on snoopy and peanuts

Like many cartoonists, I have a complicated relationship with Charles Schultz and Peanuts. I loved it as a child in the sixties and early 70s, both in the newspaper and in the book collections that were everywhere at the time.  It’s certainly the first comic I ever understood as a comic and the first “real” literature I remember reading. (It’s a big step, moving out of dedicated children’s books into the stuff that everyone reads.)

In my “sophisticated” teens I lost interest, and by the time I was thinking seriously about comics as an art form, it was pretty clear that the strip had lost more than a few steps.  At the same time I discovered/rediscovered the Peanuts that I loved, first the comics from the mid 60s through the early 70s that I had read as a kid, but then, with shock and delight, the strips from the 50s and early 60s that I had never seen before.  As a child I’d been vaguely aware that there were “old fashioned” versions of the strip where some of the kids were younger, everybody looked different, and Snoopy was really a dog, but I’d never had a chance to really read the material. I ended up a great lover of the old Peanuts, which I saw as stronger, both in writing and in art, than the late material I was reading in the papers at the time.  But I liked that too, and not just for nostalgic reasons.  His output was much more uneven, but Schultz was still turning out the occasional excellent comic right up until the end.

This is a long winded leadup saying that I read with great interest a long essay by Kevin Wong, “How Snoopy Killed Peanuts“, published today on Kotaku. I’d even say I agreed with many, though no all, of Wong’s opinions and conclusions. Regardless of your position on the history of Peanuts, and pehaps even more if you’ve never really thought about it, this essay is a cracking good read, as are some of the more thoughtful comments. Highly recommended.

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2 Responses to on snoopy and peanuts

  1. Layla Lawlor says:

    Oh wow, this is absolutely fascinating to me, because as a child of the late ’70s/80s, the Peanuts of Snoopy and Woodstock is the only one I ever knew! I grew up thinking of it as a bland cartoon that I quickly outgrew, and I could never understand the fondness that some people had for it.

    The things we don’t even know we don’t know …!

    (And also – Hi! Sorry for not being around much lately — I hadn’t realized it’s been so long since I visited your blog that it’s not even autofilling in my browser’s address bar! I have a lot of catching up to do.)

  2. Pam Bliss says:

    Hey, we are all children of our time. I was lucky to have started in on “Peanuts” in the last phase of its classic period. Luckily history has made all the good old stuff available again.

    Glad to see you back, Layla. That’s the nice thing about an episodic, many-headed semi-pointless blog like this one– you can come and go as you please and it’s always right here waiting for you.

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