching. Yeah, yeah.

Michael: And just went, well, okay, impossible. This is not physics, but I'm gonna do it. And that's right. No, it works because it is very funny.

Jimmy: Yeah. I mean, I just love the weird little drawings of her floating around. That's one of the cool things that we really should always, I think, as cartoonists focus on is that it's a funny drawing. Like, ultimately, so much of it comes down to that. You hear a lot. A lot of times, especially, I guess, in the comic book world, you'll hear, you know, the story is the thing. The story is the most. If you don't. Why is that true? I don't think that's necessarily true. I've read plenty of comics where I don't think the story is the best thing. There's millions of reasons, you can have something. So I think something like this. Is it a good joke? I don't even. Well, that is a really good joke. But even if it wasn't, it's just so funny. Because of her. Because of the drawing.

Michael: Yeah.

Harold: That's what I love about comics. You know, the. The visuals are shorthand. and this is, I think, something that Scott McCloud book shows really well in this famous triangle of abstract and iconic and realistic art. It's like the words are closer to poetry because it's very condensed in the comic strip, and the pictures are very close to words because they're made of these little icons. And that's like, the magic of those two mixing and how an artist deals with that, because it's so hard to be a cartoonist and be able to do both of them well, if you're doing, if you were doing both, like Schulz is, that's, that's wonderful. And, yeah, it's not just the writing, it's, it's for a comic. I mean, if the visuals aren't interesting and you've chosen something like this that can go surreal or can do things that only comics can do, I think that's wonderful. And it's, there's a sense of release and exhilaration, seeing Lucy floating around. Yeah.

Michael: They stand out, though, because he does not do that all that often.

Harold: Right. Yeah. Makes it all the more special, especially.

Michael: If it's, I mean, he'll do it with Snoopy, you know, particularly the helicopter stuff. But, you know, a lot of strips, great strips are talking heads and, you know, doones berry being a good example. So you didn't need to introduce fabulous graphics to, I mean, you can, but you don't need to, to make a good, to make a strip work.

Jimmy: That's one of the things about it. It's so hard to quantify. Like, when we get the question like that, like, what can, you know, you learn as a cartoonist or what can you look at? It's, it really is super subjective. Like, you can learn music theory and know that, you know, if you go from a minor chord to a major chord, it'll have this effect. And every time you do it, it'll have that kind of effect. And, you know, there's scales and all the stuff you can learn. The comics really just seem so subjective. You're just winging it. Yeah.

Harold: You think about if this strip had not existed or the sequence had not existed, and another artist came in to do this sequence, I think we'd jump all over it.

Jimmy: Right, right.

Harold: That's not Peanuts. You can't do that. But Schulz was constantly breaking his own rules. And because Schulz, as you say, he's a character in the strip, somehow his choices make sense because they're his choices.

Jimmy: Yep. 

March 29, Lucy, comes up to Linus, who's sitting in the bean bag watching tv. She says to him, by the time I've grown up, we'll probably have a woman president. You know what that means, don't you? Linus makes no response. Lucy says, it means I won't get to be the first one. And then Lucy screams, boy, that makes me mad.

Harold: Sending Linus flying.

Jimmy: I just picked this because sadly, Lucy still has a shot. And I just.

Harold: Yeah, well, she'd be about 49 if this is about nine in 1984. So she could do it.

Jimmy: I'd give her a shot.

Liz: I'd vote for her.

Michael: But I really think this punchline is not great. And usually he's, he's absolutely perfect on the wording of the punchline for some reason. I think you could come up with a better one.

Harold: Probably doesn't have enough nuance to it.

Michael: Yeah, it's just.

Harold: I don't mind it.

Jimmy: Yeah, I don't mind it either. But, but I, understand what you're saying. That's definitely his first thought. And of course, we're thinking it could be deadline things, too, because he's always advocating go for the second, 3rd, 4th thought. This view. This does feel a little bit like a first thought, but maybe first thought, best thought in some instances.

Harold: yeah, and we, were talking to Michael. We were talking about that third panel with the black on one side of the head and the white on the other. And he does it here in that third panel again, so. But it's a, good look. He's spotting those blacks.

Jimmy: Yeah. he has definitely made that part, of his arsenal. It feels like to be called upon when needed. Well, guys, we have talked a lot. I think. Let's, take a break right here and then we'll come back next week and finish up 1984. So if you characters want to follow along, keep the conversation going between now and then. There's a couple ways you can do it. The first thing, you can go to the good old Unpacking Peanuts website. Sign up for that newsletter and we'll get it to you once a month. Telling you what strips we're going to be covering in the upcoming episodes. You can also just email us. we are unpackingpeanutsmail.com and you can follow us on blue Sky, Facebook and YouTube we're unpackingPeanuts. And on threads and Instagram, we're unpackpenuts. And we would absolutely love to hear from you. You can also call the hotline. I know that people don't like to call anymore. You like to text. So if you're going to text, you can please identify yourself. And two, you can just call and leave a message as well because I'd love to hear from you. And that number is 71721, 94162. So, yeah, so come back next week. We would love, to hang out with you again. As always, this is just my favorite day of the week. I love hanging out with my friends and talking about my favorite thing in the world, comics, and my favorite strip in the world,Peanuts. So please come back next week. We'll talk to you then. From Michael, Harold, and Liz. This is Jimmy saying, be of good cheer. Yes, yes.

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

VO: Unpacking Peanuts is copyright Jimmy Gownley, Michael Cohen and Harold Buchholz produced and edited by Liz Sumner Music by Michael Cohen additional voiceover by Aziza Shukrala Clark. For more from the show, follow unpackPeanuts on Instagram and threads. UnpackingPeanuts 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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