Jimmy: Hey, everybody. Welcome back to the show. This is, Unpacking Peanuts. And today we are looking at love. If ever there was a cornerstone in the makeup of Peanuts, it would have to be just the absolute overwhelming amount of unrequited love in the strip. And that's what we're going to be talking about today.
I'm, your host for the proceedings. My name is Jimmy Gownley. I'm also a cartoonist. I did the books 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. He's 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 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 cartoonist behind Instagram sensation Sweetest Beasts, Harold Buchholz.
Jimmy: Guys. So we're talking about one of the real rich veins, within Peanuts, Unrequited Love. What are your thoughts on this as it relates to Peanuts? Because to me, it's up there with Charlie Brown as the eternal loser in the baseball games or the pulling away of the know. To me, this is one of the themes that really strikes the core of the strip. What do you guys think?
Michael: Well, in terms of a strip about six year olds, I think Requited Love could get pretty dicey.
Jimmy: I do want to talk about, that the fact that they're theoretically children.
Michael: At that age, it was like, why are there girls on earth-- strange people who don't read comic books?
Jimmy: That's because you didn't live on a street with Marnie Marquardt.
Michael: Then you get, oh, OK. Yeah, that's true.
Jimmy: Harold, what about you? How, did you feel reading these strips when you're growing up to now?
Harold: As a little kid? I think it was kind of more like Michael. I think I was a little disconnected from them. I could kind of get them, but not really as a young person. So, yeah, it was a fabric of the strip and certainly something you'd see over and over again. I think probably the ones that I related to most were Charlie Brown, the Little Red Haired girl. The idea that you're alone on the playground and you're fascinated with somebody you're not meeting and not talking with, and you're just, thinking of the idea that, oh, I could go over and talk to this person. And, that I could totally relate to as a very shy kid.
Michael: That's college. That's not six years old.
Harold: Well, that's true.
Jimmy: It is possible that you guys were, let's say, late bloomers.
Harold: Well, yeah. Well, yes.
Jimmy: I remember in graduate school, I thought, gee, it would be fetching to hold that lassie's hand.
Harold: Well, that's about what happened. You're right. Yeah.
Jimmy: I like that line from Annie Hall. I never had a latency period.
Harold: Well, you know, that's funny, because I did meet my wife to be in graduate school and, we joked that, we'd write a book called Marry the Woman I Never Dated, because it was one of those deals where we were friends, and then the next thing you know, POW. It was like, oh, my gosh, this is love. And there was not a whole lot of that in between. Angst. I did have it in junior high. I do remember there was a girl, the closest thing to Charlie Brown on the playground. I was in the lunchroom in the air conditioning, looking across in the non lunch hours, at a girl that I was very enamored with and, was afraid to go up and talk to.
Jimmy: Yeah, I think the Little Red Haired Girl thing is the most realistic and the most poignant and the one that really speaks to the Childhoodness of it all. Because once you, have these feelings, once they've sort of invade your life, you don't have the psychological or emotional equipment to necessarily know how to deal with it. And one way to deal with that is to just do nothing, which I think is what a lot of people and I'm sure that's why people adore the Charlie Brown and Little Red Haired Girl strips. My favorite, though, I think, is and we don't have a lot of it because this is the second half, but I think my favorite is Linus and Sally. What are your favorite-- of the little Peanuts non couples. Do you guys have favorites?
Michael: Well, I really like that a lot. And, yeah, you're right. It hasn't developed that much. But all the ones I've seen, I, really like. And this is going back to the beginning of the strip, and most people probably wouldn't remember this, but Violet and Charlie Brown might have been the only requited love example. It was very cute. She was actually a sweet little kid with pigtails, and they really liked each other and talked about getting married someday. And before she turned into a monster.
Jimmy: Right. There was a little bit, though, too, and I wasn't thinking of this until you mentioned it right before we started recording. But, there's also a little bit between Shermy and Patty originally, because there was that feeling of Charlie Brown almost being a third wheel in their relationship. But that is so proto that you almost can't put emotions on.
Harold: They're still riding tricycles. It's not a bad thing to be a third wheel. Yes. okay. So anyway, there's one sequence that I vaguely remember coming across that I really liked and I don't know if you even call it unrequited love, but it was a sequence kind of later into the strip where Marcie speaks of kind of her like or respect for Chuck, that was really touching to me. And I don't know where that is. And we're going to, I'm sure, run into it in the know, because I don't know that ah. Not having read a lot of these strips, I don't know if Marcie ever does show anything or say anything to Charlie Brown, but I do know that there's at least a very brief moment where she kind of shares probably with Peppermint Patty, her feelings about Chuck, that she likes him a lot.
Jimmy: It's a hugely poignant sequence. I know exactly the sequence you're talking about. And, they're sitting out on a bench waiting for Charlie Brown, who's in the hospital for some reason.
Harold: Yeah, that's yes.
Jimmy: And she says, I'd even marry Chuck if he asked someday. It's like, wow. But that also plays into her neurodivergence in the sense that the rest of us mask that type of thing and hide it, and she just says it, which maybe makes us the ones that should be seen as divergent. But, I think she has a pretty healthy grasp of her own feelings always, actually, whether it's baseball or Chuck or whatever.
Harold: Yeah, I really respected Marcie's, just very matter of fact way of sharing that I thought that was a healthy thing in this strip.
Jimmy: The other one that strikes me as realistic for childhood, and again, maybe not six, but like 10-11 or whatever, are the Charlie Brown Peppermint Patty on other sides of the tree. That would be a very Marnie Marquardt, by the way. I just keep saying Marnie Marquette, as if that means something to everyone out there. But if you read my memoir, The Dumbest Idea Ever, you can figure out who Marnie Marquardt is. She was a little girl that lived on my street.
Harold: It's a great story. Please do check out. It is a great autobiography that, is amazingly accessible.
Jimmy: I give it a B.
Harold: A B for brilliant.
