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1986-1 Attack of the Nancy Fans!

Jimmy: Hey, everybody. Welcome back to the show. It's unpacking Peanuts. We're here in 1986, the year of, let's see, a Karate Kid two, the birth of Lady Gaga, all kinds of exciting things.

Harold: Wow, that's your research for this year?

Jimmy: That's my research, and it happened right off the top of my right, live, just like that. Oh, and it was probably also, I think, the hundredth anniversary of the Statue of Liberty. Those are the three big things.

Harold: Wow.

Jimmy: Karate kid two, statue of liberty, lady Gaga. I'll be your host for the proceedings. My name is Jimmy Gownley. I'm also a cartoonist. I did things like Amelia Rules, seven good reasons not to grow up, and the dumbest Idea ever. And you can read my brand new comic, Tanner Rocks on substack right now. I'll tell you more about it later. 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 is the original editor of Amelia Rules, the co creator of the original comic book Price Guide, and the cartoonist behind such great strips as strange tractors, the gathering of spells, entangled River. It's Michael Cohen.

Michael: Say hey.

Jimmy: And he's the executive producer and writer of mystery science Theater 3000, a former vice president of Archie comics, and the current creator of the Instagram sensation sweetest beasts. It's Harold Buchholz.

Harold: Hello.

Jimmy: So, I've been cyberbullied.

Harold: What?

Jimmy: I have been cyberbullied by a bunch of nerds. There were, a bunch of nerds got together, and, you know, when more than four nerds get together, they're aggrieved. So, I'm going to tell you all about my tragic cyberbullying story, but I'll do it later at the mail.

Harold: Poor, sweet baby.

Jimmy: Because it ties into the mail.

Harold: Yes.

Jimmy: I am a poor, sweet baby. Thank you, Harold. Thank you. I appreciate it. But that'll be the second half of the show. Before that, we're going to be talking about 1986. The strips in 1986. I have to say, I thought this was really funny. I thought this was a very funny year. I liked that. It was a lot of short, little gags and not too many really long stories.

Jimmy: It felt really good to me. Harold, what are your thoughts about 1986? You got anything interesting to me?

Harold: It felt kind of, I don't know, small, insular. it just seems like a life that's getting a little more concentrated and a little more homey, I guess, is a way to put it. The other thing that I noticed just reading the first four months of strips that I count my strips for the anger and happiness index. But something that stood out to me was that Schulz had. I counted that 34 strips, over a quarter of the strips had something to do with bodily harm or pain or body or lack of safety. And I was feeling this. I don't know, I feel this empathy towards Schulz because I, just get the sense that he's dealing with issues of pain in his life. Right. He's getting a little older, and it's everywhere. And there's jokes about internal bleeding. It's a really interesting new world, for Peanuts. All that stuff's been in there before. Obviously, you had characters knocking each other out in this, but now we have ganglion cysts and all sorts of things. It's just an interesting, interesting new development or emphasis in the strip.

Jimmy: Well, now we'll have the title for the episode. Now we have ganglion cysts.

Michael: You, ah, have a ganglion cyst. Charlie Brown.

Jimmy: That's where I stopped reading the books. Right, right, right, that one. And then it was. What's that goiter, Snoopy? No, no one wanted those. Michael, what were your thoughts? this is, this is. I personally, I feel that this is the year that the eighties start slowly turning towards the nineties. but what are your thoughts?

Michael: yeah, not crazy about this year. It's. To me, it's just been a slow progression into the unfunny. It's like a journey into, a strip that doesn't seem really exceptional anymore, but that's just me.

Jimmy: All right, so let's journey into the unfunny, for the next hour and a half.

Michael: That's the name of my next, comic book.

Jimmy: Finally, truth in advertising.

Michael: Yeah. There was also the very disturbing appearance of Zipatone again.

Jimmy: Well, there is gonna be some history there all throughout the nineties. And one, thing that's great about that is we're actually gonna be able to point to something and go, that is Zipatone. Because I think it is still confusing.

Harold: Right.

Michael: what's the difference between Craft tint and Zipatone?

Jimmy: It's just the brand name. Zipatone is actually a brand name. I've never. I used Zipatone in quotes, all through Shades of Gray, but I've never actually used Zipatone I always use Lettratone. so, it was Lettra tone, Craft tint, and Zipatone. But Zipatone, even though it was the famous brand name, was gone decades ago. And now you can only buy it through, like, jet pens and stuff. You could get it for making manga. But it's terrible. It's small sheets. The dots are printed digitally. it's terrible.

Michael: Yeah, it's, just, it's a first appearance here in this year. Really makes me wonder what inspired him. I mean, did he have a finished strip and go, there's something missing here?

Jimmy: Oh, I think it's that. It's a hand tremor. That's what I think.

Michael: But it's something. It was the. The doghouse. No, it was the. The bean bag, which isn't normally inked. I mean, he doesn't do anything with texture.

Harold: I think that he's seeing his strip being a little more sparse and showing that tremor more and more. I think that's what he's doing. What struck me, and I don't know, obviously just as complete guess, but he really did that. Putting black on the half of the panel behind the head of a character like Peppermint patty in classroom. Often you'll see it that we had noted a couple years ago. I noted hadn't, done that for a while. And then he did it in a strip, a daily strip. And then it was like, just a few days later, I think that, that Zipatone showed up. So I was wondering. Yeah, he was troubleshooting, trying to, you know, how can I make this visually arresting? How can I catch people's eye? Because he was, again, he was competitive guy. He's in the newspapers. And the strips of 1986 that he's competing against are not the strips of 1950 when he started. And I just think he's playing around saying, hey, how do I get just a few more eyeballs? How do I get more people to see it and for me to look?

Michael: Well, right before, the Zipatone came in. Yeah. He put a big black area behind, Marcie in a school strip, which you couldn't interpret as anything. It wasn't like a wall or anything. It was just a big black area right behind her.

Harold: And maybe he thought maybe when he was, I was. Maybe when he was playing with that, he's saying, sometimes that look is just a little too harsh and I can't get away with it in certain strips. How can I add some visual interest?

Michael: Yeah, but he starts with a Zipatone on particular objects. Now, I don't know where it goes from here, but it's the beanbag and.

Jimmy: The doghouse get zipped first and the rerun’s bike seat.

Michael: Okay. Anyway, that's just part of the trend.

Liz: I'll put the zipatone explanation in the obscurities. I'll bring it to the top of the obscurities.

Jimmy: I'll just quickly mention it right now. Zipatone is a way to produce something that looks like gray in a medium that only reproduces, black and white. So, newsprint. Back in the day, you only could have black ink on the news print paper. So in order to create a gray, you would do what's called a halftone, which is just dots. And the further dots are apart, the fainter the gray is, the closer they are together, the darker it is. Zipatone is just adhesive back sheets of those dots which you cut out and you put on the drawing in the places you want to have gray. So that explains it, and we'll point it out to you when we get there. And if you want to follow along with us, you can do a couple of things. The first thing you got to do is you got to go over there to unpackingpanuts.com. you got to sign up for the good old great Peanuts reread. And that'll get you an email once a month from a good pal, Harold, and it will tell you what strips we're going to be covering, in the upcoming month. And then you'll know what we're talking about, and you'll be hip. So when you're hanging out at the water cooler, you'll be all like, you know, I think they're covering Zipatone next week and unpacking Peanuts. And the other people will be like, what? It'll blow their minds. So you're going to do that. And then you could just go over to gocomics.com, type in the air in this instance, 1986, and, you can go, along with us. Away you go, following along, reading the strips for free. Amazing. Let's go back to 1986, when everybody wanting to rule the world was just a song. 

January 3, Snoopy's a talk the doghouse. And he's typing away, and he writes, next panel, I miss you more each day. I love you more than words can say. In the next panel, Charlie Brown comes up, reads what Snoopy has been writing, and says, that's nice, but who are you writing to? And then Snoopy says, I can always fill that in later.

Michael: Now, I didn't realize that Snoopy was a cad.

Jimmy: That's just a great joke.

Michael: He's a cad.

Jimmy: I think that's hilariously funny. He is. And it's so Snoopy, right? It totally shows Snoopy's, love him and leave him Persona.

Michael: Well, these dogs are people he's writing to.

Harold: We don't know.

Jimmy: We don't know.

Harold: Yeah, maybe it's Miss Helen's sweet story.

