Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Greatest Peanuts Sundays--10 to 1

10. 10/24/99



For the record--Charlie Brown didn't kick the football. Schulz would never let him. But Rerun takes so much crap from Lucy, it's nice to see him turn the tables and drive her crazy.

9. 9/22/96




A sublime indictment of general attorney uselessness.

8. 6/30/63



We didn't often see Lucy's self-doubt manifest itself via harsh self-admonishments; usually it came through in her harassment of the other kids. We often see Linus' out-sized heart, and most brilliantly here.

7. 8/8/82



Charles Schulz was a proud supporter of womens athletics, and look no further for proof than this Sunday strip. Look also at all the names lost to history! This strip is just as relevant now as then, sadly.

6. 2/24/72



You may recognize this as the show-stealer in Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown. Yes, Charles Schulz put much of his first wife into Lucy Van Pelt, but these extreme moments, full of rage and sorrow and loathing, are the dregs of his soul darkening the paper.

"The tortures of a memory of a lost love"--what a beautifully worded and structured phrase--sends the poor girl into a paroxysm, sending the not-as-poor Schroeder out of the frame and taking out his piano as not-quite collateral damage. When faced with such meticulous fury, one can only look on in awe.

5. 3/9/69



Charles Schulz singled this out as one of his favorite Sundays, and clearly I agree. It could have been printed with no text and still worked just as well. What is it Linus wants to hand off? Worms? Coconut candies? It remains unknown, which is why it scares Snoopy so intensely. When he reluctantly receives the mystery booty, he can't help but want to pass it along. Schulz drew wonderfully expressive faces throughout all the phases of Peanuts, but nothing tops the diabolical mischief that twists along Snoopy's visage as his failure-face of an owner approaches.

4. 2/18/62



Snoopy just wants some friends; it's not his fault he takes so keenly to cold, inert precipitation creations. He is right to be wary, but awwww...life is risk and love is risk, so death must be like Sorry! or something, and that's not as fun as the game of global domination, so lean into that snowman and feel the love and HE DID IT AGAIN! Never has an "Augh!" torn at the heart so viciously! Poor Snoopy.

All relationships, good bad or indifferent, end. Some quite unceremoniously. All we can hope for, indeed the very finest outcome we can dream for, is to have a carrot left over at the end.

3. 11/5/72



A beginning panel of Peppermint Patty and Charlie Brown frolicking on a fall day leads into an unusually thoughtful Patty busting out one of the grandest similes my mind has ever registered. "Life is like a bracelet" is just a beautiful thought. Leave it to self-absorbed Charlie Brown to not recognize the moment this young girl is trying to share with him. His loss. Charlie Brown's life is like a bracelet, all right...the ones made of candy.

2. 3/18/53



The second time ever we see Snoopy dance, and it's the dooziest. Such style, such suave, such grace, such power, such cute. (A real-life dog like this would be a viral sensation; take that, Ninja Brown Bear.) The joke is decent enough (and gotta love the double exclamation points over Snoopy's head near the end) but really this one is all about the visuals. The whole gang, save Shermy, bears witness to this magnificent display, adding to the festive feel of the strip, causing it to virtually leap out at you with a sense of communal joy.

1. 9/22/63



Lucy's psychiatrists booth is the favorite Peanuts gag of Matt Groening, but he just adores Lucy in general. The concept totally fits in with the mercenary nature of many children, as does the circular logic in much of the advice she dispenses.

What she tells Charlie Brown here, however, is the truest thing Charles Schulz ever put in his comic strip. There is a great curiosity among many people to look at the lives of others not to enhance their perspective on their own life, but to grow envious and resentful and wonder why. Lucy puts it rather plainly (and loudly): Do and die, blockhead. That's ours.

3 comments:

  1. Impressive as Schulz iconic, all-through*my*-lifetime animated strip is (and it is) – what stands out even more is Jenn’s insights into it all. Which go far beyond simple research and analysis. There is always that emotional connection, rung up time and time again.

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  2. This is beautiful.
    My father has given me a pictureframe with Snoopy kissing Lucy while thinking "We all need someone to kiss away our tears" back from when he was 20sth- in the 60s.
    Ever since I have it placed on my bookshelf and I've loved Charlie Brown and all of them.

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  3. This is the truest piece of advice i have ever read. I live by it to this day. I've been looking for this strip to hang on my wall

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