Jimmy: But yeah, those strips I feel, are the actually, Schulz talks about it in, I think, You Don't Look 35 Charlie Brown, where he talks about the moment when you just stop talking at each other and you actually discover conversation. And there was that with the thinking wall, but it's really the first time that there's deep conversations between a little boy character and little girl character in the strip that's not know, beating Charlie Brown down. It's an actual sharing of ideas.
Harold: That's a great point, Jimmy. There were a number of those Sunday strips where they're each leaning against the other side of the tree and just talking, and often it's Charlie Brown. Something he's obviously thought about quite a like about being in the backseat of the car. and those are wonderful moments that I bond with Charlie Brown. And again, I just love it when somebody can articulate something like that. That, to me, feels universal. Even if Peppermint Patty's not always on his know, Charlie Brown is sharing something that's very thought out, very personal, and yet universal. And those are great strips.
Michael: One relationship I actually personally identify with is it was a very short sequence, so it's obviously not one of your picks, but Woodstock actually fell in love with a worm.
Liz: I beg your pardon
Michael: But was an unrequited love.
Jimmy: I was drinking when you said that. Oh, my God, I almost choked to death.
Michael: It was actually unrequited crush.
Michael: It was an unrequited crush that lasted maybe two strips.
Harold: Yes. But memorable.
Jimmy: Okay, so I think what we want to do now is just look at the strips, I've selected. I selected these strips. They are not meant to be definitive or the only examples within the course of Peanuts, but I thought they were pretty good ones, and they showed a range of the different characters that experienced this. So I thought, they would be a nice selection to inspire conversation. Now, if you want to know ahead of time what strips we'll be covering, here's what you got to do. You got to go on to our UnpackingPeanuts.com website that's on the World Wide Web. Okay? You get on there and you sign up for the Great Peanuts Reread. What that will do is you will get one email a month. We don't spam you-- one email a month. That's a little newsletter telling you what we're up to. And it will give you a heads up on what strips we will be covering from week to week. So sign up for that at UnpackingPeanuts.com. You could do that right now. Just press pause, then come back, and we'll get into these strips when you're back.
All right, so, let's start with a couple, of a classic pairing in Peanuts, Schroeder and Lucy. And we're going to start here with
January 20, 1970. Schroeder is pounding away, practicing at the piano, and Lucy is in her classic pose, leaning up against it. In panel two, Lucy turns and says to Schroeder, “tell me that you love me, kiss me on the nose, and give me a big hug.” And there's a big grin on Lucy's face. In panel three, we just have Schroeder not looking up at all, continuing to play, and Lucy staring at him in silence. Then in panel four, we're outside with Lucy, who's screaming at the world with a scowl on her face. “Look out, everybody. I'm going to be crabby for the rest of the day.”
Michael: She is so delusional.
Jimmy: Okay, talk us through that.
Michael: Well, this certainly is one of her worst pitches to get attention. Obviously, she gets no attention whatsoever. I mean, what can you say to that? Continue playing.
Jimmy: Yes. Well, look, I think this is one of the funniest. Obviously, it's something that resonates even with people who don't necessarily know the strip. They know that image of the two of them. They know that there's that feeling. It isn't, though, realistic, really. Right. I don't think you would have someone continually maybe it is, but aside from not being realistic, it is really funny, and it really does work off their characters, as opposed to just punchline.
Michael: It's one of the few schticks that Schulz maintains consistently throughout the strip. I mean, outside of maybe Charlie Brown on the mound, a lot of the gags run for a couple of years and then kind of peter out. Even the Flying Ace seems to have been pretty much disappeared. But, you can compile several books of these, I think.
Harold: What's going on with the top of Schroeder's head in panel three? It almost looks like we're seeing the reflection of a window on the top of his head. I don't know what's going on there.
Jimmy: What are you looking? I don't know.
Michael: Yeah, I see it
Harold: on the front in the third panel.
Michael: She's looking at this staring at this weird shape on his head.
Harold: Looks like a distorted window with a little wood in between. I don't know what he was going for there.
Jimmy: I still don't know what either of you are talking about, but I guess I don't know either.
Michael: All right, well, look at Schroeder's head in the third panel on the face side up above his little lump of hair that comes down.
Jimmy: Oh, the weird wiggles on the top. It looks like he put, like, one line down and realized that was wrong. And then rather than wiping it out, he drew the correct one on top of it.
Harold: Yeah, well, I was wondering if that's what he did. Yeah, I see what you're saying.
Jimmy: Yeah, I think he did. And it's just like moving on, because actually, if you look at it across all four and I guess let's looking at the next strip, even we can probably check. Yeah, that's how he draws Schroeder's hair. Except that that first line went astray and was way thick, and he's like, it's 1970. I've been doing this for 20 years. We're not whiting it out.
Harold: Jimmy won't notice. That's all that matters.
Michael: I know he didn't have assistants, but was there someone there who did clean up? Who was supposed to clean that up and didn't?
Jimmy: I don't know. Well, there'd have to be a production well, okay, there would be a production department at the Syndicate, but I guarantee you they wouldn't touch anything after.
Harold: And how would you know that?
Jimmy: Yeah, right.
Michael: Gentlemen, look at the third panel and the one right below that we're going to do. It's the same thing.
Harold: except it looks more organic. The other one looks like you got these hard lines that angles, which is what kind of made it jump out at me.
Jimmy: It's weird. Well, yeah, I think he's just that's the thing. He is just scratching it in at this point. There are some times where it is so cartoony and not even just cartoony, but that he's not even really anymore looking for deliberate thicks and thins and stuff in his inking. He's just kind know, attacking the page, which I really like.
Harold: Look at the stripes in Schroeder's shirt in the second panel. You kind of get what you're describing.
Harold: He's creating something that kind of looks know you're creating shape and volume, but you can see the lines. He's not hiding the lines.
Jimmy: By the way, you haven't lived until you've been on the phone with an editor who's telling you now in this panel she has 13 stripes on her shirt.
Harold: No. Really?
Jimmy: Oh, yeah. Thank God I was on the first floor.
Harold: There was some defenestration about to happen.
Michael: That's the kind of thing that actually bothers me.
