Jimmy: Welcome back to the show. It's a special episode today where we're going to look at three short stories, written by Mr. Charles M. Schulz in the daily pages of our nation's newspapers way back in 1972.
I'm your host for the show, Jimmy Gownley. You might know me as the cartoonist behind Amelia Rules, Seven Good Reasons Not to Grow Up, and the Dumbest Idea Ever. Joining me, as always, are my pals co host 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 for Amelia Rules, and he's the current creator of such great strips as Strange Attractors, A Gathering of Spells, and Tangled River. It's Michael Cohen.
Michael: Hey there
Jimmy: He's the executive producer and writer of Mystery Science Theater 3000, a former vice president of Archie Comics, and currently creating the instagram sensation Sweetest Beasts. It's Harold Buchholz.
Jimmy: As Schulz has gone on, we might have noted to you two or three or 500 times that at this point, he's starting to do some longer sequences. And we thought it would be important for us to, really take, a good look at some of them, see how they actually constructed as stories, if they work as stories, and just give us a little different look into, the type of creativity that goes into working on a daily comic strip. So I want to talk to you guys. Harold, you'd probably be the best person, as someone who has done a daily strip, can you talk about the challenges of trying to write continuing stories in a medium like this?
Harold: Well, my experience with this is it's kind of a nice way to do these types of stories. I like this, and I guess it's because I have it ingrained because of Schulz. I grew up with it the beats of that short strip, but the concept is continual. But there has to be some sort of a payoff. It's almost like lines stanzas in a poem or something that have rhymes. It's like the joke is the rhyme, and you just keep going as long as you have something to say. And this particular story, I find kind of special because I can't remember a whole lot of other instances where Schulz starts something in a sustained way, and then it takes a curve and it's something different. Usually it's like Lucy has hidden Linus's blanket. Linus looks for the blanket. Linus finds the blanket, and it's over. This is a little more complex with this story because it starts out with Snoopy reading War and Peace in an unusual way.
Jimmy: Yes, he has decided he's going to read it one word at a time, basically meaning one word a day.
Harold: And I think that's a really funny, quirky idea. That one of the longest well read books in literature. He's reading one word at a time that I think, in and of itself, is funny. And then as this unfolds, we have another character entering into the story and then reacting to that. Another character is reacting to that, which then leads to this. Which then leads to this. Which then leads to this. It's like he's following a train of thought that's not just a singular thought told over multiple strips. We're actually seeing how one thing leads to another in the Peanuts world in a way that I I don't remember seeing in the strip, in the strips before, quite the way we see it here. And I really enjoy that. I like that Schulz is so familiar with his world and the characters are so fleshed out that he, can just bop from one one kind of off the wall concept into something else that leads to something else that leads something to else, and then and then it's over. And then okay. That though that moment is gone. That's really cool. And, that's one of the things I like about these early 70s strips is he seems a little looser with that.
Jimmy: Yeah, it seems strange that he's doing it in the when the idea of a continuity strip was out. I mean, Michael, you could speak to this a little bit. you could talk about when the story strips were kind of at their height.
Michael: Yeah. Well, I'm not an expert on this, but the 30s and 40s was kind of the heyday, where even, like, Mickey Mouse was doing these long adventures that went on for months. And it was only in the 50s that everything kind of boiled down to one strip, four panels, that's it. There's a gag and no continuity. So, I don't know if in the 70s, things picked up again with the longer stories on other strips.
Harold: I think it was a lot of it was really just the medium itself changed. The space that was available to the cartoonists shrunk so much that it almost begged stories in the because they had huge real estate to draw in and places to put panels and stuff. And then that goes away kind of quickly every time there's like a newsprint crisis. Price of newsprint goes up paper. And what happens on these big presses? What do they do? They can't shorten, the roll cut off on the web that's kind of baked in. So they make them narrower and narrower and narrower. And man, have you ever picked up an old newspaper from like, 1938, how they call them broad sheets? They're not kidding. It, looks like a billboard. And then today's newspapers are square. When you fold them over, they're square.
Harold: It's like man, it's so different for, an artist today.
Jimmy: Well, the other thing, the quality of reproduction really actually went downhill. I don't know if it has to because originally they were some sort of engraver process. When you would see things like our pal Winsor McKay with Little Nemo and stuff. I mean the color and the line work is just reproduced gorgeously. And then by the nothing's in registration, how are they doing that? Is it plastic plates? Like they used comics? Like when comic books went to plastic plates, printing took a real dive downhill too.
Harold: Oh gosh. Yeah. When they would print the black and the black was like gray and you could see the color cutouts of the other three colors underneath that flexography or whatever it was. yeah that was nasty. But the comic books were printed with these they're kind of papery plates. They're like an egg carton is kind of the feel of them. They had some stuff from old Archie comics that for some reason were sitting around in the office when I was there. And I was amazed that things printed as well as they did because literally it looks like egg carton material is what they're making some of these plates out of.
Jimmy: Well, regardless of the challenges of a cartoonist in the 1970s, Schulz is going to go all in and tell us a couple of short stories this year. It was my idea to really look at them in depth. And we're going to start with April 1, which is the War and Peace story is now morphing into a problem in the relationship between Woodstock and Snoopy. So we're going to look at these stories in depth. And here's what you're going to need to do. You're going to need to go on to GoComics.com. Or if you're bougie and you sprung for the Fantagraphics books, pull one of those out and you're going to type in Peanuts and 1972 at GoComics and head on over to April 1. And then what we're going to do is go right through this story. I'm not going to read every strip, but I'm going to read maybe two thirds, maybe a little over half of the strips. And we'll talk about it as a story as opposed to just jokes that standalone. So you do that and I'll set up exactly what we're doing here while you're googling around there on Go comics.
So this is the storyline, as Harold said, where Snoopy has started to read War and Peace. He's reading it, one word rather every single day. Schulz, by the way, was a big War and Peace fan. I believe he thought it was the greatest novel ever written. And that's hardcore. I've read a lot of stuff. Tolstoy however, is like a big blind spot for me. Russian novels are just hard with the names. but that's not daunting. Snoopy, unfortunately, by the time he gets up to day four, the fourth word Woodstock wants him to start all over and Snoopy can't bear that. I mean he's come too far. He's read four words already. So this causes a big row between Snoopy and Woodstock and we pick it up there.
April 1, Linus looks as Woodstock, who just has a complete word balloon of despair over his head, walks away. Then Linus walks up to Snoopy's doghouse, Snoopy's lying on top and Linus says to him, “your friend looked kind of depressed.” Snoopy thinks “ex friend, no stupid bird is going to tell me how to read War and Peace.” Then he sits up looking very annoyed and thinks “just because he couldn't follow the story he got mad. I can't help it if he came along when I was already up to the fifth word.” Linus looks off at the now gone Woodstock and says “it's a shame to spoil such a good friendship.” Snoopy is lying back on his doghouse and thinks “I say let him flock together with birds of his own feather.”
