Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A tale of synchronicity and Charles Schulz

Recently I was reading the Abrams book, Only What’s Necessary, Charles M. Schulz and the Art of Peanuts, when I came across a scan of the original artwork for this 1954 Sunday page:

According to the book, the sequence, an experiment continued over four Sundays, was considered a failure by Schulz. It was never published in any of the subsequent paperback collections of the comic strip. Not until the Fantagraphics collections, The Complete Peanuts, that is, published by Fantagraphics after Schulz’s death.

Here is where synchronicity came in. A couple of days after seeing the page in the book, I was in an antiques mall in downtown Salt Lake City, and found a couple of issues of Tip Top Comics from the mid-fifties. I bought them and when I opened up issue #200, from 1956, I found the entire sequence, reprinted in a comic book format.

When you read the whole sequence you can see why Schulz considered it a failure. It introduced adults to Peanuts, and it seems completely wrong, based on what later became a major theme in the comic strip: the war between Charlie Brown and Lucy. Looking at this storyline, appearing within the first four years of what went on to be a 50-year run, is jarring. Charlie Brown supporting Lucy? Lucy as a golfer? Uh-uh. Better to think of it as a dream sequence, and be glad he didn’t consider it a success and change the interactions between the two characters. I cannot imagine Peanuts without Lucy jerking the football away from Charlie Brown, and so this was one of those moments in a lifetime of working on the strip when Schulz thought better of it.

All Peanuts Copyright © 1954, 1956, UFS

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