Harold: No, see, that's why you're such a good editor, Michael. You never did that to Jimmy. Huh? I noticed that the nostril flares more than usual in panel 7.
November 25, 1970. Same exact scenario. Lucy leaning up on the piano again with a nice confident and sweet grin on her face, eyes closed and she says, “I liked you the very first time I saw you.” Without looking up from practicing, Schroeder says, “I disliked you the very first time I saw you.” Panel three, Lucy contemplates this, then back to her standard position at the piano, quotes Dickens “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
Michael: It's kind of funny because Schroeder actually generally comes off as a nice guy you know he would definitely be in the nice guy department in Peanuts, but boy, that's that's crude.
Jimmy: You know, I've been thinking about that. She is in his house.
Harold: Yes. Invited? uninvited? How did she get there? It seems like she leaves and comes as she pleases. Is the mom letting her in? Yeah, coming down to the basement where he's got his little piano.
Jimmy: Yeah. Hello, Mrs. Whatever your last name is, because Schroeder doesn't have a last name. Oh, Lucy, he's down in the rec room.
Michael: OK. Well, I mean, that's calls for silence. He should have just pasted in panel three from the one above where he just doesn't even hear it.
Jimmy: Yeah, I think, he's fed up. He just wants to...
Harold: and yet he's so nonchalant about it. I think that's why it really just cuts right.
Harold: There's no change in reaction whatsoever. This is just a plain fact, a bare fact he's sharing with her. Doesn't matter if she has a feeling about it to him.
Jimmy: I think one of the great moments in this little relationship we covered in one of our other episodes where, he bets Lucy that if she hits a home run, he will give her a kiss at home play. And she, does hit that home run, but then refuses it, saying if this is the only way I'll get you to kiss me? Forget it.
Harold: Yeah. Go, Lucy.
Jimmy: Go, Lucy. Totally. Yeah. And it's really because she gives up so much of her power. Lucy is all about power. This is a very vulnerable thing. To know is to constantly be saying, like, boy, do I love you. Boy, do I care about you. And this is her pulling away the football. Right. This is no different than Charlie Brown going out every year and trying to kick the stupid football. This is worse because this happens probably two, three times a week.
Harold: It's interesting. Just another visual thing. I'm noticing that how Schulz will let eyebrows come and go as necessary, for the emotion. If it's not necessary, it's not there. I only see it in these first eight panels. What we've talked about in the first panel of Lucy talking because she has a raised eyebrow. Everything after that. No, there's no need for an eyebrow.
Jimmy: Yeah, yeah. And you know what? It actually reads totally perfectly. It reminds me a little bit of, like, the early, Calvin and Hobbes where you see where Watterson would draw the pads on Hobbes paws and then eventually just got rid of it just because it made it so much cleaner. As a comic strip. I could not get rid of eyebrows, though that would seem insane. I couldn't do it.
Harold: now I'm imagining eyebrows. Is there a hint of an eyebrow in panel four of the strip you just read?
Jimmy: Yeah. Okay. On panel four?
Harold: Barely, possibly.
Jimmy: It could be a digital.
Harold: It's crazy.
Jimmy: We may have reached a low point.
Michael: Get out the microscope.
Harold: Yes. We're going to have forensic panel.
Jimmy: This is eyebrow cast. So here we are, on strip number three of Lucy and Schroeder. And this is,
January 25, 1971. Same exact setup. Lucy leaning on the piano. Lucy says to Schroeder, “do you think if two people liked the same thing, it could bring them closer together?” This actually engages Schroeder, who sits upright and says, “Certainly. Take classical music, for instance. two people who shared a love for Beethoven could become very close.” Lucy contemplates this in the third panel, then asks, “how about TV?”
Jimmy: I like that one.
Harold: That's a good, you know, TV's got broad, choices. There must be something just the idea of TV, that's all people like the idea of TV. They share that in common.
Michael: Really. Wonder how many of these there are. There must be a couple of hundred.
Jimmy: Yeah, probably, I would imagine. because like you said, it goes all the way through, as far as I can recall. And it really is never changing, isn't it?
Harold: Odd that nobody has ever done the complete collection of Schroeder dissing. Lucy.
Jimmy: Oh, I'm sure there probably is.
Harold: Is it out there? I don't know.
Jimmy: I'm sure, we were talking about how they could spin off different characters. And they actually are doing that now on Apple TV. I saw an ad from Marcie, and I know it must be really strange, I think, for some of our listeners. I mean, we devote hours of every week to reading and discussing this comic, your Peanuts, and we're only vaguely aware of the stuff that's going on around it outside the think, that would be so central, I think, to most Peanuts fans, is that there's a Marcie show on Apple TV right now.
Michael: Well, I wonder if any of our listeners actually were not aware that it was a comic strip.
Jimmy: I don't know about our listeners, but people in the world, I think you'd be shocked at how many there are. I would think at this stage, 22, 23 years later.
Harold: When I'm at all these events, I see so many Peanuts, shirts and things people were wearing as they walk by. And I'm wondering, what does that person know about Peanuts? Was that a gift to them? Do they like the look of it? Are they huge fans of a character? I think it must be all over the map. how they relate to Peanuts because it exists in all these different forms.
Jimmy: Yeah, very few things that are like that that can be traced back to a single individual. It's pretty impressive.
Jimmy: What do you think? Could they bond on TV or not? No.
Harold: Lawrence Welk, maybe they both like Triskets and Rosemilk hand cream.
Michael: well, you're the one who's read most of the run already, or at least followed it up through the end. So it'll be interesting to see if actually there is an evolution in this relationship at all, because this is all new to me. We're up to 1974, so I don't really know what's going to happen next.
Jimmy: I followed it off-- I didn't read the paper religiously, but I followed it whenever I read the paper all the way up to the end and I read the Fantagraphics books. I didn't remember the specifics of a lot of it. But the thing that I've noticed on this time through is how so many things that I thought were much later in the strip actually came. So much so. So we'll see. I don't think we're going to be in for much evolution, but we're definitely in for some more good yucks.
