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Season 3 Finale 1960-1964

Jimmy: Hey, everybody, welcome back to the show. This is Unpacking Peanuts, and we've come to the end of another season, 1960 to 1964, in the work of Charles M. Schulz.

Hope you guys are doing well. Hope you're looking forward to discussing Peanuts today. I'm one of your hosts for this evening. My name is Jimmy Gownley. I'm a cartoonist. I did comic books like the Amelia Rules series. Seven Good Reasons Not to Grow Up, or my memoir, the Dumbest Idea Ever.

Joining me, as always, are my pals, cohosts, and fellow cartoonists.

He's a playwright and a composer, both for the band Complicated People, as well as for this very podcast. He co-created the very first Comic Book Price Guide, was the original editor for Amelia Rules, and is the cartoonist behind Strange Attractors, Tangled River, and A Gathering of Spells. Mr. Michael Cohen,

Michael: Hey there

Jimmy: And he is the executive producer and writer of Mystery Science Theatre 3000, a former vice president of Archie Comics, as well as the creator of the Instagram comic strip Sweetest Beasts, Harold Buchholz.

Harold: Hello.

Jimmy: So, guys, we made it. It is 1964. we are about a decade and a half into this ongoing work of creativity. And it's been a really fascinating, fun and creative time for Schulz. It's also been a time of massive change in his life. Harold, do you want to maybe, give us an overview again so we remember what has Schultz gone through in these last five years.

Harold: So, Schulz, as we had said earlier, made the move to Sebastopol, California, from the Minneapolis St. Paul area with his family. He had ten people, this was in the late 50s living with him on this, 20-some-acre space just outside of Santa Rosa.

And that's not the Schulz I thought was making these strips. I always kind of viewed him as a guy who is kind of off on his own, in a little room. And he's very isolated. He doesn't travel much.

But at this point in his life, at least around him, he has a lot of people, his family and friends and relatives. And we know that he also had brought people to California with him, including some artists.

So in starting 60, where we are with the kids. So Jill, in 60 was two years old. Amy was four, Craig was seven, Monty was eight, and Meredith was ten. And so four years later, you kind of do the math here, but you have six to 14 year- old teenager in Schulz's life.

We know that over the course of time, his aunt, who had been very, very close to him after his mother died, she passed away in this time as well. So now I guess there are nine of them living there.

We know lots of kids are visiting their estate, which is being turned into this playground for children. All sorts of amazing places for them to play.

So that's a different Schulz than what I usually thought of in my mind when I was reading strips and knew things about him, I guess, later in life.

But at this point he is really, really surrounded by quite a lot and a lot of childhood experiences he's kind of seeing first hand.

And the other piece of this we've been doing the Angerometer, the Anger index and the Happiness index. And in 1960 we were at 150 strips that showed somebody expressing some sort of anger and 170 strips showing happiness, which I think was like a pretty much an all-time high.

There was really revved up version of Peanuts in 1960. By 1964, we've gone from 150 angry strips to 106, and 170 happy strips to 96. So that's a major, major difference.

The subtlety of the strip, I think, is what I see over these years. That's the thing that is just getting more and more and more refined as Schulz goes on. He's finding ways to use his characters to elicit more subtle emotion. I think there's more melancholy in the strip. He's just doing it in a way that is less ratcheted up as most, I think, traditional strips typically are. And he's setting himself apart.

Jimmy: Oh, he for sure is. Michael, what do you see? We ended in the fifties. Snoopy had just gotten on top of his dog house. Lucy had just set up the old psychiatry booth. now we're four years into it. Where do you see the major changes within the strip happening?

Michael: I think the most obvious for me anyway, is the fact that he's doing longer sequences. There was even a Sunday sequence that was continued, which is odd, but I think he's stretching out a little bit and finding the rhythm to carry on these long week, two-week long series, with still great punchlines. They're perfectly stand alone, but they work together as a story.

Visually, I'm not seeing a whole lot of difference except for Snoopy, who was probably reached his peak as really elongated character with a long snout in the late fifties. And then we see kind of a progressive shrinkage of his snout and he's much more compact.

Harold: Is there a year that you have like favorite Snoopy Michael in terms of his visual look?

Michael: Well, I do like the 50s things because that was the period where Snoopy was doing a lot of imitations of various animals. And the long snout definitely helped if he was going to do a vulture. I don't know if he could do a vulture in 64.

Jimmy: Well he does do the vulture. It comes back to it even later and I have to say you're right that it just doesn't quite have the same elasticity that he had when he had the long snout design.

Michael: Yeah. The other characters, I don't see a whole lot of evolution in style, but we do see new characters. So in 1960, he was still relying pretty much on the same cast he had in the early fifties. And now we're seeing Frieda and Sally and sort of start moving into the strip and as the, we'll see a lot more, a lot more new characters.

Jimmy: Yeah. For me, I think I agree with what you're saying about those longer stories. This is where he's really just starting to explore that. And I think it has this sort of nice effect where it brings the-- he finds a way to bring the dailies up to that super high quality that the Sundays have been having. You know, I think him adding that little extra spice of going oh well this will be peppered through-- spice. and pepper. How about that? Maybe I'm just hungry.

Michael: There was a period in the 50s where the Sundays were dominating. I think almost all our picks were Sundays. And now he found another way to do longer stories. But I think it's a good balance now between now being 1964, which is how far we've gotten a good balance between the Sundays and the longest strips and the standalone one shot strips.

Jimmy: There's one thing I've been trying, I don't know if I could quite put it even into words, but you have a certain energy as a creative person that is the one that's exploring. Right. That I'm going to always be trying something new, I'm going to always be pushing it forward. And you really kind of need that.

Harold: Right.

Jimmy: But popularity is based on repetition. I mean how many times would he have had to do the psychiatry example before he was even certain that the majority of his readership understood what was going on? You know, that this was a running motif. And it's really unique. Not that there are degrees of uniqueness, but it's really interesting to be able to see someone who's able to still push forward while somehow playing the hits. And he's really in a nice pattern with that now, which I think is serving him really well. Not just artistically, but certainly commercially, where he's creating these things that go on to become worldwide.

Harold: Another thing that's going on in this particular block of time is that Schulz is getting into I guess a few more forms for his work. There are greeting cards coming out, the whole Determined Productions. Happiness is a Warm Puppy book series really starts taking off. And Schulz is aware of his work being experienced through that filter. And that's pretty much all him. I mean I'm sure the design of the books around what he was doing were put out by other people. And I'm kind of surprised when I look at these old books that are reprints, whether it's a comic book or a paperback.

We just brought back a--have you ever seen any of the Peanuts cookbooks? It kind of looks like what Happiness Is a Warm Puppy is all like, the one I've got is all in this fuchsia paper. But I'm just kind of shocked that the production artists that are putting these books together are butchering his strips. Like, oh, we need more height on the strip, so we're going to redraw the panels and stick his stuff in there. And it's like, you'd think at this point, Schulz would have some say and objection to them really messing with his design. I was kind of surprised, for years, they're just the comic strip reprints. When they're putting them in these four-inch wide by seven-inch tall books, they're messing around with how the panels flow, overlapping panels. And it's interesting that he didn't really protect the strip in that regard, at least for a long, long time.

Jimmy: Yeah. there's a wonderful-- there's a couple actually wonderful used bookstores in the Harrisburg area. One's Midtown Scholar, but the other is the Cupboard Maker books. Yes, both of these are fantastic places. So if you're ever in central Pennsylvania, go look them up. And I went, I saw, like, some Snoopy versus the Red Baron book, and I picked it up because it said full color or not full color, just color on every page. I was like, wow, it's just color paper. It's black printing, but, like, a bunch of yellow pages and a bunch of fuchsia pages. it actually made me laugh. So I had to get, like, how long is that going to fool someone once they get past the cover. The gig is up people.

Harold: …the buy that you regret later?

Jimmy: Yeah. It's crazy, though. Some of the Happiness Is a Warm Puppy book designs and Security is a Thumb and a Blanket. They're really nice, and they're almost ahead of their time. Like, the bright colors. It's like the mid 60s comes a little early to Peanuts, which is, by sheer luck.