Jimmy: I find it very depressing to see Snoopy and Woodstock break up, but again this is another year of those breakups and regrets. then April 2 is a Sunday so we are skipping that one. Then we go over to
April 3. Snoopy is back to reading War and Peace as Linus is just standing by his doghouse. Then Linus looks back at the way Woodstock has left and said, “your friend never came back, did he? Don't you miss him Snoopy?” “What's to miss, stupid bird.” Linus says,”how can you be so bitter?” Snoopy is very angry and says, “nobody's going to tell me how to read War and Peace.” Linus says “I'll bet you miss him, but you just won't admit it.” Then Snoopy with his head resting on top of War and Peace thinks, “We beagles have a lot of pride.”
Jimmy: I think to me what stands out there is the idea of Snoopy being bitter for the criticisms and stuff that Schulz gets with things like the selling out of the merch and all that sort of thing. If you were only interested in Snoopy as a cute icon, I don't think you'd have another character refer to him as bitter. He allows him to have at this point it's not a great look for Snoopy here to be tossing his friend away just because, basically just because he's in a bad mood apparently.
Harold: I think yeah. I can't help but think what, Schulz is going through in his life and what you would go through in this type of a situation where you have somebody kind of speaking to you saying, well, you had this thing, and this thing is gone, and they don't want it to be gone, but for you, it's gone. actually it kind of comes across as pretty mature because he's playing this out with Linus and Snoopy but he's m making Snoopy look out of line. Let's just kind of say say it the way it looks here. And, it's yeah, it's just given what he's going through, I marvel again at Schulz being able to step away and turn what he might be going through into something that is kind of objective. Because this is probably one of the least objective moments of your life when it's so personal, it's so hard to extract yourself and get some perspective.
Jimmy: Right, absolutely. And triply difficult for someone who is in the public eye to the degree that Schulz is. And he had a certain reputation or a certain persona that everyone thought of him as. And this, maybe at least in his mind, doesn't jive with that. And, he's sort of just ramping it up because here we go.
On April 4, Snoopy is just back to reading War and Peace. And we see him saying, “Now”. Linus comes up. “I see you're still reading War and Peace.” “I'm up to the 8th word already” says Snoopy
Jimmy: and Linus, who's really-- it's interesting that Linus is the one that wants to see this come back together.
Jimmy: And he doesn't seem to know Woodstock's name or anything because he's like,
“too bad your friend isn't here to enjoy it with you. It's a pity that you and he had a falling out. I wonder where he is.” Then Snoopy lies down and says, “don't look on any telephone wires. If he flies higher than 10ft in the air, he gets a beak bleed.”
Jimmy: Yeah. Snoopy's just going after him. he's just sort of being very petty, I would say.
Harold: Yeah. And the fact that he's got his head on the War and Peace book, which looks remarkably thin,
Harold: very thin. Must be that Reader's Digest fine print edition.
Jimmy: Yeah, that could be it.
Harold: But yeah, it's like that. He's kind of doubling down and identifying himself with the book. That's the thing that I'm taking my stand on. I think just visually is just a really simple, smart way to show where Snoopy stubbornness lies and where his allegiance is.
Jimmy: Yeah. I also think it's interesting, too, that when you're going through something that bad, an escape hatch is necessary. Sometimes reading War and Peace would be a great escape hatch. Right? You could just say, this is what I'm doing. I'm throwing myself into this. I could ignore everything else. And that's sort of what Snoopy is doing, or at least trying to do. I'm not going to read this one in its entirety. But on April 5, we see Snoopy is starting to have just a few second thoughts. And he thinks, I wonder where Woodstock went. That stupid bird. He shouldn't be out alone. He'll probably get mugged by a gang of worms. Linus comes up and grox that Snoopy is, in fact worried, but won't admit it, leaving Snoopy to wonder in fact, I wonder how you'd fight off a gang of worms.
Michael: Cut them in half.
Jimmy: But then things really pick up on,
April 6 because Snoopy, who is on top of the doghouse, reads another word of War on Peace. And the word is perhaps significantly family. And Snoopy thinks “this War and Peace is a great book.” Linus comes in totally frazzled and freaking out, and he yells to Snoopy, “a cat's got Woodstock.” A great drawing of Snoopy jumping out of his skin at the thought of this. Linus continues, “the cat next door has got Woodstock. Save him. Save him.” “Good grief,” yells Snoopy. And then in the last panel, rower, we see Snoopy attacking the cat next door, fangs exposed.
Jimmy: What do you guys think about that? I love that drawing there of the fourth panel.
Michael: Yeah, he can't be attacking. I think he's just going into battle.
Jimmy: Going into battle, yeah. Okay, what's the distinction there?
Michael: Well, the cat's got to be over a fence or something. So this is too close to the dog house.
Jimmy: this continues and we see cat fight, dog fight, cat and dog fight. It's a massacre. This is Linus yelling. Lucy, and Charlie Brown come running up to see what's going on. Linus continues, Snoopy is rescuing Woodstock. The cat next door got Woodstock. Linus now knows the name. Snoopy is rescuing him. And then in the last panel, we see Snoopy holding a little gardening glove that says, just what I needed. A fight with a 50 pound cat over an old yellow glove.
Michael: I love the beat up Snoopy look.
Jimmy: It's a great look, an absolute great look.
Harold: And I think it's fascinating that Linus has been projecting all of this desire for Snoopy and Woodstock to be together again to the point where he sees something that is not that reveals Snoopy's true heart. But it's like he's not saving Woodstock. No, again, I'm trying to think of this in terms of where Schulz is right now. And I think that it's just a really fascinating way that he's turned it into this really amazing story. And he's processing a million things right now. But I'm sure but yeah, the fact that Linus's desire for them be back together makes Linus not see reality.
Jimmy: Yeah. Do you think it has to? Linus seems to be the right character for some reason with this. And maybe because Linus can relate to Woodstock as the little brother and maybe he saw something in Snoopy and Woodstock. boy, am I projecting here. But there's enough richness in Linus's character that I think you can see this. He sees something between their relationship that maybe he would like to have seen between him and Lucy.
Harold: And like we were saying that Sally as a character, kind of sees what she wants to see. Well, here's Linus seeing, in a strange way, maybe what he wants to see. He doesn't know it, but he wants them to be back together. He sees this little yellow thing and he thinks it's Woodstock and is the instigator of Snoopy getting beat up.
