?

Log in

Recent Entries Friends Archive Profile Tags Jeamland
 
 
 
 
 
 
I'm a Peanuts kid. I grew up on Charles M Schulz' strip; my dad has several shelfloads of the small paperbacks from the 50s and 60s and 70s, the ones with titles like Good Grief, Charlie Brown and You've Come A Long Way, Charlie Brown (I never did see the quasi-mythological Slide, Charlie Brown, Slide!)...and for the majority of my childhood they were all not-so-neatly packed into a bookcase that sat just outside the bathroom, making them perfect loo break reading.

I've read other comic strips, of course. I like Foxtrot and Dilbert and the Boondocks; I adore Calvin and Hobbes, and recently I've even been getting into Doonesbury. And I'll freely now admit that Peanuts can be repetitive, and that sometimes the quality wasn't all that it might have been; though hell, with a fifty year run would you expect anything else? And I didn't get all of it. There's a strip where Linus is watching Citizen Kane, and Lucy walks up behind him.

"What are you watching?"
"Citizen Kane."
"I love that film. I must have seen it a dozen times."
"This is the first time I've seen it."

-and then she tells him about Rosebud, and of course he screams in frustration. Yes, Peanuts spoiled me for Citizen Kane years before I'd heard of it as an important film, and that was probably the least important reference to go over my head.

But even so, even with all that, it's a strip I love. I loved it then, and I love it now; Charlie Brown and the little red-haired girl, Linus and his endless philosophising, Schroeder and his piano, Snoopy's TARDIS-like doghouse, all of it. So I was rather thrilled to find that Fantagraphics is reprinting Peanuts. All of it. The scale of the project is daunting: they're covering fifty years of strips by putting out two years' worth as a handsome hardback every six months for the next twelve-and-a-half years. If I buy them all - as I fully intend to - I'll be in my late thirties by the time they finish, which is far enough away as to seem impossibly remote.

I've had the first volume, which covers 1950 to 1952, for a little over a month now, and I've been taking my time with it, dipping into it now and again. You can see Schulz finding his feet, page by page; a good number of these strips have never been collected before (I recognise maybe one in five), but here you can see the development in everything from the art to the dialogue to the characters to the situations. Thanks to a wonderfully complete index, I can tell you that Snoopy appears in the third strip ever (although it's a while before he thinks), and that Schroeder arrives after a few months (and is given his piano by good ol' Charlie Brown). Lucy and Linus show up in 1951, and the first football gag isn't until November of that year.

There's also fifty or so pages of supplementary material. There's an introduction by Garrison Keillor, a short (quite moving) biography by David Michaelis, and a long, fascinating interview with Schulz, reprinted from 1987, that ranges his across his life and politics and beliefs about art and comics in general. He was not a fan of Doonesbury, but he liked Bill Watterson's work.

Sometimes I tell people that I like Peanuts, and they look at me as though I'm mad. "But it's not funny," they say. Well...yes and no. It's a way of looking at the world, a sensibility, a curious mix of resignation and hope and fortitude. Sometimes it's funny, but if it is that's somehow beside the point. It's about a bunch of kids - occasionally, absurdly erudite kids - and also about life's rich pageant. It's more than enough for me.

There's a strip I like that I think sums it up. Charlie Brown is on the pitcher's mound once again, and not doing too well...
CHARLIE BROWN: Nine home runs in a row! Good grief! What can I do. We're getting slaughtered again, Schroeder... I don't know what to do. Why do we have to suffer like this?
SCHROEDER: Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.
CHARLIE BROWN: What?
LINUS: He's quoting from the Book of Job, Charlie Brown. Seventh verse, fifth chapter. Actually, the problem of suffering is a very profound one, and...
LUCY: If a person has had bad luck, it's because he's doing something wrong, that's what I always say!
SCHROEDER: That's what Job's friends told him. But I doubt...
LUCY: What about Job's wife? I don't think she gets enough credit!
SCHROEDER: I think a person who never suffers never matures. Suffering is actually very important.
LUCY: Who wants to suffer? Don't be ridiculous!
SCHROEDER: But pain is a part of life, and...
LINUS: A person who speaks only of the 'patience' of Job reveals that he knows very little of the book! Now, the way I see it...

All too quickly, the whole team is drawn into the debate. And in the middle of the confusion, looking as lost as ever, stands Charlie Brown. And he says, 'good grief!'

(Did you grow up with comic strips? What were your favourites?)
 