Harold: Schulz is really at the mercy of whichever company he's dealing with. I mean, Hallmark had really high standards of what they would put out in terms of quality. The Scholastic is who put out at least the version I have of that cookbook, and it is a mess. I'm just, amazed how I mean, it's not the era of computers, and I'm sure they've got these slick proof sheets, black and white, of these strips, and someone's being told, okay, now you got to reshape this and resize this. And, you know, it's not easy to do in the days of cut and paste, but still, like, yikes.

Jimmy: When you consider the number of people who have had their hands in the Peanuts intellectual property over the decades, it's pretty amazing that they're able to keep it as consistent as they do. They get criticism for it. But if you think about something like, let's say, the intellectual property Batman. Well, they do nothing essentially to keep it any specific way. That's now part of the appeal. Batman could basically be anything you want Batman to be. If you want it to be a funny, goofy Batman, that's fine. If you want him to be a murderer, that seems to be fine too.

Harold: … absolutely is protected because they are working from Schulz's work, with the exception of, in this era, the comic books that were coming out from Dell. And then, I guess, the really early animation that was being done for the Tennessee Ernie Ford program for the Ford Falcon, where Schulz is having to hand it over to somebody else because he's not an animator. But even then, at least in that case, it seems like there's a little bit more reverence toward Schulz's work and a little more oversight than you would often see, in the comic book world, where literally there's no connection between the artists and whatever the subsidiary work is that's still there. I don't know if it's the reverence for the work is lacking in certain places, and I guess maybe Schulz doesn't feel like it's his place to step in and say, hey, guys, you need to up your game a little bit here and just not making the work look good.

Jimmy: Right. One thing I did notice, Schulz starting to a lot is creating these characters that we've never seen, at least not seen drawn in the strip. we've seen things like the Great Pumpkin. We see, Miss Othmar. We've seen the little red haired girl. Now, do you guys have a favorite among those things?

Michael: I like Miss Othmar because, I mean, kids fall in love with their teachers, the first good teacher they come upon, and it's just the fact that he worships her and then actually has a little, you know, conflict with her over biting her nails. That's very funny.

Jimmy: How about you Harold?

Harold: that's the first person I think of is Miss Othmar. She's a rich character because Linus is a rich character and we get to see it through his eyes. And it's not all one thing.

Little Red Haired Girl is one thing. We have to see through the eyes of Charlie Brown. And it's really about Charlie Brown. Right. Miss Othmar is actually a character who's having an impact on Linus's life. And it's so fun to get the little hints of this and that. She's moving away, she's married, she's got her own issues. Linus, can make her nervous. She really likes Linus. This is all through Linus's eyes as well. But she's about as well rounded acharacter I've never seen as I can think of.

Jimmy: What an interesting exercise as a writer to do to have, just the story of Ms. Othmar moving away or whatever. Right. And you're going to tell this story and it's going to have all the emotional peaks and valleys and forward thrust of any kind of story except the person that it's all happening to. You never going to say it's all going to be after the fact that it's going to be seen through the eyes of someone who just likes this guy.

Harold: Yeah, I mean, that's one of those things. Like when I was working at Archie comics, you were mentioning Batman. That was an, absolute choice on the part of the leadership at Archie when I was there was saying, hey, we've been doing Archie in a certain manner of kind of broad, bright, cartoony, kid friendly characters. And then at some point they said, well, wait a second. We can do what the superhero comic book companies are doing, and we can have multiple versions of these characters. And the common denominator in the Archie comics is, well, Jughead is pretty much Jughead in terms of his it's all how they relate to one another. Right. And so, then they wind up in a zombie film and really dark television, and people are now experiencing Archie who wouldn't pick up a comic book in the Peanuts world that has been so protected, I think, because Schulz vision and voice is really respected. And it doesn't make any sense, you know, to have Miss Othmar, the romantic comedy where we actually do see her in some live action Hallmark movie or whatever. It just doesn't make any sense. I mean, it's Schulz's person and voice.

Jimmy: Well, first off, I'm really disappointed to hear that because that means I have to cancel my pitch meeting.

Harold: I’m so sorry, I had no idea. I really didn't mean to step on your creative process. it's like Fred Rogers. Oh, yeah. Let's put Mr. Rogers. Everyone knows he wears the red sweater and he lives in a neighborhood, so let's darken it up. So it doesn't make any sense except for parody or whatever.

Jimmy: Right.

Harold: And those are voices, I think, that are just deeply respected for how unique they are. That, what everyone wants is to somehow magnify that. And the only way to do it is to let them let them speak. Again, it's really hard to add to it, in any way that's going to be terribly meaningful. Or just the attempt to try to recreate that voice, to honor that voice, is, I think, a worthwhile thing. Say, for example, the CGI animated version that they did, I think was Blue Sky Animated was, an attempt to honor Schulz, give him his voice, and honor him at the same time. Which I thought was really special.

Jimmy: Yeah, it is. so getting back to the unseen characters, I put this out on social media to see what people might have to say. And, we got a few responses. What I thought was interesting was that it was actually kind of all over the place. No one-- well, some people had the same, but there was a variety.

We heard from Scott Baxter, who's @MD1819 on Twitter, and he went with the Red Baron. We had a couple people who said Charlie Brown's parents, including Timothy Jones, who's @SourGrapescomic. Also our good friend William Pepper. He went with, Charlie Brown's parents, and he said, Chuck’s dad, there's the strip where Violet is bragging about all the great things her dad can do, and Chuck concedes the points, but then is like, come here a minute. And they go to the barber shop, and Chuck explains how, no matter how busy, his dad always says hi. I think we covered that one. That's a great strip.

Shaylee Robson said, she thinks that the Little Red Haired Girl is an interesting character. Even in the animated movies, when we do get to see her, she still remains a fascinating girl who has Charlie's affection, which I find sweet. That's very interesting. take you have to think, there must be something special about the Little Red Haired Girl if Charlie Brown likes her so much.

Rich Thomas wrote to our or actually texted to our new Peanuts hotline. He thinks that the best off screen character is a three-way tie between The Red Baron, the Cat Next Door, and Joe Shlabotnik. Michael, I know you have a soft spot for Joe Shlabotnik.

Michael: Yes.

Jimmy: the world's worst baseball player idolizing the world's second worst baseball player, but still, this guy somehow, at least briefly, made it to the major. So I like Joe Shlabotnik, too, but actually, there is only one correct answer to who is the best never seen Peanuts character, and I thought I would bring in a special guest for us who could give us the definitive answer to who the best unseen Peanuts character is. She's a legend in central Pennsylvania Broadcasting. She's a four time PAB Award winner, which is the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters, and she's the new host of the WTPA Morning Show in central Pennsylvania's very own little red haired girl, Jenna Clay.

Jenna: Hi, everybody.

Jimmy: Jenna, this is so exciting to me. Now, when I mentioned on social media, we, were talking about the unseen characters and Peanuts. You had a very, very strong opinion about who's the greatest. Is that correct?

Jenna: Well, obviously, I'm a little red haired girl, so I am going to vote for the little red haired girl.

Jimmy: Now, is this a character that meant something to you as a kid?

Jenna: Oh, absolutely. Every time she would appear in a comic, I felt a little bit like, oh, my gosh, that could be me. Some little boy could be sitting on a bench wishing I was sitting with him, and it just made me feel special.

Jimmy: So I was hoping maybe-- one of the things we love to do in the show is, of course, we go through the strips and we read them all. could you maybe pick out a couple for us?

Jenna: Absolutely. There is the one I mentioned about with the bench. I mean, anytime Charlie Brown is on a bench and talking about the little red haired girl, it always kind of tugged in my heart because there's that one where he is sitting there with his lunch bag, and he's talking about, why don't I just go over to that little red haired girl? And being an empath, I always am kind of drawn to the ones that are feeling left out or sad or, you know, want to be with someone. And so I just always made me wish I could go sit there with him and be like, I'm, right here. We can talk and hang out.