All right, so we talked a little bit about, Charlie Brown and the little red haired girl. So I don't have a whole lot of, examples of that, but I thought we'd go with two classics. And starting with
December 15, 1964, Charlie Brown is standing next to a bench outside holding his little sack lunch. He's talking to himself. “That little red haired girl is sure cute.” He sits down and starts eating his lunch. “I'd give anything in the world to be sitting there next to her eating lunch.” Then he looks down, sticks out his tongue at his sandwich, and says, “Bleah.” Then tosses the remains of the sandwich in his paper sack and says, “nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter like unrequited love.”
Michael: That's an ad for Skippy's Peanuts.
Jimmy: No, not Skippy. Are you kidding? that's just an absolute classic, so I thought we needed to revisit it.
Harold: Choosy lovers choose Jif.
Jimmy: We've talked about this before, and the link that I think we have on our website isn't what I was talking about. It might be in that American Masters documentary somewhere. But he is drawing directly with ink with the 914 radio pen nib, which you could buy a T shirt of at our store if you wanted to. And he's drawing Charlie Brown at the bench. And it's just amazing to watch because there's no straight edge. It's just this wonderfully wobbly little line that makes the bench, and it all comes together like magic. We got to find a, clip of that. I'll make that my personal mission. Or actually, if you wanted out there to make that your personal mission, that would be even better because then we'd have the clip and I wouldn't have to do anything. So new plan. You listeners out there, make that your personal mission.
Harold: So you want, you're saying that there's footage of him drawing a wobbly bench?
Jimmy: Drawing Charlie Brown in front of the wobbly bench. But he's drawing it directly with ink on the paper. It's not where he's drawing with the china marker or the grease pencil. it's him inking with that pen directly onto the paper. No penciling. It's amazing.
Harold: It is amazing, yeah. To have that confidence, going in. I'm wondering if having the preprinted squares in the boxes somehow gives you that boldness to just go for it in the middle interior.
Jimmy: Well, there is a psychological barrier to defiling the blank white page, because it's perfect as is. Anything you're going to do is going to mess it up. And especially, I find, I don't think, for an artist like Schulz especially at this point, where he's so masterful, but there is a point where you're drawing something that it really looks bad and you have to work through it to get it to be something good. And, I think that can be intimidating because at some point, when you're drawn on paper, it's just like, oh, I messed everything up. So if somebody already came in and put those four big squares on it, maybe you feel a little freer.
Harold: Yeah, I think I might feel a little freer in that world, but it's kind of odd. I mean, it is amazing that he was given that they were all consistent for so many years, and that was what he worked in. He always had to do a four beat joke that was Peanuts. And because I guess they stacked it right, but some papers did stack, the panels so that they would go vertically. He probably felt like, oh, I can't change the rules for years. Given he's top of the world, he could tell them anything to keep the strip going, but he wanted to for years just to stick with the rules that he was given.
Jimmy: yeah, that goes on until, I think, like, 1984, something like that. I'm really interested when Michael starts seeing the strips that don't have four panels, because it's invisible, really. But, boy, does something change.
Michael: Oh, I'm dreading the day when the zipatone comes back. I don't know when that is, but I really don't like the look of that.
Jimmy: Oh, zipatone.
Harold: I do have to say that the memories of eating lunch out of a sack that was a peanut butter sandwich. as strange as it sounds, in all of the annals of art and storytelling, there was nobody who covered the ground of eating peanut butter sandwiches out of a sack like Charles Schulz did. This was something completely relatable as a kid. Yeah, that's a big part of my life, is opening up that sack Monday through Friday and pulling out the peanut butter sandwich, and there it is in the strip.
Jimmy: Well, that really does strike something that he is great at, which is somehow making this really mundane world aspirational, like, you want to live in this world even though they're just going to school and having bad baseball games, too. I was on a baseball team that once lost 32 to three. It wasn't fun, but I would happily go play at Charlie Brown.
All right, so we got one more little Red Haired girls strip. This was from
May 17, 1968. Now it's Charlie Brown and Linus sitting on the bench, eating out of their paper sacks. Charlie Brown says, “I can't talk to that little red haired girl because she's something and I'm nothing.” He continues as Linus eats what looks like a delicious cookie. “If I were something and she were nothing, I could talk to her. Or if she were something and I were something, then I could talk to her. Or if she were nothing and I were nothing, then I also could talk to her. But she's something, and I'm nothing, so I can't talk to her.” Slightly annoyed, Linus looks at Charlie Brown and says, “for nothing, Charlie Brown, you're really something.”
Michael: It's a very good analysis by Charlie Brown.
Jimmy: He does sort of nail it.
Harold: And by Linus,
Michael: there's a situation. I mean, he's nailed it.
Jimmy: He really has. He's thought about it from every
Harold: Yeah, he has definitely thought that through. but Linus is the one who, came up with that at the split second. So I have the most respect for Linus here in the strip.
Jimmy: I think what's really sad and poignant about these strips is that it's all made up by he has he could just walk over and say hello, and it might go badly, but it would be over or whatever, but he just makes up all. These positive scenarios and then doesn't act on them. So he's literally torturing himself with his own fantasy.
Harold: Yeah. And that resonates, I'm sure, with so many people. And again, where did that exist before in literature or art? Where did someone nail that so well.
Jimmy: Like Cyrano or something like that?
Harold: Yeah, but he did. He tried. He found the surrogate.
Jimmy: Well, it might be the type of thing, first off, when you're saying it resonates with so many people, I think it resonates with almost everyone, at least at some point. Right. And, it might be that it just fits the format of the comic strip perfectly, because he could just have this little character talking to no one, or in this instance, talking to Lioness for four panels. And that's all he needs to convey it.
Harold: Nothing happening is satisfying in a four panel strip. Maybe in a novel, that would be frowned upon.
Jimmy: Right. It would be bleak. Michael and I would have read it, probably. Okay, so here's what we're going to do. We're going to take a break right here. We're going to get a little snack, and then we're going to come back and talk about some more sad, tragic tales of love in the Peanuts verse.
Michael: okay. You know what I'm going to have for a snack?
