I began to realize Peanuts was getting a little strange…

§ August 31st, 2010 § Filed under peanuts § 16 Comments

…when this happened:

I remember reading this particular sequence when it was new, and even as a kid it struck me as a bit odd. Yes, in a strip where Schroeder knocks out Beethoven on his toy piano and Snoopy keeps a van Gogh (later, after the fire, an Andrew Wyeth) painting in his doghouse, it’s Helicopter Snoopy that most greatly impacted my willing suspension of disbelief. “How…how does that even work?” young Mike wonders. “Does his entire scalp spin around? Does each ear spin freely in its ‘socket?’ How is Woodstock piloting him, exactly?”

I worried about weird things as a kid.

Here’s the full strip that panel is from, embedded here courtesy the official site:


As you may have gathered, I’m currently reading the recently-released Complete Peanuts 1977-1978 hardcover from Fantagraphics, which included the above strip. Now, the sequence of strips from later in the book that this next image comes from is not a story I recall, because I’m pretty sure I would have remembered this character design of the fellow on the left:

That’s a little odd looking for a Schulz design, though perhaps that’s more attributable to the unfamiliar strangeness of any kid character in Peanuts that isn’t part of the regular cast. That fella probably isn’t any more bizarre than, say, Pig-Pen. But mostly I’m just pointing him out because it took me a moment to parse out the character’s face…I had a hard time visualizing that it was his ear on the left there, and his nose on the right. It just looked like a cylindrical blob resting between the turtleneck and the hat. (Link to the full strip.)

Now this panel is awesome:

Yeah, it’s an easy gag, but it’s a perfect gag for the circumstance. And, it’s in the first panel of the strip. I’m sure it would have served just fine as the closing punchline in a strip that wasn’t Peanuts. (Link to full strip.)

For some good Peanuts commentary, may I recommend Roasted Peanuts, a weblog devoted to discussing the strips.

16 Responses to “I began to realize Peanuts was getting a little strange…”

  • Bryan says:

    When I was a kid, I had a Snoopy toy that actually had spinning ears, so the idea that Snoopy could become a helicopter seems pretty natural to me: http://www.toynerd.com/?p=3462

  • I showcased an awesome balloon art-version of Snoopy & Woodstock yesterday on a Sopwith Camel. I hate to self-promote (ha!) but it is definitely worth checking out.

  • Mr Wesley says:

    The kid in the hat looks vaguely familiar. There was another comic strip in the 70s and 80s (what do I know, it may still be around), that featured an all-child cast, but more ethnic, and maybe set in an urban setting. I can’t remember the name of it, but it may have been something like “Li’l Folks.” This kid kinda reminds me of one of the characters in that strip.

  • Still more brilliant then nearly anything in today’s newspaper comic section and on the web.

  • MrJM says:

    I just figured that was one of Snoopy’s superpowers.

    — MrJM

  • Nat Gertler says:

    I suspect that by “Li’l Folks”, Mr. Wesley is referring to “Wee Pals”, a strip which launched in 1965 and still runs today, and it’s hat-obscured Nipper, who can be seen at the left on the cover pictured here. Schulz was certainly aware of Wee Pals, wrote intro to two Wee Pals books, including one specifically about Nipper.
    But my first thought was that Peppermint Patty and Al Capp were about to have a fight… and what a great fight that would be.

  • Abie the Fish Peddler says:

    You mean Andy Capp, don’t you?

  • A.L. Baroza says:

    Peppermint Patty vs. Al Capp would be awesome. Especially if it were bitter, reactionary ’70s Al Capp.

  • phantasm says:

    Shroeder doesn’t actually play Beethoven, it’s just the way the kids perceive it, so I imagine this could be a similar deal. How Snoopy’s art collection fits is anyone’s guess.

  • Arynne says:

    I would ask what Woodstock was doing in Vietnam, but I’m afraid of the answer.

  • Ed says:

    This was an awesome phase of the strip.
    It was a major disappointment that they decided to start the reruns after Schultz died using strips from just after this sort of thing had largely been phased out, in a deliberate, and publicly stated, effort to avoid one of the strip’s more quirky and surreal eras, and present the least-challenging face for the strip as it entered “zombie” status.

  • Nat Gertler says:

    I just came back to the page, was looking at the picture before getting to the comments, and thought “damn, I said Al Capp, didn’t I?”

    So I’m sticking to it. He could’ve used a good Peppermimt Patty ass-whoopin’, I reckon.

  • Tom Mason says:

    I’d love to see a lost Peanuts strip that ended with Peppermint Patty standing over a heap of smackdowned Al Capp, his wooden leg akimbo, saying simply, “Rats!” Is that wrong?

  • Garrett Michael Hayes says:

    He wasn’t a “helicopter”. He was a “whirlydog”!

  • Craig Schulz says:

    While I began ro realize Peanuts got boring in the 1960s, Snoopy became the canine Madonna of its day having his own fashion escapism persona with a wide array of costumes and he started to become the crazy annoying comic relief to be more like the others.