Jimmy: Oh, I think that would make his day. It is too bad you're not an ink drawing for good old Charlie Brown, because he would appreciate that. All right, let's give that one a read. there's a couple of classics, of Charlie Brown on the bench. this is the one you picked. We actually didn't cover this, so I'm very glad that you chose it. And here it is,

December 17, 1964. Charlie Brown is sitting on the bench, out in the schoolyard with his sack lunch next to him, looking across the yard for the little red haired girl. He says to himself, “why don't I go over and talk to that little red haired girl” Then he puts his head in his hands and says, “I can't. I just can't.” Then he walks away holding his lunch, saying, “I hate myself for not having enough nerve to talk to her.” Then he stops, thinks about it for a moment, and says, “well, that isn't exactly true. I hate myself for a lot of other reasons, too.”

Jenna: And I feel so bad for him. I mean, I was the kind of girl-- I went to a lot of different schools growing up. I was not a military kid. We just changed schools a lot. So I always felt somewhat the same way. Like, I just wish I had more friends. And, you know, I didn't love everything about myself because being taunted for having red hair. So I just feel for him.

Jimmy: Yeah. Schulz is amazing at, being, able to do that because I think everybody feels those feelings of being an outsider, being a loner. And it's amazing that he puts this into this little ink drawing. Even though we have talked to Charlie Brown does have friends. He just can't seem to see that that's true.

Michael: So what was the date on this one again?

Jimmy: This was December 17, 1964.

Harold: Okay.

Michael: He did talk to her. When you hear our 1964 podcasts, the April Fools one is hilariously funny and also, like, totally humiliating because Lucy basically comes over to him on the schoolyard and says, hey, the little red head girl wants to talk to you.

Jimmy: And he walks over.

Michael: And he walks over, then he comes back and, like, devastated. And then she goes April Fool.

Harold: Now, we don't know if he actually did talk to her.

Michael: Oh he had to

Harold: it might have been one of those just looking and stammering, and she's just staring back like, what on earth are you doing?

Michael: We're trying to imagine that

Harold: Your imagination, What horrible thing happened to poor Charlie Brown?

Jimmy: But I am m certain she was nice to him. I think she was probably just flummoxed as to some kids said, I wanted to talk to you. Right. I can't picture her being mean to him.

Harold: No.

Jenna: Well, it was probably one of those awkward pauses where he said, hi and she said, hi, and it just kind of he turned and walked away. You know, I kind of want to.

Harold: See him with a silly grin on his face and she's just looking at him.

Jimmy: I kind of want to draw that one. That would be pretty good.

Jenna: Yeah. One of you needs to draw the little red haired girl. And if you need a model, I'm happy to do it.

Jimmy: I have been known once in a while to draw a character in Peanut style, so we'll see what we can do about that.

Jenna: I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Jimmy: I have also once in a while been told to cease and desist drawing characters. But that's neither here nor there. What's here right now is another strip, Jenna picked. I'm going to just go ahead and read it right now. It is

February 10, 1985. February 10. So it's going to be a Valentine's day one. We, start off in panel one with an adorable drawing of Snoopy as part of, I guess, a Valentine with some very frilly cut out around it. And then Charlie Brown presenting, a valentine to Snoopy and saying, “what do you think?” Charlie Brown looks at it very proud, and he says, “this is a valentine I bought for that little red haired girl. “Charlie Brown continues, “I want to go over to her house and give it to her, but I think I'd be too nervous to do it without practice.” He, continues talking to Snoopy and says, ”I'll go outside and ring the doorbell, and you pretend you're the little red hair girl. Okay?” Charlie Brown does just that, a look of actual anxiety on his face as he does it. He rings the bell, and Snoopy comes to the door wearing a ridiculous red headed kind of clown wig.

Jenna: Clown wig. See? Exactly. Red hair is always a clown.

Jimmy: Well, I will say, though, I'm looking at it in black and white, and, you know, I was going by shape, not, color. Oh, no. This is the last time Jenna will ever guest on our show.

Jenna: I also wasn't sure if this was before or after Annie, because every little red haired girl during my time was called Annie, and it sort of looks like an Annie hair cut.

Harold: Oh it is the Annie era.

Jimmy: Yeah, that's right. It would have been right after the movie. The Carol Burnett movie. you know what? I think you're right onto that. It's a double reference here.

Jenna: I know my redhead history.

Jimmy: Now. How did you feel about Annie? Because Harold is a huge little Orphan Annie fan, but not the musical, just the old comics. But are you pro Annie, or was that not great?

Jenna: it wasn't great, no. Because no one looks at Annie, and they're like, oh, what a cute little girl. No, they don't think that.

Michael: Do you have eyeballs?

Harold: You bet your bottom dollar.

Jimmy: Jenna, I am so unbelievably happy that you would, come on my ridiculous podcast and talk to us about the little red haired girl. Can you tell people, because people all over the world are listening to this dumb podcast. Obviously not for us. For Mr. Schulz. But they should be listening to you too. How can people listen to your show? online?

Jenna: Oh, yeah, actually, you can stream us or even download our free app. It's 93 five WTPA. And you just download the app. You can listen to us that way or online.

Jimmy: And it’s worth it. And if you guys are out there and maybe you're drawing your own comics or whatever, you can listen to Jenna's show, and I'll be listening to Jenna show, and then it'll be like we're hanging out, but I don't have to do anything.

Jenna: Oh, so you reap all the rewards. I see how this is.

Jimmy: That's exactly my whole goal in life, is to do as little as possible, but get the maximum reward.

Jenna: Right.

Jimmy: Well, thank you so much, Jen. I really appreciate it. Maybe you'll come on again someday and talk about the little red hair girl when, she appears again.

Jenna: I would love it. And let me just thank you guys for, wanting me to come on here, because it means a lot to me. Jimmy has always been a big inspiration to me. I don't know if he knows this, but he used to put me in little silly promotions and commercials at the TV station we worked at together. And he's one of the most creative people I know. And that just makes me feel good that he wants me to be a part of his creative process.

Jimmy: Alright, well, I'll tell you something. I once, a few years ago, saw you at a distance in Target and thought, oh, she's too famous to talk to. I'm not going to say anything.

Jenna: Oh my gosh

Harold: It’s Charlie Brown all over again.

Jenna: I love it. Well, next time, you better say hi.

Jimmy: I promise I will. Thank you, Jenna. All right, so, guys, that's it. Jenna has spoken. The little red haired girl is the best. How about we take a break now? And then when we come back, we have a little surprise for our devoted listeners, to wrap up the season.


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 mudpie. Check out the store link on

Jimmy: Hey, we're back. Did you miss us? I missed you guys. Okay, so what we're going to wrap, we try to do something a little different and a little special for you guys at the end of every season. And, we've looked at Skippy, we looked at the newspaper from 1950. So we thought this time we would look at the Peanuts comic books. But not all of them, just the ones that specifically are attributed by eyewitnesses to Charles Schulz himself. There's only three of them, but we're going to look at them. Harold, do you have, any background on this, how it's been attributed?

Harold: I don't really know much about how they verified that Schulz worked on these. We, did speak about Jim Sasseville earlier. And just as just for a refresher on how these comics came about, we know that they were doing reprints, United Feature, his Syndicate, their other kids strip was Nancy, Nancy and Sluggo. And so they were regularly being reprinted in, the comics that-- I think United Feature was directly involved in printing comic books for a while, publishing them. So it was kind of a natural that was going to become a comic book.

And the problem, if you call it a problem, was that Schulz was not really able to jump in and do new material. That the pay was not all that great. And they were starting out with reprints in the first place anyway, and just coloring them up if they were dailies. But in time, it ultimately wound up at Dell Comics. And, Dell was like the tip top. I shouldn't say tip top, because Tip Top is one of the main comic books that published these, early Universal strips. But, they were really at the height of all comic books. They sold more issues than just about anybody at the time, up until probably the early 60s, where they made the big 15 cent mistake, which we don't have to go into here.