Jimmy: Nice. There you go. All right, we'll be right back.
VO: Hi, everyone. I just want to take a moment to remind you that all three hosts are cartoonists themselves, and their work is available for sale. You can find links to purchase books by Jimmy, Harold, and Michael on our website. You can also support the show on Patreon or buy us a mud pie. Check out the store link on UnpackingPeanuts.com.
Jimmy: And we're back. I missed you. I sat on a bench eating peanut butter just thinking about you this whole time. But I'm glad you're back. And now we could get on with things. All right, guys, before we actually do get on with things, let's check the Unpacking Peanuts mail sack. And, we got a couple.
Liz: We got a message from Drew from Massachusetts. He says, the reason I'm writing is that you all unintentionally solved my biggest question about the Peanuts comics. Charlie Brown often sulks that no one will ever love him nor give him a valentine. Yet brush off the remarks and advances by Peppermint Patty and Marcie. This has always puzzled me until this podcast, someone I don't remember who off handedly said, because Charlie Brown is so loyal to the little red haired girl, that sentence was the connection that I needed to bring Charlie Brown's situation in focus.
Jimmy: Nice. Great. All right, now here's the question to you guys. Do any of you remember who said that?
Harold: Sounds like a Jimmy thing to me.
Jimmy: Oh, really? I was going to say it sounds like a Harold thing. Interesting. Michael, do you have any ideas?
Michael: Sounds like a Michael thing.
Jimmy: Well, I think we all want to take credit for it since it helped you out. So I'm glad that, whoever said it, it worked for you. What do you guys think? Does that still resonate with you? Does that make sense? I know we said it. One of us said it, but does it still make sense?
Harold: Yeah, I think it mean. I think there were some strips that specifically kind of went there. so it's not us. Theorizing there's something actually, to it in how Charlie, Brown was relating to Peppermint Patty, and they had to have that whole storyline where Peppermint Patty finds out about little red haired girl being at the camp. So, yeah, we kind of get to see behind the curtain there that he's still holding that flame for the little red haired girl. At least that's a significant part of it. Right?
Jimmy: Yeah, I think that does make, sense.
Michael: The thing that kind of annoyed me, though, is he always complaining he didn't have any friends.
Michael: And if there was people when I was a kid who I'm standing around the wall talking about philosophy with, I consider that person a friend, especially if I saw them every day.
Jimmy: All right, Liz, anything else in the old mailbag?
Liz: So we got a letter from Paul in Vancouver. I’d say his last name, except that I don't know how to pronounce it. Paul writes, hi, guys. I'm only two episodes in, and I'm already inclined to fire off a bit of fan mail, your way. I'm an amateur comics historian myself. I write a blog about Doonesbury. But mostly I think of the strips as works of cultural, political, or social commentary. It's only more recently that I've begun really thinking about the language, grammar, and craft of the medium yeah. And of what it is about comics, specifically daily strips, that makes them work with a potentially transcendent effect on the reader. Anyway, two episodes in, and I've learned a whole bunch as I've looked at the relevant strips with your voices in my head. I'm, at 1958 in my reading. Going to try and catch up so I can listen in sync with the reading.
Jimmy: That's awesome. Well, first off, that is an honor. I can't believe people are doing that. That was my highest hope, for this. So that's really cool. I want to check out the Doonesbury blog.
Liz: So, Paul, send us a link to it.
Harold: Your thank you so much.
Jimmy: Yeah, absolutely.
Harold: and, how to pronounce your last name?
Jimmy: Give it a shot, Liz. Give it a shot.
Liz: I think it's Hébert.
Jimmy: Hébert. All right, well, I would just like to say I think we are building a strong Western Canada coalition of listeners out there. So that's great. And listen, all of you out there, we would love to hear from you. You can find us in a variety of ways. You can find us on social media. We're at Unpack Peanuts on Threads, Instagram and Twitter and we're Unpacking Peanuts on Facebook. And you could also go to our website, UnpackingPeanuts.com, where you could buy us a mud pie if you're really turned on by what we're doing. Or a T shirt or one of our books, because we have a little bookstore there, where you could check out our work.
Liz: and learn who Marnie Marquardt is.
Jimmy: And you could learn who Marnie Marquardt is. There you go. This is the official Marnie cast. So we would love to hear from you. What do you say, guys? Should we get back to, the unrequited love strips?
Jimmy: All right. So this next is-- as a young Catholic schoolboy, I have to admit this is one that I did not experience. But this is Linus and his deep love for Miss Othmar.
October 5, 1959. Charlie Brown and Linus are standing outside. Linus has a big grin on his face, and Charlie Brown says, “I hear you kind of like your new teacher, Linus.” Linus enthusiastically replies to Charlie Brown, “Charlie Brown, I have the greatest teacher in the whole world. She's a gem among gems.” And Linus sighs deeply with a huge, content grin on his face. Then he says to Charlie Brown, “I never realized that the National Education Association turned out such a fine product.”
Michael: Another character we never see.
Jimmy: Yes, he's a master of the unseen character. Just like previously with The Little Red Haired Girl.
Harold: Yeah. And whenever Linus says something about fine products.
Jimmy: Yeah. it's really cool and, kind of wild to see this late 50s Peanuts. It's so subtly different from, say, 1970, 1968 Peanuts. But it's not subtle. Like, when you look at them back to back. There's a huge difference. When you watch it evolve day by day, you barely notice it. But, it feels almost like seeing old friends.
Harold: Yeah. Well, it's interesting one, thing that we know a little bit about Miss Othmar, but I'm guessing that as a rule, she probably, as a student, really did enjoy having Linus as one of her kids. So maybe it's not entirely unrequited in that way that there's actually some respect going on between them. But we know he drove her crazy a few times as well.
Jimmy: Yeah. Okay. There's a famous and, we actually covered it. It's a series of strips where Linus is supposed to bring eggshells into class, and he forgets it day after day after day after day. Do you think there's some psychological thing going on there where
Harold: yes.I don't want to be messing with eggshells. Who empties the eggs?