 
 
 
 
 
My favourites were/are Far Side, Bloom County, PVP and Dork Tower. Oh, and Penny-Arcade to a slightly lesser extent. Lucky for me that three of those still run, and I get them online.

I get my daily comics dose at http://www.livejournal.com/users/andrewducker/friends/comics

If I buy them all - as I fully intend to - I'll be in my late thirties by the time they finish, which is far enough away as to seem impossibly remote.

I bought my first single issue of Cerebus in 1994. It finished in March this year with issue 300. I was 22, now I'm 31. When I started it seemed an impossibly long time.
I read Penny Arcade and Dork Tower most of the time, too, and they're great. PVP has never grabbed me - in the tightly niche-targeted geek comics market, I think that one is outside my experience. ;-)
Bloom County

Bloom County! Yes, I loved that so much. I have all the collections that have been published and have read them all multiple times over the years. It's truly my favourite comic strip of all time.

I did go through a couple of irrational phases of reading Garfield and Steve Bell's If... voraciously. I'm still quite fond of Garfield, but I'm not quite sure what I used to see in the Steve Bell. It's not like I understood any of the politics. It was kind of surreal to read without understanding the background, and maybe it's the surrealness that I liked.
Oh, I knew these were coming out but I had no idea that the first one was available already. I'll have to pop to town at lunch time :)

I too am a huge Peanuts fan and have been since as long as I can remember. I have stacks of the old paperbacks (mainly picked up from car boot sales or charity shops over the years), various shiny anniversary editions, and some of my oldest toys are Snoopys. I have a huge box of old Peanuts trinkets up in my parents' loft somewhere -- ornaments and junk and even an ashtray, I think -- mainly picked up for me by my folks at car boot sales but that I have no idea what to do with.

I don't really follow any other comics, unless you count explodingdog.

Did you know that Snoopy, Come Home came out on DVD this week?
I have a huge box of old Peanuts trinkets

A small but significant proportion of my parents' perennial christmas-tree decorations feature Peanuts characters. :)

Did you know that Snoopy, Come Home came out on DVD this week?
You are Rerun!


[Error: Irreparable invalid markup ('<a [...] -1">') in entry. Owner must fix manually. Raw contents below.]

<cite>I have a huge box of old Peanuts trinkets</cite>

A small but significant proportion of my parents' perennial christmas-tree decorations feature Peanuts characters. :)

<cite>Did you know that Snoopy, Come Home came out on DVD this week?</cite

Not until just now!

Also, because it had to be done:

<img
src="http://images.quizilla.com/A/anonymousnowhere/1065153323_resr_rerun.jpg"
border="0" alt="Rerun"><br>You are Rerun!
<br><br><a
href="http://quizilla.com/users/anonymousnowhere/quizzes/Which%20Peanuts%20Char$<font size="-1">Which Peanuts Character are You?</font></a><BR> <font
size="-3">brought to you by <a
href="http://quizilla.com">Quizilla</a></font>
> Rerun

Yup, me too :)
Correct quiz link here.
My parents had a few Giles collections, which I got a lot of mileage out of when I was younger. I didn't really under stand the political bits at the time, but there were always enough little details and jokes in each cartoon to keep me busy for hours with each book.
See, I've never really gotten into British strips in the same way. I remember reading Fred Bassett, and a certain amount of Giles, and my piano teacher used to have a couple of books of Thelwell lying around, but none of them inspired the sort of vaguely-fannish behaviour that Peanuts of Calvin and Hobbes have. I wonder why?
Perhaps because British strips are too 'normal'? Only Bell's If... could be called even vaguely surreal or extreme, and, even so, I would say that Doonesbury is far more political. Or perhaps it's that we live in this country and certain things (like the fannish behaviour that can be seen around Peanuts and Calvin...) require the distance that is provided by the sea. Certainly I could never see myself becoming fanatical about Gemma Bovary, which is, in my eyes, both too normal and too British.
Giles! I'd forgotten about those. My gran used to buy the anthologies and I must have read tons of them when I was 10. I remember that, like MAd, it was the closest I got to porn in those days.

I had a big Peanuts binge when I was about 12, concentrating one the Snoopy-heavy paperbacks like Snoopy The Great Pretender where he served in Word War II and pretended to be a snake and that. Great stuff.
Somewhere, either in my flat if I've sneakily borrowed it, or still at home, we have a copy of It Was A Dark And Stormy Night. Not just the relevant strips: the full text of the novel, plus author bio and all those gubbins. It's great.
I was always a Peanuts child, I've got lots of those paperbacks too.