Jimmy: so, then we see Charlie Brown. He's worried about Snoopy. He might have to take him to the vet because he is scratched really badly. And then, he probably has to get a tetanus shot. We see on the 11th, Snoopy, grungy Snoopy looks, really bad. Charlie Brown is going to take him to the vet. He's going to have to get a tetanus shot. And Lucy has a great final line on, the 11th, which is, well, he looks like he was stepped on by a horse, which does basically explain how Snoopy looks. Then Snoopy is at the vet. This is, an interesting one I want to talk about just because of the drawing. April 12, Charlie Brown is talking to Snoopy, who's up on the doctor's table at the vet. And he says, the vet said you really took quite a beating Snoopy. Very observant, doctor. Did he ever try fighting 150 pound cat? Thanks, Snoopy. And Charlie Brown said, he said he's going to give you a long lasting penicillin shot. And Snoopy has flopped over on his back, the last panel saying it won't have to be too long lasting because I don't think I'm going to last that long. Never seen Snoopy drawn that way in that last panel.
Michael: It's just wild.
Jimmy: It is wild, right? Like a three quarter perspective view of Snoopy.
Harold: But with all that hatching and fur and stuff, it looks so three dimensional. He feels even more real.
Jimmy: Yeah, very much so. Very much.
Harold: He looks kind of like Spike in the second panel.
Jimmy: Yeah, he does. I kind of feel like, I would like to see a little more of that in Snoopy. That's a great looking drawing. I really like it.
And then, we see Snoopy is actually giving up War and Peace because he's had the war and now needs the peace. But then on April 14, Snoopy, who is still reading his War and Peace here's the flapping of wings. I hear the flapping of wings. Flap, flap, flap, flap, flap, flap. Bonk. Woodstock lands, right in the back of Snoopy's head. And Snoopy says he's back. But we don't really have any kind of sense of how Snoopy feels about that. But this then continues. And now we see a, very happy and satisfied Woodstock sitting at Snoopy's feet as Snoopy reads him War and Peace. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Well, Prince, so Genoa and Lucca are now just family estates of the Bonapartes. Charlie Brown comes up and says, excuse me for interrupting. We just got a call from the people next door. Guess what? They claim that you attacked their kitten. Snoopy is shocked and embarrassed. And that wraps it up, right? No, it doesn't.
Harold: Well, no, we got a little bit more.
Harold: And there is the running gag of Snoopy upping the weight of the cat every time he recounts the, tussle.
Jimmy: Which is yes to 150 pounds and 200 pounds now. 300 pounds here on the 17th. And Charlie Brown is hoping that maybe if Snoopy goes over and apologizes to the cat next door, that would maybe, smooth things over. And Snoopy has an idea. You go now, and I'll go five years from now. And there's Snoopy War and Peace and Woodstock all lying on the dog house. And everything seems all right again. But Linus has to, be involved one last time because Charlie Brown says to Linus, this is on April 18, I'm going over to our neighbors and apologize for Snoopy attacking their kitten. Linus says, the whole thing was really my mistake. Charlie Brown, you stay here, I'll go over and explain to them what happened. We see off panel, Charlie Brown is shocked. And off panel, Linus screams, and we see in panel four, Linus coming back from next door looking just like Snoopy did after his tussle with the cat. And he says, that's no kitten, that's 1000 pound Gully cat.
Harold: So he gets the call back to the Snoopy raising the weight thing and he does a callback to this Gully cat thing that he introduced, with Linus. I think we've seen Sally make up animals and Linus as well, he's made up the Gully cat. So he's in the tradition of the Great Pumpkin. I guess there's just certain things he somehow believes exists that don't.
Jimmy: It was a queen snake. Is a queen snake a real thing? Because he was always worried about those. Why don't I google that? You blockhead. Yeah. Queen snakes do exist. Okay. But it's non venomous.
Harold: Better check on Gully cats then.
Jimmy: so what do you guys think of that as a story? Think it works as a little short story?
Michael: Yeah, it keeps morphing into different little plot developments and then wraps up with a big joke.
Harold: Yeah. And it's logical.
Michael: Yeah, I like it.
Harold: I think this is probably one of the best crafted short stories he's ever done. I again think maybe his experience of having to string his work together on the animated specials and features. he's sharpened his saw a little bit on how to do something that's a little bit longer form because he's had the experience of doing it outside of the strip.
Jimmy: Yeah. And I definitely think at this point, he can't not be thinking about those specials. There's-- what are we, seven years into those? How many would have been out by 1972? Quite a few.
Harold: Yeah. This was the year of You’re Not Elected Charlie Brown.
Jimmy: Oh, I love that one. That's a great one.
Harold: And Snoopy Come Home, which was like a feature.
Jimmy: Yeah. So he's definitely thinking for bigger things than just the four panel comic strip, for good or ill, as he goes forward. But yeah, I agree. I think that one's a good one. And just the idea of Linus mistaking a yellow gardening glove for Woodstock really does me into.
All right, so our next story, starts on October 4, 1972. This one I picked because this was just one I loved as a little kid. I think in a couple of episodes ago, I said something about there was a time when I went to the Scholastic Book Fair at my school, and I got a box set of four Charlie Brown books. And one of them was called Thompson is in Trouble. And I played sick the next day and just spent the whole day reading my four Charlie Brown books. And, this one just cracked me up as a kid. So I wanted to read it with you guys today.
Michael: How could it be a book? It's really not that long.
Jimmy: Well, no, it was a collection of strips. This was just a title. Thompson is in Trouble. It was just strips from 1972, one of little Fawcett Crest books. It was a great little box set, though, because it's also where I first got is it For the Love of Peanuts or one of the really early yeah, that was the first time I had seen like, an extended run of those early things. But here is Thompson is in Trouble.
October 4, 1972. Charlie Brown arrives at Snoopy's dog house carrying a letter. “Here, a message just came for you.” “A message?” says, Snoopy. He opens the envelope, and in panel three, we see three paw prints. And then Snoopy looks out at us and thinks, “it must be from the head beagle. It's in code.”
On October 5, we see that that is, in fact, correct. Charlie Brown says, “you got a coded message from the head beagle.”We see three paws again.
Michael: In quotes
Jimmy: That's right. In quotes. That is exactly the message.
And Charlie Brown says, “can you read it? Have you figured it out? What does it say?” Snoopy says, “I can't believe it. Thompson is in trouble.” “Thompson? Who is Thompson?” “That stupid Thompson. He's done it again.”
Jimmy: What I love about this, is it's this ritual of, oh, it's from the head beagle. So it's in code. It must be from the head beagle. And I love the idea that Snoopy just launches in. We've never heard of Thompson before, but Snoopy, there's no exposition. There's no explaining who it is. It's just, Thompson's done it again.
Harold: Yeah, it's like Snoopy's fantasy life at this point in 1972 is not just his fantasy life. There's now somebody sending him actual letters, who we believe is a head beagle. We don't see the head beagle. But someone sent him that letter. Maybe. Or did he send it to himself? But we don't know.