Jimmy: Maybe, it could be whomever he wishes it to be. But I like that. That made me laugh right out of the gate. For 1986. Real funny. And so did this. 

January 18, Charlie Brown and Linus are at the thinking wall. And, Charlie Brown says, nobody appreciates how wishy washy people suffer. In panel two, Charlie Brown and Linus are walking along, and Charlie Brown says, our lives are in constant torment. Charlie Brown continues, you know what wishy washy people need? And then he ends it with cringe benefits. 

Jimmy: That's good.

Michael: We know that Schulz really liked wordplay because Jeannie told us he really liked puns.

Jimmy: Yeah, I like cringe benefits. I think that's really funny. I like seeing Linus and Charlie Brown together.

Harold: What do you think of them? floating. Floating over the black, pathway in the.

Jimmy: They've been floating for decades. At this point, I don't even notice. But they're online. Definitely in panel two.

Harold: But I've not seen it where you're looking. Well, yeah. you got a background and. And then you've got the, The ground underneath.

Jimmy: No, here. What?

Harold: It's not that they're actually drawing. He's actually drawing the background under their feet. So where it actually does look like they're floating.

Jimmy: Well, he's done that, too. That's not the problem. The problem is that the fence is three inches high. That's the problem. If he would have just run the fence the correct size, I don't think you would even be noticing it.

Harold: Oh, you don't think that's a little doggy fence or something?

Jimmy: Well, if it is, it doesn't read like that. It just looks like a fence. or what, what is a little doggy fence? I mean. No, there's. Fences are.

Harold: You haven't. You haven't seen the little, like the little picket fences that are about six inches high around or eight inches high around someone's house?

Jimmy: Is that to keep a smurf in? No, I have. I have a bichon. And it wouldn't keep.

Harold: That would be eighties.

Jimmy: No, this, is just an awkward drawing of the fence. And I think a part of what, of the reason for the zipotome is not just that he has a tremor, it's that the tremor causes a lot of fatigue, and fatigue causes things to be wrong sometimes. And that's just a part of the fact that the guy is doing this for however many decades at this point. But, you know, from his point of view, he's just drawing the characters bouncing along the way. Always has.

Michael: Plus, no one has ever noticed this before in the history of man.

Jimmy: That's right.

Michael: We're so used to them kind of bouncing. I assume this means little kids kind of like skip and bounce, and when they, when they walk, and I assume it means they're just kind of jauntily bouncing down the road.

Jimmy: Exactly. Yeah.

Harold: It's interesting here also, you know, you're saying that the tremor is something obviously he's having to deal with. It appears that he has gotten to the place where he's shrinking the panels. We talked about this before. If you have a tremor and, that is noticeable, you have two choices. One is, well, three choices. One is to stay the size you are. One is to go bigger, which would mean the tremor would be supposedly less noticeable. And the other is to go smaller because it's getting harder to draw. And it looks like he's gone with drawing smaller because the strips look a little thicker in terms of the line. He's using the same pen he's just now working with. Less area. The size of the strip is not as large in relationship to what it is in the newspaper and the versions that we're looking at, in the fanigraphics books. So with that thickness, there is a, I guess maybe a more designy simplicity that is baked into the strip, because a thicker line, that means you can do less. You can get do things that are a little less subtle. I mean, you look at those early, that early 1950s strips, I mean, his line was super fine even into the seventies, right?

Jimmy: Yeah. But again, we may be looking at photocopies. well, I may be looking at photocopies. I'm on go comics. I doubt that we are for fan of graphics, but, yeah, but I.

Harold: And I guess, and again, those who have own or have seen the original strips, they might be able to enlighten us as to. There are certain times when he absolutely did shift to a different size of the strips. And I've seen them, like in galleries, I've seen the later strips, and they are significantly smaller.

Jimmy: Yeah, I think that's a huge mistake, actually. Because I don't think that it will help you. I think you'll be covering less area, and it seems like. But I think being fussy and drawing a smaller area, I find, is much harder. I have attendant bad tendonitis at this point, and I have that weird genetic tremor, and I've just been drawing much bigger panels. And a boy, is it fun.

Harold: How big are you working now?

Jimmy: Well, I'm still working. Eleven by 17, but, like, Amelia was based on, like, a twelve panel grid, which no one like, these are.

Harold: Right, right. You put a lot on a page. Yeah.

Jimmy: these are, by the way, the things that are actually going to making a comic that no reviewer will ever talk about. They talk about, like, the zippy line and the fun colors and this emotional story, you're not even. That stuff's the candy on top of the ice cream. Like, figuring out how many panels are on a page of how you're going to transition from panel to panel, turning the page, all that stuff is how the story is told. So Amelia was based on a twelve panel grid.

Harold: Wow.

Jimmy: Which is now nobody even does anymore because that's, again, a lot of work.

Harold: It is.

Jimmy: But. So now I'm doing this new story, Tanner Rocks, which is, it's not really a prequel, but it's a story of Tanner when she was 14 years old, Amelia's aunt. And it's like five panels on a page, and it's much, much easier to do, to draw in a big space.

Harold: I bet it's very dynamic, too. I've seen you work when you have fewer panels per page, and it's really interesting. It takes me back. This is so Harold. but when I was growing up and every penny counted and comic books were getting more expensive in my day, they were starting to shoot up in price. it seemed like every year the price would go up as a little kid. And you're super sensitive to that because, you know, you don't have a whole lot of money. And I would count the number of panels in each comic, of course, just like, I count the anchors and happiness index, and I'm like, oh, there's, you know, and, like, carl barks. Those of you who know the amazing duck artists for the Disney comics, who did a lot of uncle Scrooge and, and Donald Duck stories, he would work on a four, four tier page, and the standard in comics was three. And then if you were into superhero comics, who knows what's going on with the superhero comic because they were they were doing, you know, double page splash panels of cosmic events happening, and. And I was like, I'm getting cheated here. I'm getting, like, 70 panels out of a Marvel comic, and I might get, you know, 200 panels, in a. That's a scrooge or whatever.

Michael: I always saw it as kind of a cheaty way to do less work on a page. Kirby, especially, in Marvel in the sixties, at some point went pretty much to just four panels a page, even though there was a ton of detail. And, that's considered by a lot of people as his best period. But to me, it didn't look right. And occasionally, he would do, like, a full page spread of, like, somebody's thumbnail. I just went, like, right, yeah, that's a way to make more money per hour.

Harold: Yeah. I mean, the thing that, that really struck me when, when I was looking at these, these comics is that that was back when a comic was 32 pages plus a cover, and that was when, I mean, Marvel was putting, like, 14 pages of ads in there at one point, so I was really, really cognizant of it. Now we're in the world of graphic novels, and you can get a, 256 page graphic novel, and it doesn't matter anymore to me. Obviously, the money is not as big of an issue as when I was a kid. But now that's kind of cool to me, because you just, you want to expand a story and make it flow over 200 pages. So you could have done it in, like, like, the album style in, Belgium or whatever, where they put tons of panels on a page and work really large and print them big. But, yeah, it's like, now it's like, it's just a design choice because, you know, you can have a longer book, a shorter book, just what looks cool as a page now.

Jimmy: Well, here's a, here's. If anyone's out there and they're thinking about being a cartoonist or anything like that, I'll tell you. The person I learned. The two people actually, obviously, one is Cerebus, because that was always my favorite comic. But the other person I really learned, like, the importance of panels on a page, how many, when to use a lot, when to use a little is, of all people, Frank Miller. And that's what I mean when you're talking about, you would never look at the Dark Knight Returns and go, well, clearly, that's, like, the third or fourth most influential thing on Amelia Rules. But it is. I got that. I was 14 years old. I got that. They only had 2000 subscription copies available, and I asked for it for my birthday. So we sent, you know, cut the little thing out and advocommec and sent away for it. And I was like, oh, my God. I was 14. This has 16 panels on every page. Oh, my God. There's only bright color on the pages where Batman is. Oh, my God. There's a, shifting narrator for every single person, and they all have their own internal voice. All of, them, you hear for 40 years. the critique of it is, Frank Miller made Batman an interesting adult character. No, he didn't. It's a Batman comic, the same as any other Batman comic. But the way he told it was different from what other people were doing. That's what made it unique, innovative, and why people can still read it today, because people still haven't mastered that stuff. So if you're a cartoonist out there and you're looking for some influences, look outside your genre, your style, that's the place you're going to find stuff that, that will make you unique. When you go back and bring it into your style.