Jimmy: Oh, no, we have to go into that. That's actually can you do a quick reference?

Harold: Sure. Okay, well, so comic books have been $0.10 since they started back in the 30s They would just keep cutting the number of pages to keep the price the same. So it was like 64 pages in the 30s, In the 40s went to 48 pages, and the 50s was 32 pages plus a cover. And then inflation was just hacking away at these comic book publishers. And it comes around 19 61- 62. They have to make a decision on what to do and who's going to make the first move to raise their prices. Everyone else looking at everybody else. And Dell being the leader selling they'd sell over a million copies of, like, Uncle Scrooge and Walt Disney comics and stories. They had all of those types of major Bugs Bunny franchise, that sort of stuff, and all this Disney stuff. And they wound up saying, okay, well, it was $0.10. It's time to move to $0.15. That's the natural thing, right? You just jump up by $0.05.

Well, nobody else did this. Everyone else somebody then took the move and said, okay, we're going to go into twelve cents. And Dell kind of stuck by their guns. No, that's crazy. Who charges $0.12 for something? So they stick to their guns for quite a while, and they lose massive amounts of readership. It was like 40% of their readership, because kids with their dimes, they were--

Jimmy: That's a huge increase.

Harold: That's a 50% increase.

Michael: Well, that's three baseball cards there, right?

Harold: I mean, that's a big, big deal. And Dell kind of missed the boat on that. They didn't realize how big a deal, because any other magazine that had been $0.10 went up in price, went up to $0.15 for years. And it's like, why not a comic book? But it just was too much to ask of the kids. And so they deserted Dell like mad and shocked Dell. Ultimately, Dell had to drop their price down to $0.12 again themselves, because they had just taken a beating. So that's the, 15 cent, story.

Jimmy: Yes. So, for years and years, I had heard that there was at least a rumor that Schulz had done a couple of these strips. Either he had a hand in it, or he did them completely on his own. And, the ones that I've seen now, as attributed to Schulz, I saw them attributed on Derek Bang’s website. And for those of you who don't know, A) Derek Bang is a wonderful person. But B) one of the, if not the most authoritative Peanuts expert on the face of the planet. He's written many books, and he was actually involved in some way, I'm not sure 100%, on the recent reprint of the Peanuts comic strips. He contributed to that in some way. So I believe him when he says these are, the real deal. Jim Sasseville apparently, also said that one was entirely Schulz. so that is the double attribution, along with some comics historian whose name escapes me now. So according to these people, these are Schulz works. And I had heard about them for years and years and years, and, we finally got to see them.

Michael: Yeah, you got to believe your eyes. I mean, forget attribution. It shows. and you look at the other strips. Some of them are good, but you still go, that's not quite Linus or Snoopy. Looks a little weird. But no, these are clearly Schulz.

Harold: That's interesting, because when I was looking at him, my eyes were saying, maybe this is not entirely Schulz.

Jimmy: Oh, I 100% don't think it's Schulz-- any of it. I think he probably inked it or something. I mean, I'll, be wrong. Listen, if it's going to be me versus Derek Bangs and Michael Cohen, I'm going to agree with you guys. But my thought was, I don't think this is all here.

Michael: Well, there's definitely differences between the Schulz comics and the strip but they might be for another reason.

Harold: Well, let's get into it. Let's take a look at some of these. And just for those of you who can access this, there is a book, that was called with the Dell Peanuts Archive. It is out of print and going for a lot of money. if you happen to be a Peanuts collector, you made a good choice to buy that one because it went out of print pretty quickly and a lot of people are seeking it out nowadays. And the way that we at least I found it, it's a very popular library service called Hoopla. Hoopla that many, many different library systems sign up for. And then if you have a library card, you can actually go online and you can access Hoopla. And this book is available currently as I'm speaking on the Hoopla service. And this is a good way harder than, unfortunately, the You, can't just go online and see this. But, if you're interested in playing along with us, if you can find a service that you or a family member has access to, you can actually join in and see what we're seeing.

Jimmy: Absolutely. All right.

Nancy 146, September 1957. OK, so what's happening here? It is a Peanuts comic strip, turned into a comic book story. And we are at the old baseball field. Schroeder is catching. Pig Pen is up to bat. Linus is in the background. Classic thumb and blanket position. “Strike three. You're out.” yells Schroeder as Pig pen, goes down swinging. Then, we see Schroeder saying, “all right, who's the next batter? I said, who's the next batter?” He yells sending Linus flying. Then he walks back to his position saying, “you and that stupid blanket,” “Phew” says, Linus. He is rattled. Linus comes up to the plate, which is actually just looks like a piece of wood or cardboard. And he says to Schroeder, “you really shouldn't have yelled at me like that. It was a great shock to my nervous system.” Schroeder then walks out past Linus, out to the field and says, “you stay here. Now I have to go and have a conference with the pitcher.” Linus looks after him and yells, “you just want to have those conferences with the pitcher because the pitcher is a girl.”

Jimmy: All right, so that's page one.

Michael: Yes, there's definitely weird things going on. Not Schulz-y, but I mean, first of all, if you want to just go panel by panel. Schroeder's not wearing a mask. He always wears a mask

Jimmy: exactly catch or the chest protector.

Michael:, but they don't seem to be on their normal field, either. So this is not a real game. You notice there's no pitcher’s mound. You haven't got there yet on page one. But Lucy we've never seen Lucy pitch.

Harold: Is the little cardboard home plate, featured in the strip.

Jimmy: I don't remember ever seeing that, but I couldn't swear to it. But I don't think so. But when I look at, let's say, panel four, and I see Schroeder, what is going on with that head? Right? I mean, he's really stressed. It's like that big jaw Peanuts. But it's not in the same way that it was previously big jaw Peanuts. It’s jutting way forward.

Harold: and panel four is probably where I have the least problem with Schroeder.

Michael: Are you talking about five?

Jimmy: I'm talking about five. Sorry.

Harold: Okay. Yeah, I'm, with you on that. It's like that gigantic jut out, and the nose seems a little small. here's the question I have for you guys now. I remember when we were looking at the first Peanuts strips that were Sundays, and the art looks different, and I was trying to understand why. And obviously, he had different panel sizes to work with. He had all these different rules he was playing with. But I think the biggest issue was that it looked like he was working at a different size than he was used to with a pen point. That doesn't change in size the way you can on a computer. So whatever that pen point is, he's used to drawing them a certain size. They tend to be-- you often have a full body version of the characters within a certain range. Schulz is used to drawing these characters at that size. Do you think that part of this might be that Schulz is being asked to draw a larger, or smaller than what he normally does? And so he does a little nose, and then he's like, oh, wait, that's too small, and then he's just out of kind of out of whack. Or is this just not Schulz?

Jimmy: Well, I think if they say it's Schulz, it's at least partly Schulz. I think they have their reasons and their knowledge that go beyond mine. I will say I do commercial gigs now and again, and one thing I do is this comic strip for a magazine and just drawing it, it's a traditional Sunday page size, so it's a horizontal-- that alone, it took me, like, four weeks to figure out just how to work within that shape.

Harold: Right.

Jimmy: So that could definitely, be a part of it, but that wouldn't, account for the off model stuff. But like Michael says, when you look at the other ones, compared to this, this is clearly the closest to the vibe for the real Peanuts vibe by far.

Harold: Yeah. That's when you start going, oh, maybe this is Schulz. Right. Is Schulz the penciler or is he the inker?

Jimmy: Well, I think that's what it is. He's either the penciler or the inker. And I think what he is is the penciler. because the inker is-- let's say it's Sasseville or whomever it is. We don't know who it is, right, Is going to be a slave to whatever those rough sketches Schulz puts down. Whereas, Schulz will be able to correct an ink while he's drawing, because he's penciled always penciled very minimally, and then made corrections in ink. Right. That could be what's happening, but that's total speculation.