Jimmy: He could send it to himself, I could see that
Harold: You'd have to add that into the story. And then Charlie Brown is able to communicate with Snoopy. And, so the fullness of that world where Snoopy is integrated with the other characters. And it's not just not just him finding a scarf and goggles, and a hat. These crazy stories are now a part of the whole neighborhood and beyond and beyond.
Because here on October 6, Lucy comes up and examines the paper, and she says, “what in the world is this?” Charlie Brown says to her, “Snoopy got a message from the head beagle. It's in code.” We see the three paw prints again. Lucy says, “what does it say?” “It says, Thompson is in trouble.” And in panel three, we see Snoopy putting on a mustache, saying, “for a job like this, I have to put on my famous disguise.”
Jimmy: I love that.
And Snoopy leaps into action saying, “that stupid Thompson. The last time this happened, he almost got us all killed.
Jimmy: Famous disguise is brilliant. Yeah. And I'm convinced that the reason it's Thompson and there's the reason this danger, it has to be Hunter S. Thompson and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which came out just this year or the year before the end of last year, is it?
Michael: You think so?
Jimmy: I do. Yeah.
Michael: I'm not a TinTin fan, but there's the Thompson Twins.
Jimmy: Oh, that's right. Yeah, there are the Thompson Twins in that too.
Harold: Well, I have to also share that I think that Snoopy's mustache has something to do with the Pringles coming out four years earlier.
October 7. Lucy and Charlie Brown are watching as Snoopy goes into action. Lucy says, “Isn't he going to say goodby?” Charlie Brown says, “when you leave on an assignment for the head beagle, you don't have time to say goodby.” Snoopy thinks, “right,” and he's running out into the world thinking, “Thompson is in trouble. That means I've got to get to him before they do.”
Jimmy: This is total Hunter Thompson.
“This reminds me of the Moroccan affair. That was a nasty piece of business. That's stupid Thompson. He never wanted to take any advice. Now maybe it's too late.
Jimmy: We still have no idea what's going on, why this is happening, or where Snoopy is going. But it does look like we're now in a different world. I love panel three and four. I love that kind of almost like Richard Sala-esque building in panel three, this kind of dark expressionism.
Harold: And this is also unique in that all of a sudden, we now seem to have this world where the Peanuts characters are more in the know about the world than we, the reader, are. Lucy's asking, Isn't he going to say goodbye? But now Charlie Brown seems to understand the rules of the head beagle.
Harold: And it changes the relationship I have as a reader with the strip, when it's like, now we're going to set up the same, hey, here's a world that you're about to experience, that the world understands itself, but you're discovering it as you go. And that's a different kind of. World, I think, in some ways than what we've seen before in Peanuts.
Jimmy: Yeah, I agree with all that. I was trying to say something with that earlier in the last strip, in the sequence, but that was said much more artfully. Harold, 100%.
Liz: What's with the goodby?
Jimmy: What's a goodby?
Michael: Oh, Misspelling
Jimmy: hang on, I have to go back.
Harold: It is an accepted shorter spelling of goodbye.
Liz: I've never seen that.
Jimmy: Oh, no. E. Oh, yeah. Huh. I never noticed in all those years. Well, as we know, no one was going to at this point, tell him yay or nay on that. Just let it go. He says goodby.
All right. On the 9th, we see Snoopy, who is now just, checking in various alleyways, looking for Thompson. And he ends up in, a little cafe, a restaurant that's full of shady types. And he's going to try to strike up a conversation with the waitress.
And October 10, he does that. He says, “it's like this, sweetie, I'm kind of looking for a character named Thompson see, and I sort of need your help. He's about 14 inches, carries a good straight line, harks to the track, has a quick claiming mouth right in the ground, and has a good pedigree. She knows him.”
So then we see Thompson has been heading out of town. “That stupid Thompson. This is just the sort of thing I knew we'd do.” As we see Snoopy racing after him. He's running through the woods in a beautiful silhouette drawing. “I should be back in the restaurant quaffing root beers with that waitress. I think she kind of liked me.” But now it's raining on Snoopy as he huddles under a branch of a tree, thinking, “now it's raining and I'm getting all wet and I'm probably lost. That stupid Thompson.”
And then a, moment of truth. On October 12, Snoopy out in the dark, is yelling, “Thompson. Thompson. Where are you, Thompson?” Something shocks him in panel two and in panel three. “Too late. Snoopy covers his eyes and then walks away looking upset, thinking, “Poor Thompson.”
Which on October 13 means Snoopy has to file his report with the head beagle. “Report to the head beagle subject, our beagle in the field. Thompson subject attempted to subdue 10,000 rabbits by himself. End came quickly. Rabbitat tat. And it was all over.”
Jimmy: So it sounds like Thompson got killed. But there is one last 1972 twist. Charlie Brown comes up to Snoopy, who's still looking a little shaken on top of his dog house. And Charlie Brown says, “are you sorry to hear about Thompson?” Snoopy says “poor Thompson.” Charlie Brown says, “I suppose you'll never know what really happened, will you?” Snoopy says, “on the contrary, I know exactly what happened.Those rabbits made him an offer he couldn't refuse.”
Jimmy: Okay, so what do we think of Thompson is in trouble?
Harold: So we've got two references here to movies. Well, maybe two, one for sure.
Jimmy: This is definitely the Godfather, right?
Harold: Yeah. And another film that came out that probably struck Schulz's attention came, out just a few months before. This sequence was Night of the Lepus, which is about these killer rabbits.
Jimmy: Oh, really? Yeah. We must have talked about the incident with, Watership Down when I was a kid.
Harold: Oh, no, I don't think so.
Jimmy: Okay, so Watership Down came out around this time, right?
Jimmy: I was friends-- for readers of The Dumbest Idea Ever, my dear friend Marnie Marquette had HBO, which in the late 70s was quite a novelty. And, you would get a little guide that would say what was going to be on HBO, just like a little mini TV guide. And whenever there was something that her parents really thought we would enjoy, they would make a big fuss and make popcorn and got pizza. And we'd watch the movie together. And her dad was like, oh, they're showing Watership Down. I was like eight or nine at this point. You guys are going to love it. So I looked at the little guide and it's Watership Down. And above it was a picture of basically like a playboy playmate in like a bikini wearing a sailor hat. Saluting. And I was like, all right, Watership Down. This is going to be incredible. You have the best dad ever. so I waited till that Friday and I showed up for Watership Down and to become a man, I guess. And it was about these rabbits killing each other. It was so horrifying. Like, to this day, those images are burned in my brain. What a disappointment.
Harold: I guess. Yeah, man. It came out of 1978. I saw it. I remember out on I was always trying to find anything animation related in Columbia, Missouri, where I was growing up and it was showing out on the lawn. One of those suboptimal experiences where it's not quite dark and the movie starts and you've got strands of crab grass sticking up through your blanket on the ground. But I just remember, yeah, Watership Down is not to be experienced on a family movie night outdoors. It was just kind of depressing. I kind of knew that what I was getting myself into. And unlike you, Jimmy, but I, don't think this is the place to be watching this kids cry.