The Citizen Kane gag, meanwhile, was one of many lifted wholesale from the comic strips and put into Snoopy!!! The Musical, in which I once played Charlie Brown (hence the LJ icon) in a Youth Theatre production. It's a really good play, it's pretty much sketch based, with a lot of the sketches, like I say, coming from actual Peanuts cartoons. Some great songs, too.

There we are. I'm (obviously) the guy in the yellow t-shirt (with blue rather than black zigzags, blame the girl who made it!)
There we are. I'm (obviously) the guy in the yellow t-shirt

Sounds like a fun production, but your head is not nearly round enough. ;-)

Who's the guy between you and Snoopy?
That's a guy called Mike who was originally put in the play as a non-speaking extra (I forget why), then given one song to sing. For whatever reason (presumably because Suzie, the director, thought it was amusing), his character was called "Randy", but really, he could just as easily have been a white Franklin or one of those other peripheral characters...
Are the Mads I wasn't supposed to read. I tried them again recently, they were hackneyed and antique, nothing timeless about them (or Thelwell, or Bassett, or Herriot, for that matter -- but at least the Mads were inventive).

Occasionally I'd borrow a schoolfriend's Garfield book and read it from cover to cover. They went a long way towards convincing me that the world was, indeed, a terrible place.

I'm not sure Peanuts has the same appeal for girls, as they get saddled with being Lucy. For a while I thought Woodstock might offer another possibility, but he's male. I remember finding that out.
Occasionally I'd borrow a schoolfriend's Garfield book and read it from cover to cover. They went a long way towards convincing me that the world was, indeed, a terrible place.

One of my schoolfriends was a big Garfield fan. I never saw the appeal myself. The range was far too limited, and it seemed far too cynically intended to generate merchandising possibilities (oddly, I don't have the same problem with Dilbert, though I know Scott Adams is just as cynical).

I'm not sure Peanuts has the same appeal for girls, as they get saddled with being Lucy.

I suppose she's the most visible, but what about Violet and Sally and Peppermint Patty and Marcie?

On the downside, there's also Frieda.

For a while I thought Woodstock might offer another possibility, but he's male. I remember finding that out.

One of the things that comes up in the interview is that when that little bird first appeared, Schultz intended it to be a she. Then he somehow decided on the name 'Woodstock' and realised that with that name, it probably had to be a he. Later there was Harriet the Beagle Scout, who I always liked. :)
I remember now. I mean, I don't remember Violet or Frieda but I remember jock-girl and glasses. I got Shroeder in the quiz, but I still prefer Woodstock ...

I don't think Dilbert is cynical in the same way as Garfield -- in fact his management book bursts out into earnestness quite a bit! Garfield is cynical and dull in the lowcomdom way, like Cathy ... or Fred, for that matter.

Harriet the Beagle Scout? Is she a dog or a girl?
Harriet the Beagle Scout? Is she a dog or a girl?

Neither - she's a bird, like Woodstock. All the Beagle Scouts except Snoopy are birds like Woodstock. I remember Harriet as being the competent one. :)
Peppermint Patty! Who was very supportive of all of her friends, really.

My fave strips growing up were Peanuts while I was younger, Doonesbury, B.C. and the Wizard of Id, and then Sylvia. Oh, and Pogo.
I'm not sure Peanuts has the same appeal for girls, as they get saddled with being Lucy.

I only read Peanuts sporadically (I only ever saw it in the comics section of the paper that my Grandma read and saved for me to read when I visited her) so never really got into it that much. But I never felt like I was stuck with being Lucy. If the female character(s) in a book/comic don't fit me, I just end up relating to one of the male ones that fits me better. I tend to relate to characters based on their personality traits, not their gender.

(I noticed this when the 'what characters am I like' meme started floating around. I realised that all the characters I could think of that I particularly related to were male characters. Though maybe this is some kind of indication that women like me don't exist in the world of fiction.)
(Deleted comment)
I keep having brushes with the notion of gendered writing, and I'm finding it increasingly fascinating. It's fascinating because on a gut level I believe it must be true - men and women are sufficiently different that surely they must write differently, too! - but I can't prove it.

