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Season 5 Wrap Up 1970-1974 - Peanuts Jubilee

Jimmy: Hey, everybody. Welcome back to the show. Can you believe it? We are at our season five wrap up. We are calling this just about the halfway point through the entire 50-year project of Peanuts. And it feels good. It feels good to have all those strips, under our belts and still so much good stuff ahead of us.


Hope you guys are doing well out there. I'm your host for the proceedings. My name is Jimmy Gownley. I'm also the cartoonist of Amelia Rules ,Seven, Good Reasons Not to Grow Up, and The Dumbest Idea Ever. Joining me, as always, are my pals, co hosts and fellow cartoonists.


He's a playwright, 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 cartoonist behind such great strips as Strange Attractors, A Gathering of Spells, and Tangled River. It's Michael Cohen.


Michael: Say hey.


Jimmy: He's the writer and producer of Mystery Science Theater 3000, a former vice president of Archie Comics, and the creator of the instagram sensation Sweetest Beasts, Harold Buchholz.


Harold: Hello, everybody.


Jimmy: Guys, we made it all the way to almost 1975. How's that feel to you guys?


Michael: Halfway there. Do we get a drink of water?


Jimmy: You, are allowed to have a sip of water at this point, but then right back on the field. That's just the way it goes.


Michael: Okay.


Jimmy: I mean, we do deserve a great deal of praise and credit here for reading all these comments.


Michael: Well, that's the easiest part, right?


Jimmy: Could you imagine having had to create them? That would have been a little more of a challenge. So what I thought we could do today, we, look, back over this season, even going all the way back to, let's say, the post 50s era, see where we've changed, see where we've grown, what new characters have come in and that type of stuff. What kind of new feel has gone on in the strip? What new areas is Schulz exploring? But before we do that, we have some news we could talk about. We have some listener mail, all kinds of exciting stuff. So how about we get to it.


Harold: great.


Michael: Sure.


Jimmy: Okay. So you guys out there might remember our fantastic guest, Benjamin Clark, who is the curator at the Charles M. Schulz Museum. Well, he has won an Eisner award.

Harold: That's fantastic.


Jimmy: It's fantastic. He and his writing partner, Nat Gertler for their book Charles Schulz: A life in 100 objects. They won the Eisner Award just this past weekend. So congratulations.

Harold: Yeah, congratulations. That's an excellent book. So I can see why it won that award.

Jimmy: For those of you who don't know, the Eisner Awards are generally considered like, the highest award in comics. They call themselves comics Oscars. Some people have been nominated, many, many times, and haven't--


Michael: One of us, can you guess who


Jimmy: haven't ever won. But they're not bitter.


Harold: this is interesting. Let's explain how they award them. So they basically lock people into a hotel room for multiple days, and everything that's been nominated, they actually go through every single piece that was nominated. That's surprisingly unusual in awards. So these are people that are from all different walks of life. They might be a retailer of comics. They might be a fellow artist or writer, or they're connected to the convention. So it's people who really appreciate and enjoy comics, and they will nominate from all of the things they see. So I've generally thought that the nominations are the strongest you could possibly get if you're trying to understand what's going in comics in a given year, because they actually looked at all of the things that people thought were worthwhile to submit for consideration. Then it goes in a traditional kind of Academy Award kind of style. It goes to all of the professionals to vote. And of course, they generally have not seen 10% of the stuff. And so it tends to be what is most popular wins, because people just are aware of it. You may only know of one thing in a category. And so I think, in a way, to be nominated is a huge honor. And then to win is to get a sense of your popularity or how well known you are. So I think that's why you got nominated so many times, is people saw the work and said, this is fantastic. But in the larger world, because, Jimmy, you worked in kids comics, I think a lot of the people voting just didn't see it, didn't know it.


Jimmy: Good times. You know what the best thing here was? The best thing, and I didn't mean this to go off onto a thing about, me, but one of my favorite moments ever in the history of my career was I was nominated for four Eisner Awards in one year. It was tied for the most of anyone in the industry, and of course, I lost them all. However, Harold was there, my family was there, even my cousin, John Gallagher. We all went out to the Biggest Loser dinner in San Diego, and it was personal pan pizzas at the Greyhound bus stop.


Harold: It doesn't get any better than that.


Jimmy: And, after losing four Eisner Awards, I walked up and said, I would like a pepperoni pan pizza, please. And they said, we're out of pepperoni. I was like, excellent.


Harold: Sorry, kid. That's the way it goes.


Jimmy: It was perfect. One of my favorite nights. So anyway, though, congratulations to Benjamin and Nat. That is a huge accomplishment. And, we're very proud of you.

Let's see, we got some mail here. Our first message coming through the old website is from Debbie Perry and she writes I enjoy your podcast. As a longtime Peanuts reader myself, I like how you give some perspective on Schulz's work with your research, memories and personal opinions. Reading through the decades with your podcast, Peanuts certainly has taken more of a turn into the surreal in the 1970s, while it already had begun to head that way in the 1960s with Snoopy the whirly dog, Linus's sentient blanket attacking Lucy, and Snoopy's World War II fantasies, but the head Beagle, Woodstock and Joe Cool gave it a bigger push. That way Charlie Brown's baseball hallucinations and the resulting rash would really have seemed out of place in the 50s or 60s strip and the whole Mr. Sack thing would have just been another cruel joke at Charlie Brown's expense. Perhaps it was some sort of commentary on how people might have taken Schulz himself differently if they didn't know that he was the creator of Peanuts. A peculiar sort of wish fulfillment to be someone else for a short period of time. When the kids at camp don't know that Mr. Sack is Charlie Brown, they treated him differently with a lot more respect. But once the Sack is removed, it's back to being good old Charlie Brown. The Alfred E. Neuman ending is a bit of a non sequitur, but most likely is an in joke to the many times Schulz was parodied in their publication.


Michael: That's good. I agree with almost everything she says there.


Jimmy: I do too. I think I could see a version of Mr. Sack in the maybe the late 60s. No?

Harold: Yeah, I think so. It's hard to peg that really does have a level of surreality to it, though, that I generally didn't see. He was getting there, I think, with Snoopy and the Sopwith Camel and all of that. Yeah. So maybe yeah.


Jimmy: I guess the manifestation of the symptoms and everybody else dealing with it is what makes it more 70s. She also goes to say that, it was animated, the Mr. Sack story as it's an adventure, Charlie Brown, which she thinks might have been sort of a backdoor pilot for the Charlie Brown and Snoopy show.


Harold: Okay.


Jimmy: Which I really like. This I was whatever I was when it came out. Twelve. So of course I would have liked it. But I really thought that Charlie Brown and Snoopy show was fun because it was just animating sequences


Harold: It was like a Saturday morning cartoon. And I guess what would set it apart from the other ones is it was much more happy to be episodic and true to the strips. Right. They didn't have to build additional-- he didn't have time to develop all these additional storylines and things. So if there was a sequence in the strip, it would be a sequence and kind of like almost like blackout gags where you just have the four panels play out and then you would have almost like a dissolve into the next day's strip. It feels like an animated version of Peanuts.