Jimmy: For me, it was the fact that the girl was wearing a sailor's hat made me think, well, ship, okay. Water ship. That's what this is going to be. So whoever screwed that up in the guide, I'm bitter about it to this day. The other movie they made us watch was Champ. I don't know if you've ever seen that, but that's about a son watching his father being beaten to death in the boxing ring.
Harold: Oh, gosh, is that the Ricky Schroeder one? Yes, that was a remake. Yeah.
Jimmy: Terrible. Oh, gosh.
Harold: Oh boy. So what is the offer he couldn't refuse? How do you take that?
Michael: He had to join the bunnies, I think.
Jimmy: He had to join the bunnies? Yeah.
Jimmy: I think he tried to subdue 10,000 rabbits. They said, no, this is it. You're coming with us, or it's over. And he was like, okay, so then.
Harold: What do you think the rabbit tat tat is? I mean, I'm just trying to add it all up here in my mind since it's been a reveal. A slow reveal.
Jimmy: Rabbitatat is them beating him up. That's what I picture. And then he's subdued, and then he just goes off with them afterwards. It doesn't fully make sense, but for whatever reason, it always cracked me up. And I would always go back to just Snoopy running around with his world famous disguise, which is just the mustache. Looking for Thompson cracks me up. I always was waiting for Thompson to come back, but I guess he just lived his life with the bunnies.
Harold: Well, it feels like this is Schulz having Snoopy live in one of his own little novels that he's been writing.
Jimmy: Yeah, I can definitely see that, for sure. Well, we got a big one coming up, which is the Six Bunny Wunnies Freak Out. And as you know, Harold and I are big fans of the Miss Helen Sweetstory bit in Peanuts. So we're going to take a little break here, get some water and a snack, and then we're going to come back for the Six Bunny Wunnies Freak Out. Be there. Be square.
VO: Hi, everyone. Have you seen the latest Anger and Happiness index? Have you admired the photo of Jimmy as Luke Skywalker? Or read the details of how Michael co-created the first comic book price guide? Just about every little known subject we mention is referenced on the Unpacking Peanuts website. Peanuts obscurities are explained further and other stories are expanded more than you ever wanted to know, from Albert Payson Terhune to Zipatone. Annette Funicello to Zorba the Greek, plus the latest tier list and of course, the Shermometer. Check it all firstname.lastname@example.org/obscurities.
Jimmy: And we're back. Okay, now we're getting to the meat of it. This is the main event. The Six Bunny Wunnies get banned. Harold, do you have something you want to say about this before we get going?
Harold: Well, as we'd mentioned before, Jimmy and I are fans of these Helen Sweetstory, stories with Snoopy that he absolutely loves, these Bunny Wunny book series. And I was just thinking about where is this coming from? Is this complete non sequitur? Or? What is Schulz referencing here with these Bunny Wunny books? And so I was thinking about it a little bit, and it made me think of the Stratemeyer syndicate, which some of you listeners may have heard of and many of you may not. There was a guy named Edward Stratemeyer who was kind of a book packager. So meaning he didn't own a book publishing company. He just wrote books and hired people to write books. And then he would try to find publishers to publish them. And he formed this thing in 1899. They say it was the very first syndicate. It's kind of the book version of newspaper syndication, that he's making all this stuff and shopping it around. And it was the first one ever for kids. Everything else that was done this way, these literary kind of agencies where they're packaging stuff was made for adults. And Stratemeyer was incredibly successful. They say in the 20s that possibly more than half well, more than half of every children's book read in the United States came from Edward Stratemeyer.
Harold: So he starts in 1899, but he really hits his peak in the early 30s. He actually passed away in the 1930s. And huh, there's basically relatives take over and keep the thing going for years and years and years.
The most famous of the Edward Stratemeyer books, were Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. And the rules for this is he's always writing series, so he's never selling an individual book or title. It's a series, and usually it's starring somebody young. And they would put out a ton of the first volumes all at once to get kids hooked on them and see whether they were going to work or not. They would make up a pseudonym, and then often multiple people sometimes it'd be just one person, but often multiple people would write these books, but there would be this pseudonym. So you think Helen Sweetstory is writing these books. And when you see them, they're not picture books. They're kind of thick, like a regular hardcover book. Which is what made me think, oh, it's like the Hardy Boys. So they're supposed to look like adult volumes. So it's like a young child saying, I'm reading like an adult. And they happen to have, like, cliffhanger chapters. They're written in a certain style. He had very strict rules that are still, I think, to this day, like the Kentucky Fried Chicken herbs and spices. Nobody exactly knows what the rules are. They're still kind of an industry secret, but you can kind of break it down and see. They're usually exciting. There's often mysteries involved. I think the third most famous of these was the Bobsey twins. if you guys heard of, them, the fifth most popular was Tom Swift, who was like this kind of guy. He would be the guy who would be like the fighting ace in this time, because he's really into science and all this stuff happening in the 20s. But the most forgotten of the most famous of these books was something called Honey Bunch. Have you guys ever heard of Honey Bunch?
Harold: So they put out 46 of these things from 1923 to 1963. And Honey Bunch was this little girl, this little sunny little girl who's experiencing life with wonder. That's kind of, the concept behind it. And later, she gets teamed with this guy named Norman. So it's Honey Bunch and Norman. And they have titles like Honey Bunch and Norman Tour Toy Town or Honey Bunch and Norman Solve the Pine Cone Mystery or Honey Bunch and Norman Ride with Sky Mailman.
And so these are obviously going on for 40 years, including all of Schulz's childhood. And we know Schulz was an avid voracious reader, and he loved this kind of low culture, right? He was collecting comic books. All of the Big Little books that were the little square, chunky titles, usually of syndicated comic strip characters or movie characters like Mickey Mouse or whatever. Not terribly discerning, let's say, in terms of the content of the books. And I don't think his parents were the kind of parents who were going to sway him from whatever he wanted to read. And so he was like the librarian of his little town, owning all of this stuff in his big town in St. Paul. And so, you know, the Stratemeyer syndicate stuff must have been part of Schulz's reading experience.
Libraries hated these books. They thought this was low culture. And the author of the Honey Bunch series, which was a pseudonym, is Helen Louise Thorndyke. There's also a series called Bunny Brown and His Sister that had 20 volumes as well. So all of these little hints that maybe this is where this concept is coming from of these kind of incredibly, I don't know, what would you call it? these are written to order for children by a company that knows how kids enjoy reading and what they're looking for, that they like the cliffhangers, the kids as heroes. And before we had algorithms to figure this out about us, I think Stratemeyer had figured out kids in a crazy way.