Michael: There is an advantage to having a uniform page layout thinking, of Jaime Hernandez. Of course, it's all based on nine panel grid. Sometimes they're a little bigger, but they all fit into that format. And I think it's because he can. I think he kind of skipped around. He'd work on a page and he'd go, I don't want to draw this. He skipped to the next page. And I, think, Jimmy, you were doing that too, weren't you?

Jimmy: I still do that. Yeah, I've actually, I used. You have to force yourself to not do that, when you work for big publishers, because the first thing you have to do is tell the story to someone who doesn't know how to write or draw. But, you know, it's part of your, job requirement to make them its.

Harold: Own art form, right?

Jimmy: Yeah.

Harold: It's their own art form that doesn't exist to somebody who can see enough to let you go forward.

Jimmy: So I'm not doing that anymore. So when you're working for a publisher, you have to find a way. You have to tell them the comic before you draw the comic. You have to draw like, a stick figure version or stuff like that. The problem I have with that, although I'm very proud of the books that came out of that system. Dumbest Idea. And, seven. Good reason not to grow up. The problem is, it's not how I do comics, and it's really not how comics have ever been done. There were no editors for comics. They would, the editors for comics were people that would say, is that going to be in Wednesday? And hey, don't use the word flick, because if it prints wrong, it'll look bad. That's what editors for comics do. So I'm not doing that part anymore, and you shouldn't either, especially if you're starting out. Find unique, strange stuff, figure out why is Jaime Hernandez only using the same layout? What's the advantage of that? Try that for a week. Why did Frank Miller do 16 pounds a page? Try that for a week. That's my little cartoonist. tidbits for you.

Harold: Cartoonist corner.

Jimmy: Yeah, exactly.

Michael: I had a kooky Idea last week. I'm not going to do it. But I thought if you get stuck creatively, try this. Let's say you, want to do a short story. You lay out nine pages of six panel grids.

Michael: And then you roll dice to determine which panel you start drawing and writing in. So you started page three, panel four. Okay, good. You go to page three, panel four. You don't know what the story is. You don't know who the characters are. You start drawing, and then you roll the dice again. It's panel page one, panel two.

Jimmy: What I do, I just don't have the dice. Well, no, I wrote an entire conver-- This is about going back to Amelia's style writing, too. I wrote an entire conversation in Tanner Rocks. I didn't know who the second character was while I'm writing it. I know it's a friend of Tanner's. That's all I knew. Right. Just put it in there. And I like the way it came out. And that'll then, you know, jog. It'll create the character for you. And I'm sure this is the same thing. you have to try it now that you thought of it and announced it.

Michael: I don't even want to draw one panel. That's the point.

January 21. Charlie Brown and Sally are hanging out at the bus stop, waiting for the bus to come. And Sally says, if the school bus doesn't come pretty soon, let's go home. Charlie Brown says, we probably should wait a little while longer. Sally says, how much longer? Charlie Brown says, how about 20 minutes? Sally sensibly says, how about 4 seconds?

Michael: She's got an attitude.

Jimmy: This just brought me back to, I hadn't thought about this conversation since I was a little kid, but I remember standing on the corner waiting for the school bus, and if it was 1 minute late, just hoping against hope this would be the one day it didn't show up.

Harold: Coming.

Michael: But you still have to go to school.

Jimmy: Well, how would you if they didn't provide the bus? You don't have to go to school.

Michael: Well, I imagine they're not living in a huge city, aren't they? Like five minute walk from school. I always imagined it's nearby.

Jimmy: Well, I meant in real life. I'm not worried about them.

Harold: Right. But in the Peanuts, this Peanuts sequence, they actually do wind up. They do walk us in trouble. Yeah, because, am I mixing this up with the previous event?

Harold: But it's been established that they can get to school by foot.

Jimmy: Now, here you'll see again, him doing some stuff to just add a little more oomph or whatever. like the black on what really now looks like briefcases that they're taking to school. You know, I think in the past he probably would have just let those be white, but he's putting a little something in it.

Harold: Yeah.

Michael: How about those, floating bushes in the background?

Jimmy: Boy, everything's floating this year. They look like cabbage, actually.

Harold: Yeah, those are probably Peanuts, lunchboxes they're carrying.

Jimmy: That's what I had.

Harold: He had to black about, so didn't get in trouble. I had one, too. Yep. That thermos.

January 26. Sally wakes up, with a start in her very ruffly little bed. And she runs out of her room to go find her big brother, who's in an easy chair, reading. Or a club chair, rather, reading, something. And Sally says, when we die, will we go to heaven? Charlie Brown says, I like to think so. Sally says, when we get there, will we meet all the bugs we've stepped on? Charlie Brown says, will we what? Sally asks, will we meet all the spiders and bugs and things we've stepped on all our lives? I'm wondering if we'll see all of them in heaven and if we'll have to apologize to them. She asks Charlie Brown, what do you think? Charlie Brown goes back to reading, saying, I, don't have the slightest Idea. Sally looks around and then says, there's a spider on the ceiling of my bedroom. And then she concludes with, why don't you pound it for me? You can apologize to it later.

Harold: Rolled eyes from Charlie Brown.

Michael: This is a St. Francis kind of thing here.

Harold: Yeah.

Jimmy: Not counting the two or three people st. Francis killed in the crusades. But, you know. Yeah, I take your point. I take your point. Bird wise, spider wise. Francis was on top of.

Harold: Thanks. What, do you think of Charlie Brown's expression in the lower left when he says, I don't have the slightest Idea. How would you describe that expression?

Jimmy: Uninterested, passive. Back to what he was doing.

Michael: More  interested in his comic book, clearly.

Harold: Yeah. A little dismissive. he's not absorbed in this deep theological concept that Sally's introducing because, not realizing the setup that she has for him.

Jimmy: Well, you know, this is a classic mistake. Right? Because he get. When we die, will we all go to, Will we go to heaven? I like to think so. So he's engaging because he thinks this is topic.

Harold: Right?

Jimmy: But then she throws a curve going further, and we're talking about the bugs, and it's like, oh, I looked up. I thought we were going to have a conversation. Now we're talking about bugs. Okay, I'm going back to the comic now.

Michael: Is that a shadow to the left of Sally?

Jimmy: Yeah.

Michael: First I thought it was, like a little shrub or something.

Jimmy: Yeah. No, he is. He is actively putting, brushes, abstract brushes of black, to balance pages and stuff, you know, as well.

Harold: I kind of like it.

Jimmy: This strip or the, you know, the stripes on this chair.

Liz: That is wild upholstery.

Jimmy: Yeah. By the way, this, we've seen this chair before, which makes me think that this is a chair.

Harold: An actual chair.

Jimmy: Yeah, but not with the stripes, but with just the weirdness. It doesn't look like an extremely comfortable chair. It looks like it's missing the back cushion.

Harold: It's got. Yeah, it's got some hard edges on it.

Jimmy: Yeah.

Harold: But there's something about those shadows behind Sally that makes me think of nighttime, like being a little kid, you know? There's something a little bit creepy about night, and those little blobs seem to have a little bit too much personality.

Jimmy: Well, it's a very harsh, dark shadow, which definitely gives that nighttime vibe. Now, if you look at the things in Sally's bedroom and that, like, whatever that's supposed to be the end table or whatever, you can see him struggling again with that. With that tremor. I like seeing Sally in her feety pajamas, though. I think she looks adorable in them. 

February 7. Snoopy's atop the doghouse. He's typing on something, and Lucy comes up and asks, you know what you should do? You should write a story that would excite the readers as the plot thickens. Panel three. Snoopy thinks about this for a while. And in the last panel, Snoopy says, in all the years I've been writing, I've never had a plot thicken.

Harold: What about suddenly a shot rang out?

Michael: Yeah. Really? That's thick.

Harold: He moves fast sometimes in his storylines.

Jimmy: Well, I'm all for never having a plot thick. I'm all for never having a plot.

Harold: that's. That's your style.

Jimmy: Yeah. Oh, my God.

Harold: Get in the way of stories.

Jimmy: Oh, gosh. From. Yes. Oh, I. You know what? I never felt more seen. There's a podcast about creative blocks, and it's called the blocks, and it's by the guy, Neil Brennan, who is the co creator of the Chappelle show. And he had Jerry Seinfeld on, and they were talking about stories and how stories are so irritating. And anytime someone says, let me tell you a story, they just roll their eyes. And when Neil Brennan goes, oh, God. And if someone says, I'm a storyteller, he said, it's just nauseating. And I was like, yes, finally. Finally, it is nauseating. I don't want to hear a story. I'm a 52 year old.