Jimmy: And the ones I remember off the top of my head, them having done is well, Debbie says, Mr. Sack, which I don't remember because maybe I hadn't seen whatever the pilot was, but I remember Snoopy guarding Peppermint Patty's house on the waterbed. That's brilliantly animated. Rerun on the back of the bike. That's really funny. There's a bunch of good ones, so I'm sure they're out there. I'm sure they're findable. They're probably on some streaming service somewhere. All right, well, thank you very and she, of course, she says, Be of good cheer. So be of good cheer to you, Debbie. Thank you.


Michael: Be of good cheer.


Jimmy: Good to hear from you. We got another one. This is from Wayde Weston. I just discovered your podcast, and I'm enjoying it immensely. When I was a kid, I was constantly annoying everyone around me, asking, hey, do you want to hear a Peanuts strip? And without even waiting for a reply, would recite as many as I could before they could walk away or otherwise resist. Now, at age 64, I feel like I found my tribe. Aw, thanks buddy.


Harold: That’s lovely.


Jimmy: I liked your deep dive into the Mr. Sack series of strips. I always really enjoyed the long storylines, but was often disappointed by the endings. Schulz just couldn't seem to find his way out of these stories, and a lot just came to. The sad trombone


Harold: couldn't find out his way out of paper sack.


Jimmy: Like the Alfred E. Neuman ending. Here Lucy's golf tournament in the early days. Peppermint Patty's skating tournament. Although there was a satisfying epilogue to that story. I agree. I think that's a great strip, a great story, and the Bunny Wunny book banning story. He did have some successes, like the Joe Shlabotnik banquet stories and some of Lucy's attempts to do away with Linus's blanket. But for the most part, it was like he'd painted himself into a corner and broke down the wall to get out. Anyway, thanks again for this podcast, and I look forward to future episodes and catching up with past ones. Be of good cheer y'all. Yes, be of good cheer. Thank you so much for writing Wayde. I actually like that description. He painted himself into the corner and broke the wall to get out. I think that actually might be my new writing strategy.


Harold: Yeah, that's a great way to that's a very interesting visual, right?


Jimmy: Yeah. And finally, we have an email titled An Obscurity, and this comes from Tim Young. Tim writes, hi, guys. Here's a Peanuts obscurity for you. I've been reading along with you in the Fantagraphics books, and I've been noticing that Schulz keeps doing Veterans Day strips in late October. But is it Veterans Day, November 11? That's a really good point. I actually had not realized that. Wikipedia to the rescue. He writes, although originally scheduled for a celebration on November 11 of every year starting in 1971. In accordance with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, Veterans Day was moved to the fourth Monday of October. It was moved back to its original celebration on November 11. In 1978, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act also moved Washington's birthday, now President's Day and Memorial Day to Mondays as they still are, and made Columbus Day a federal holiday again, always on Monday.


Harold: Wow.


Jimmy: I had no idea that Columbus Day just became a holiday in the 70s. That's insane. Wikipedia doesn't explain why Veterans Day was moved back to November 11, but the Department of Veterans Affairs site says the first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971. It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens. And so Gerald Ford basically signed it back to being November 11. All right. And then he writes, keep up the good work.


Harold: All right.


Jimmy: Well, thanks, Tim. So now we know it is strange that there are some of these things that when, you're reading something that is so timely and so meant for the day, it was read, that so much of this just kind of gets lost to the midst of history.


Liz: That's why we have an obscurities page.


Jimmy: That is why we have an obscurities page. Hey, and, you know, if you guys have, not checked it out, Liz puts a tremendous amount of effort into the obscurities page. It's not just a few little things. There's, pictures of little people playing professional baseball. There's pictures of me going to kindergarten for the first time.


Harold: It's totally worth it. It's kind of hidden on the website, but if you go in there and you've been following us at all, I think you're going to find a treasure trove of fun stuff to go through.


Jimmy: Yeah, it's really fun. So check that out. And thank you, Liz, for doing that.


Harold: Jimmy I think something changed in Columbus Day, but it actually happened 1934, apparently.


Jimmy: Okay, see, that makes much more sense.


Harold: Roosevelt, responded to a request to make a proclamation from the I guess it was from Congress.


Michael: No, I'm sure it was from some Italian--


Harold: It was the Knights of Columbus.


Michael: I think it was the Mob.


Jimmy: All right, so if you guys want to, drop us a line or get in touch somehow, there's a bunch of different ways you can do it. the first way you can go onto our website, which is unpackingpeanuts.com. You can sign up for the great Peanuts reread. And then you'll get a once a month email from us letting you know what strips we're covering. But, you can also just send us an email and, we would love to read it on the air. We'll fulfill requests if you have any special upcoming strip you really want covered, let us know any memories you have of the strips, any obscurities or insights. We would love to hear all of it. And, we would just love to hear from you just to hear how you're doing. Because, as you know, if I don't hear, I worry.

You can also find us on social media. We're at Unpacked Peanuts on Instagram and Twitter. Possibly Twitter got turned to X, theoretically yesterday, but I think Elon was just on peyote or something like that. Anyway, so I don't know if we're going to be there, but until then, we're, at Unpack Peanuts on Instagram and Twitter and Threads. Yes. So we have all of those great places for you to check us out.


So all right, let's start talking, guys. let's start talking about Peanuts in the 1970s. Lots of changes. So, Michael, if you had to put your finger on what the biggest change from the is, what would you think it is?


Michael: I think it's more of a focus on the longer stories. Yeah, I mean, there were lots of events, lots of regular things that popped up in the strip that are still popping up in the strip. But I can't think of anything that ran longer than a week before the 70s.


Jimmy: Right. And I think more than the surreality, more than anything else, that really does affect how you read the strip. I mean, I can just tell it from me reading the strips while we're discussing them. There were so many where that were just the perfect little jewel like, standalone thing. And now there's tons of setup that has to come before them and tons of follow up afterwards. it's a different feel for sure. I don't think he could have done it in the same way at the beginning, because he just didn't well, I know he couldn't, because he just did not have the characters those early strips have talking about like 1951 have basically no character traits at all.


Harold: Well, the continuing story thing, I stumbled on a quote that he made. We were asking the question, do we think that he was figuring out his storylines in advance? Like I think most people would do. Right. They would probably block out, if they had the idea of a full for a full story, they would probably kind of figure of beginning the middle and the end, and then they just work through it. But I did find this quote, which is actually in The Peanuts Jubilee, which we'll be talking about later, which is a fantastic book if you love Peanuts and you have not read The Peanuts Jubilee. I think it's probably the most extended observation, by Schulz of his work halfway through his career. It's more than you'll ever get in any one place, is in this book. But he said something. He said, I do not prepare my continuing stories in advance, but usually let the daily episodes take a story where they wish to lead it. I find it is much more important to have a good series of daily ideas than to have a good storyline. So he said a comic strip artist should never concentrate so hard on a storyline that he allows his daily episodes to become weak. He should never let the reader feel it's all right if he misses the strip for two or three days because he can pick up the story later on in the week.


