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At Slate, reason's Brian Doherty presents a slideshow essay on Peanuts creator Charles Schulz.

Special bonus for a Thanksgiving weekend: The very first Peanuts strip ever (and possibly the best ever, especially for fans of Shermy, the Chuck Cunningham of Peanuts):

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  1. Hey Chuck, repressed anger much?

  2. My favorite Peanuts:
    (I can’t find a scan of it, so here’s the transcipt)

    [Charlie Brown is in bed in a darkened room]
    “Sometimes I lie awake at night and I ask, ‘Why am I here?’ ” and a voice says, “Where are you?” “Here,” Charlie Brown says. “Where’s here?” says the voice. “Wave your hand so I can see you.” Charlie Brown says, “The nights are getting longer.”

  3. am I the only one who doesn’t find this stuff amusing, let alone humorous?

  4. That’s right, ace. All the rest of us love it. You are completely alone. The rest of us may not agree about anything else, politics, religion, what’s for dinner, the designated hitter rule, Jim Carrey movies, whatever…, but all of us find Peanuts hilarious. Amazing, isn’t it, how we can come together on this? Truly a shame that you are absolutely the only one not on board.

  5. ace | November 23, 2007, 11:44am | #
    am I the only one who doesn’t find this stuff amusing, let alone humorous?

    you sound like a real fun guy to have a drink with

  6. The rest of us may not agree about anything else, politics, religion, what’s for dinner, the designated hitter rule, Jim Carrey movies, whatever…, but all of us find Peanuts hilarious.

    Actually, we also agree that the DH sucks and that Jim Carrey has never been funny.

  7. I’m with you, ace.

  8. am I the only one who doesn’t find this stuff amusing, let alone humorous?

    Seems so. I like the dark edge to Peanuts, and that first cartoon is a great example of it. However, I always felt that Charlie should have punched Lucy in the twat the very first time she pulled that football away.

  9. Now more than ever, I agree with Ace. I suppose I’m just too Nietzschean to see Messrs. Schulz and Brown as anything other than bitter, ungrateful cowards getting their obvious karma over and over again.

    Why is Charlie Brown anyone’s hero or antihero, when he’s so ridiculously stupid as to fall for Lucy’s football scam over and over again? It’s like watching a four-year-old get owies from touching a hot stove-every day. Actions have consequences. Get a damn clue already.

  10. Brian, every day I post here, responding to trolls.

  11. Why is Charlie Brown anyone’s hero or antihero, when he’s so ridiculously stupid as to fall for Lucy’s football scam over and over again?

    He isn’t, at least for me. He is kind of a sad loser (which was the point) and the “humor” is in the stupid situations he is in and his depressive reaction to them. I can totally see why people wouldn’t like that, but I do.

  12. Brian, every day I post here, responding to trolls.

    Where? I hadn’t noticed. Wanna play football?

  13. I, for one, welcome our Peanut-hating overlords…

  14. I read the first of the massive Fantagraphics compliations of Peanuts. The mid to late 50s Peanuts were genius. Charlie Brown was less of a victim and more of a cynic, and most of the stupid recurring gags hadn’t been established yet.

    I think the strip started going downhill as soon as Snoopy became the focal character and getting all the dialogue. All the lame “Joe Cool” and Red Baron garbage.

  15. Brian, every day I post here, responding to trolls.

    As usual, Chuck, you’re a whiny little pussy.

  16. Ace and Kohlrabi may be in the wrong demographic for Peanuts. Peanuts was once considered edgy because the life experience of the main character, a small child, is so bleak. It was the South Park of its time — a long time ago and it is dated now. My local paper still allocates scant space on the comics page for “classic” reruns of Peanuts. I’d rather have … something by Reason’s Bagge?

  17. I know I am in the minority here, but Bagge’s stuff bores the shit out of me. It’s like neo-Archie comics with an annoying preachy edge in a loud whine.

    ;^p

    Classic Peanuts are great.

    Umberto Eco-

    “These children affect us because they’re monsters. They are the monstrous, infantile reductions of all the neuroses of modern citizens of the industrial civilization.”

    A cool comic archive.

