Friday, October 02, 2009


50 years ago Peanuts started. It had a long run with the last new strip appearing the day of it's creator's death (Charles Shultz had actually retired a few weeks earlier). This was back in the days when every city had at least two papers and every family subscribed to at least one. Everyone read the comics.

Peanuts was special. Only children appeared but they lived in an adult world. Instead of cheap jokes, the kids worried about things like wearing away the planet by scuffing feet.

From the beginning Charlie Brown had a pet dog. In fact, Shultz's first published drawing was of a dog that looked a lot like Snoopy in Ripley's Believe It or Not. The real turning point in the strip came when Snoopy started thinking. After that he often took over the strip. He even got the last line in the last strip. 40 years ago he acquired a side-kick, a bird named Woodstock after the rock concert. Other characters were added over the years.

The strip looks dated now, especially the early ones that are currently being syndicated. The girls always wear dresses, the kids are all white and none of them come from broken families. This reflects how society saw itself at the time. Still, most of the humor still works.

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