My oldest fandom, and the only thing I would even consider getting tattooed on my body (when I’m y’know, like, 80) is Peanuts. You might have guessed this from my occasional references to my wife as “the little red-haired girl” or the fact that I have at times used Snoopy on his doghouse at the typewriter as my avatar.
I still remember the thrill of finding new Peanuts collections at Half Price Books (a one-time haul of 15 paperback books being a true highlight). I still have all my old collections (in storage for a future gift to our hypothetical children) and a number of digital, hardback and Peanuts miscellany throughout the house. Our tiny 3 foot Christmas tree has plastic Snoopy ornaments from years of Whitman’s chocolate boxes, and even my desk at work has Snoopy the doctor, Snoopy making valentine’s hearts, and Joe Cool Snoopy playing the guitar.
But my most prized Peanuts possession are the collections of complete strips put out by Fantagraphics every year for over a decade. Each Christmas my parents have bought for me another box containing two books with four years worth of strips stretching from 1950 to the last collection released (1995-1998). This year will be the last year for these collections, a body of work of more than 50 years.
I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions, but I got to thinking that it was time to read through all of Peanuts from the beginning. To do this I need to read a little over 50 strips a day, or about two weeks per book (there are 24 on my shelf).
Peanuts has meant a lot of different things to me over the years. It’s always been good for a laugh, and for having someone to relate to in Charlie Brown. Watching some of the specials and reading early strips I’m beginning to wonder if children in the 50’s had a better grasp of the classics than we do now (Charlie Brown has to read War & Peace at 8 years old, something I haven’t managed to do by 30). In the last decade my favorite strips have often involved Snoopy at his typewriter as we both strive to become published authors, but there are always strips that strike me in new ways at different ages.
So far in three days of reading I’ve discovered a few things about early Peanuts:
- Snoopy doesn’t get his name until about 100 strips in.
- Shermy, Patty and Violet are the main characters along with Charlie Brown.
- Charlie Brown is younger or at least smaller than most of the other kids. He doesn’t get the stripe for over 100 strips.
- Snoopy doesn’t have a clear owner, though Shermy seems to be the one taking care of him. Also, Snoopy still looks very dog-like in appearance and manner.
There’s a lot of what I love about the strip that’s still yet to come, and yet there are still simple moments that I can relate to as someone who owns a beagle:
This strip could be redrawn with Murphy easily.
I imagine this next year will get me writing and thinking about Peanuts, something I may share with you from time to time.
What have you loved since before you can remember? Do you still go back to it?