And these books were cheaper, too. Even though he was going to a publisher, they might have been charging like a dollar, a dollar 25 for a book. And Stratemeyer is like, if you're going to carry my book, you're going to charge $0.50 for it. And he take a really small royalty per book, but they would sell hundreds of thousands of copies. And so it's a really interesting figure in American literature most people don't really know about. But that's, I think, the world of the Bunny Wunny stories or it's come out of that, or he's playing off of that in the series is this idea that he's getting form letters back because there really isn't a Helen Sweetstory. It could be just one author under a pseudonym or whatever. But they're basically cranking these things out to the specs of this writing syndicate.
Jimmy: Well, in the Peanuts world, whatever this formula is has clearly worked because all the kids are very excited.
And, here on October 23, you're going to be able to, see what happens when they look for the latest one. So here we go.
October 23, Linus and Sally are in the library at their school, and Linus goes to the librarian and asks,” yes, ma'am, we'd like to borrow the latest book by Miss Helen Sweetstory.” But Linus is shocked as is Sally, because in panel two, we find out, “Banned?!!” Then Linus turns to Sally and says, “it's been banned from the school library. I can't believe it. How could anyone ban such a neat book as The Six Bunny Wunnies Freak out?”
Jimmy: Great title.
Michael: Well, I think it's funny. I mean, Schulz has teenage kids, and, he obviously thinks the term freak out is really funny. And it is. But he's not aware that he's using a drug term here.
Jimmy: Well, but I think it's evolved past that. By the 70s, we would say, don't freak out without reference to drugs.
Michael: Yeah, but it is a drug term from maybe five years before. Anyway, no, it is a great title.
Jimmy: It continues on the 24th, where they bring Charlie Brown into the loop here as the three of them are walking. And Charlie Brown says, why would they ban Miss Sweetstory's book from the school library? Linus is like, Linus is like, Linus?
Harold: I said, no way. And he said, yeah.
Jimmy: Linus says I can't believe it. I just can't believe it. And they sit on a log and contemplate the situation. Charlie Brown says, maybe there are some things in her book that we don't understand. Sally says, in that case, they should also ban my math book.
Jimmy: This is a very Charlie Brown thing. He wants to assume that the people in authority mean well. But of course, not understanding something in a book isn't a reason to ban it, because that's what books are for you to learn things you don't understand.
Harold: Although this is the funny thing, is that doesn't go in line with Stratemeyer is this is like Miss Sweetstory has gone rogue. She's had some encounter group experience that has just blown her mind, and now she's just going off writing these stories, for the kids. And the parents are like, what the heck?
Jimmy: I never thought about it that way. Because this is a series, right?
Harold: Which is an issue. I mean, you've done a series, Jimmy, and you had a character that actually changes ages over that, like, what, four years, in an eight book series. Did you ever have those issues? I've certainly heard from librarians that they tear their hair out over manga that runs over 50 volumes and over years of a creator's life, and they start serving one audience, and then the book morphs into something completely different by the end of it. So there's a little kid checking that book out of the library, and it's in one section, and then when they're up to volume 32, which they probably read in, like, two months, right? Or the Harry Potter series. They got more complex as they went. And there were some parents trying to hold the thing back from their kids because it's like, yeah, she wrote this over years. And for the ones who experienced it in real time as she wrote them, they grew up with it. But you're reading it three months later, the last book that she read, the first one of. And maybe it's not a fit for where you are developmentally, and it's a huge dilemma. I think Charlie Brown is kind of catching on to maybe, I don't know.
Jimmy: Well, it's true that especially Harry Potter is a great example. I always think of Love and Rockets, where the character really aged with me in real time. But that's the only generation that will ever happen for right. Anybody else who wants to read the story of Maggie and Hopi and Love and Rockets can do it in a couple of weeks if they wanted to. And they could be 15 when they start and 15 when they're finished. I was 15 when I started, and I'm still reading it.
Jimmy: That's a very different experience. Same with Harry Potter. Such a perfect publishing plan, Harry Potter. Right. if you did a new book a year, the character ages a year, the kid ages a year. It was one of the things I thought about with Amelia when I decided to end it when I did, was that if there was going to be more Amelia, it was going to be basically middle school Amelia.
Jimmy: She was going to be just dealing with different things. And I thought it was a perfect place to put it down for a while. Yeah. Those are all things that, children's publishing is very difficult. And people from the outside, I don't think, understand all the sensitivity and thought, and some of which is well intentioned, some of which is purely commercial consideration, some of which is just CYA for the publisher. But there's a lot that goes into it. and these days even more.
I have been, though, on Twitter, like, intentionally trying to see if I could get Seven Good Reasons banned. I've been all but tweeting directly at Ron DeSantis. Can't get a bite, brother cannot catch a break. Anyway, so if you want to ban my book-- great punchline from Sally.
And then we have, Sally and Linus. They come up to the old principal. We'll only read part of this, though, because they go up and, they're questioned by the principal’s secretary as to what they're doing there. Are they students? And Sally responds with, what do you think we were encyclopedia salesman?
Then they end up at the principal's office, which is really where they were trying to go to begin with. And Linus says, whatever happened to the good old fashioned tact. That is not something for Sally.
We then take a little detour into Sally writing a theme about a different book. Well, she actually decides to write about grape boats, which is funny. And then we go to Linus has to call in an attorney. And it's Snoopy, which is, the world famous, attorney. I'll read this one.
October 27 Charlie Brown and Snoopy or Charlie Brown and Linus rather, are walking across the street and Linus says, “I'm mad. Charlie Brown. They've banned Helen Sweetstory's book from our school library. And I can't find out why.” Linus continues, “I'm so mad, I feel like suing the school board. I think I would too, if I had an attorney.” And then in the last panel, we see the attorney showing up. It's Snoopy and his bow tie. “Before I take any case, I have to know where to send the bill.”
Jimmy: One thing I think it's interesting and just I want to point out as, what has to happen in a comic strip like this, right? You're doing these four panels a day, every single day. You're trying to advance the story. But you also have to be aware that not everybody is reading every single strip. So every once in a while, you're going to have to have one of the characters reiterate what's going on, which is exactly what we have happening basically on the first two panels. And what was the formula for, was it Little Orphan Annie, Harold, that it was like--
Harold: It was like, oh my gosh. Harold Gray gave himself, I think, an incredibly difficult set of rules, which I guess were more common in really early comic strips, that those were read in the newspapers, first and foremost. And people weren't necessarily thinking it's going to be read like we were saying in collections or all at once. It was one a day, just like we're talking about one a year, for Harry Potter. And so Gray set this rule for himself that every day you're opening up that newspaper is today in the strip. So that means if somebody started something on Monday, they couldn't continue it on Tuesday. They had to have skipped hours into the next day. That is really hard. And so what you, often see in the strip and this is why Sandy the dog is so famous in Little Orphan Annie, is because Annie is constantly thinking-- She's an orphan. So she's on her own, right? So she has this little sidekick dog, like Woodstock, who she's talking to. And she's like, boy, what Nat said about that yesterday really has gotten me thinking, I don't know about this. What do you think, Sandy? And Sandy's like, ARF.