Harold: What is it? What is it about stories that's so off putting?

Jimmy: It's missing the point.

Michael: The point is things are pointless.

Jimmy: Yeah. the point should be, I like a work of art where the form and the content fit together perfectly and leave me, in a better state after it's over. A story is going to take me on a journey and leave me where I started every time. That's what a story does. And it has the beats, and it's like, oh, you'll see these ridiculous. I mean, everyone in the world has a YouTube channel, apparently, where they critique film or, in quotes, cinema, and it's like, well, at this point in the story, you're supposed to have this beat, and then at this point in the.

Harold: Story, you're supposed to have this.

Jimmy: Right? No.

Michael: And there's nothing worse than the hero's journey.

Jimmy: Journey, right, exactly. And there's nothing worse.

Michael: Then you have to meet the wise sage, and then you have to be betrayed by your friend.

Harold: So they're saying a story is the story.

Liz: Well, I'm going to object for a second, because you all are good storytellers. And, those of us who struggle, we. We need to be taught things

Harold:  through story?

Michael: The first Star wars. That's a story.

Jimmy: Yes. The first Star wars is a story. and there are great things that are stories. I have no problem with stories. but George Lucas wasn't. I am going to tell you a story. What George Lucas was. I'm going to give you an experience. When I was a kid, they had these things, and in my mind, they were incredible. You would go on a Saturday morning, and all this excitement would be happening. You might even come in, in the middle, and you still had a thrilling experience. That's why Star wars exists. Then, Joseph Campbell came along and told him that he was a genius. And the hero's journey, and then it becomes.

Michael: It was the other way around.

Jimmy: No. Oh, I guarantee you, Lucas never thought of the hero's journey until Campbell.

Michael: Oh, I thought Campbell was way before.

Jimmy: Oh, yes, Campbell was way before, but it doesn't mean Lucas.

Michael: Yeah, well, Tolkien, too, wasn't. I'm going to tell you story. It's like I'm going to take you to a world, and I'm going to. With history and geography is the concept of story.

Harold: Well, it's gotten more and more inorganic. Right?

Jimmy: Yes.

Harold: It's like people have broken it down into these. This skeletal frame and said, okay, we now have figured out humans enough that you have to do this, this, this, and this. And if you're off by this.

Jimmy: Yeah.

Harold: Everyone's gonna feel it, and everyone's to come down on you, because it doesn't feel right.

Jimmy: Right.

Harold: And back in the day, this is the thing. All these amazing creative movies came out, let's say, from Hollywood. And there were obviously ones that were. Were very formulaic, but some of the most amazing ones. We didn't have Sid Field. We didn't have, you know, James McKee or all these people who tried to crack the code.

Jimmy: Oh, he wrote that book. McKee wrote a book called Story, which is, like, considered the screenplay. Storybook written by a guy who, like, sold one screenplay.

Michael: Yeah.

Harold: And I can't tell you how filled the margins are of, my copy of story as I was arguing with him all the way through. But it's. Yeah, there is something about storytelling, at least now.

Jimmy: Yeah.

Harold: Where. And I don't know if that's what people are thinking when they say, let me tell you a story or this or, But there's no. Yeah, I mean, I'm totally with you, Jimmy, when you say, I want to wind up in a better place from the time I entered this event to the end, and I feel that that has been replaced by mechanics in so many cases, which is unfortunate, because you can get to some amazing things by using story. But, yeah. there's something out of kilter right now, particularly, like, I think, in filmmaking.

Michael: Well, there's just so much money involved. I mean, you're not. When Jimmy's or any of us sit down to do a comic. There aren't millions of dollars at stake now.

Harold: It's just like, I'm gonna watch exactly the same story with somebody wearing a different hat.

Jimmy: Yeah. Yes, right? Yes, that's exactly.

Harold: These genre movies are. And it's like, well, yeah, you know, there's no surprise. It's like an animation. It used to be every animator back in the thirties and forties, fifties came from a different art style. They're from all over the world, in Japan and Europe, and they come to the United States and they're drawing a woodpecker. Everybody draws differently.

Jimmy: Yeah.

Michael: I'm not generally not following american animation, but from the poster, you know, who all the characters are? Oh, this, this is the husband. He's kind of stupid, right? And that's the wisecracking daughter.

Jimmy: Right?

Michael: And that, and that's the studious.

Harold: Right? And there's one pose for the wisecracking daughter where she's leaning back a little bit with a smirk on her face and has got one eyebrow up in a certain way.

Jimmy: Right.

Harold: Probably has a phone. Everybody learned the, what curiosity looks like from the same teachers. And so now when I watch an animated film, this is, there are absolute exceptions to this. But that's the thing, it's like, okay, now you're even not just story, you're going to see the beats, of expressions that explain how a character is thinking in a story. And it's just, it's, it's, it's like everything's just plug and play and where's, where's the discovery, this organic discovery? And that, that's what I'm looking for.

Jimmy: Well, you know, because people, part of it, I think, does have to do with, like, what Michael's saying, you know, money. Like, I watched, the new Doctor Who season last night, and everyone was warning me, oh, there's a Beatles one, and you're going to hate it because they did no attempt, made no attempt to, like, do any research on the Beatles, which I knew that going in, so fine. So leaving the Beatles part aside, the episode's terrible. It's awkward, it's long, it's strange. But you know what? It's terrible in a super fascinating way, because it's like there's two musical numbers and then there's a silent sequence for, like, too long, and you're, look, I'm looking at it and go, well, this, this would have been an amazing 20 minutes episode, or you could have cut some of this, but at the same time, I was like, I was thrilled to just watch something fail on its own terms.

Harold: Right, right. well, that's mystery science theater. You know, we were watching these, these movies that didn't follow the rules because someone didn't know any better and they. They couldn't quite act. And so there's. There's constant surprises.

Michael: Well, there's surprises, too, because they had no budgets and they had to improvise.

Harold: Right?

Jimmy: Yeah.

Harold: Yeah. And the monster comes on. You laugh at the monster, but the same time, it's a thrill, it's fun, you know?

Jimmy: Yeah, well, and that's the other thing is, in a world, actually, I think Quentin Tarantino said this. When a world where you can do anything, nothing means anything. So, you know, yeah. If you can blow up a, computer or a planet on a computer, you can do it. It has no so what?

Harold: Right? And I guess that's another thing about these lower budget things. They're, the one person's voice can shine through much, more easily than a $200 million budget film that's done. The committees have to look at, like Michael was saying, well, that, was.

Jimmy: Super, interesting and a good conversation. But what we're going to do now is we're going to take a break, go get some water, and a snack or something, and then come back. I'm going to tell you all about how I was cyberbullied. And then we'll answer the mail and do some more strips.

Harold: All right?

Jimmy: Sound good?

Harold: Yep.

Michael: Sure.

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 unpackingpanuts.com.

Jimmy: And we are back. So let's check the mailbox first, and then we'll see. We're going to do it. I'm hanging out here. Liz. Do we got anything?

Liz: We do. We got a message from Autumn Faulkner, who's writing again because she loves our podcast and, she reminds, us of the names of what we call the other Woodstocks.

Jimmy: Oh, wait, I see why I could do this. Wait, no, I can't. It's bill.

Liz: Uh-huh.

Jimmy: Olivier.

Liz: Uh-huh.

Jimmy: Harriet.

Liz: Yes.

Jimmy: There's one more.

Liz: Yep.

Jimmy: What's the initial? 

Liz: C. 

Jimmy: Conrad. 

Liz: Yes. Good work.

Harold: Oh, yeah.

Jimmy: That was 

Liz: Bravo.

Jimmy: All right.

Liz: And she is currently reading the Snoopy first beagle in space and noticed how he does, in fact, have different handwriting from most of the characters. Sally's being cursive and

00:40:00

Liz: Charlie Brown's being just wonky letters. And apparently Spike's being cursive, too. She says, have a wonderful day. And she's crossing her fingers that we don't cancel the podcast once the strips are finished. Oh, plus there's a PS that says, Liz, you should talk more.

Jimmy: Well, that's always true.

Harold: There you go.

Jimmy: well, we won't cancel the podcast because what are we going to do, really? I mean, come on. Not talk endlessly about stuff once a week? I don't think so. Any other? yes.