Michael: Do you think that’s true? A lot of his pals I mean in the funny newspaper strip category, we're doing long stories forever. Like Al Capp with L’il Abner and Pogo sort of broke down into nice little chapters. They're self contained chapters.


Harold: Yeah. I feel like it's interesting that he had to go through that exercise with animation, but I don't think he ever really took to it. And maybe it is because kind of his philosophy was it seemed like it's strangely like he's saying, if I focus on what the best thing is for today, that's the best thing I can do. Because most of these people reading the strip are going to be reading it on a daily basis. And I might create two or three or five week what you might call arcing strips that are filling the gap to get to the next funny thing I can think of. And he wouldn't kind of let himself do that because I mean, anybody who's done long term or long form humor would, understand the idea. If you do have the process where you think of something complete and then you say, okay, I'm going to now flesh this story out, there are those awkward moments where, okay, I've got a killer thing here and then I got a killer thing here and I have to get there. And then you might do a filler of a page or two that you're not particularly happy with because you had to get from one place to another because you'd already jumped ahead in thinking what it should be. It seems like Schulz was aware of that and he said, no, I just want to be inspired the next time. But maybe that's why he had so much trouble finishing them, is because he was forced. And maybe that's the one weakest thing or the potentially weakest thing he could do is when I got to wrap this up and I got nothing. He still has to wrap it up.


Jimmy: Well, then, what is it? He breaks his way through the wall or whatever. That's a perfect way of describing it.


Harold: And I'm thinking people talk about breaking the fourth wall when someone in a story then addresses the audience. That's the first thing I thought of when he said that. You paint yourself into a corner, then you break the wall to get out. and sometimes he kind of did break the fourth wall. Like with that Alfred E. Neuman image. there seemed to be a wink to the audience that, okay, I'm taking this to the ultimate level of absurdity because I don't have anything.


Jimmy: You I mean, what do you think about it being Alfred E. Neuman? Debbie pointed out and Schulz himself has you know, they made fun of me in their magazine and I always enjoyed it. So I thought it would be fun to put them in. Okay. I mean…


Harold: He writes about that Mr. Sack thing as well in Peanuts Jubilee and it's just interesting how he does talk about he says, I don't know which story has been my favorite, but one that worked out far beyond my expectations was Mr. Sack. And the way he describes it, it's interesting. How does he end his description? He says, unfortunately, he could not resist taking the sack off to see if his rash was cured and once he had removed the sack, he reverted back to his old self. So to him, I think that's the ending. But he had to have some way to get out of the story. That was the last thing he wanted to say or found out he had said. And then how do you close that out?


Jimmy: But what I mean is, here's what I think. I guess it starts with the sun rising. So actually ending with the sun rising is beautiful. That's a perfect little poetic way to structure it. But why? Alfred E. Neuman, the mascot of Mad Magazine. They can't be because oh, they made fun of me. Okay, fine. There's lots of things that you might want to give a shout out to, but this is the end of this really long sequence and I can't help but think that there's something to that. The fact that it's Mad, I mean, that's really weird.


Harold: Well, and it's comics, right? How often does he have comics entering his world as a thing or an event or a character? I mean, Alfred E. Neuman is the sun, so it had been baseball. And now is it satisfying to Schulz because he doesn't have anything for Charlie Brown internally? So Charlie Brown's a cartoon character and now he's just going back to being a cartoon character. I don't that's that's probably doesn't make sense, but anyway.


Jimmy: No, it sort of does make sense to me. Yeah, no, it sort of does make sense. What do you think, Michael?


Michael: Well, he wanted to end it with a laugh. And it's just like he does a lot of when we do obscurities, he does a lot of name dropping. As punchlines, you know this is a reference to Dr Spock or whatever, and so he uses a visual reference, so everyone in recognition. You know, no one's going to think about it. Like, does everybody see what is this really happening? Is Charlie Brown crazy? I think it's just end with a big laugh and then move on.


Jimmy: Right. But even so, I don't know, I'm fascinated by why his subconscious picked that, because it's so weird to me. It's always been really weird to me.


Michael: The thing is, Alfred E. Neuman's very bizarre because he's not a comic character.


Jimmy: Yeah, right, exactly. He has no stories of his own.


Harold: Yeah.


Michael: It's just an image everyone knows. But it's not referencing another comic strip. It's referencing a, character appears only on the cover. It'd be like if he put the New Yorker guy


Jimmy: yeah, right.


Harold: It's a brand.


Jimmy: It's a brand. Right.


Harold: It's a brand mascot.


Jimmy: yeah. Ronald McDonald or something. Well, interesting. I think I'll probably just have to think about it for another 30 years or so, and then maybe I'll come up with some solid insight.


All right, I have other questions for you guys. I want to know. So now that we're well into the we have like a whole new subcast of characters, of the characters that appeared, let's say post Sally, let's say post 1959, who's your favorite? Or do you have one or two favorites? That's what I'm curious about.


Harold: I'd have to pick Woodstock.


Michael and Jimmy: Yeah


Harold: I think Woodstock is just a wonderful, wonderful visual character. Brings out a side of Snoopy that I think is extremely endearing, that I think really helped give, in a strange way, kind of how to put it, but like an emotional gravitas to Snoopy, who's always going off into these crazy things. And now he's a friend and he's dealing with being a friend. And I think that helped anchor Snoopy to something that allowed Schulz to let Snoopy fly off even further, into his flights of fancy. And you would always go back to.


Michael: Well, Woodstock’s more than a friend, or less than a friend in some ways, because he works for Snoopy essentially, so...


Harold: Well, right. There's a lot of relationships going on there. But he goes to Woodstock's parties and they play together working for Snoopy.


Michael: And it's clear that who's boss.


Jimmy: Although Snoopy calls him friends of friends, I think of it, kind of almost like a parental relationship. Almost, not quite.


Michael: Well, it's echoed in, the Peppermint Patty - Marcie relationship in some way, where one of them is definitely the alpha.


Jimmy: Very true. It is interesting that he does have those 2 70s kind of comedy teams come together. Peppermint Patty and Marcie and Snoopy and Woodstock. And there are definite similarities.


Harold: And Snoopy seemed to always be griping that he was lesser than the kids, and that was a long term thing. That he was the underdog in the strip and also highly egotistical, and there's all these really interesting dynamics. But yeah, I think Woodstock changes Snoopy forever in the strip when that relationship hits. And I feel like it rounds Snoopy out in a way that just if people didn't love love Snoopy before, I think a lot of readers are like, this is an amazing character. I love having or thinking of Snoopy. If I have a little plush toy or a yoyo or whatever. There's something about Woodstock that really gives Snoopy an ultimate fullness he didn't have before that carries through the rest of the strip for another 20 plus years.

Jimmy: And just as a pure design, only a genius cartoonist could cartoon Woodstock. I mean, so tiny, so minimal, and conveys so much no words. even that just the idea of the hash marks as the little chirps.