And also the dilemma of the person who only bought the Sunday paper and the person who only bought the daily papers. Because you could have a subscription for Monday through Saturday, or you could have a subscription for Sunday only. And so they're creating this incredibly weird structure of storytelling where Monday through Saturday is well, Sunday is where you have all the space, right? So if you want an event to happen, it can't just be a staccato thing. It has to be a staccato thing in the dailies. But on the Sunday, he's got this huge landscape to tell some amazing thing. And then on Monday, it's like Sandy's, like, wow, what happened yesterday? Sandy boy, when he got out of that car and kidnapped. And then she's talking about it for the next Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, she's processing it. but the genius of is he worked around that shortcoming, I think, because you get to see Annie's inner voice. You get to see how she's processing what she's doing and what she's experiencing. You really get to know her as a character and care about her as a character. Because it isn't all action. It isn't just, and this happened, and this happened, and this happened. She's thinking about the moral implications of it. She's thinking she's trying to predict what's going to happen next. And so you have all this time with her to process what happens in those splashy color Sunday pages. And I think that was a genius way to deal with the dilemma that Gray had. So here we are with Schulz. He's having the same problems, but he's trying to move the story forward because it's only in the dailies, right?
Jimmy: It's a very complex and delicate balancing act they'd have to, achieve to do this. So we're going to skip ahead to
October 30 where Linus is writing to Miss Helen Sweetstory. He writes “dear Miss Sweetstory,” in cursive again. “I suppose you have heard about the banning of your book from our library. Well, I just wanted you to know that I am fighting for you. I have even hired an attorney.” Now he sees Snoopy, who looks quite proud in his bow tie, thinking to himself, “the suppressing of evidence ought always to be taken for the strongest evidence, which Linus goes back to writing, “such as he is.”
Jimmy: It’s an ongoing bit of Snoopy just quoting legal, quotes from some book. Schulz must have had around 500 best legal quotations.
We continue on the 31st where, Linus is calling and says he would like to speak to the head of the school board. So he's taken it all the way to the top. And that goes, to November 1, where he's out again walking with Charlie Brown. And Linus says to Charlie Brown, I'm sure the librarian didn't ban the book. Charlie Brown. Charlie Brown says, I'm glad. And I don't think it was the principal, says Linus. I'm glad, says Charlie Brown. I'm sure it was the school board. And guess who's on the school board? Your own pediatrician, Charlie Brown.
So now poor Charlie Brown's going to get called into this whole thing, as we see on November 2. You want me-- They're in class now, Charlie Brown and Linus, because Linus is now caught up with Charlie Brown or Charlie Brown has failed a grade or they're in a very small school building. You want me to talk to my own doctor about Miss Sweetstory's book? Linus says, why not? He's on the school board, isn't he? He was the one who banned her book. Do people really talk to doctors? Says Charlie Brown. Linus says, of course, Charlie Brown. Every day, Charlie Brown asks, do the doctors? I think for the most part, they probably do. And then we see Charlie Brown at the doctor's office. Who they don't have time for him, but he opines that maybe since he's healthy, he says, if I go back outside and catch a cold, then may I talk to him?
That continues to good old November 4. Charlie Brown walks into the doctor, says, good afternoon, doctor, offering him a hearty handshake. And he sits up in the chair, and he says to the doctor, I'm fine, thank you. Yes, I think I've been feeling very well lately. I appreciate you seeing me like this. I was afraid you might think it was a waste of time talking to a well person. And then we have Charlie Brown. He gets to the quick of it, and he says to the doctor, you're my doctor, sir, and I respect you. However, I've come to see you because I have to know why you and the school board banned the Six Bunny Wunnies Freak Out from our library. KLUNK from off panel. We see the doctor has passed out, shocking Charlie Brown. Charlie Brown looks out at us and says, somehow you never expect the doctor to faint. Charlie Brown is now yelling in the hallway. Nurse, hurry. The doctor is fainted. Is he all right? Was it something I said? I see. I understand he's a great pediatrician, but children make him nervous.
And this all then wraps up with Linus and Charlie Brown at the thinking wall. And Charlie Brown says to Linus, okay, I hope you're satisfied. I talked with my pediatrician. Actually, he's a very sensitive person. Even though he faints a lot, he admitted that he's never really read Miss Sweetstory's book. He said he only reads medical journals, although sometimes the pictures upset him.
Harold: Very squeamish doctor.
Jimmy: And there we are. That's the end of the Six Bunny Wunnies.
Michael: I'm very disappointed.
Michael: Well, I want to know why the bunnies freaked out.
Harold: We never find out. When Jimmy does that book for Peanuts Worldwide.
Jimmy: Jimmy and Harold. Come on, I can't do that alone.
Harold: yeah, well, we can take it on. We could try to figure out what it was all about. But are you familiar that there was a particular instance in 1972 that made kind of national news that might have inspired Schulz to think of this and to be relevant because it was part of the national conversation? It was in richfield, connecticut, where, they voted to remove Mike Royko's book that was critical of Mayor Daley in Chicago. And it became this big discussion like, well, is this right? Is this wrong? Is it appropriate? Is it censorship? Is it just deciding not to include something in curriculum? Is that censorship? So anyway, that was in the news at the time. I'm thinking that that's probably what got Schulz to, do it to Helen Sweetstory. But yeah, I want to know what the heck how did the series begin and where was she when they were in an encounter group? And the bunny wunnies. And are they bunnies to you, Jimmy? are they bunnies in your mind?
Jimmy: Of course.
Harold: Yeah, that's what I'm thinking. Right? That's why Snoopy likes them so much.
Harold: Because he loves and yet the bunnies gave Thompson, an offer he couldn't refuse. I don't know what to think of bunnies anymore.
Jimmy: Well, those are real world bunnies. Yeah. Well, he has a very nuanced portrait of the bunny culture in this book. I think it's very telling that the guy who is in charge of the people who banned it didn't read the book. And he is the one that's actually very sensitive and passing out at just the title. I do think here's another part of the situation that's very dicey and difficult. Kids actually can handle a lot of things more than you think. And in some ways, experiencing them through art first is better than experiencing them through life.
Michael: hey, Bambi was the first movie I ever saw and I survived.
Jimmy: That's a great example. That's a great
Harold: Were you scarred?
Jimmy: Yeah, were you scarred?
Michael: Look at me. Talking about comic books.
Harold: You're still processing it all these years later.