Liz: Yeah. we got a second one from Megan Bittner, who the subject of the email was, we like Spike. And she says, hello. Unpacking Peanuts. I'm loving the podcast so far. I discovered it in January and started listening from the beginning, and I'm almost caught up.

Harold: Wow.

Liz: I just finished the 1984 episode, and I have to admit, I've always really liked Spike. I don't know what it is about him. I think I'm just amused by the Idea of a beagle who lives in the desert and whose best friend is a cactus. Looking forward to more episodes. Be of good cheer, Megan.

Harold: Yeah, it's good to hear from people who like Spike. I'm trying to kind of crack the code a little bit on him because I do know he has fans, and, I'm trying to look at him through a new lens as I'm reading these.

Jimmy: Okay, so we have, a few legitimate calls to the hotline and then my cyberbullying. So we'll start. I don't think this person left their name. So as of now, if it's, caller 440.

Liz: all righty.

Caller 440: I think Sparky realized he was at his end. He saw his morality at that point. And I feel that Spike’s isolation in the desert kind of maybe reflected that. I mean, look, I'm implying a lot to this, but you guys imply a lot also. So, in my head, the tremor had gotten to the point where he couldn't mask it anymore. So I think that's what Spike kind of represented at that point. So.

Jimmy: Well, you know, a solitary figure out in the desert, is going to make you think about your mortality. I think just the lonely coyotes falling.

Harold: Out in the woods add some weight to the character.

Michael: What frustrates me is spike has choices. He doesn't have to live there.

Jimmy: Well, that's everybody who's in a place that they don't need to be, which.

Michael: Frustrates the hell out of me.

Jimmy: It frustrates the hell out of everybody. But you know, like, look, I, mean, I can see other people's, the solutions to other people's problems with absolute clarity. My own. Impossible. Can't be done. Can't be done. I think that's probably the state with Spike. You know, he's like, what's wrong? I didn't. Is this weird?

Harold: I never met the man. I'm only living through his strips and experiencing through his strips and then through stories I've heard people tell about, about Schulz. And you do hear varying stories about this, that there was like, you know, you'd say underlying he was. He was unhappy. And I can see why he would say that, people would say that. But at the same time, there's, there's a tremendous amount of joy in, in the stuff I see that comes out of him. And I hear, and I hear a tremendous amount of stories from his kids. Whatever, whatever that underlying thing that was a part of him, the melancholy, they wouldn't say that was him. I was just wondering, you guys having now been on this journey together with, you know, that we've all been doing with Schulz, what's your take on that? How do you see Schulz when it comes to being a happy person?

Michael: Well, the fact is nobody else would know except him because he's maybe didn't want to show it.

Michael: You know, if he doesn't want to show it and he wants to pretend he's happy, who's going to know the difference?

Harold: Because he never, he never comes across as dour, you know, that's not what he's about.

Michael: Yeah, but look at, you go through my, any family's photo album from like the fifties, right? Everybody smiling in every picture because candy's on.

Harold: It's so funny. Back in, back in the twenties, nobody would smile, right.

Michael: Which I. That's why I like, ah, old photography, because people actually didn't smile. They looked like what they were feeling.

Harold: That's funny because when I look at people from the twenties, I think they're not allowed to show how they're feeling.

Jimmy: Brilliant.

Michael: They're miserable. Come on. Abraham Lincoln. Imagine a photo of Abraham Lincoln smiling and giving a thumbs up.

Jimmy: I mean, well, you know, I think that has to happen after the invention of Novocaine. Like, there's a lot, there's not a lot to smile about, you know? Yeah, okay. I feel I can talk about this a little bit and that, like, I mean, I have my suffer from clinical, depressive bipolar depression. bipolar one. I'm a happy person, I think, at my core. Who am I? I think I'm happy.

00:45:00

Jimmy: I have friends and family. and that's all great. Ah, I have this other thing, too, but I wouldn't say one or the other. Well, no, I would. I would say the joyful part is the core. The other thing is a cancer, metaphorically. Right? That's the stuff that you want to exercise from your life. You want to get out. So if he's. If. So, if part of Peanuts is him successfully excising that, then that's really cool. And if the part that's left is express, is, in fact, expressed in spike, that's kind of cool, too, you know, because it does show that it is. It's a part of the world, but it's not the central part of the world. It's off to the side. It's in a different neighborhood. It's still there, but it's not central. Does any of that make sense? I don't know.

Harold: Yeah, that does. And I was just thinking about, again, strips of, like, the 1980s versus the fifties, because Schulz was so influential, 36 years in. Schulz's influence is all over those pages in a way that he's not experienced before and we've not experienced before. And it seems like I was saying that Schultz's world was smaller this year. My general feeling is that comic strips also emotionally got smaller with Schulz. And part of that is, you know, back in the twenties and thirties and forties, who got a comic strip? What was the person working is usually, you know, guy, and he's working in a big city newspaper, probably as an illustrator, and he thinks up an Idea for a comic strip and he sells it. But he's in this fast moving, hard boiled, you know, heightened environment in the city in these, these, newspapers. And I think the front page, you know, the movie the front page, things are just rat a tat tat. And that tends to be not everybody, but that tends to be who's making these strips. And then Schulz starts this trend wherever he's a guy out in Minnesota, and he's mailing the stuff in, and everyone's living their own lives in suburbia and who knows where all over the country, and they're not in that heightened environment. And the strips start, start to kind of settle down.

Michael: I'm not sure I buy that. I mean, where the artist is. I mean, Walt Kelly didn't live in a swamp. I don't know. Where he lived? Did he live in the city?

Jimmy: Bridgeport, Connecticut? I don't know.

Harold: Yeah. I mean, he, he hung around a lot of people in his field, you know, and, yeah, yeah, I think generally.

Michael: They were city people who, you know, came through the art schools, which are only in the big cities, and the, big, working for big newspapers. Yeah. So they're probably fairly sophisticated city people who hung around intellectuals. So comics used to be a lot more intellectual.

Harold: Well, yeah, and then now you got strips like, you know, I'm thinking of things like drabble by, Kevin Fagan, which was very, very, you know, home body kind of characters and stories or zits or, you know, you name it. I mean, there's, there's just a lot more, this feels a little more suburban and, you know, not as high, high octane. That's, that's the way I see it.

Jimmy: Well, in the, in terms of the, of things being, you know, dark versus light or smile or what is the core and what is not there. this will go back to Frank Miller. Actually, this is weird, because I have, I have been lugging this around. It's just a, printed it out from microfiche in 1990 at my college, and it's an article in the Atlantic on the new comics, and it has a little bit about the new comics. And this was, like, August 1986, so it was Love and Rockets, Daredevil, whatever. But it focuses mostly on Frank Miller, Howard Chaykin, and Dave Sim. Okay, so here's what I read. that blew my mind. 

Okay, so Miller has attempted to extend the superhero comic and make it carry images and ideas it may not be capable of carrying, but sim and shaken have embraced it. American flag and the shadow aren't so much attempts to transform pulp as they are lively springboard somersaults into the air above it, where Miller gets down and dirty. Chaikin and Sim get high. That last line I have thought about for 30 years, I was watching or listening to a podcast, called, oh, it's the WTF podcast with, Mark Maron. And he had Jerry Seinfeld on, and they're two master comedians who don't understand each other at all. And Marin is so frustrated, like he wants to try to somehow make this connect. Marin ends up crying in the podcast. It's very awkward. What it's very awkward. He's got, was going through his person. His partner had passed away a few months ago. And, you know, Seinfeld's just trying to, like, meet him. And what they don't understand is Marin gets down and dirty, and Seinfeld gets high. What the point is, there's a point on ground level that two people will look at something, right? two artists will look at it, and one will look at it and go, I'm going to take this, and I'm going to show all the depth in it. I'm going to take it as down, you know, and Seinfeld takes it. And so I'm going to take this and make this a toy, and I'm going to see how high I can get it up in the air. Right. I'm, yeah, it's difficult to do both. There is value to do both. They're actually both doing the same thing, just in different directions. And I don't understand why people can't see Seinfeld's point of it. Even people who like Seinfeld don't realize, and I'm not, I'm just using his, an example, you know, but people who like that sort of thing often will say, well, it's silly, it's light, it's whatever. It's extremely well thought of, and it's a gift in just the same way as the, in quotes, deeper stuff is. It's just as hard to get you off the ground as it is to put you in the depths. Yep. It's not hard.

