Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Greatest Peanuts Strips--30 to 21

30. 6/22/74



How depressing is the sight of tears in a comic strip? Especially when they streak the face of a little girl lamenting her supposed unlovability.

There is some genuine, labyrinthine mind-screwness happening here with this entire story. Charles Schulz' unrequited pining for Donna Wold was manifest in Peanuts with Charlie Brown's hopeless yearning for the Little Red Haired Girl. Schulz, in panel after panel, poured out his unresolved anguish over being shunned by the woman he desired so strongly. Two marriages, five children, worldwide fame, and more money than a human realistically needs, and he still could not put his lost love behind him.

So it's interesting that here he has another character react to the Little Red Haired Girl so strongly. There was never a strip where Charlie Brown reacted jealously to a boy that he knew the LRHG was interested in, so I would venture that this is Schulz putting his own distraught, distorted self-reflections into the Peppermint Patty character. Which clicks on a couple levels: it saves Charlie Brown from even more suffering (seriously, the Book of Job is like Poky Li'l Puppy compared to Peanuts) and puts him in the entirely novel position of "object of desire."

29. 8/22/51



The greatest America's Funniest Videos are ones where animals go all kamikaze on little kids. 'Cause I guaran-damn-tee you bratty children nationwide do worse to their supposedly beloved four-legged friends daily. Pull ears, kick bellies, yank tails...so really, dog doing the Liu Kang bicycle kick to the face and chest is the least those spoiled incorrigibles have coming to them.

(It's wrong, but the Appalachian side of me just wants to pick baby Schroeder up and punt him into a swamp.)

The faces here are a wonder. In the first panel, Schroeder's look is of pure joy at causing pain. What a little bastard! Then we have Snoopy's tongue-jutting surprise, leading to his fuzzled anger. It's hard not to share in his clear vengeful happiness at dropping the ball--literally. When I'm feeling really mean, I imagine it's a shotput crashing on Schroeder's head.

28. 2/4/69



Linus on the longest ski ever. Snoopy's toothy grin in the last panel. Just a delightful strip to look at.

27. 7/4/91



Snoopy doesn't think much of the kids that surround him, but in the 1990s, he sure started acting more and more like them. Being excited for the grand old time food is going to have at camp is so something a young child would feel.

Honestly, what the hell was with the cookie obsession? I mean it makes more sense than James Joyce's fart fetish, but why cookies over pizza? Easier to eat, I suppose; still, it seemed every other appearance by the beagle showed him namedropping, munching on, or reminiscing over, those baked circles of deliciousness.

This is not a complaint, per se; Schulz couldn't have Snoopy daydreaming his life away all the damn time, so he used the very basic yen for cookies to ground his most beloved character on the terra firma along with the others.

26. 3/20/82



Ah, Joe Writer, the greatest novelist there never was, and next to Flannery O'Connor and Joe Wambaugh, my heavy bones hero. Any scribbler can relate to that moment when the text seems to turn on you, came at your head, merciless. It is a rueful laugh I let escape my belly at the sight of runaway exclamation points raising Snoo-brows.

25. 5/27/68



Ah, the circular logic of a child in love, who as a child, doesn't actually know what love really truly is yet!

Measuring your worth of self via how successful you are at the most dangerous game of love is flawed and potentially fatal. Then again, Charlie Brown's other indicators of value come up short as well: miserable athlete, wishy-washy student, average dog owner, walking fashion faux pas...poor kid. He really is something.

24. 12/23/98



Rerun is...wow. The honors bag featured a strip wherein he waxed nostalgic on the climax of Anna Karenina, and now we have him framing the sideways revelation of Santa's true identity in the context of America's premier judicial body. If kids actually spoke like this more often, I could be around one for more than five minutes without feeling the unnatural urge to grab them and throw them into a refrigerator.

23. 7/31/89



A potential love interest for Charlie Brown goes awry when A) he sweatingly introduces himself as "Brownie Charles" and B) she mistakenly thinks Snoopy is "Brownie Charles." Here we see Snoop at his finest: eating and making fun of a child. Just like "My mind reels with sarcastic replies," I've been known to use "You're more confused than you think, sweetie" in daily conversation.

22. 10/1/52



Sheer meta. Schulz would never do anything like this again, and the better it is for it. Having a relatively minor, vanilla character such as Schroeder utter the punch was a smart decision. Gives the impression he's truly outside the main orbit.

21. 11/28/52



Within this strip, the classic story of musicians and the girls who fawn over them.

Lucy appraises Schroeder as the young boy caresses the piano's keys, filling the air with the delicate notes of a Beethoven masterpiece. Entranced, she comes ever nearer. A rare drawing of a character from the back indicates that both she and Schroeder are clearly in deep concentration now.

She can no longer hold back. She hops up on the smallest grand piano in the world, looks the little fella dead in his inscrutable india ink beads and says--

"You fascinate me."

Thus begins two of the greatest one-sided love stories in history: Lucy and Schroeder, and Schroeder and Beethoven.


It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown will be airing twice this year, 10/28 and 10/29 on ABC at 8 PM EST. It doesn't matter how many times you've seen it...you can always see it again. And again.

1 comment:

  1. the Peppermint Patty strip at the top is so amazingly heart wrenching

    ReplyDelete