Harold: I think we can use some clues here to kind of figure out if Schulz did one or the other just by looking at the ink lines and the choices being made. We take a stab at it. I would guess it is hard because you even look at the lettering. The lettering is by far the closest to Peanuts lettering that I'm used to seeing. Right. But he's spreading it out because he's got these wide panels. He doesn't have a square, he's got a rectangle. there's like a four tier high comic, which means you have an HDTV kind of ratio rather than the square that he's usually dealing with or close to a square.

Jimmy: Yeah. This, layout, the four tier horizontal size panels is like the default mode for late period Jaime Hernandez. He really goes all in on composing for these panels. I think it looks good when someone is a master that can do it. I actually find it very hard to draw in that size space.

Should we move on to page two?

Harold: Yes.

Michael: Well, I want to clarify one thing first. Is everybody saying that Schulz wrote these?

Jimmy: Yes, I think so. These ones that we are discussing today, I was under the impression were written by Schulz, but I don't know.

Michael: Because they seem klutzy on page one. The panel three bothers me because we've never seen Schroeder yell at Linus like that. That seems out of character for him.

Jimmy: Also, the catcher never is really yelling, who's the next batter? That's not the catcher's job to worry about.

Harold: Yeah. An interesting clue to this one is I think it's the earliest comic book story that is in this collection. It's from Nancy, number 146, from September 1957.

We know that, Jim Sasseville, while I guess, he's in Minnesota with Schulz, I think it was an art instruction school partner. Is that right? You know, Schulz essentially says, hey, would you like to work on stuff with me? And then he does that syndicated strip It’s Only A Game with him, but this is a little early, so I'm guessing what happens is Dell says, hey, we want some new stories. We don't just want to do reprints. And Schulz isn't set up yet to get other people to do it. So he's involved in this really early comic that would make sense. We don't know.

Michael: I have a theory, because I've been puzzling over these three strips all week and couldn't quite figure out why they seem to be so clumsy. Then I came up with the Nancy theory. The Nancy theory being, if you're familiar with the comic strip Nancy, it was not an intellectual challenge to read for very young readers.

Harold: Very simplistic

Jimmy: Art Spiegelman famously said, it takes more effort not to read Nancy than it takes to read Nancy.

Harold: Okay.

Michael: So Schulz is confronted with a comic book-- to writing a comic book story. He famously said that Peanuts was for adults. It was not for kids. Only kids are reading comic books. especially Nancy. I mean, there's no adult is going to read a Nancy comic book. It's possible he went, okay, Nancy comic book, probably the readership, is ten, 9-10, 11-12, somewhere in there. So he's going to write it for kids and simplify it and clarify it for the kids who don't know these characters. So anyway, that's my theory. And it might account for a few things. We've only talked about page one so far of a four page story

Jimmy: that we don't particularly like,

Michael: that isn't very good. But we're thinking, okay, we mentioned that, Schroeder is not wearing the catcher gear. He always wears the mask and the chest protector. Possibly Schulz thinking that, okay, new readers, you want to see the face. You don't know who this character is. Anyway, I can go on further when we get to the next page.

Page two. So, we left up Schroeder was doing a little mound visit, and we see that he goes out to the mound, although there isn't a mound, there's just, Lucy standing out there. And today she's the pitcher. And Schroeder says to her, “how's the ball fuss budget?” Lucy holds out the absolute tatters of what used to be a baseball and says, “this is a ball?” Schroeder walks back to his spot behind the plate and says, “well, throw it anyway.” And, Lucy rears up to do just that. And, I would say the most Schulz thing to me in all of this is the ball. Because he does do this a bit where the, cover comes off a ball and all the string that is inside a baseball starts coming out. And that's just such a real detail from my childhood that I remember that it would get to this point, and then he'd have to start taping the ball up with electrical tape. And, that looks just like he would do it when, he drew that in there.

Harold: And it hasn't shown up in the strip yet. Right. So if this was Schulz, this was his first time doing it in the comic book, right?

Jimmy: Yeah. Or, someone else did it and he really liked, the way it looked. But that to me, seems very, very Schulz.

Michael: That's only half a page two.

Jimmy: So Lucy pitches it. The tatters of the ball comes in. Schroeder yells, “Swing, Linus, swing.” Linus does not swing. Schroeder, who was really angry today, I guess he wants to be back playing Beethoven, yells at Linus, saying, “well, why didn't you swing? It was right over the plate.” Linus oddly, looks into the mitt at the remains of the ball, which Schroeder, then throws back to Lucy, saying, and Linus says, “Was that the ball? And Linus finishes by saying, “I didn't know that was the ball. I thought it was a dead cat.”

I don't think Schulz wrote that line.

Michael: Well, yeah, because if that was the punch line, if the strip ended here, that's not a good Schulz punch line.

Harold: I'm running theories over in my head as we're reading through this together. Let me throw this one out to you. This gets kind of complicated, but I'm trying to make it all fit.

So Dell says, hey, we're taking over the comic book. We want to do new stories. And Schulz loves comic books. We know that, right? Huge comic book collector. He loved comics, and I think he would love for Peanuts to be in a comic book. He's probably excited as all get out that he's been published, and now there's going to be something new. And maybe there's a conversation with Dell where he's like, well, I'm busy making this strip. I can't do this myself. And I'm like, don't worry. we'll do it ourselves. We'll write a script, and we'll, get someone else to draw it. And Schulz is like, well, okay, but maybe somebody writes the script, they send it to Schulz, and they show them what they're doing with it. Maybe it's already penciled. Maybe it's even already inked. But I'm guessing let's say it's just penciled. And they've got the script. And Schulz looks at it and goes, wow, this does not look like my stuff. This is kind of embarrassing. And he goes to them, hey, guess what, guys. I will ink this thing up, and I will try to make it look good. And in the meantime, I'm going to try to line up somebody to, do this on my end so that could make sense.

Jimmy: That makes a lot of sense.

Michael: That's the modified Nancy theory. So you still think he's thinking in terms of, kids more of a kids oriented thing?

Jimmy: Well, whoever wrote it might be, but you're suggesting that Schulz didn't write it. Suggesting that Schulz didn't write it makes a lot of sense.

Harold: Here's the reason why I think that the lettering, I think, is Schulz. He's just so unique. It does look different than the strip, but I think there's some reasons why that could be. Because he's working a different size and all of that, and he's maybe working at a different speed. This is not his main project. But the things that suggest to me that somebody else initially penciled this is when I see the details of how the mitt is drawn. That's not how Schulz is drawing the mitt at that time.

Jimmy: No, no. 100% the border around. Now, this is a catcher's mitt he's drawing for Schroeder.

Harold: So it is different, but I don't remember seeing well, look at the little button on the back of Lucy's mitt. The way he's drawing it at this point is you see the line of where the mitt, I guess, would be buttoned on in the back whenever Schulz draws it. But you don't see the button itself. It's just literally a line going to the edge. And for me, who's not a baseball player. When I look at that, I'm like, why is that line there? I don't know, but huh, it's clear here that there's actually something that it's fascinating, to close that thing when you put your hand in the mitt. So Schulz did not put that detail in when he was drawing. But I'm wondering again, that's why maybe somebody else was penciling it initially and that detail he honored, when he inked it. that's my thought.

Jimmy: Well, a lot of times, too, when a person would go to get an inker or an assistant, I think a lot of times we think it would be the inker. But back in the day, a lot of people gave the assistant the rough penciling work. Like Eisner. I think we talked about this. People like Will Eisner, people like Al Capp were really focused on the inking at the end because that is, someone once said the only thing you ever see of the pencil or on the floor of the inker studio when they erase it. So that's probably true. Both of these theories are making sense, even if it's not that Schulz wrote it. Certainly, I think the Dell Comics staff was probably thinking, this is for little kids.

Michael: I would lean more towards him not writing it. It seems klutzy.

Harold: I do think he's involved. He's obviously involved, with the inking. Here's yet another version of that theory. He's working at art instruction schools. He's telling everybody, hey, I'm going to get to do a new comic book, but I don't have time. Anybody wants to work with me on this? And then someone's like, yeah, I'll try it. And he's trying to figure it out with them.

Michael: Was he still at the school?