  18. Try again,
    A cool comic archive

    http://lambiek.net/

  19. …Charlie should have punched Lucy in the twat….

    I’d like to nominate Episiarch as winner of the thread.

  20. Mild to moderate threadjacking: I wonder if the overrating of Peanuts and the overrating of the movie Election go hand in hand. Reese Witherspoon is the Lucy of that movie, in that her self-confident drive and ambition (and perfectly understandable contempt for the false martyrdom of so many around her) turn her ipso facto into a bitchy villain.

    Where’s the outrage, feminists?

  21. …Charlie should have punched Lucy in the twat….

    I’d like to nominate Episiarch as winner of the thread.

    You need to see a psychologist if you think that. 5 cents, please–the doctor is IN.

  22. Lucy,
    You’re very entrepreneurial. We will watch your career with great interest.

  23. Ron Paul is the Charlie Brown of US politics.

  24. I learned to read as a small child by pouring through Peanuts collections. So to me Schulz could do no wrong. I always wanted to be like Linus minus the blanket.

    In retrospect, Pogo was clearly the better comic strip, but I’m glad that I didn’t learn to read from that. It would have complicated my life substantially.

  25. Why is Charlie Brown anyone’s hero or antihero, when he’s so ridiculously stupid as to fall for Lucy’s football scam over and over again?

    He has hope. And that’s a terrible thing.

  26. I got a rock.

  27. Bullshit, trollbot! Paul has courage and self-respect that Brown will never know. It’s not a matter of worldly achievement, but of attitude.

  28. I got Iraq.

  29. Ron Paul is the Charlie Brown of US politics.

    The Charlie Brown better get that fuckin’ dog of his to quit waging an unjustified and unwinnable war.

  30. Peanuts was OK, but I liked The Far Side much more.

    Episiarch definitely wins the thread.

    I’ve known many Lucys.

  31. The Far Side was great, but it was a single-panel cartoon, which changes the dynamics of the comic. Everything has to be expressed in one snapshot.

    Calvin and Hobbes was brilliant. Watterson is a very creative guy. But Bloom County was, in my opinion, the best cartoon in terms of characters and story.

  32. Bullshit, trollbot!

    By definition!

  33. Charlie Brown might look like a loser in normal society, but considering he’s surrounded by a blanket-obsessed retard, a psychotic dog, a lesbian sociopath, and a hygiene-challenged scumbag, he doesn’t look so bad. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king, if you know what I mean.

  34. Why is Charlie Brown anyone’s hero or antihero, when he’s so ridiculously stupid as to fall for Lucy’s football scam over and over again?

    The majority of Americans are professed Republicans or Democrats. And you wonder why people identify with Charlie Brown? The politicians identify with Lucy. Gotcha again, suckers!

  35. The quote at the bottom of Slashdot today:

    The only time a dog gets complimented is when he doesn’t do anything. — C. Schulz

  36. crimethink – Very, very funny. You managed to locate my misanthropy, which I thought I’d buried irretrievably. Thanks (I think).

  37. I never used to like Peanuts, finding some of the jokes repetitive, and the excessive merchandizing detracted from the comic strip itself.

    Later on, I read many of the early strips in the compilations and found them very funny. I was surprised how subversively funny the early strips were, and expected them more from a cynical webcomic than something that came from the 50’s.

    I think many of the people who hate Peanuts will change their mind if they read early strips and forget about the recent strips, holiday specials, etc.

    The Michaelis biography is very good, but the power of a biographer in defining a person with a convincing narrative is a little scary. The Slate slideshow seems to have completely adopted the Michaelis view, and I would not be surprised to see more Peanuts deconstruction along the depressed artist vein.

  38. considering he’s surrounded by a blanket-obsessed retard, a psychotic dog, a lesbian sociopath, and a hygiene-challenged scumbag

    Wait a minute! I thought we were talking about Peanuts not Congress.

    Episiarch, I liked both Calvin & Hobbes and Bloom County. It is interesting that, with all three, the principal characters were, shall we say, somewhat detached from reality.

  39. I’ve known many Lucys.

    My family and my public schools were run by diabolical Charlie Browns who wasted my time and fucked with my head. Why? Basically, it’s that misery loves company.

