Way back when I was a kid, Peanuts were part of the cadence of the major holidays. Halloween coming up? Get ready for “It’s The Great Pumpkin”. Thanksgiving had “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and, a few weeks later, we had “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. (These were also the only times you ever saw commercials for Dolly Madison as well. Saturday morning was owned by cereal and Hostess but you could be excused for forgetting about the very existence of Dolly Madison until, oh yeah, they’re the ones bringing us these Charlie Brown specials.)
I don’t know that I ever saw them in stores. Sure, I’d see Hostess. I’d see Little Debbie. “Where are the Dolly Madison snack cakes?” Seems like a misallocation of ad dollars, if you ask me. At the very least, send a case or two to Meijer or something the week of the show.
Anyway, having had opportunity to revisit the strips recently, I was struck by how they must have captured a zeitgeist of a particular time perfectly. Back when there wasn’t really a whole lot of content explicitly created for children and so something that children could experience themselves as something *FOR THEM* must have provided a great deal of a boost to the strips themselves. I mean, Krazy Kat was pretty much *NOT* for kids, and Pogo was absolutely brilliant but used childish imagery to tell a very adult story. Peanuts (after the first couple of existential years, anyway) was something like that but with training wheels. Kids could enjoy it just as much as the grownups and have conversations about the various dynamics that existed in the “gang”. Charlie Brown and Sally, Lucy and Linus, Peppermint Patty and Marcia, Franklin, Schroeder, Pig Pen, and, of course, Snoopy. Little comic strips that weren’t particularly funny, necessarily, but were accessible to children and became part of the daily ritual of reading the paper: Check out the headlines, check out the box scores, open to the funnies. *NOW* you can start reading articles.
The strips themselves didn’t really have jokes, per se. More situations that were zany. A children’s baseball team that gets interrupted by theological discussions. A bird that uses his canine best friend’s doghouse for the weekly bridge game. Linus being a Zen Master who sucks his thumb and still carries a security blanket around.
Man, when I was a kid, I *DEVOURED* these things. Looking at them now, I’m more struck by how they are cute and sometimes clever and certainly the inspiration for thousands of comic strip writers… but not particularly funny.
So now I’m wondering whether the movie will go for a modern take on the Peanuts Universe and go for funny or if it will try to capture the feel of the strip by providing an understated wry affection for the universe that children live in.
And, of course, if they’re going to mess everything up.
So… what are you reading and/or watching?