For instance, if I was going to try to pick someone with a female style of writing, the first name I'd go for would be Jane Austen. I'd do this because, well, on a very basic level, she writes about women and lots of women like her writing, which suggests she's doing something right.

I've yet to get past page 50 of Pride and Prejudice. Something in it just does not get processed by my brain. But I couldn't honestly say that this is because it's female writing; I mean, it might be the style - comedy of manners - or the simple age of the work, or a dozen other factors. More than likely, it's all of them.

On the other hand, if I were going to pick stereotypically male science fiction writers I'd point at the Killer B's - David Brin, Gregory Benford, Greg Bear. They write what must surely be considered men's sf. I don't like them either (well, aside from the short story version of 'Blood Music') but again, I can't say that this is because their writing is male in some way; all the things I would point to as flaws - infodumps, paper-thin characters, leaden prose - are flaws in and of themselves, not flaws unique to men. Or Chuck Palahniuk - rampant maleness there, surely? I think David Fincher's film of Fight Club is excellent, but I can take or leave the book (although I quite like his later novel Lullaby).

It's the sort of thing where I get the urge to set up an incredibly complicated randomised controlled trial to account for all the variables. Hand out books with blank covers - no author information - and see what people make of them, that sort of thing. :)

And say for the sake of argument that it is the fact that it's 'female' that's putting me off Jane Austen. Is that a flaw in the text or (importantly for my ego) is it a flaw in me? It seems likely it's the latter. Assuming male and female writing exists, shouldn't I be able to appreciate good examples of both kinds? Shouldn't writing be 'good' first and 'gendered' second?

I really have no idea. I keep coming back to this topic, and not having answers. It's one reason why I can't wait for the reprint of Her Smoke Rose Up Forever in November!

(Also, don't miss Geneva's post about relating to characters of different genders.)
I think that Jane Austen does have a particular viewpoint that might be classed as "female" - but don't forget that at the time, men and women were *supposed* to think very differently from each other. I could say that "Jane Eyre" is equally "feminine", and yet it was widely accepted as written by a man for a long while; because that's who wrote books. I would think that Austen would have had to choose to write from one viewpoint or the other - her subject matter would have made it difficult to be neutral. On the other hand, "Vanity Fair" does not strike me as excessively masculine; it follows the women's narratives more closely than the men's. If I hadn't known it was written by a man, I'm not sure I would have assumed that that was the case.

men and women are sufficiently different that surely they must write differently, too!

I'm not so sure... I tend (both instinctively and consciously) to consider people as *people* first, and male/female second. I've often found that by removing any assumption about how someone is going to behave/think/react I've been free to observe what they actually do. And there's far more variety within each gender, and far more consistency between genders, than I would have expected. However, it may be a self-fulfilling prophecy - I *hate* being judged on my gender. I've spent my whole working life, and most of the rest of it as well, in male dominated environments. It's a real struggle to be judged on your own merits in that kind of unbalanced environment, rather than judged on people's expectations. So maybe I see what I want?
This all reminds me of a conversation we had about Ripley in Alien - was her character masculine or feminine? I never saw the problem - sometimes she was scared, sometimes she was strong, but all the time she was human. Masculine or feminine was not the issue.

Hmmm, I probably should have put some of this in Geneva's thread...
where you all decide who you'll be. You be Lucy, you're bossy! After all, not everyone can read the comic book at once. Mind you, at my school, not everyone could read at all.

> I tend to relate to characters based on their personality traits, not their gender.

Which is fine, but when all the female characters are boring and annoying I start to feel rather backed into a corner, gender-wise.



Well, I grew up in a largely comics-free environment, for lack of market access. What I did acquire was...

Garfield, which I pretty much decided against buying any more!(TM) by the time Garfield 3D rolled around...

then there was The Far Side ... taken together, it probably accounts for my lethargy and odd sense of humour. ;-)

The one I remember the best that I actually read was
Garfield, and maybe Peanuts. Not so much read comic strips as comic books such as Asterix.

I didn't see Calvin and Hobbes, or Dilbert, till I was all growned up.

Garfield was snarky, greedy, and lazy. What better role model for a kid than that? :-D
Asterix! How did I miss out Asterix? Ah, the joy of bad puns.

I could never decide whether I preferred Asterix or Tintin. I think the reporter wins out on the end on the basis of having moon-rockets. :)
I'm kinda surprised about women being "stuck" with Lucy. All the characters in Peanuts are dysfunctional wrecks. Peanuts is a very *dark* strip.