  40. a lesbian sociopath

    Would that be Peppermint Patty or Lucy?

    Aresen, the thing I most liked about Bloom County was the wide array of different characters, all with their own distinct personalities. Contrast that with Calvin and Hobbes, which is the opposite–completely the point of view of one person, yet still excellent.

  41. I’ve known many Lucys.

    Me too – Christ, I was once married to one…

  42. I’ve known many Lucys.

    Me too – Christ, I was once married to one…

    If I had a Lucy in my life whom I had known empirically to treat only other guys, never me, as Charlie Brown-and she was absolutely firm in her conviction that children would intolerably cramp her style-I would have to consider marrying her.

  43. Brian, until I married her, that’s just how she acted.

  44. Epsiarch,

    It’s been so long since I’ve seen anything Peanuts that I forgot those were different characters. My point remains, though, that most of the kids he hung out with were messed up in some way or another.

  45. Episiarch-
    Bloom county was good but not great. Its politics were too orthodox and predictable, and the whole concept and schtick was too derivative of Doonsbury. Although Trudeau’s politics are also predictable, his creation always contained nuance that any one of Breathead’s lack.

    I agree though that Far Side and Calvin and Hobbs (and early peanuts) are great because they 1) were consistently funny and 2) dealt with some deeper philosophical truths that just the political fashion of the day.

    What makes FS and C&H legendary is this rare feature that they do indeed have in common with Bloom County; they died before they got old.

  46. Everyone who remembers the modern-jazz audio tracks of the Peanuts TV specials knows that C.B. was raised in a human orphanage by Wookiees on the planet Kashyyyk. Maybe that has something to do with his self-fulfilling prophecy/self-image problem.

    Search your feelings. You know Peanuts sucks.

  47. Kolohe,

    It’s true that some of Breathed’s political stuff was predictable, but some of it was subtle and when combined with the storyline (basically anything with Bill) it was often extrememly funny.

    And good point about all those comics ending before they outstayed their welcome (though Bloom County should have ended earlier). Nothing is more painful than reading Hagar the Horrible or Family Circus.

  48. Snoopy,
    You look like Brian the Dog, and it makes me smile.

    David Brin? His anti-Star Wars “egalitarianism” is little better than obsequiousness towards certain misbegotten institutions that slow down-and needlessly humiliate-the gifted. I bet the ending of “Harrison Bergeron” (unabridged) gave Brin a Dr. Strangelove hard-on.

  49. Brian is right: the curious duality involving the public’s perception of the strip as “cute” (largely the result of the merchandising), vs. the actual dark nature of the strip merit much more study.

  50. a lesbian sociopath

    crimethink — I must have missed the strip where Lucy bangs a chick, yeah? What was all the business where Lucy tries to hook up with Schroeder — burrowing deep in the closet?

  51. Oh, right — Peppermint Patty was the lesbian. ‘Cept by Peanuts standards, she was pretty well adjusted.

    Still waiting for someone to draw a panel showing Peppermint Patty banging a hot chick, though it may already be lurking somewhere on Teh Intertubes.

  52. I, too, wrote a review of Peanuts a couple years ago it dealt with the post modernity of the meta-narratives found in panopticon-like structures, especially concentrating on how the character of Snoopy was a hyper-real representation of the consequences of American imperialism. It was very deep.

  53. Still waiting for someone to draw a panel showing Peppermint Patty banging a hot chick, though it may already be lurking somewhere on Teh Intertubes.

    http://humor.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?zi=1/XJ&sdn=humor&cdn=entertainment&tm=19&f=10&su=p284.8.150.ip_&tt=2&bt=1&bts=1&zu=http%3A//media.putfile.com/Charlie-Brown-on-SNL

  54. ace | November 23, 2007, 11:44am | #

    am I the only one who doesn’t find this stuff amusing, let alone humorous?

    “No, Ace. Just you.”

    That’s actually a quote from the movie Stand by Me. (Look it up.) As for your question, I have no idea.

  55. The Slate slideshow keeps timing out on me, but actually I recall that the Peanuts strip could be really funny. Especially in the 1960s and 1970s. I think it got unfunny and pathetic around 1985-1990.