Harold: Yeah, I think he worked there in that office, to my knowledge, until he left in 58. So it's entirely possible that this was some sort of, an attempt at a collaboration that he was figuring out as he went. And he wind up taking on more of it than maybe he expected because it wasn't what he was thinking.

And I've done this before. I collaborated with somebody and I gave him a script, and the way they interpreted what I gave them was like, oh my gosh, there needs to be a lot more conversation and a lot more collaboration than what I've offered this person, because I'm putting in jokes they don't understand, and they're taking literally. And all that stuff can happen when your first time at bat. And if this is what he's doing, it just seems like his fingerprints are on this, then on this particular strip, for sure. it's just too much looking like him. And I'm going back and looking at some of these ‘58 strips. We're, like, years ahead now, and I've forgotten. I'm just looking at individual Sunday panels and thinking, hey, if someone told me that Schulz didn't draw this panel of Linus, would I believe them? And all of a sudden, it's like, oh, yeah, my mind plays tricks with me. And I'm thinking, that doesn't look like Linus ___ at all.

Jimmy: Yeah. When you're looking at it at intense detail and, like, people I respect and trust say, this is 100% sure, but if the space aliens came down and said, Jimmy, you have to answer this question correctly, or the world is destroyed, did Charles Schulz do 100% of this story? I would say no.

Michael: I would agree. Now, here's a case where I don't think he wrote, we're looking at the beginning of page two, huh. How's the ball fussbudget?

Harold: No

Jimmy: Yeah. Right.

Michael: That is not a Schulz line. No one would say, how's the ball? That's just not part of the lingo of the sport.

Jimmy: You know what? I want us just to continue discussing this. So I'm just going to tell people what basically what happens is Linus then hits the ball, the ball being already almost in tatters, unravels. usually it would unravel down, and there would be a tiny little rubber, ball core at the center, but it doesn't seem to be that way. Lucy cannot, find what to do, so she just picks up the string, starts rolling it back up, and at the end, we see she actually has picked up the wrong string. She has picked up the string to Charlie Brown's kite, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but that's the arc of the story.

Michael: No, it's not a good punchline. In order to make this work, he has to have Lucy pitching, which has never happened. Or happened once maybe.

Jimmy: Right.

Michael: Charlie Brown not playing. Yeah, I can't see how Schulz wrote this, but I think definitely at least inked it.

Harold: Yes.

Jimmy: Because when you see it, the other thing is seeing it in context against the other ones.

Harold: There's no doubt.

Jimmy: Yeah.

Harold: And those last two panels, actually, I would totally buy were Schulz.

Jimmy: Yes. I think also, the ones with Schroeder catching and Linuz hitting the ball with the POW. That's very-- that could have come out of the strip.

Harold: Yes. You can tell whoever wrote this was familiar with Peanuts. Pretty familiar. And they're trying to throw in some catch phrases, like fuss budget, and the kite gag. And they're not just like going off and doing their own thing. This is somebody who's trying to honor the spirit of Schulz, but they're not Schulz.

Jimmy: Now, here's one, like where Schroeder is yelling home at Lucy.

Harold: Home it.

Jimmy: And then she says home.

Harold: What?

Jimmy: Who says home it? That seems-- I've never heard anyone yell that-- they throw it home or home. I was just yelling home, but home it. And if Schulz was going to, he would err on the side of the phrase being longer and more formal rather than shortened and more casual.

Harold: Right. And it does seem like whoever is writing this is kind of a first time writer in the fact that in the second page, that Schroeder's walking up to Lucy, who's pitching, and he said, how's the ball fussbudget. Why would he ask her how the ball is except that there's something wrong with the ball?

Jimmy: Yeah, because you have to show it. Which is funny, because they could have done it by showing well, yeah, because actually, you see the ball in the very first panel and it's not destroyed. Then nothing seems to have happened except he throws it back to Lucy, and now it is destroyed.

Harold: It's like a writer's fever dream kind of thing when you're just learning how to piece things together. And I think maybe Schulz is just humoring somebody to get out that first deadline. And they did say there were some tight deadlines where they were all like, in later strips or later comics, where Schulz would actually join in after the fact because they were all up against some crazy deadline and they're all pitching in, it seems like, at the same time. Like they used to say the old Marvel comics were done in the early 40s during the World War II. Everyone just jumping in, and this guy's penciling, this guy's inking. I think this one is not that, but maybe some of the later stuff we're going to read. Schulz didn't expect to show up, and he had to fill a-- pinch hit for something that just does not happen.

Michael: Let's posit the final theory here. Somebody scripted this who was familiar with Peanuts but did not feel he had to honor all the classic things, like there being a pitcher's mound and Charlie Brown pitching, and somebody rough pencils it. And then Schulz gets it, makes changes, and while he's inking it, he makes everything on model, but pretty much leaves-- and letters it, but doesn't really change anything. but the writer was writing for kids.

Jimmy: Well, thought they were writing for kids and made the mistake of assuming kids are stupid. I often wonder about that. Like, Schulz Peanuts isn't for kids, and then people go away. My three year old loves it, and, by the way, gets it on every single level. Or even Jeff Smith, who is very famously, a, children's author who didn't know he was writing children's material.

Jimmy: For 20 years, I've been wondering about how they I thought, if nothing else, at least I knew I was writing for kids.

Harold: Yeah, like Jeff Kinney, who did the Wimpy Kid. Thought it was all for adults. And I thought it was serious flabbergasted that someone was going to say, kids will love this.

Jimmy: He thought it was like he, was writing the new Catcher in the Rye. And maybe he was just I think what that comes from is they are not aware of how universal this is actually, a huge compliment, all three of these people. Because what it is, is knowing your writing, despite its depth, is that is accessible to basically everyone. And that is amazing.

Harold: It's not easy.

Jimmy: All right, so that's the first one. and that is, I think, the most likely to have the most Schulz, what do you guys want to do?

Harold: Yeah, let's go over to Nancy Number 148 from November 1957. It's almost all without dialogue, right?

Jimmy: Well, I'm going to let you describe, that not because I was too lazy to download it, because I definitely did. But I'm going to give you the opportunity to describe it because you know what? I love the pure tenor quality of the voice of Harold.

Harold: Why, thank you. Yeah. So, this Peanuts is essentially a, wordless comic featuring Snoopy. So we don't see Snoopy thinking to himself. So Snoopy is sitting in front of his doghouse. It's very hot. He's got his tongue out, he's perspiring. And we see Snoopy's doghouse at an angle that is not the classic side angle. In fact, it says Snoopy over the entrance and has some detail on it, which you don't normally see. And then he's walking in the hot sun, and he sees Charlie Brown pouring water over Patty. And, she's very happy to be in this cool water. And Snoopy's ears go straight up. Wow, look at that. So he runs through the water, then runs the other direction through the water. Then he starts to dance in the water.

Michael: from a hose. You’re not--

Harold: right. Yes, I'm not. Jimmy-quality description here. So Charlie Brown's got the-- holding the hose, up in the air so that it's sprinkling down on the grass. And Snoopy is dancing and dancing, and all of a sudden, he noticed the water is stopped. And he turns around and notices that Charlie Brown has redirected the hose to Patty, who's having fun in the water again. Snoopy sighs, walks off under the hot sun, and then he sees a sprinkler. It's got one of those old fashioned ones that is attached to the end of the hose. And it's got a circular, circular sprinkle. So I guess this was not the kind that rotates or used to go the kind, but it's just kind of a ring that's spraying water all different directions, like a fountain. So Snoopy dives into this and then one direction, then the other. Then he goes upside down and then the other direction. And then he accidentally lands on the thing. So I guess it is spinning because here he gets caught and, it starts to spin him around on his back and shoots him off away from the water. And Snoopy's, all discombobulated and hot, walks away and then notices something and starts to bark and bark and bark. And all of a sudden, a bunch of birds are sent away by his barking. And then you see in the last panel, Snoopy lying in an old, good old fashioned bird bath with his ears over the edge, sighing and happiness. So that's my attempt. And this is why Jimmy reads all the descriptions.