Liz: World needs both.

Harold: Yep.

Jimmy: So then I was cyberbullied. As you might have heard me mention before, I'm not a huge fan of, Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy like, to the point that possibly when I was a sophomore in high school and I had to do a report on the lord of the flies, I drew Sluggo's head on the stick as the COVID of the report.

Harold: Wow.

Jimmy: I don't like Nancy. However, it turns out, a lot of people really do, including our pal Todd Webb. Cartoonist Todd Webb. And he went to a place called the Nancy. It was the very first ever Nancy Con. it was at the Billy Ireland library, in Ohio, where, all the Nancy fans came. I think they're called the Nancy boys. I believe that's what their official name is. And he got 16 people at Nancy Con, which I think is three people more than attended Nancy Con to call me and tell me that they like Nancy. And here's who called.

1: Hey, this is John Kelly. I'm a writer for the comics journal magazine, and I also do a, publication called Dummy. And, I'm a giant Nancy fan. It's my favorite comic strip. And, I've been reading it since the age of three. I love it. And I'm not alone.

2:  Hi, this is Raina Telgemeier. I'm the creator of, Smile, Sisters, Drama, Ghosts, Guts, the Babysitter's club graphic novels, all of which I started less than ten years after reading Ernie Bushmuller's Nancy for the first time. And that was the Brian Walker collection with the how to read Nancy essay in it. And I'd say that that essay, that book, along with Understanding C omics, was kind of my guide map after loving comic strips in the newspaper for many years, but not really understanding the mechanics of them and what went into them and how to think about them as much as just the fact that I like making them. So I don't think my work would exist in its current state if it weren't for Ernie Bushmiller. And, it's one of me and my dad's favorite things that we share. And, yeah, you're wrong, Jimmy. 

3: Hi. My name is Brian Walker, and I love Nancy. 

4: Hi. This is Tony Recktenwaldl from Chicago. I'm a cartoonist, and Nancyophile. You're wrong about Nancy, because Nancy is kind of the lens by which we can all appreciate all comics. And understanding Nancy enhances your appreciation of everything from Dick Tracy to even Peanuts. I think once you sink your teeth deeper into it, you'll kind of see that, the shorthand, that Bushmiller kind of helps perfect really finds itself in everyone since and including Schulz, because they were at one time buddies that I know that that relationship went sour. I don't know that's why you're sour about Bushmiller. But I beg you to reconsider, and I'll be tuning in to hear your response.

5: Hey, it's Tom Gammill, and I think it's all about the gag. It's about the visual gag. That's what makes them so great.

6: Dennis Kitchen. And I want to say Ernie Bushmiller is king. Ernie Rules. You got it. That's all I have to say. 

7: Mark Newgarten. Guys, you know, you're the talk of Nancy Fest here. You really got to reconsider your Bushmiller position. I seriously suggest buying advance tickets for the next Nancy Fest, and, we'll be of good cheer in the meantime. 

8: Hi, this is Paul Karasik. I'm a cartoonist and an educator and a Ernie Bushmiller Nancy lover. 

9: Hi, my name is Bill Griffith, and, the future of comics is in the past. 

10: Hi, this is Zach Sally. I'm here at Nancy Fest, and to be honest, I just, I mostly came to Nancy Fest to see some comic friends and hang out with them because, I love my comic friends. And I love comics. But to be honest, I've never been a huge Nancy guy. I just have never quite seen what, other folks, sort of the depth of what other folks have seen in Nancy. So I came to this show, and I'm not going to say that I'm a total convert. And now that I'm like, I get Bushmiller and I get the whole thing, but I certainly have a greater new found understanding and respect, for it. And it feels like I'm starting to kind of wrap my, wrap my head around it. 

11: Yeah, hi, my name is Dick Anderson. I'm calling from Los Angeles, California. Ernie Bushmiller is at the very least the second greatest cartoonist, if not the greatest cartoonist of all time. 

12: This is John Porcellino, and I'm just calling to let you know my second favorite cartoonist, Charles M. Schulz, and my number one favorite cartoonist, Ernie Buschmiller. 

13: Hey there, unpack Peanuts. My name is Peter Bell. Yeah, I was very displeased to hear your non endorsement of Nancy and your complete ignorant understanding of greatness that is Nancy and living the Nancy lifestyle. I feel like you really need to reassess this urgently and maybe reconvene at some of those points. But thank you. Have a good day. 

14: Hey, this is Dennis Selgemeier, and I am the father of Raina Telgemeier. And, we are both huge fans of, Ernie and of, Nancy and of Sluggo and all the rest of the Bushmiller family. We are-- We've traveled over 2000 miles to experience the Nancy fest. Ain't nothing quite like it. We're glad we're here. It's wonderful to be around, an auditorium filled with Nancy fans. Wish you were here to enjoy it, too. 

15: Hey, unpacking Peanuts. This is Todd Webb calling in. I hope you enjoyed the messages from my fellow Ernie Bushmiller fans at the inaugural Nancy fest at the Billy Ireland Museum of cartoon Art. Delightful time was had by all. And, Yeah, Jimmy, we'll talk. That's a wrap for now. Be of good cheer, fellows. And Liz.

Jimmy: But here's the thing I want to tell you, you nerds can suck it. I don't care what you think. But the last. Because look, anytime four nerds are together, they're going to be aggrieved. But the last one we got was a call from Raina's dad, and he talked about how he read it to her when she was a little girl. That moves me. Okay, so here's what we're going to do.

Liz: Wait a second, Jimmy. You realize that we're four nerds.

Jimmy: No, I don't count. You, you're not a nerd.

Harold: You keep us away from being fully agreed.

Jimmy: You absolutely are not a nerd. These other two knuckleheads and me. Well, okay, so here's what we're going to do. I'm going to pick a Nancy book, and Todd said he'll help me, and I'm going to read it all the way through at one Nancy book. And then I'm going to give a little book report, and I'm gonna, go into it, assuming that Nancy is great and that everything you guys are saying about it is true. And then I'll tell you what I think of Nancy, and then we'll let the Nancy thing drop, which will be great. And I just. Again, I want to be clear. I am not doing this for you cartoonists. You may be legends, you may be icons, but I'm only doing this because I don't want Reina's dad mad at me now. But listen, I do have to know, because if it keeps up after that, then I'm gonna have to show up at Nancy Con 2 next year, and things will get. Now, listen, if I. If I have to fight these goons, do I need to know? Do you have my back?

Michael: Yeah. This is war.

Jimmy: No, no, I was talking to Liz.

Michael: War.

Jimmy: I mean, come on, we can't let.

Michael: These people take over the culture.

Harold: Yeah, well, here's. Here's that new lens for us to.

Jimmy: Look through, so, ah, that's fun. Thanks for everybody who made a call. I mean, it was really cool, to hear all those. Those famous voices on the phone. And I will get back to you with my Nancy book report. So there you go.

Harold: Excellent.

Jimmy: All right, let's get back to the strips. What do you say?

Michael: Sure, sure. It's about time.

February 10, 1986. The World War one flying ace is a top his sopwith camel, Here's the world War one flying ace, high over no man's land. Lucy comes up and says, I suppose you think you're flying over no man's land, huh? Well, what about no woman's land? Snoopy thinks about this and then continues. Here's the world war one flying ace, high over no person's land.

Michael: That's a solution.

Jimmy: I've had this actual conversation, this actual conversation about the term no man's land.

Harold: Really?

Jimmy: Yes. Sherilyn Fenn. 

Michael: Name drop? A little bit.

Jimmy: Sherilyn Fenn, who is Audrey, on Twin Peaks, wrote a book called No Man's Land. And we were working on an adaptation of it together for a little while there. And that was the response we got from people. Sure you want to call it no man's land? Okay.

Harold: It's funny because you could say, no man's land is woman's land.

Jimmy: Oh, my God. My mind is blown. Harold.

Michael: We're talking about trenches, muddy trenches here, okay?

Liz: Women like muddy trenches, too.

Michael: They like mud pies. I know that.

February 15, We see the world. One flying ace has come down with some influenza, and he's been taken care of by the beautiful french lass, who is, of course, Marcie. So she comes up to him as he's lying there in his sick bed and says, bonjour, monsieur How are you feeling today? I brought you a newspaper. I thought you might like to have me read to you. The war is still going badly. The troopship Leviathan docked at Brest with 10,000 men aboard. 4000 of them had the flu. And then Snoopy, lying there sick in his bed, says, don't you have any comic books?