Michael: Well, that goes way back. I mean, he had birds doing the little chirp marks for ten years.


Jimmy: So genius.


Michael: And they were regulars. It's just none of them stood out. They were just generic birds. and he was popular before he was named, so it wasn't naming him.


Jimmy: No.


Michael: I think what it was was, the other birds had all kinds of they were playing poker, you know, kind of ignoring Snoopy. And I think Woodstock's magic charm, is that he's yeah, because there's a lot of slapstick with him. I mean, it's funny because he falls and gets buried in the snow or bumps his head. He's not using that humor on anyone else. That's not Peanuts humor. Generally, you don't see Lucy, like, bumping her head or anything for laughs, but for some reason with Woodstock, it's hilarious.


Harold: Well, Woodstock like the other characters, and all the characters, pretty much all the major characters, they all seem to have a dignity. Right. They carry a dignity with them. And Woodstock is not an exception. Woodstock has a sense of right and wrong and feels that he should be treated a certain way. and you see that in strips where he can get upset with Snoopy. And that seems to be something that is particularly unique to Schulz. I think in strips is the dignity of even the smallest character, really shines in all of this


Michael: Well, he doesn't quit. I mean, he's still trying to kick football after, like, years of unable to move.


Harold: Yeah, he did better than Charlie Brown admirable.


Michael: He’s sort of admirable. You know Charlie Brown is like, you know, he’s stupid. I mean, why would that pulling the football away might work twice, but Woodstock somehow trying to kick the football doesn't seem stupid. He's just going to keep trying.


Harold: I can't let that statement go by without at least saying, isn't there something admirable in Charlie Brown that he doesn't give up, and then he always has hope?

Michael: No.


Harold: Okay, just wanted to ask.


Jimmy: Well, if you have a different take, you can write to us at our Unpacking Peanuts email. All right, so we've done four years of the seven well, five years of the 70s. Who's your MVP. Who's your most valuable Peanut for just the this isn't just new characters. This can include old characters as well.


Michael: Well, we just talked about it.


Jimmy: so Woodstock is the same for you?


Michael: Yeah, I mean, clearly for the 70s, he's up there in the top tier and could probably hold its own strip at this point.


Jimmy: What do you think, Harold?


Harold: Wow. MVP of the you said new or old character. Yeah, I give it to Snoopy.


Jimmy: Snoopy?


Harold: Yeah. I think Woodstock does require Snoopy in the context of the strip, and Snoopy is relating with the characters more directly than ever. They seem to understand what he's thinking. So he's actually more in their world in the 70s. And like I said, Snoopy is as fleshed out as I think he's going to be in the 70s because of Woodstock. So he is such an icon of the culture at this point. He's an astonishing character. I mean, I'm just in awe of that character. And Schulz's ability to create such a beloved character that everybody seems to connect to in their own. This to me, that's the pinnacle of cartooning I don't think anybody's ever surpassed. As much as I love Charlie Brown and the other characters and Linus, Snoopy is just a superstar no one can touch.


Jimmy: It always to this day, it amazes me that someone created Snoopy. Even having watched it develop over all those years and become this thing, there still is just a magic to the final version of Snoopy that I'm in awe of. All right, I'm going to pick somebody different, though, just so we have a third pick. I'm going to go with--


Harold: Jose Peterson?


Jimmy: Jose Peterson because he has a heck of a batting average in North Dakota. No, I'm going to pick Peppermint. Patty. Just because I think the Peppermint Patty-verse is super modern to this day. it's radical in a lot of ways. And she's a great character. I feel so bad we missed the strip. We didn't pick it for some reason where she said, to, know, Marcie, would you make me a dress or whatever for my skating tournament? And Marcie's like, just have your mom make it for you, sir. And she's like, I don't have a mom. Marcie, and Marcie-- the punchline is just how bad Marcie feels, really. That's all proto YA heroine stuff. I love that. And I love that he was so far ahead of the game.


So, yeah, those are three good picks for our picks. for the who's your favorite who's your favorite post 1970 Peanuts character? Who's carrying the weight for you these days? Think about that. And then we're going to take a break. And while we're taking a break and getting a little beverage or something, you can go on Unpacking Peanuts and send us that email with your pick. And then when we come back, what we're going to do for our big finale for the season is take an in depth look at that fabulous book Harold was talking about earlier, Peanuts Jubilee. So stick around. We'll be right back.


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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: We're back. and this is the Unpacking Peanuts season five finale, where we're about to look at a fantastic book called Peanuts Jubilee: My Life and Art with Charlie Brown and Others. Or as it is on the title page of this otherwise gorgeously produced book, My Life and Art with Peanuts Jubilee, Charlie Brown and Others, by Charles M. Schulz. A little odd, but anyway, published by good old Holt, Rinehart, and Winston in New York in the year 1975. Harold, tell us about-- this is an important book in your childhood. Tell us a little bit about, how you came to it and your thoughts on it.


Harold: Well, this is of all of the books I ever received as a child, this one stands out as the biggest impact. My favorite book, you don't know if your mind plays tricks in you, but the way I remember it was we became aware of this probably in early 1976, and it was given to me, in March of 76, for my birthday. And I remember being in the dining room, and we had the cake and everything, and little family get together. And when I opened up that book, it was like that was a really defining moment for me. I'd wanted to be a cartoonist since I was three years old, and here I am turning, ten. And what kind of strikes me is I don't have a ton of memories from childhood that are super vivid, unlike you, Jimmy, but that's very vivid. And I remember as somebody who seriously is such a young child, was like, this is what I want to get to. This is what I want to do in my life. I want to be a cartoonist. I want to do comic strips. And it was because of Peanuts. And to get that book at the age of ten and how I engaged with it, that's the cool thing about books that you really haven't read much at all since the time you first received them as a child. That's the number one way to get me back to where I was as a kid. The memories flood as to what I was thinking and where I was when I read that book. And this is an amazing volume. It's huge. I lost the dust cover to it years ago. And so it's this gigantic silver book. It's oblong way wider than it is tall, and it's got these gorgeous reproductions of a lot of the Sunday strips in full color. And Schulz writes a lot in this book. He's at the halfway point in his career. He didn't know that at the time, but he basically did the strip for 50 years. And here we are at year 25, and you're getting a really well rounded, well thought out picture of where Schulz is at this point in his career. And I hadn't gone back and read this in the longest time, but as I was going through it, I was right. Because he gives you the full picture of what it's like to be a know what his office is like, how many people are working there, his philosophy of how he approaches creation, how many weeks in advance you have to create a Sunday strip, and then how many extra weeks he wants to be ahead of that. I mean, he shares so much. There's even, these wonderful images of a daily strip in progress. You can kind of see him starting from nothing and adding, Snoopy into these panels. While there was, I'm sure, a very distracting photographer, standing behind him, over his shoulder. And I soaked in all of that information because he's who I wanted to be. He was the star, and he was sharing all of his inside secrets. He painted a picture for a ten year old, what it was like to be a cartoonist, and it just made me double down and go, yeah, this is what I want to do. So I love it.