Jimmy: Oh, no, that's not what I was going to say.
Harold: That's amazing.
Jimmy: That's amazing. Yeah. What I thought was, is he doing it for the extra attention?
Michael: Well, if he brought him in, then he'd be just like everybody else.
Jimmy: Everybody else. That's what I think. But you don't think so? Harold. All right, give me the counterpoint.
Harold: It just doesn't seem like who Linus is. He would not, oh, I didn't say purposely that, he would not subconsciously. No, I don't think so. I, think it would be another strange technical issue where you're not in control of the eggshells as much as you are your own papers that he turns in every eggshells. You know, there's got to be something else.
Jimmy: How about you, Michael. You agree with me?
Jimmy: All right. All right. Now here's something that now we're going to talk about some really important stuff. I want you in panel two to look at Linus's head. Not the lines that make up the hair. Look at the thick line that makes up the skull. You see it? You see how it looks rounded like a person's head? Now let's scroll over to our next strip, which is January 20, 1973. And what happened to Linus's head? It's caved in. No one seems as upset about this as I do. This has bothered me since I was a child, and it's always greeted with silence. On this podcast, I demand we discuss this. What is up with that kid’s head.
Harold: So do you notice when it changes? Not specifically, because that's very noticeable, what you're describing. Right. And I kind of assumed he was always like that, but you're right, it wasn't.
Michael: Schulz probably didn't.
Jimmy: No, I'm sure he didn't. Right. Just an absolute--
Harold: how could he not have noticed that he was caving in…
Jimmy: The only thing I could think of is when I was drawing Rhonda and I wanted her to have ridiculous hair. And then you kind of get into having a ridiculous hair, and then at some point, you look at it and you're like, what is happening? It is ridiculous, but we need to go a different direction quick. And I think he's just he when he even talked about drawing Linus, or when he talked about drawing, he specifically talked about drawing Linus. Maybe just the way those pen moves felt was pleasing. It got good thick thins or whatever. But he has a dent in his head now, there's no question. And the classic Linus that everyone loves, including me, has a dent in his head.
Harold: Maybe he saw Frankenstein one night.
Jimmy: As long as you acknowledge that you see it, I think that's a step in the right direction for me, personally.
Michael: Well, I had never noticed it.
Jimmy: Okay. But now?
Michael: I notice it.
Jimmy: All right. That's all. You know what? I'm going to call that a win for the day. We'll pick it up at a later date.
Harold: Yes. And to our listeners, can you identify when the transition happened? We were always trying to find transitions in the comics, and they're almost impossible to find. Every once in a while, you find something that maybe was a first. Does anybody know when the indentation in the head begins? Can you pinpoint a spot?
January 20, 1973. In this strip. We're at a totally different couple. now, it's Linus and Sally. Linus and Sally are outside. Sally is holding, a football. And she says to Linus, “I'll kick the ball to you and you come running down the field and I'll try to hug you.” Linus replies, “Tackle.” Sally” hug.” Linus “Tackle.” Sally “Hug.” Linus walks away. “Forget it.” Sally turns her back, kicks the football. “Stupid game.”
Jimmy: They are an adorable couple.
Michael: I would think this couple should have been, like, super popular and in many more strips than it actually was. Mainly because it's my two favorite characters.
Jimmy: And not just are, they two of the best characters. It works so well. And it's a different dynamic because Linus likes Sally, you know, he just doesn't like her that way. And he's slightly older than her. It's just so and, speaking of sweet, he has the greatest phrase in all of Peanuts, which we haven't come to yet, but sweet baboo.
Harold: Yeah. Is he the one instance of where a character, by being nice to somebody that's why they really like them a whole lot more. He's teaching Sally things. And she seems to really start to, have affection for Linus because he's genuinely doing something nice instead of just somebody who's oblivious to them or ignores them. Yeah. It's a slightly different dynamic.
Jimmy: And that makes it really interesting and does stand apart from the others. By the way, I love Linus's Little. I think they're corduroy. Are those corduroy pants?
Harold: They could very well be as he walks. I doubt they could be striped pants.
Jimmy: what year was the 73. They could be striped.
Harold: you could have some color. I've had some yellow, red, and blue and white striped pants before. Yeah.
Jimmy: Michael, what do you think of seeing your two favorite characters together? How does it work for you as a duo as opposed to just, them on their own?
Michael: It works great. I think the problem here in the relationship is she's actually, like, a year younger, which at that age is like a gap you can't bridge insurmountable. but it's actually ten years or so between him being born and her being born.
Jimmy: Well, in five or six years, they'll be in the same grade. And it won't matter.
Michael: Yeah. But I think otherwise they're good pals. She's still a baby to him.
Liz: And, his best friend's little sister.
Jimmy: That's true too. That is true too.
October 28, 1970. Linus and Sally are walking around outside. Linus is pontificating with his finger raised. He says, “this is what I believe. I believe that the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch on Halloween night and flies through the air bringing with him toys for all the children in the world.” Linus looks at Sally and says, “that's what I believe. What do you think, Sally?” The two of them just sitting there underneath a tree, Sally says, “I think you have very nice eyes, and you are completely out of your mind.”
Jimmy: I love that Sally doesn't lose herself. She will eventually go out and try to spend the night with him in the pumpkin patch, waiting for the Great Pumpkin, as famously depicted in the Halloween special. But she always remains true to herself.
Harold: Well, it's interesting that she's, romantically interested in somebody completely out of his mind.
Jimmy: I think a lot of people will find that is one of the top two or three things that they look for in a dating companion. It's someone completely out of their mind.
Harold: That's going to keep you on your toes the rest of your life.
Jimmy: hey, listener out there, if you're thinking I think Jim's thinking about me. Yes, I am.
December 20, 1973. It's snowy out. Sally comes up to Linus and says, ”I don't want you to give me anything for Christmas this year, Linus.” This is in the middle of a sequence where Sally is not asking for anything for Christmas. Linus responds by saying, “really? That's too bad, but I can understand how you feel and admire you for it.” Then he shouts off panel, “cancel that order for the $10,000 necklace.” Sally looks at him scowling and says, “after the holidays are over and everything is quieted down, I'm going to slug you.”
