Thursday, October 11, 2007

What happened, Charlie Brown?

This was the Peanuts strip that ran in today's paper (Edit: Sorry, apparently you'll have to click on it to see the full strip- ES). Obviously it's an older one (I think they're around the time where Sally is less than a year old, right now), from the early days of the strip. Man, what happened to the Peanuts?

This strip is dark, insightful, and overall very clever. Most of the early Peanuts strips are like this. They're smart social commentary, very clever, and practically counter-culture. Somewhere between when this strip originally ran and the time I grew up (when Charles Schulz was still putting out a new strip every day), Peanuts lost its edge. If I had to guess, I'd say it was around the time Snoopy started shilling for MetLife, or possibly when the gang made the jump to TV. Although, if you watch the TV specials, they get less edgy as well. The original Charlie Brown Christmas was a nice commentary on consumerism in modern America. From there on, it steadily declines. By the time Charlie Brown and his friends went to France, they were nothing more than amusing characters; the social relevance was pretty much gone. I love the early Peanuts and reading them as the "classic" strips that newspapers run today is truly a joy.

On a similar note, I recently found a series of Mickey Mouse comics from the 30s in which Mickey tries to kill himself (repeatedly) because Minnie is going out with someone else. Walt apparently got the idea from a Harold Lloyd movie. Try getting away with that in today's over-censored society!


1 comment:

  1. I don't think Schulz was sucking by the 90s so much as he had just lost his fastball over the years.

    Fantagraphics is in the process of publishing the entire run of the series, including hundreds which have never been reprinted. They're up to about 1964 now, publishing two years at a time. I have all but the most recent one, I think. They're a bit costly, but totally worth it.