Jimmy: Well, that's great to hear. That's all good stuff to hear. Thanks, Harold. And I think one thing we have to impress upon, any younger listeners who are out there is just how little information there was out there for this type of would you would latch onto any little thing. I remember there was an article about the Spirit in Comics Collector magazine, and within it, they just showed a little illustration, because within a Spirit story, Eisner talked about the type of paper and materials he used to make it. Two ply kid finished bristol board with a series seven sable watercolor brush and all that. Like, that was like, oh, my gosh, now I know something. There was no way to Google it. You just like, okay, so at least this guy uses that paper. Now I know that.


Harold: And I can't think of another book that I've read, and I've read some amazing books on cartooning, like Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics is a great example of a book that just opens your mind and says, wow, I can do this, and I can do unique things with comics that I can't do any way else. But this particular book, Peanuts Jubilee, because it deals with everything his philosophy, his personal life, and how he reflects it and how he chooses to reflect it in the strip. I've never seen a treatise on cartooning that is as well rounded and as deeply thought out and shared as Peanuts Jubilee.


Jimmy: I'm just going to quickly check here to see if it's still available at all.


Liz: it is. It's on Amazon.


Jimmy: Is it? That's fantastic.


Harold: Wow.


Jimmy: So you could get it today.


Harold: Highly recommend it if you love Peanuts. If you've missed this book, check it out. Buy it used, buy it new, doesn't matter. You'll see and read from Schulz. This was it. This was the most complete document he ever offered us ah. About his life and his work. And it's a real treasure.


Jimmy: Get the hardcover. Although if you're skint and you're looking to make the dollar stretch a little bit, $8.84 for the paperback, used from 2.50. You can't beat that.


Liz: Well, and maybe you should go to your local used bookstore.


Jimmy: Oh, yeah. I got mine as a gift from Cupboardmaker Books in, Enola, Pennsylvania. They said when it came in, they thought I should have it, which is about as nice a compliment as you could get. So, yeah, I was an adult when I got it. I actually got the hardcover, which is the one I spent the most time looking at just this year. It's beautiful. It's a wonderful book. I love it starts-- No. Well, actually, what I really like is that it is dedicated to let's see, his name, now, Jim Freeman, who opened the first package. So he's dedicating it to the person at the syndicate who opened the package that he sent that led to all this, which I think is quite an honor for him. Yeah. So in addition to the fact that it has this very long essay, by Schulz, I mean pages and pages long that talks about, his life and his art and how he got there. And then, it goes into some of the earlier stuff. Did you guys enjoy looking at things like, the as we were as an example where we see Schulz's War cartooning, the stuff he did just for himself in his notebook.


Harold: Oh, man, it's some beautiful sketching in there.


Jimmy: Really? Michael, do you see a little bit of our pal Bill Mauldin when you look at some of those drawings?


Michael: I'm sure he was going for it, I mean, Mauldin was was older and more accomplished. I mean Schulz was-- It looks like it's the first work he did that anybody saw.


Jimmy: Yeah, for sure.


Michael: It is a little amateurish.


Jimmy: Well, you know, you're how many years? Like six, seven years away from Peanuts. Nice drawing, nice observation and stuff. It's really cool to say. I have never been a person who has been able to keep a sketchbook of either of you guys. I know Harold has. I have thousands of notebooks, too. Thousands of notebooks. But, like, an actual just drawing sketchbook, since college, I don't think I've actually How about you guys?


Michael: I desperately wanted to be somebody who have had sketchbooks filled with art, and mine were just so awful.


Jimmy: Me, too.


Michael: The only stuff that looked good in the sketchbooks was when I was actually copying somebody, and then I couldn't try to duplicate it without looking, and I couldn't do that. So yeah, no, R. Crumb is beyond comprehension how anyone could draw so much In their life, and it's all great.


Jimmy: and in Crumb's instance, I think the sketchbooks are probably at least as good, if not better than the comics.


Michael: Well, it's closer to fine art.


Jimmy: Yeah, it really is.


Harold: Yeah.


Jimmy: Chris Ware is another one who seems to draw more than humanly possible.


Michael: How do people have the time to do that? Yeah, I pretty much basically create characters on the page with, like, no preparation, where some people go like, okay, I'm working out this character for six months and trying different costumes.


Jimmy: Well, I think, though, that's why you have had books out there and published and done, because you know what I mean, and I say this with all love to all you young people out on the Internet, but you don't need 35 sketches of your original character in every conceivable position. Just draw the first panel of the first page and move on from there, and you'll get further.


Michael: Well, that's actually one of the strongest points of the medium is in comics, the characters morph unless it's like a completely thought out, finished story. Like, Watchmen. Generally, people just assume, well, the characters are going to look different, and different artists are going to draw them. And you can't do that in a movie, like, have different actors every ten minutes.


Jimmy: Minutes.


Jimmy: Right.


Michael: Yeah. So it allows you to start your comic, and sometimes you're not even aware of the changes. Yeah. And you realize that, oh, this character used to-- this robot used to have this funny little gizmo on his head, and then I forgot, and now he doesn't have it anymore.

Jimmy: Yeah. So strange. How about you, Harold? Did you ever keep a true sketchbook?

Harold: The only time I did was, when I got married. Diane. She had a background or degree in I think it was studio art. And she took one look at my cartoon, she says, hey, let's go out and do some weekend life drawing. So we would take those types of classes, and then I'd have the dedicated sketchbook to that. And literally, I'm a beginner because I haven't had formal art training until that point. And so that's why I would do the sketchbook. But the idea of a book that's just images, to me, feels alien because to me, words and pictures always go together. And so that's what you would see in my notebooks is you'd see little sketches of characters and dialogue and then philosophy, and ideas written out, maybe some poetry and then more drawings. It's just depending on where I am in my life, there's more or less of one or the other. But it's funny, I've never had the desire to just draw unless it was an exercise to get better that I was structured right and given me. I mean, I got, I think, like, those books, like, what was the Betty-- the drawing book?


Jimmy: Oh, sure. Betty Edwards, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.


Harold: Betty Edwards. Earlier on, she definitely helped me because I was so afraid of taking art classes or not interested. Because for me, growing up, our art class in junior high or high school was like etching a mug, or macrame. And then maybe you draw for like a week or two or try Tempora or something. I was like, I don't want to do that. I was so ridiculously specific about what I wanted to do. And then I don't know if I told the story, but in college I was like, okay, maybe now this is the time I need to take some real art classes. And then I discovered, that there was like one professor that did the introductory class all four years I was there. And the word started to get out. These kids who were taking like a winter term, we'd have like a four week thing and they're taking an art class. And I was asking, well, how was know, how was the guy? And he was like, oh, he's making people cry. He's torn up people's artwork. And I was like, I'm never taking a class with this guy because what I didn't want to do was hate the thing I loved.