Michael: Now, this strikes me as a little out of character. He can be super sarcastic with Lucy, which is fine but I think that's him-- The sarcasm here works as a put down in a way.
Harold: And he's being loud, too, which is an unusual way for that is what.
Jimmy: Gives him the richness. Because, as we have many, many times said, Linus is the master of sarcasm. I think you guys don't like him doing things that are bad or mean. And this is a little mean, but I don't see it as outside who Linus is.
Michael: Well, I think also okay, this 1973, I'm finding that Linus is losing focus in these 1970 strips. I thought he was very clearly defined, and now it looks like Schulz doesn't quite know what to do with him.
Harold: which we could say is he's changing as a character. What can you do? Schulz drew it. And Jimmy, we can't argue that there's a strip here from December 20, 1973,
Michael: I don’t see anything.
Jimmy: Oh, you think we can't, says Michael. Yeah, I hear what you're saying, though. Oh. But what I do want to say is I think that's a great punchline. After the holidays are over and everything has quieted down, I'm going to slug you. I think that's just great. Keeping with we're done all this, everything's back to normal. Look out.
All right, that brings us to another great, little couple here, which is Peppermint Patty and Charlie Brown.
March 8, 1971, Charlie Brown's sitting leaning up against a tree, and, Peppermint Patty comes up and says to him, “my dad says that I am a rare gem.” Charlie Brown with his eyes closed, confidently and serenely, says, “I agree with him.” Peppermint Patty takes up her traditional spot on the other side of the tree and says, “you kind of like me, don't you, Chuck? I'm glad you don't come right out and say it, though. I respect you for that.” Charlie Brown looks anguished and says, “that's all I need, respect.”Then he sighs. Peppermint Patty looks back over her shoulder at him and says, “what did you say, Chuck? Don't mumble.” Charlie Brown says, “I said you are a rare gem.” Peppermint Patty says, “you kind of like me, don't you, Chuck?”
Michael: That's a real Schulz thing, repeating the line in the last...
Jimmy: That is not something that you really see in other strips at all, do you?
Michael: Not that I've noticed.
Jimmy: Repeating it, but.
Harold: Yeah, but repeating it within the strip.
Jimmy: Which is actually because a rare gem is also repeated. Right? That's pretty interesting.
Harold: We talked about this strip, I think, earlier, but this is a really unusual, unfolding of events here, if I recall correctly. Peppermint Patty has shown some interest in Charlie Brown, but in this really unclear way in the early strips. And I think we're still in that era, if I remember correctly. Maybe I'm wrong and that she is stating from a father's perspective that she's a rare gem. And then Charlie Brown, like you said, his eyes are closed. That's an interesting choice. When he says, I agree with him. I think the eyes closed helps him to be kind of stating a fact without having personal involvement in it. Maybe, I don't know. And then in the second panel, she seems like she's maybe fishing for something, but then she says she doesn't mind that he doesn't come out and say it. So there's all these mixed messages in just these four panels and then Charlie Brown's response is that, she respects him.
Jimmy: That's very strange because he doesn't deny that he does kind of like her.
Harold: Well, yeah, and it's like he could lean into that. But he's so in his own head that his focus is that she respects him for not telling her that he likes her. All he could just say, I like you. but he's upset because she's getting respect from him because he didn't tell her he liked her.
Jimmy: That is so complex, That's like something out of Dubliners where the characters just twist themselves in knots to not improve. Do you know what I'm talking about, Michael? That story like Evelyn, where she's like, if I just get on that ship, everything's going to be great. I could just get on that ship. That ship is going to take me to America. You know what? I'm just going to go.
Michael: Yeah, but I think the Joyceian reflections on Peanuts are so obvious that we shouldn't even be talking about it. It's just a cliché.
Jimmy: Noted. Noted. Oh, man, love the I just love the drawing across the board in that strip. Great strip.
June 10, 1972. So now we have this we've talked about this one before, too, but this is part of the sequence where Charlie Brown, is at the boys camp and Peppermint Patty and Marcie are at the girls camp. And in this instance, the girls are going to come over to the other side of the lake to visit the boys camp. And it's, Peppermint Patty and Marcie running along the lake and Peppermint Patty says, “I can hardly wait to see old Chuck. We're going to have a great time.” Marcie says, sir. “I didn't tell you, did I? But there's another girl in our camp who knows Chuck.” Peppermint Patty says “another girl. Who?” Marcie says, “I don't know her name, but she has red hair and she said she used to go to the same school with Chuck.” Peppermint Patty is in absolute shock. Her eyes are huge. And then the next panel, she just leans her head sadly and forlornly up against a tree, as Marcie says, “sir, why are you standing with your head against that tree?
Michael: Looking at that first panel, that's a weird way of showing people running.
Jimmy: Yeah, you mentioned this before. I definitely think it has to do with it being, like they're on the rough ground, like they're trotting and trying not to fall. Like you wouldn't show them running that way, I don't think. In a baseball field, for instance.
Michael: Yeah, but I think if you’re trying not to fall, you'd have your arms out for balance. Well, I mean, they look like little tyrannosaurs.
Jimmy: I think it's an adorable way to show them. What I really find funny though, is in panel three, where it looks like she's just about to go into the chicken dance. The best drawing, though, for me is that picture of her leaning her head up against the tree. Yeah, I would have struggled with the hair because I would have wanted the hair to fall. and that would be the wrong choice.
Harold: Isn't that interesting? Yeah, he's so amazingly good at getting what is iconic and not necessarily what is true to physics or whatever.
Jimmy: It doesn't well, yeah, like, for example, let's think about this, because it is interesting. I mean, Michael's not wrong. There is a reason he's drawing it. That is but does it have to do with if he showed them walking, that wouldn't imply urgency. If he showed them, like, running running, it would imply, too much action, like they're out of control, or it's like a manic thing.
Harold: Well, to me, that particular running look, for some reason, suggests anticipation. To me that she's anticipating a good thing, which she is, because she can't.