Michael: This sequence confused the heck out of me.

Jimmy: Why is that?

Michael: Because she's in his fantasy. He, like, cast Marcie to be in his fantasy. That's, not Marcie.

Harold: Or is it?

Michael: It's Snoopy. It's Snoopy's imagination.

Harold: So you don't think these are them somehow playing together and.

Michael: No, they can't play together. I mean, okay. It's just, I don't understand what's happening here.

Jimmy: Well, you know what? I think they're online services you can call and talk through that.

Michael: Okay.

Jimmy: I'm very. I think it's just a little cartoon girl playing with a little cartoon dog.

Michael: I don't think so. I think it's an imaginary girl playing with a cartoon dog.

Harold: Well, you know, this is probably the longest sequence that I was referring to the bodily illness, throughout these first four months. And yes, Snoopy's down with the flu. And it's interesting that Schulz goes out of his way not to call it the spanish flu, because that was. And we don't know the origins. And that's the. He goes into all of that. But, yeah, it's a. Ah, yeah, it's an interesting sequence where Snoopy is sick for many days.  Now, when did they do that? What have we learned, Charlie Brown? And where the kids go over to Europe and figure out the wars.

Jimmy: Someone should do a podcast that finds out those things, right?

Liz: Actually, somebody does do a podcast that talks about that. The new Peppermint Patty podcast was, just talking about that for Memorial day.

Harold: The. What have we learned, Charlie Brown. No, see what. Just looking at my m IMDb thing here. Oh, 1983. So beforehand. Okay.

February 22, Sally's listening to the radio, and she's annoyed. She says they did it again. She's so annoyed that she kicks the radio and sends it flying. Boy, that makes me mad. They play a song on the radio, but they don't tell you what it was. Charlie Brown, without, looking up from his book in his meanbag, says, that was the national anthem.

Harold: Shazam. I remember our radio would start in the morning with the, national anthem. And I forget who was somebody singing the Lord's prayer, on the kF. I think it was KFRU radio in Columbia, Missouri. A lot of times the AM radio stations would have the broadcast day because you could only broadcast up until the evening, and then you'd lose your, you'd lose the signal. You couldn't. So something was going on there, and so they'd actually would have beginnings and ends of broadcast day like the tv stations used to. Those were the days.

Jimmy: Yeah, I just think it's really funny. I just. What I think is funny is just the way he doesn't look up from his book. That's what I love.

Harold: That's the reason.

Jimmy: Yeah, that's outrage. The level of outrage with, with Sally and the lack of reaction from Charlie Brown.

Harold: Well, I absolutely related to the being, being younger on the radio, and you were at the mercy of, you didn't, you couldn't look it up on there website. And they would play through, like six songs in a row. And number four is the ones like, oh, this is amazing. And you're like, are they going to go through the list? And then they, like cut to an ad and like, oh, that song was.

Jimmy: And you sit there with your, cassette recorder hoping that they'll play it and then you could record it. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Harold: Those are the days.

Jimmy: So we are lucky enough to have a few guests with us today. Bernie Attema and Shaylee Robson are hanging out backstage. Turns out this is, Bernie's favorite strip of the ones we selected. So do we have Liz? Do we have any insight into why that is?

Liz: Yes. He says it's the anger over something as familiar as the national anthem and her ignorance of it.

Harold: Well, sounds like she liked it if she was getting really upset not knowing what it was. So it must have had an impact on her this time.

Liz: And he thinks that Charlie Brown delivers the perfect punchline.

Harold: He does.

Jimmy: You want to know something embarrassing about me?

Harold: What's that?

Jimmy: I find it very hard not to tear up at the national anthem. Isn't that weird song o say, does that star spangled band yet wave? That kills me, man.

Michael: Yeah.

Liz: Yeah.

Michael: Good song. impossible to sing. I hear.

Jimmy: Impossible to sing.

Michael: Not bad.

Jimmy: So, yeah, it's a pick hit to click. Got a good beat. Dance to it.

Michael: Shout, out to Francis Scott Key

March 5 Rerun is on the back of the bike again, sitting in his little chair. He's wearing a helmet this time. And he says, so here I am riding on the back of my mom's bicycle. I like my new helmet. Mom's become very safety conscious. And then we see he turns his head, and written on the back of the helmet is baby on board. 

Jimmy: That's a very eighties thing. Baby on board.

Harold: I'm telling you, telling you, being a kid was out of style in the seventies, into the early eighties. And then all of a sudden, baby on boards popped up everywhere.

Jimmy: You're the only person in the world who has a fondness for baby on board signs. You've got to explain this to me.

Harold: Come on. I mean, this was my thing. I born in 1966, and I was, you know, I want. I was a kid, and I didn't mind being a kid. And I enjoyed seeing kid movies and all this sort of stuff. And it was hard to find, like, a movie that was made for kids in this era. I was like, they. People did not want to be kids in this. In this timeframe. I don't know what it was, but it was like you couldn't. You couldn't become an adult fast enough. So, like, your kids movie, growing up would be the bad news bears, you know, foul mouth movie, that sort of thing.

Jimmy: Exactly. Like my childhood. Totally like my childhood. Slightly more g rated than my childhood, but love that movie.

Harold: Well, and then that's just it. Things that normally would be g rated in any other world all of a sudden were pg. Were PG rated. just because it was the kiss of death to be rated g unless it was a Disney movie. And even those weren't doing terribly well at the time. So it was just, I just, it was something I was very cognizant of because there was stuff. And if you went to the Geppi museum in Baltimore, there was a pop culture museum. The quality of kids toys and the designs of them, like what bugs Bunny looked like in seventies products is scary. It's like, who drew this thing? It's like they're not on model. I don't know what happened in this era, but it just went incredibly downhill for kids. And then right around the eighties, all of a sudden, people were having kids again. And they were, you know, they were just starting to have insular families and, and that was a thing again. But I really saw that baby on board sign as the bellwether that, oh, people are caring about kids again.

Jimmy: That's, that's tragic, Harold, but okay, but.

Michael: We're not talking about the elephant in the room.

Liz: Oh, yeah.

Jimmy: What?

Michael: I am actually, I'm, not anti Zipatone. I mean, you look, I have a book of, one of the first collections of Flash Gordon. The Alex Raymond stuff, black and white. And the books, you know, that was, the strip was meant for color. It was Sunday and they zip it on. It was gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous.

Michael: But this, to me, I mean, this.

Jimmy: Doesn'T look too bad, but I like Zipatone. I think it looks fine. it doesn't bother me at all. I think it's a weird choice, but I think it's totally related to his ongoing health concerns.

Harold: Yeah, I do think it works well here.

Jimmy: Yeah, it's gonna be a thing going throughout. you know, we'll see it here in the next one.

Liz: Well, and Shaylee adds that she thinks that Mrs. Van Pelt drew that with a sharpie.

Jimmy: Oh, she definitely did. Yeah. That's not a branded, product.

Harold: No.

Michael: Yeah, he doesn't totally change styles. I mean, the next one that we picked has Zipatone, but generally they come in every now and then.

Jimmy: Yeah, it's in every now. I'm sure it has something to do with how he feels. 

March 11. Here we go. Linus is watching tv in a Zipatone, bag chair. And he says, this program was brought to you as a public service. The tv is saying this. Consult your paper for a complete listing of future programs. And now for community reminder. And we see Linus is just drifting off to sleep at this. And the tv yells, wake up. Sending his, hair straight up into the air. 

Jimmy: I picked this because I missed the previous strip that had the Zipatone and was going to say, hey, Michael, there's the first Zipatone.

Harold: Right, right. And I didn't notice the one in the. In the Rerun either. This was the one either.

Jimmy: Okay.

Harold: Which shows the masterful use of Zipatone in the. Yeah, yeah.

Jimmy: No, it didn't register me at all.

Harold: But it really jumped out here for me, too. Jimmy, that's.

Jimmy: So is it just, do you think because it's too much or not too much, but that it's more rather than.

Harold: Well, I don't know. I don't know. It. It just works so much better for me in the Rerun strip in terms of just visually, design wise, that it's smaller.

Michael: Yeah, I've been. I've been dreading this. I didn't know when it was gonna come. I was warned by Jimmy that it was coming soon, so I was keeping an eye out for it.