Jimmy: Oh, that's why it's funny. my beloved professor, Dr. Nelson, Robert Nelson, his son is a fairly well known comic book artist. He did the original Aliens graphic novel, which is like a beautiful piece of illustration. But he was well known for being kind of a crumpy, old curmudgeon and yelling at people and stuff. But eventually I just came to love it. He was such a brilliant guy that his just gruffness all became just part of the charm. And I also think there may have been a weeding out process or something going on in his head of like because he seemed much harsher at the beginning than he ever was later.


Harold: I can see in your personality, Jimmy, that somebody's going to raise that before you. You're going to rise to that occasion and you're going to, but that wasn't me. I was the shy kid. I was the shy kid that was like, afraid of getting crushed what was inside of me.


Jimmy: Well, I have noticed over years of therapy that my childhood was basically a never ending series of traumas. So by the time I got to college, what's one more, right?


Harold: And people do grow from teachers like that. And a lot of those teachers are not doing it to be horrible people. They're doing it because they feel that it's going to shake people out of their complacency. Or maybe possibly those, who are destined for greatness, they're going to help push them know, I get that now.


Jimmy: I do well with-- talking about mean teachers. Before we go back to Peanuts, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Sister Regina Alma, the nun that both Harold's wife and me. We both had her as a teacher states and years apart. And she was mean and she was challenging, and it did nothing for me but make me feel terrible. And you could read all about her in my book, Dumbest Idea Ever, where we're trying to solve for X because she is an algebra teacher. Someone posted it on Twitter, I think, just yesterday or the day before. Once Elon Musk made his big X announcement. And Harold, both your wife and my friend Fran Connor, who is now a PhD and a professor of Shakespeare Studies at the University of Kansas, were terrified just at the mere mention and thought of her all these years later.

Harold: Something else I love in the Peanuts Jubilee is in the back, a listing. There's, like, these indices, and one of them is every book that was ever published of Peanuts up until 1975.


Michael: I was able to determine from that when I started reading Peanuts.


Harold: Oh, really?


Michael: It was 1957.


Jimmy: That's amazing. What was the book?


Michael: You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown.


Harold: Okay. So how old were you?


Michael: Seven.


Harold: You were seven years old.


Jimmy: Yeah. That's amazing.


Harold: That's so cool. And to see some of, I mean and more and more and more as you go into the years are these foreign editions he lists, not just the United States or English language editions. So there's cool things like Das Große Peanuts buch.


Jimmy: Like that's funny because Amelia in Germany is Amelia ist de grossest


Michael: Not Amelia Uber Alles


Jimmy: I know. So disappointing. So disappointing. All right, so yes. All right, back to the book here. What else do we like about, it? What do you think of these? Just gorgeous, full-size Sundays in color. I think they look amazing. Let me just say, if you can get the hardcover, get the hardcover because it's bigger and the printing is better. The paper is better and everything, and it looks awesome.


Michael: I thought that was an odd choice. See, I didn't know this book even existed till last week. And so I had my first look at it, online. And at first I thought because for so long, to me, the strip was always the dailies.


Harold: Yeah.


Michael: That's where the action was. And the decision not to have it. I don't know if there are any dailies in it.


Jimmy: Just a few at the beginning.


Michael: Kind of like setting up. If you kind of have this overview, your career, why are you putting one 7th of your output?


Jimmy: I think it's got to be that that was the original idea for the book is for the 25th anniversary. We're going to do a big thing on the Sunday pages. Maybe coming from the publisher.


Michael: Probably the color had never been reproduced before.


Harold: Right.


Jimmy: That makes sense.


Harold: Yeah.


Jimmy: You know, you're right.


Harold: It's a color book. Yeah. That is probably the first color book that Schulz ever had access to. So I'm guessing he was like, I'm going to load this up with my color strips because that's the way people are going to get to see it. And he talks about reproduction and how poor it generally is in comics, and you have to adjust for that. And, I think he was very proud that he was able to share the strips in color. And you could see the cleanness of his art line art with color for the first time.


Jimmy: And not only that, the color is better, meaning the dot screens that could create the color is a lot finer in this book than it ever would have been in the newspaper. And, of course, everything's in perfect registration, which never would have been in the newspaper.


Michael: Actually, I never knew who colored that stuff. Does anybody know?


Jimmy: He does it. He colors it, with colored pencils. And then the way the color chart, the color system worked back in those days, they would have at 64, and then it went up to 128.


Harold: I think it was kind of like The Binney and Smith crayola, thing that had the sharpener. The 64 set was what you wanted and that's what you had to work with when you were, basically, that's all. You got is a little they would send you a chart and you could see the colors in the chart, and then you'd have to pick them and then actually label them. Right. You'd say this is the number of the color.


Jimmy: with the number yeah. So it'd be like Y 75, for instance. Well, I don't know what page we're on, but if you were just going to, like, 100% yellow, right? You'd color it in with your colored pencil and then write, like, Y 100 as the code or whatever.


Michael: See, the surprise for me was, I always thought Patty was blonde just because her hair was not colored, mean, black and white, it was just


Jimmy: she changes. It changes now and again throughout the run. She's more brunette than blonde, but she does appear as a blonde a few times, I think.


Harold: and Schulz, he would send those things in. He was saying that you needed to, for the sake of the process, to print these Sunday color strips. The deadline was ten weeks before the thing printed, and he said he tried to be two to three weeks ahead, just in case there was anything that would keep him from meeting his deadline. And so he would have to do that Sunday strip. He would have to do that little color guide, and then he would mail that off. And there were a bunch of people in Buffalo, New York, if I remember correctly, that that was their job. They would receive all the various Sunday, comic strips from all over the country, in the world, wherever they were being made, and they would have these little charts to work from, and then they would be cutting out, the colors to prep this for printing. And then often the Sunday strips were printed not at the newspaper. You imagine there was, like, a little Neosha Missouri might have 8000 people, and they might have a Sunday comic section, but they don't have a color press. So in, many cases, it was in Buffalo, where they would just print millions and millions and loads of these comics way in advance. And then they would ship them on pallets to each of the newspapers. And then they would have to wrap them into their Sunday section that they printed on their own elsewhere, with circulars and things that came from all over. So it was like a huge, big process compared to, say, a daily strip, where you're just pasting it into your normal, newspaper.


Jimmy: Yeah. And the way they would make those colors with the screens. So if you had a purple that was made with 50% magenta and 50% cyan right. You would color that on your little photocopy or whatever it was, of your drawing, and then you'd indicate it to the color place in Buffalo, you'd send it to them. So if it was 50%, your background was 50% cyan and 50% magenta. To make that purple, you would have to cut one screen of 50% cyan, cut it around the characters, just the part that's going to eventually be purple, then do a separate screen of the exact same area that is the other color that mixes. And then when the two dots are printed together on the paper, you're optically mixing it to make it look like purple.


Michael: That sounds like a hard job.


Harold: It is a hard job.


Michael: Are they using, like, exacto knives ? How can you make nice curves?


Jimmy: That's why everything's off.