Jimmy: I read Quentin Tarantino's, book. His new book came out called Cinema Speculation, where he talks about mostly movies from the 70s that he saw growing up. And he talks about seeing really rough movies. The one movie he was not allowed to see was like The Exorcist, but basically everything else. He saw Carnal Knowledge. He saw Deliverance-- a young child. He's like, but the only movie that truly upset him was Bambi. And in the book, what he says is the reason Bambi upset me is because he had no context going in. That what this was. All he had seen on the commercials were cute things of Bambi and Thumper playing around. He's like, if you know what you're going and there's context for it and you feel, safe or whatever, that you're going to experience this thing, you can sort of, maybe age up or follow things that are more difficult than you normally would. But if you don't have the contact.
Harold: Well, I'm personally glad I didn't see Deliverance until last year.
Jimmy: I've never seen Deliverance.
Harold: And I kind of regret seeing Deliverance, even having seen it as an adult. You know, it's you know, it's it's such a personal and difficult issue. And I feel for school boards. I mean, there are ideologues on all sides that are on school boards. They're really wonderfully, balanced people that are just trying to do the best thing. Even the Ideologues trying to do the best thing. It's just everyone's trying to figure out how do we raise the children in our community? And what does that look like?
Jimmy: Well, and the problem, though, is what the community is, right? People say the parent should be the one who tells what the kid can or cannot read. That's fine, too, when you think about that. Makes total sense. Sometimes a kid needs information that the parent is not giving them. Sometimes a kid desperately needs that. And that falls basically to a librarian to let them have that. That's a really dicey proposition. And sometimes you're being prevented from reading something because of someone else's parent. And that's the problem. It's not going to get any easier, and it's not going to get any better for a while now, because I think there's a difference between trying to what's the best way for our community and what is stomping out ideas so that our, kids don't learn things well. And like, in this instance, he didn't read the book, right? That's the damning thing here. And I think if you haven't read the book, then that's the problem.
Harold: And then there's the whole question of what is banning is is not including something something banning. I mean, it's all in it's all in the eye of the beholder, I guess, how you put it. Especially when you're raising children. have you banned a book in your house because it's not in your house? Because you didn't buy it when you went to the supermarket, you flipped through it's like, this isn't right for my child.
Jimmy: No, you can't ban something in your own house. That's a different thing. The banning is not preventing you from reading it or your children from reading, it's preventing other kids from reading it and other people's children. That's the issue.
Harold: But again, is that not including or is that you know what I mean? You can't own every book in the library, right? The library has a budget, and they've got some choices. It was like the whole Stratemeyer syndicate thing. It's like the library hated the Hardy Boys and they wouldn't carry the Hardy Boys. And Stratemeyer is like, that's great. You banned my book in Trenton. I'm going to sell three times more books because they can't get it in the library, check it out for free.
Jimmy: Like I said, I have been trying to get my book banned, right? There's no question about that. No, but I guess, look, if a librarian is the person that's charged with building the collection and they don't do it willy nilly, librarians take it absolutely seriously, right? So they choose it. And then someone else who's an elected official who said, I want this job, and the reason they want that job is for status. I'm going to go in and I'm going to having not read it, I'm going to make a call that says, this cannot be part of anybody's education at this, superseding library's decision. That's banning it. A librarian not including Twilight because Twilight gets bad reviews isn't banning. That’s the way--
Harold: okay, well, I think that holds up if you were trying to give a good definition of it. But I also understand that the school board can see that they are in some way responsible for that librarian. I think the librarian gets out of line.
Jimmy: It's strange for me. I went to private school.
Jimmy: I went to Catholic school, and we read I was shocked to find out, like, the top 20 most banned and challenged books in the 20th century. That was my curriculum. We read 1984, Catcher in the Rye, Brave New World, A Separate Peace. Lord of the Flies. Lolita. No, we didn't.
Harold: Was Catcher in the Rye part of, the curriculum?
Jimmy: Oh, yeah.
Jimmy: Yes. Sister Anne James. Sophomore year Catcher In the Rye.
Harold: Yeah. Catcher in the Rye, like, where I was, was the thing that you read outside of the class was not in the class.
Jimmy: Oh, no, we absolutely read it. Yeah. Huckleberry Finn, one of my favorite books of all time.
Harold: Michael. Michael, what was your school like when you were having to read something for an English class? Were you reading the really older titles or Shakespeare stuff, or were they mixing it up with a new...
Michael: I remember All Quiet on the Western Front.
Michael: no, there was no banning books.
Harold: I guess it's not banning until there's an argument. Right.
Michael: Well, our parents didn't give a shit.
Michael: No, they're liberals. They said, yeah, read whatever you want.
Jimmy: Well, yeah, I was allowed to read whatever I wanted. as long as it was reading, they didn't care. Which, was I'm very grateful for my parents for that because I always Read outside of…
Michael: They even let me read comic books.
Jimmy: Yeah, I know that shock. Talk about things. If you want to read about banning, check out The Ten Cent Plague which is...
Michael: oh, yeah. No, I mean, the stuff with me and Tom were reading was like these 1940s, totally racist comics where all, the Japanese had, like, fangs and they're, like, drooling all the time.
Jimmy: Oh, yeah. When you see those, Golden Age comic books, they are completely, racist propaganda. And there's something that's wild that's the other thing is that standards change over time. That was not just a thing that happened. That was normal part of culture in the 40s.
Harold: Sure. Yeah. And today, you got conservative banning, you got progressive banning. And each doesn't see the other as banning. That's just in the eye of the beholder.
Jimmy: Because when you get way out, you meet in the middle at some weird, crazy yeah.
Harold: Right. Yeah. It just loops around in a circle and you kiss on the other side.
Jimmy: So that is 1972. Six Bunny Wunnies freaked out. Thompson was in trouble, and Snoopy fought a cat. Very fun looking at those long stories and always fun talking with my pals and co hosts about them.
So if you guys want to hang out with the gang, you can continue to do so on our social media, on Twitter and Instagram. We're at unpackpeanuts. On facebook, we're unpacking peanuts. And you can always go to our website were unpackingpeanuts.com, you can send us an email or you could buy us a mud pie or contribute to our patreon or do all kinds of great stuff. Otherwise, just come back next week where we're talking about 1973.
Michael: We should vote on the story.
Jimmy: Okay, what's the best story?
Michael: Well, I'll go first. Catfight. I'm all for Catfight. And it wraps up nicely.
Jimmy: It does.
Michael: So it's a little more self contained than the other two.
Jimmy: All right. Harold?
Harold: Catfight. Yeah. Same reason.
Jimmy: Thompson is in Trouble. Just because I liked it as a kid, I can't really defend it, but I like it.
Harold: I know what that's like.
Jimmy: All right, that's it, guys. For Michael and Harold. This is Jimmy. Be of good cheer.
Harold and Michael: Yes, be of good cheer.
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 unpackpeanuts on instagram and twitter. Unpackingpeanuts on Facebook and YouTube. For more about Jimmy, Michael, and Harold, visit unpackingpeanuts.com. Have a wonderful day and thanks for listening.