    No, Jamie Kelly is right: Charlie Brown’s deal was that he never gave up hope — in the fortunes of his baseball team, or in his fellow man. He was repeatedly disappointed, but he also persevered. He was a survivor.

    Anybody remember that time that Charlie Brown went off to summer camp, and he kept a paper bag over his head because he had a weird rash on his head? (It looked like baseball stitches.) And all the kids at camp, who’d never met him before, and didn’t know what he looked like, thought he was really cool and funny and elected him leader of the camp — until the rash went away and he took off the bag. Then they were like, “Who’s that weird kid?”

    That was a good storyline.

    BTW, McSweeny’s ran a hilarious bit about Lucy finally being murdered by somebody:

    EXT. GRAVEYARD-DAY

    (A small casket is being lowered into a grave as SCHROEDER, 7, plays a mournful tune on his piano. Standing beside the casket holding white flowers are CHARLIE and SALLY; LINUS VAN PELT, 8; RERUN VAN PELT, 5; MARCIE, 8; and PEPPERMINT PATTY, 8. SNOOPY, 70, in full military uniform, stands at attention with WOODSTOCK, who is perched on his shoulder.)

    PRIEST: (Offscreen.) Woh woh woh. Woh woh. Woh woh woh woh. Woh woh. Woh woh woh. Woh woh woh.
    ——————-

    And the cops pick up Franklin for questioning (because, you know, he’s the black guy). They do the “good cop, bad cop” routine on him:

    INT. INTERROGATION ROOM

    (FRANKLIN, 8, sits behind a shoddy wooden desk. A single lamp hangs down from the ceiling. The two interrogators, offscreen, make a play at bad cop/good cop.)

    OFFICER 1: (Forceful.) Woh woh. Woh woh woh. Woh woh woh woh woh woh.

    FRANKLIN: I wouldn’t. I thought Charlie Brown’s other friends were a little strange, but I would never kill any of them. You’ve got the wrong guy.

    OFFICER 1: Woh woh woh woh.

    FRANKLIN: (Near tears.) No, I’m telling you I didn’t do it!

    OFFICER 2: (Sympathetic.) Woh woh woh. Woh. Woh woh woh woh.

    OFFICER 1: (More forceful.) Woh woh woh woh! Woh woh.

    OFFICER 2: Woh woh. Woh woh woh.

    OFFICER 1: Woh!

    (A door is heard opening, then slamming shut.)

    FRANKLIN: Thank you for getting him out of here, he was scaring me.

  56. I have understood, or at least interpreted, that Charles Schulz’s cartoons were allegorical; Charlie Brown being Christ. Charlie is faced with bullies, to whom he turns the other cheek, and secular influences, like Lucy and her psychiatry, which he politely ignores.

  57. Well, as Charlie would say, “People expect more of girls with curly hair.” Note: girl’s like me.

    And I guess that is the essence of the Libertarian way, we just expect more. Maybe someday our politicians and citizens will expect more for tax dollars and private investment (philanthropy and donations).

    Making my way to the east coast and possibly the WDC area, I may need to refuel my brain with some good company at a Reason event or some kind.

    Nothing replaces the fun I had at Cato, Bionomics & Reason outings when I live int he Bay Area.

    The time I spent post 2000 in Boston was boring by comparison and now Whidbey Island is just, well an island. It must be time to resituate/locate. And find a new Peanuts crowd to hang out with.

  58. Practically everyone I know or whose sense of humor I enjoy came to the same evaluation indpendently of me, that Peanut cartoons were good until the middle 1960s. Amazing that the very instant at which they became popular was when they stopped being funny, and I’m led to wonder whether it was cause & effect. That is, does the general public dislike true humor?

    But I don’t associate “Charlie Brown” with Peanut cartoons. I think of the one who walks in the classroom cool & slow, the one who calls the English teacher “Daddy-o”.

  59. MUAHAHAHAhahahahahahAHAHAHAha!

  60. Are we sure that Peppermint Patty was in fact a lesbian? I recall her often engaging in flirtatious behavior with Charlie Brown, even at times appearing to have an outright crush on him.

    Maybe she was a bisexual.

  61. if pigs are so smart, why are they pigs?

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