Jimmy: I think you did a great job.

Michael: I don't think Schulz inked this.

Harold: Well, look at the birds. Those birds are not Charles Schulz birds. But it does, again, look like maybe Schulz is doing maybe doing some inking here because it looks like the line of that pen. And again, if he's working with our instruction schools people, maybe, there's something going on.

Michael: It looks like Schulz might have drew the Charlie Brown Patty stuff. Snoopy isn't, like, totally off model, but it looks the lines too thin.

Harold: What do you think? Do you think that's because he's working so big and that's an issue, but.

Michael: But It really does not look like the kind of outlines he usually uses.

Harold: Yeah, the way the water falls on Snoopy as well, and the water the droplets fall, that doesn't look like the way Schulz would, ink that. So do you think it's maybe the other way around where he tries penciling one? This is like two months after the one we were just talking about, Snoopy.

Michael: This is 1957. That was kind of the height of Snoopy being flexible, long and flexible. Page two, panel five. That's not a Snoopy expression. I just don't see it.

Harold: Yeah, okay, so if I'm going to do my crazy theories, I'm going to try the crazy theory that maybe Schulz pencilled this one, gave it to somebody else to try to ink. And, this is what we got from it. Experiment number two.

Michael: I would think he penciled Charlie Brown and Patty and maybe touched up, Snoopy.

Harold: And again, if I go back and look at some stuff, I'm looking for really early 1958 comics with Snoopy, like when Snoopy is hanging on the arm of whoever is saying that dogs should be appreciated more, I'm looking at some of those and going, oh, my gosh. Again, if somebody told me someone else drew this particular element of the strip, I would start to have mind tricks going on in my head where I'm like, oh, that's not Schulz, because it looks weird. An off model when you look at just one, it's so weird. So? Yeah. I don't know. But, anyway, it's a fun theory. And this particular strip I kind of enjoyed this little wordless strip. It's not a masterpiece, but it's kind of in the spirit of Peanuts and Snoopy of this era.

Michael: Yeah. Well, I can believe that Schulz plotted this. It could have been a Sunday with more panels. You can do it in one page and get the joke across. And, if he had a lot of panels, which on some of the Sundays, he had a lot of panels.

Harold: Yeah. And the reason I think maybe he could have penciled this, just testing the division of labor on a comic is because he does a lot of things. If I were taking over Snoopy, and Snoopy had been around since 1957, some of the choices that are being made, I think, are consistently good of, Snoopy stretched out in different poses and angles. I think the inking, in some cases, look a little wonky, and he's got, like, one of Snoopy being all dizzy and the frazzled Snoopy that we see with, like, the ink line is really hatched and rough. He does do that in this, and it doesn't exactly maybe look like Charlie Brown. But I was wondering yes. Schulz pencilled that, and someone was trying to be true to it. Maybe that would explain why it looks the way it does. I don't know.

Michael: Well, if I was given this assignment, I'd say there's no way I can draw these characters. I'm just going to go trace Peanuts panels and paste them together.

Harold: Yeah.

Jimmy: Which would have been an option, by the way. They could have pulled out the old artograph projector and had, everything to be completely on model.

Harold: Yeah. Do you think these other artists that did take over, like Sasseville did do that, or they seem to have their own strength. And at this point, Sasseville is working off of Schulz at least, I guess, rough ideas for the jokes and thumbnails. That's a whole other world.

Michael: But some of these panels are really good. Yeah. Like page two, the first two dancing panels, like the Happy dance panel.

Harold: Yeah. Those are really good choices, drawing, wise and not easy to do.

Michael: But they could be just tracing panels, I guess.

Harold: Yeah.

Michael: So your job is to go through all the Peanuts and see if you can find the panel he traced.

Harold: Yeah, that's my vote. He penciled this one, maybe thought up the concept, and somebody else who was pretty darn good at trying to recreate it, maybe was the one who attempted to be true to Schulz's work. But just the way the water is done, I'd have to go back and look at what he did with water with rain and stuff. It just seems like it's inked a little bit differently than what I'm used to with Schulz in it. That was just pencil lines. That would explain it.

Jimmy: Okay. Well, I agree with all of that, and I couldn't have said it better.

Should, we move on to the last one Peanuts. Peanuts The Rainy Day. And our final story, that's been attributed, at least in part, to Schulz, comes from Nancy number 169. And again, this is all from the blog by Derek Bang, internationally renowned Peanuts scholar. And this one, is based, at least in part, at least one panel on an existing strip. And we'll get to that at the end. This is basically just the Linus and Lucy are at the library, and it's raining, and Lucy keeps sending Linus home to get her umbrella so she could walk home, which she does, holding it above herself. And Linus, as she points out, is already wet, gets to walk home alone, which Linus predicted would happen. But of course, the question is, did his prediction make it happen, or was it always destined to be so? It's an awkward story, but there's something about this I like, if I saw this and I knew, and I just thought it was like a Peanuts ripoff strip, I'd be like, I want to hunt down a couple of those weird Peanuts rip off strips. I think the outline around the word Peanuts, which is imitating how they do it in the Sunday strips, might be the first time someone's trying to imitate the hand tremor but not able to do it. This actually, if you go back to the episode where we were talking about that I described that I could tell it was a tremor as opposed to an intentional wavy line. This is why, if you look this is an intentional wavy line. It doesn't have the sort of telegraphic rhythm of the tremor. But I know it's cool, and I think the coloring is kind of cool, but the characters are very, very weird. Probably the most off model we've seen, I think.

Harold: Yeah, so this is Nancy 169, August 1959. The other ones were from 1957. So they're prior to him getting Jim Sasseville working with him on these strips and kind of taking over the responsibilities for the comic book here. It's interesting if you are in the Dell Archive book, the comic prior was drawn by Jim Sasseville, and the comic after is drawn by Dale Hale. So we know that Jim had gone out to California to live with the Schulzs, be able to work in Schulz's studio with him. And we know that things got a little bit awkward when Schulz announced to Jim that he was no longer going to be doing the comic strip, because Schulz had told the syndicate that he was ending the Sunday comic, It's Only A Game that Sasseville was drawing for him. So at some point, I'm assuming this is when Sasseville has to go to San Francisco and find another job, because that was his main source of income.

Jimmy: Well, this is what Derek Bang has to say on his blog. The comic book storyline that we're talking about here is an expansion of that Sunday strip, which he is referring to, June 23, 1957. And the final panel in this story in the comic book is signed by Charles Schulz. The only case where any interior comic book stories bear his signature, his signature was on the covers, which I believe are generally attributed to Schulz. But anyway, this came about because Sasseville had just stopped his work on the comics, and Schulz needed to supply his own fill in issue until the next artist, Dale Hale, began with issue 170. So that is exactly what, that confirms exactly what you were saying.

Harold: That's really interesting. So when you guys look at this artwork and this lettering and this story, what seems to be of Schulz.

Michael: I'm seeing padding, like, filling out, filling panels, like almost buying time to fill up the pages.

Jimmy: That's a really interesting observation. It does seem like some of the silent kind of lines in the rain panels are more authentic than the stuff that's happening in the library.

Harold: Yeah.

Michael: Well, let's see. There is an example of clear padding right at the beginning, where-- Schulz wouldn't write this. I'll wait here for you, says Lucy. Right. Next panel. I'll wait for you inside.

Jimmy: Right. Yeah. That's not conveying any more information. Yeah.

Harold: Right?

Michael: And then him saying, what did you say, Linus? Later, Lucy says something in Linus says, what did you say? And that's like just killing another panel.

Jimmy: She says okay. And if I were guessing, those two panels, where she's reading the books, and then Linus comes back and says, what you say? I think those do look very they look much more like Schulz than some of the other ones.

Michael: Oh, yeah. Look at the what did you say panel. OK, scroll down to the say panel.

Jimmy: Right.

Michael: That's almost a paste up.

Harold: Right.

Michael: And the two drops.

Harold: Right.