Jimmy: Wait to see old Chuck and going back. Just one more, because, the eyes closed, on the tree in the previous one. This goes along with just the weird choices he has to make. It also might imply that if he showed Charlie Brown looking at Peppermint Patty, it's now like he's given her the male gaze. You know what I mean? My dad says I'm a rare gem, and you're looking at the girl. And he says, I agree with him.
Harold: Right, yeah. Or some sort of deeper, ascent to that. He's genuinely trying to assign that to himself.
Jimmy: But that's such a small thing. Obviously, he doesn't want but it does make a difference.
Harold: It is.
Jimmy: And I think one of the things huge difference feel like I've come to the conclusion of after studying all these strips, is that it is the smallest details that make the difference. So you can swing big and miss, quite often, but when you get these little details just right, it makes those strips just sing so well.
Harold: Yeah. And every time you don't quite get what Schulz gets, you've degraded. it just a little bit more drawing a strip. It's so clear that the choices you make, they're constantly kind of it was like a video game. You're adding points with every little thing you do, and then you're taking points away with every choice, you make. That's just not quite right. And you can't even put your finger on it. As an artist, he's got these characters so down as icons, and yet he's feeling his emotion through them. It really is awe inspiring.
Jimmy: And to wrap it all up, I just thought we'd go back to where it all started with a little Lucy and Schroeder hanging out at the piano. This is from
February 24, 1974. Lucy's leaning up against the piano, and she says to Schroeder, “sometimes I think you don't realize that you could lose me.” She turns and looks at him and says, “are you sure you want to suffer the tortures of the memory of a lost love?” This actually gets Schroeder's attention. As he sits up straight, she says, “do you know the tortures of the memory of a lost love?” Now Lucy is screaming as she pounds the piano. “It's awful. It will haunt you night and day. You'll wake up at night screaming. You can't eat, you can't sleep. You'll want to smash things. You'll hate yourself and the world and everybody in it. Oooo.” She collapses into sobs on the ground. Then, having destroyed Schroeder's piano, she looks up and says, “are you sure you want to risk losing me?”
Michael: This is actually funny. We must have done this last couple episodes. I don't remember it.
Jimmy: I don't remember us doing it either. And it's great.
Michael: Yeah, it is a great strip.
Jimmy: So that's where it is. And I think that's where it's going to remain for good old, Lucy and Schroeder brilliant drawing across the whole thing on this one. The panels of Lucy smashing stuff and just reducing the piano to absolute rubble.
Michael: Little smoking pile of cinders. So we've gotten through a whole episode without mentioning Snoopy at all. He had a couple of girlfriends.
Jimmy: He did. He had his famous rendezvous with the skating beagle at the pond that he almost married. of all of, these or other characters, which is your favorite, you guys? Harold, you think the little red haired girl?
Harold: Yeah, I'd say the little red haired girl is the one that I feel the most deeply when I see these. Second would be, I think, Charlie Brown and Peppermint Patty.
Michael: Michael, you're talking about the relationship pairs here.
Jimmy: Yeah, it doesn't have to be one we covered if I missed one.
Michael: Yeah, I mean, they're not deep, but, the Schroeder and Lucy ones are generally the funniest.
Jimmy: They are. This one's pretty deep. Or at least I relate to it. I'm going to go with Linus and Sally simply for sweet baboo.
Michael: Yeah, I can agree.
Jimmy: It's good stuff. So what we want to know, though, is what do you guys think? like I said, this was not meant to be definitive, but just the start of a conversation that we'd love for you to join in with. And if you want to do that again, you can reach out to us on Instagram, Twitter, and Threads. We are at Unpack Peanuts. On Facebook. We're Unpacking Peanuts. And you can also find us at our website, UnpackingPeanuts.com, where you can go and you can buy one of our books and you could support us by buying us a mud pie or supporting us on Patreon.
So come back next week when we're going to do a special episode where we talk about all of the Snoopy personas from the first half of the strip. What's your favorite? Write us. Let us know. Do you like the vulture? Do you like the World War I flying Ace? Or are you like me, an aficionado of the world famous grocery clerk? Let us know because that's what we're going to be covering.
Before we go, I have to say something. Music and love, it goes together. Because guys, I love music and I love a new album I just got by one Miss Liz Sumner. It is absolutely fantastic. It is available. The songs were written by Michael. they are sung by Liz. It is a gorgeous record called A Little Time. You can find it at Lizsumner bandcamp.com. And she told me not to talk about it, but I'm doing it anyway. it's great. My pick hit to click is That Old Moody river. I want to hear what you like, and I just want to say if, you're a listener of this podcast, I had nothing to do with this record, so there is no chance if you listen to it, you may accidentally hear me sing. So don't worry about that.
Harold: Just go back to the hundredth birthday.
Jimmy: Yeah, that's all you'll get of. That this is a great record. You guys did amazing. Liz, it's fantastic. Do you have anything you want to say about it?
Jimmy: all right. And with that kind, that is why she's the huge star.
Michael: It’s pulling teeth to get Liz to record. She loves singing live, but getting her to record, it's not an easy task.
Liz: Because it lives forever once it's recorded.
Michael: And she'll never listen to it.
Jimmy: Well, I listen to it, and I think it's just fab, and I want you guys all to listen to it, too. I'll share it on my social so you'll be able to find it. You're welcome. Thank you, guys, for sharing, the music with us. All right, before Liz has a stroke, we're going to go. We will see you next week. For Michael and Harold. This is Jimmy. Be of good cheer.
Michael and Harold: Yes. Be of good cheer.
VO: Unpacking Peanuts is copyright Jimmy Gownley, Michael Cohen and Harold Buchholz; produced and edited by Liz Sumner; Music by Michael Cohen. Additional Voiceover by Aziza Shukralla Clark. For more from the show, follow unpack Peanuts on Instagram and Twitter Unpacking Peanuts on Facebook and YouTube. For more about Jimmy, Michael, and Harold, visit UnpackingPeanuts.com. Have a wonderful day, and thanks for listening.