Harold: Yeah. Because I guess there were two different ways you could do it. One way you could do it is you could take a 50 percent zipatone, which was basically a clear plastic that had an adhesive on the back of it and then lay it down on top of this clear acetate sheet for, say, what the cyan plate would be because the printing quality colors are black, cyan, magenta and yellow to make up the full color experience. And so you could basically lay that screen down. Or another way they would do it is everything that was 50% they would lay down, is what they think they used to call it. Was it rubylith. And it was a see through kind of orangeish red that you could see when you were cutting around something, what was beneath it without having to use a lightbox. And then it was just known that that sheet of, say, magenta, anything there, was going to be, shot at us, a 50% screen of that to get it in yet another layer of complexity that it was very involved. I did it with the zipatone stuff, when I worked for the Virginia Beach Shopping News, in the it was kind of the last heyday of that kind of a thing. And I think for $75, I had to not only draw the art. But the real hard part was to actually they had full color covers, and I would have to cut this stuff and put it on this acetate and then put registration marks on it, and then they would have to shoot. It was crazy. I can totally see why registration was terrible in comics, because it was really, really hard to get everything to line up.


Michael: But why would Schulz want to control the color?


Harold: You mean the color choices? Yeah.


Michael: I mean, couldn't he just say, Charlie Brown has a yellow shirt and not worry about the exact yellow?


Harold: Maybe that was kind of that pride of ownership he had that everything related to the strip was him. Obviously, he wasn't cutting the rubylith or whatever, but I think it was something, he didn't want to assign to somebody else. That could have been done in his studio. Theoretically, he could have passed it off to somebody else. Well, you know wwith Charlie-- Come ask me about what this kid's shirt is. If you don't normally have the character, if they're standing in line at the, movie theater waiting, it's like, who are these kids? What are they wearing? But I think it was just like, that he felt it was part of the art and he needed to own it.


Michael: Okay. And as far as you recall, was he consistent on certain color choices? Like, if Charlie Brown's bedroom is blue, the walls, is it always?


Harold: No. In fact, if you look at this is one of the things that really stands out if you look at the Peanuts Jubilee book, is he got into the habit of painting with these colors where the backgrounds would be one really solid color. It's, like, all red. And then the next panel let's say the sky was blue in one panel, and then the next panel, it's a salmon color for the sky in the background. And he's just trying to mix up the overall design look of the thing. And that, to me, as a, literalist, I was like, well, the sky's got to be the same in every single panel of a Sunday strip. But no, I mean, the sky will go from blue to green to red to salmon to whatever. And he seemed to go for really solid colors later in later years, where he was using, like, 100% of the yellow and 100% of the magenta to get a really bright red background. It seemed like just the further he went in, the more he used a lot of really loud colors.


Liz: And I'm going to have to add rubylith to the obscurity post about Zipatone, because we had questions from William Pepper when he was our guest about what is zipatone? And the answer is on the website.


Harold: Yes. Thanks, Liz.


Jimmy: And rubylith will shrink over the years, so it's very difficult if you ever want to reprint things with rubylith and zipatone. Will turn yellow. I posted, an old drawing from Proto Amelia strips on Twitter, and people were commenting that they like the antique look of the coloring, and it was just the stains from where the zipatone had fallen off.


So, Harold, what else do we got in this book that, we should direct people's attention to?

Harold: Well, if you're into the weeds of how Schulz did what he did and what his day to day creation process was like, check out chapter three of this book. He has a treasure trove of information. He really does break it down for you. I felt like I was reading this as a kid. He was like, he's writing this for me? It's like, oh, he's giving me all this data so I can know what it's like to be a cartoonist. How many people reading the book were that into the weeds?


Jimmy: Oh, I bet a lot of people didn't even read the essay.


Harold: Probably right. I'm just like drinking this in, soaking it in. But yeah. In the book, he describes where he is. He said that, there are five of us who work at the studio. 1975, it's two secretaries, an accountant, and the president of our firm, which we call Creative Associates. And then he mentions who the people are, and, it's really interesting. Then, he says his day in the studio begins at nine in the morning, but I find it hard to get started until the mail has been distributed, and I know if there are going to be any special projects for that day, which means I rarely begin drawing until 9:30 or 10:00. He says he receives about 100 letters a day at this point, and as we know, he's been very good about responding. So you can imagine the amount of time Schulz spent not working on the strip, but actually just replying to fans asking for--


Michael: People used to do that,


Jimmy: that's crazy.


Michael: I mean, there's volumes of JRR Tolkien replies to letters, and just some, like, a little girl in New Zealand could say, like, who is someone's grandfather? The dwarf king's grandfather. And Tolkien will write it like, ten pages.


Harold: Wow. Yeah. It's amazing that Schulz, through his whole career, he took that very seriously in describing. So he begins around 930 or ten. He said, he's found, as the years go by, that I'm, getting to be a very slow starter. So it's nice to come to the studio having at least an idea. But if there isn't, then he says, I have to get out my little pad of white paper and begin searching for something. And in this book, he has some of these images of him drawing on his drawings from his little tiny sketch pad and really rough, loose pencil drawings that are fascinating to look at. And he says, there are days when no ideas come at all. If I knew I was going to draw a blank that day. I would go off someplace to do something else, but I always hate to stop trying. So I sit there and make up little conversations with myself, thinking about the past, drawing Snoopy and the others in different poses, hoping something new will come along.


Michael: Does he talk about having, like, certain times he'll just go back to the well, like, oh, well, I can't think of anything. Let's have Lucy and Schroeder at the piano.


Harold: He does talk about how he is whenever he gets praise from somebody and they say they really like this, that he often likes to go back and revisit the thing that people said they really liked. So he obviously had limited data, but I guess getting 100 letters a day, he was probably getting a good sense of what people were responding to directly. And if there was something that just constantly kept coming up, he would love to go back to that because he felt like it was a favorite. He does mention that. Yeah. I don't want to go into all of it here. Obviously, we've got limited time, but if you're at all interested in what his process was, he goes into a lot of depth and a lot of, philosophical things. There's pictures of him hanging out, with his secretary, going through the mail wearing a wonderfully loud shirt and plaid pants.


Liz: Well it was the 70s


Harold: Yeah, right. And, it's, really enlightening for anybody who admires his work. Just check out this book. It's about as good as it gets.


Jimmy: Speaking of the 70s, we do have another listener question. This one comes from Liz Sumner, who asked me and Harold to describe what we mean when we say drawn like the 70s. Can you do that, Harold? I mean, I can do it, I think, if you want.


Harold: why don't you go for it?


Jimmy: There is something about it that is a little sloppier, a little more expressionistic, and feels maybe a little grimier somehow. There's just a more lived in beat up. Well, I think of Star Wars as a great everything looked kind of like it was maybe just a little bit worn down and dirty. That's the actually the perfect 70s aesthetic to me is The Bad News Bears. Like, if you wanted to know almost a documentary of what my childhood is like, it would be that movie, the Bad News Bears. I mean, that felt unbelievably real to me. And I feel that some of that grunginess carries over into the pop art at the time. What do you think, Harold?