Jimmy: But it's not a paste up. Well, is Lucy a paste up? No, because look at her dresses. But it's one intentionally exactly copying the other. Do you think those are two different hands? Do you think it's a different person drawing the second?

Michael: Well, my point being that probably didn't write it, and Schulz did it, and somebody made it long enough by adding extra panels.

Jimmy: What do you think?

Harold: I'm seeing somebody who's seen this strip, whether Schulz directed them to it or not, and they are responsible for basically making a four-page story twist on a strip before. Schulz doesn't seem to me like the kind of guy who would wind up with essentially the last panel of something he's already done as the final thing. Maybe he would kick something off and then go a different direction, but you wouldn't wind up in the same artwork at the end. So I'm thinking that this is being written by somebody who's seen this strip and using it as a reference for how Peanuts stories go. They go back, they try to make a story, and, it's their own, and Schulz is not involved.

Michael: Well, the original punchline and the Sunday page was good, and, the punchline panel here is not.

Harold: No, you're right. This is not the level of Schulz for his writing. It doesn't have his cadence. So I don't think Schulz wrote this. I think someone was using Schulz as a reference to write Schulz. And they just, again, are doing their best to match something that's not them. It's not their own voice.

Jimmy: Yeah, there's something wonky and weird, but that I find kind of cool about this. I don't know exactly why, and I'm sure if I read three of them, that would probably be all I'd ever need. But I enjoyed it. I enjoyed looking at a minute.

Michael: How about the Charlie Brown shirt pattern on that urn that's sitting in the library near the second to last page.

Jimmy: Oh, my gosh.

Harold: Yes.

Jimmy: I didn't notice that. OK, so I definitely don't think those are Schulz, Linus, and Lucy in that panel.

Michael: Definitely the one after Lucy looks totally wrong.

Harold: Yeah. here's my take on this. I think the reason that Schulz signs the last panel in this strip is because the hardest was ripping off the, last panel in the strip from the Sunday page from June 23, 1957. And since Schulz signed it at the bottom, this guy signed Schulz's name at the bottom.

Jimmy: I think that's 100% right.

Michael: So it's a forgery.

Jimmy: Yeah. He's just like, I got to put your signature.

Harold: It reminds me of a story when I was, I had a friend named Wayne, Wayne Mayfield, who was, in school with me, and he loved this story. He was in competition with, a girl named Shanda Campbell, who they were both really good students and both very ambitious. And he, didn't like the fact that Shanda was working on one of those projects that's done in the classroom. And you got the whole-- back in the old days, had the whole encyclopedia set in the wall of your room where you were a student. And it's one of those things where you have given the country of Argentina or whatever. And so Shanda, is working--

Jimmy: Argentina, by the way, lots of listeners from Argentina.

Harold: Yeah. Shout out to Argentina and Hong Kong.

Michael: Hola. Che tal

Jimmy: Thank you so much, guys. Schulz is International. We're just riding his coattails. Anyway go ahead Harold.

Harold: Anyway, so Shanda is doing her Argentina paper, according to Wayne, and she takes it up to the teacher and says, here's what I've done so far. And the teacher was like, oh, this is really good, Shanda. I see. It says “see map.” You're going to draw a map? And she's like, what? Oh, yeah, because she has apparently just copied to this point in the project, just copied everything verbatim out of the encyclopedia, concluded writing the word see map now in parentheses. So Wayne absolutely just exalted us over the fact that she had done that with the teacher. But anyway, I'm sure Shanda was going to clean up her work, by the time she was done.

Jimmy: Oh, I'm sure.

Do you guys ever know that book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain? Do, you remember either that book or Drawing on the Artist Within? But they talk about-- they teach you how to do signature forgeries. They are trying to teach you that, but they're expressing that a forger will look at the thing upside down. You're not distracted by the fact, and you can learn to forge signatures that way. I played basketball, and my school's team got to go and go to the Sixers training camp, and, they were unbelievably nice and available to us. And I got Charles Barkley’s autograph. And when I got home and I was showing it to other kid-- Oh, I want, I’ll sell you, Charles Barkley’s. Will you sell it to me for $5? So I sold Charles Barkley autograph like 4 times.

Harold: Oh, no.

Jimmy: So thanks, Betty Edwards, what do you think about this last panel? Do you think this is like a straight up tracing on the right hand side?

Harold: Look at where the handle or the stem of the umbrella is next to Lucy's eye. It's like covering her eye version. He places it, I think, in a much better spot. Yes, it is. So I think the artist is not tracing this work. He's using it as a reference. Yeah, I don't think Schulz was. I just can't imagine Schulz being more involved in this than any of the others. It just has that same odd flow and pacing to it.

Jimmy: I certainly can't see him getting to the end of this and going, all this baby needs is my signature. Masterpiece.

Harold: No. I mean, look at the way the rain is inked.

Jimmy: Oh, that's a dead giveaway. That looks like some Vince Colletta scratching.

Harold: They're working fast, but they are trying to follow Schulz's rule. You see, Schulz, basically, his rain is straight up and down, and then in the middle, he'll do an extra set of lines so that it seems particularly hard in the space where the characters heads and bodies are. And this artist does try to kind of be true to that, but it's so much scratchier and faster, and it just doesn't look like Schulz.

Jimmy: Well, what's missing is the intent. You know, when Schulz, is doing it. he's doing it to draw attention to the mood of the characters. The composition of the panel. Depth of field.

Michael: Schulz is implying there's some structures behind them.

Jimmy: Right. This guy just goes, well, there's more lines in the middle. But again, I thought it was kind of cool in its own weird, off way.

Harold: Like, if something I don't think Schulz pencilled this. I don't think Schulz inked this. I don't think Schulz wrote this unless he literally was hopping in on a panel or something, because they were trying to meet a crazy deadline, because he lost his artist.

Jimmy: Yeah, I think Michael nailed it because I think-- I believe that Lucy sitting at the desk looking at the books. I believe that has to be Schulz. But it's here and there because in the next panel--

Harold: How's this for a theory? Let's say that Schulz just did the bottom right panel of page one, and then we have the same panel, essentially the guys copying off of what he just saw Schulz do.

Jimmy: That's what I think. Yeah, I really think that's it because it doesn't even have, like, the motion lines around Lucy, which are just so simple but so effective in that and just whatever that little bit of magic is, it's in the one panel but not the other. On the other hand, we could be completely wrong.

But I'm glad I saw them. I'm glad I got to talk with you guys about them.

Michael: Well, I've read these. I mean, I didn't read Nancy, of course, but I did read some of the Peanuts comics and never noticed that it wasn't showing.

Harold: Really interesting. You would have been how old?

Michael: Well, probably mid 50s. So I would have been like, in my 20s.

Jimmy: Yeah, if you're reading it when you're six, I think you can get a pass for not noticing Schulz's exquisite ink line.

Hey, everybody out there, thank you for listening. this podcast just means the whole world to me so that I get to hang out every week and talk about my favorite thing with my favorite people. So I really hope that you come back.

Are we coming back next week, Liz?

Liz: We're going to do a holiday season.

Jimmy: We're going to do a holiday season. I'm, so excited about that. And I hope you guys will come back and enjoy the holidays with us. In the meantime, you can just keep this conversation going. You can find us on Twitter and Instagram, we’re unpackpeanuts. You could also visit us on our website at You can check out our new hotline where you can call and leave us a message, ask us a question, or send us a text. That number, do you know what it is, Harold?

Harold: uh

Liz: I know.

Jimmy: What is it?

Liz: 717-219-4162.

Jimmy: There you go. So we would love to hear from you on that. Other than that, I just hope that this podcast finds you well, that we were able to make your day a little bit better.

I'd also like to just quickly thank again, Aziza Shakralla Clark for her amazing voiceover and Liz Sumner, for being our incredible producer and editor. Trust me when I say this would not happen without her. Other than that, for Michael and Harold, I'm 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 voice over by Aziza Shukralla Clark. For more from the show, follow @UnpackPeanuts on Instagram and Twitter. For more about Jimmy, Michael and Harold, visit Have a wonderful day and thanks for listening.

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