Jimmy: Well, that's gonna be, a part of it going forward. Just, So settle in.

Harold: It's interesting, looking at this strip here. One of the theories, we just mentioned it again, is that photocopiers really became very common in the 1980s. And, you know, there's a photocopier in Schulz's office. There's, just no way there wasn't, And who knows when that started? But as they got better and better, I think a lot of cartoonists would, instead of sending the originals in, which could get lost in the mail or whatever, you would make photocopies of your art, sometimes shrinking it down, and you would send that to the syndicate instead of your originals. The problem was, it's one generation down. And I think the thing that, gets hurt the most when you photocopy something are Zipatone dots, because they're so even, they're so consistent, they're so small. Any inconsistency in the photocopy tends to muddy that. And when I look at the thing that's on go comics, that looks to me like a photocopied version or a printed version of the Zipatone, when I look at the art in the fan of graphics books, it looks like they had access to the original art. And, it looks much crisper.

Jimmy: And muddy is the word. You said muddy. That is what the problem is. Seeing it on that beanbag strip. It is a large, muddy area on each of the panels, as opposed to just a crisp gray.

Michael: Yeah. So the March 5 one might be from Fantagraphics. You can really see the dots.

Jimmy: You can really see the dots. Yeah. Yep. And then you really see. That is great. Yeah, if you go on. Go comics. Like Michael is saying, you can really see the dots on the March 5, chair to see the Zipatone. And then, like Harold is saying on the 11th strip, it really is clearly muddied.

Michael: Smaller, too.

Jimmy: Yeah, I think you're probably right there, Harold. 

March 16. it's a Sunday. Start off with one of them there symbolic panels. Charlie Brown lying atop a kite. And in the next panel, we see it's Marcie on the phone, and she says, right now. Good. And then Peppermint. And Patty says, where are you going, Marcie? They're outside. At this point, Marcie walks past her saying, to watch Charles fly a kite, it's something I've always wanted to see. so she does this, and Charlie Brown actually has the kite in the air for a few panels, but, in the second panel of him, having it in the air, he loses the bobbin, or whatever you would call it, that holds the string round up on it. And, Marcie ends up getting caught up in the string and then gets taken up into the air. And so that Charlie Brown is now dragging a completely caught up Marcie in the kite string. And, pepper and Patty comes over to see what's going on and says, well, what do you think? And then pepper and Patty sees the result of it, and it's Charlie Brown and Marcie hanging upside down from the tree with the kite, and Marcie says, it was an experience.

Harold: Marcie seems like the character who reads Peanuts. She's read this strip. She's heard about this, this kite. She's, this outside commentator in the world of Peanuts who gets to go inside every once in a while. I picked this strip because I thought it was a really great example of the mastery of design that Schulz is so good at. You know, we've been talking about the struggles with individual lines, but in terms of designing a Sunday page, this is just a masterpiece. and the life and the line really, really

Harold: makes for a beautiful, beautiful strip.

Jimmy: I love the panels of Marcie dealing with getting her foot caught up in the string and then leading to that first panel on the third tier with her just stoically being hauled up into the sky. That's really great. I also love that Charlie Brown doesn't stop. He's like, the kite's in the air. We got to keep going.

Harold: Yeah.

Jimmy: Drug along. Right.

Harold: And I think Marcy's response, it was an experience, was pretty classic. Marcie.

Michael: Yeah. She's pretty, stoic, isn't she?

Jimmy: Yeah.

Michael: And that's kind of a way of not really being too judgmental.

Jimmy: Yeah, yeah, yeah. She just accepts it and moves on. 

March 30, Lucy is, kind of sitting on her knees, and, she looks at the back of her hand and says, oh, no. Linus from the other room yells, what's the matter? She comes over and shows Linus and says, look at the bump on the back of my hand. Linus says, you have a ganglion. You know how they say to cure it, you have. Someone hit it with a Bible. Lucy says, with a what? And then Linus says, I wonder which translation would work best. I suppose they used the king James in the old days. The revised standard should work just as well. As he's looking at a bookshelf full of books, then he says, maybe the Tyndale or maybe the douay. Or maybe we should use the Moffat that's run by. That's the Bible that's done by the guy who runs the doctor who series. That's weird. What are you mumbling about? Says Lucy, here, hit it with this. And Linus stands up on a little, ottoman and smacks Lucy on the head with the book. And Lucy yells, says, what do you think you're doing? You were supposed to hit my hand. Linus says, sorry, you moved. I'm gonna do what I should have done, says Lucy. I'm gonna call our doctor. And then Linus yells out after her, wait a minute. This was A Tale of Two Cities. 

Jimmy: Best of times. It was the worst of times.

Harold: Had you guys heard about this this morning?

Michael: Where are the parents of. She has, like, the growth on her hand. The three year old is going to call the doctor at the six year old again.

Harold: This is more bodily weirdness going on these first months. But, had you guys heard about this whole thing with the ganglion cyst and hitting it?

Jimmy: No, I have not heard of any aspect of this.

Harold: I haven't either. So I'm going to shock this up as an obscurity.

VO: Peanuts obscurities explained.

Harold: because I did, I did a little bit of research on it. And so essentially, there's this lubricating fluid around your joints, and a little hole can grow around the joint where it slowly escapes. It's like this really viscous viscous liquid, and then it forms this. This ganglion. And it can get pretty big. Often it's on the wrist and temporary solution. And apparently there was a guy in England who said, you know, yeah, just. Just hit the. Hit the thing with the Bible. This was like the accepted thing. This doctor said, that's what you're supposed to do, and that will release the fluid and the cyst will go away. And of course, what did most people have if they had a book back in the 1800s or whatever is probably the family Bible. It's the big solid thing you can do to just slam this, slam your wrists. And I was reading online, you know, when you go to the webmds and all of that, should you, should you. And this thing's. Well, of course, you know, you shouldn't do this. This is, you know, you're going to cause internal bleeding and blah, blah, blah, and all this stuff. But then I found this 2016 medical study. And get this, this is how medical studies are done. Now, a bunch of researchers went on YouTube and searched gambling cyst, and they watched videos that people had done of, slamming their wrists with large books. And what they did is they saw if it was two years old or older. They would then find a way to contact the person on YouTube and say, how'd it go? And according to the 2016 medical study from YouTube videos, it was 83% effective in getting rid of the, cysts, and 55% reported that there was no recurrence after that. So, Yeah, so YouTube is now a way for us to check, against things that they couldn't really try in a lab. It would be considered abuse. If they're slamming people with books, wouldn't.

Michael: There be all this gunk on the bible?

Liz: We had a friend back in New Hampshire, nurse Gina. She talked about hitting something with a book. So I bet that was what.

Michael: Yeah, and she's a nurse.

Harold: Yeah, right.

Jimmy: Well, I had a terrible sty years ago, and I went to, the doctor, and she said, well, did you try poking it with a needle? No, it's in my eye. What are you talking about? She's like, oh, a lot of people just poke it with the needle and it goes away. I'm like, no, no, you poke it with the needle.

Harold: I thought you said, are you gonna have you tried turning around three times and throwing rice in the air?

Michael: Lime in the coconut?

Jimmy: I don't believe anything like that. I believe science. Like, if you get a warp, bury a potato. I mean, things like that, of course.

Harold: Well, sure.

Jimmy: Turn it around.

Harold: It has to be russet.

Jimmy: Absolutely. Otherwise it's just not medicine. All right, so that'll bring us to the end. Now, we talked a little longer because we had the Nancy stuff and all that. So look in the fullness of time for an episode coming up where I read Nancy and tell you how great it is. But until then, you know, if you want to continue this conversation, you can find us on good old social media. We're unpacking peanuts on Facebook, blue sky, and YouTube. And we're unpackpeanuts on Instagram and Threads. And we would love to hear from you. My account on Twitter has been hijacked, so stay tuned to see what happens there. Other than that, come back next week where we will be picking up 1986, talking about more great strips and our own weird obsessions. So until then, for Michael, Harold, and Liz, this is Jimmy saying, be of good cheer. 

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 his Shakrawa Clark. For more from the show, follow unpacked Peanuts on Instagram and Threads. Unpacking Peanuts on Facebook, blue sky, and YouTube. For more about Jimmy, Michael, and Harold, visit unpackingpanuts.com. have a wonderful day, and thanks for listening.

Jimmy: And there's nothing worse.


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