Harold: that's really well said, and it's cool hearing it from another person, because it's a perception, it's a feeling, but you're putting it into words, and I would agree with everything you said. Yeah. And Schulz, once again, is right there with the times. His art style is loosening. His hand is starting to waver a little bit for reasons beyond out of his control. But if you look at other artists now, were they copying some of the things that Schulz involuntarily was starting to put into the strip? I don't know. But, when you think of quintessential comics from the think of, Ziggy, if anyone's seen Ziggy and the greeting card art of that time.


Jimmy: Doonesbury.


Harold: Yes, definitely. Those are. And I think we've talked before about the 70s feeling very brown, and maybe that's hard to put into words what you mean by brown. But yeah, it's a little grimy, it's a little back to earth. It's getting a little more crunchy granola-y, John Denver-y, Little House on the Prairie-- there's like this return to trying to rediscover something from the past after having had a burst of color in the late 60s, which then kind of went south.


Liz: May I ask a follow up question?


Harold: Of course.


Jimmy: Yes, please.


Liz: So that's the point of view of somebody who was ten and three in the 70s. What about somebody who was 25 at this time?


Jimmy: We'd have to ask them.


Liz: Michael, does that match your idea of what “oh, that's so 70s” means?


Michael: No. I tuned out. And it wasn't just one thing. I tuned almost everything out, and I wasn't even aware that I was purposely tuning things out. But if I think back on it being a fanatic comic collector, where I literally bought every superhero comic since, like, 1961, or I don't recognize comic covers after 1972. They're all new. I was a fanatic record collector and radio listener to pop music. If I look at a list of the top hundred Billboard charts of 1974, I'll know, like, one song.


Harold: Huh? Wow.


Jimmy: Yeah.


Michael: Same with Peanuts. Huge influence on my life. I'd read everyone I'd read those books 50 times. After 1972 It's been all new. All new. I don't know any of these.


Jimmy: Well, let me ask you this. Were you still, though, engaging with things like your records and the comics and stuff that you had already accumulated? Like, was that still something you were going back to and enjoying?


Michael: It was nostalgia by that point. And I remember I even gave away a lot of my Beatle albums.


Jimmy: Oh, my God.


Michael: Yeah, I went like, well, I've heard these a million times, I'll never listen to them again. I gave away Beatle albums, I stopped buying comics, I sold a lot of comics.


Harold: So what was your life like then? How were you living your life?


Michael: I was going back in time, discovering, old jazz, old I mean, music wise. I was listening to Bessie Smith and old blues singers from the 30s, learning that music.


Jimmy: Yeah.


Michael: It's just like something went wrong for me in 1972 where I didn't like the way anything was going.


Harold: Huh, yeah. You and a lot of people, I think. Yeah.


Michael: So to me, it was just like the Dark Ages. so I didn't have any, I wasn't reading Peanuts. I think my two favorite strips, which I was following was Doonesbury and Bloom County, which were current political. Well, Bloom County was. But Bloom County wasn't as overtly political. But it was political.


Jimmy: But that was the 80s.


Michael: Is that right? Yeah. See, it was such a dark ages, I don't even know what year it was anyway, so yeah, I can't give you a, feeling of like, this is very seventys. I didn't have a TV.


Harold: Well, did you have a way to describe the thing you were trying to kind of remove yourself from? Did it have a feel to you or how would you describe what was going on?


Michael: It's like something went down the wrong road. This was not what I was in bargaining for. My last gasp with comic collecting was Barry Smith and Conan.


Harold: and when would that have been?


Michael: Early 70s And he did like 20 issues and then it was gone. And it seems like everything I was excited about wasn't happening.


Harold: Yeah, I get that sense from a lot of people. I mean, so much happened in the late sixtys. Now, I've heard some people argue that the 70s was the most creative era for popular music because everyone was going every which way, every direction, because the stuff before was over. And so there was a lot of crazy stuff in the when I look at the music of the 70s yeah, it's a collective, but it's brown.


Michael: Yeah. And to me, I still don't have never heard a lot of these bands or vaguely aware of what they were doing.


Harold: Yeah.


Michael: It was mainly just disappointment time to lock yourself in your room and learn to play hillbilly music.


Jimmy: I think now, looking back at the 70s, though, when you're able to cherry pick, there's actually a lot of great stuff. And the drek you can ignore.


Harold: The Ropers?


Jimmy: Well, that was the 80s, too, but, I do think it's out there. But the best of it was not the stuff that was somehow popular. I think that's actually something that really changed. It seemed like in the popular stuff wasn’t great and in the great stuff wasn't popular. The stuff that we are still listening to from the 70s, like the Talking Heads, or that's the other thing I was going to say is that it feels like the 70s ended a little early. Well, because like 77 comes in, it's Star Wars, it's punk rock, new waves.


Michael: I think of that as 80s music.


Harold: Yeah.


Michael: I got back into things in the late 70s, but the period we're in right now with Peanuts is a blank. And to me it seems like something is not quite right. Rather than seeing it as something different and new, it's sort of like, okay, this just isn't working as well. So I'm trying not to be negative about it, but that's the way I feel about just almost everything from this era, except maybe movies. Some movies were, it was a good era for movies.


Harold: So what would you say are iconic films of the 70s that really stand out to you?


Michael: Oh, well, Godfather, clearly, and a lot of kinds of movies they don't make anymore, but really fairly serious drama. But anyway, we're here to talk about Peanuts. So, the Jubilee. See, I didn't even know it existed because at that point, Peanuts was I probably was reading it now and then, but it was pretty much off the radar. And it used to be speaking to me, and it didn't seem like it was anymore.


Harold: One of the cool things to me about the Peanuts Jubilee is after his extended essays, on the strip in his life, it's kind of cool to see his final sentences in this book. It says, to create something out of nothing is a wonderful experience. To take a blank piece of paper and draw characters that people love and worry about is extremely satisfying. I hope very much that I will be allowed to do it for another 25 years. And that's exactly what he did.


Jimmy: Well, that is beautiful. And as we are lucky enough to know, he did get to do just that. You know what else is a wonderful privilege? Getting to talk to you fine folks every week. It truly is the highlight of my week. I look forward to it every week. Not just because I get to hang out with my pals and talk Peanuts, but because I know you guys are out there, hanging out with us. So I would love to hear from you guys between now and when we start 1975. Tell us what you're looking forward to. Tell us what you want us to cover. Tell us the things that you're not crazy about. We just want to hear from you.


Harold: And tell us what we got wrong.


Jimmy: You can do that on Instagram and Twitter. We're at Unpack Peanuts or X or whatever the hell Twitter is called now. We're unpacking peanuts on Facebook. We're unpacking peanuts on Threads?


Liz: We're unpack peanuts on threads. unpacking peanuts on YouTube.


Jimmy: And you can call us at…


Liz: Oh, I thought you'd knew it by now. 717-219-4162.


Jimmy: Awesome. So, if you want to hang out with the gang, do those things, visit us at our website. Next week, we have a special episode with fantastic cartoonist Ivan Brunetti. So you're going to want to tune in for that one. So until then, 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.


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