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The comic strip PEANUTS has always been a favorite of mine, and most of America’s. It’s been a hit ever since the first PEANUTS comic strip was printed on October 2nd 1950 in seven U.S. daily newspapers. Charles Shultz, the inventor of this imaginative comic strip, still comes up with every PEANUTS strip for the Sunday papers. He leaped from job to job after completing his art’s program, he was even an art teacher for a while, but finally made it to the top. His original comic strip was called "Lil’ Folks" but because of political issues he was forced to change it to PEANUTS. It is now the longest running and most popular of all comics. It was also one of the first comics ever to have more than a few characters. In fact in Shultz’s strip there were about twelve actual reoccurring characters, of which I am about to share with you along with a brief description of each.
First off, of course, is Charlie Brown. He wins your heart with his losing ways. It always rains on his parade, his baseball game, and his life. He’s an stong willed boy who is afraid of arguments. Although he is concerned with the true meaning of life, his friends sometimes call him "blockhead." Other than his knack for putting himself down, there are few sharp edges of wit in that head of his; usually he’s the butt of a joke, not the joker. He can be spotted a mile away in his sweater with the zig zag trim, head down, hands in pockets, headed for Lucy’s psychiatric booth. He is considerate, friendly and polite and we love him knowing that he’ll never win a baseball game, or the heart of the the little red-haired girl, kick the football Lucy is holding or fly a kite successfully. His friends call him "wishy-washy," but his spirit will never give up in his quest to be all that he can be.
Next on the list of introductions should be none other that Lucy Van Pelt, since I mentioned her once before. Lucy works hard at being bossy, crabby and selfish. She is loud and yells a lot. Her smiles and motives are rarely pure. She’s a know-it-all who gives out advice whether you want it or not--and for Charlie Brown, there’s a charge. She’s a real grouch, with only one or two soft spots, and both of them may be Schroeder, who prefers Beethoven.
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Being it that I earlier spoke of Schroeder, I might as well analyze him now. Schroeder, who idolizes Beethoven, brought classical music to the PEANUTS strip. Reserved and usually unbothered, Schoeder reacts only when Woodstock tries to make his grand piano into a playground, or Lucy seeks to make it her courting grounds. The latter can lead to minor disputes.
Woodstock is the smallest of the PEANUTS gang but has a big presence for a little bird. He’s a little inept, his flying and logic are a little questionable at times, but he can type and take shorthand and usually is game for anything Snoopy wants to do. Although he’s the butt of many of Snoopy’s practical jokes, he’s the beagle’s closest friend and confidant and has made attempts at retaliation. Because of his size and the company he’s with, Woodstock is an accident waiting to happen. Being a bird and tiny, he gets a little insecure around Thanksgiving and big moving objects. He’s the only baseball player who gets an automatic walk if the ball rolls over him. Woodstock only talks a kind of birdspeak, and find an alphabet make up entirely of exclamation points. Quite adequate to express such emotions as distress, frustration and a real temper. His flocking friends are Bill, Harriet, Olivier, and Conrad.
Now for my all time favorite, Snoopy, also known as: Joe Cool, World War I Flying Ace, Literary Ace, Flashbeagle, Vulture, Foreign Legionnaire, etc. Snoopy is the life of every adventure-at least in his daydreams atop his doghouse. He regards his master, Charlie Brown, as "that round-headed kid" who brings him his supper dish. He is fearless though prudently cautious about "the cat next door." He never speaks-that would be one human quality too many-but he manages to convey everything necessary in facial expressions and thought balloons. A one-man show with superior intelligence and vivid imagination.
Peppermint Patty is a pro on the baseball field, but in the classroom she’s a D minus all the way. Bold, outgoing and tom-boyish, what she lacks in common sense she makes up for in sincerity. She’s the only one who calls Charlie Brown "Chuck." Obviously too much goes on around her, for a long time she seemed unaware that "the funny-looking kid who plays shortstop" was a beagle. She has trouble staying awake in class; most of her waking hours in the schoolroom are spent analyzing the probability patterns of true and false tests.
Marcie is Peppermint Patty’s best friend. From the moment they met at summer camp, Marcie has called Peppermint Patty "Sir" out of admiration and confusion of titles. An unlikely pair, they seem to have nothing in common yet that is what makes their friendship so genuine. Marcie is the smartest of the PEANUTS clan, but also the most naive. She’s always willing to help out her friend with school work and she’s on the phone to remind her of homework. There is an innocence to Marcie and Peppermint Patty is her protector. Marcie is also completely clueless when it comes to sports yet they still let her play on the baseball team. If these two bussom buddies ever were to squabble it would most likely be because of their shared secret crush on Charlie Brown.
Franklin met Charlie Brown at the beach in 1968. They’d never met before because they went to different schools, but they had fun playing ball so Charlie Brown invited Franklin to visit him at this house across town for another play session. Later, Franklin showed up as center-fielder on Peppermint Patty’s baseball team and sits in front of her at school. Franklin is thoughtful and can quote the Old Testament as effectively as Linus. In contrast with the other characters, Franklin has the fewest anxieties and obsessions. He and Charlie Brown spend quite a lot of time talking about their admirable grandfathers. When Franklin first appeared in the late 60’s, his noticeably darker skin set some readers in search of a political meaning. However, the
were amazed to find out that Shultz added Franklin as just another character, rather than a political statement.
Linus Van Pelt inspired the term "security blanket" with his classic pose. He is the intellectual of the group, and blows his friends away with his solutions to problems. He suffers from his big sister, Lucy, and the unwanted attentions of Charlie Brown’s little sister, Sally. He has a prospective of life while sucking his thumb, and knows the true meaning of Christmas while still believing in the Great Pumpkin.
Charlie Brown was so proud of his newborn baby sister, Sally, that he passed out chocolate cigars, but ever since then he’s been trying to understand her. She always looks for the easy way out, particularly at school, where her view of life reflects much of the frustration and confusion kids experience. She has the schoolgirl crush on Linus, her "Sweet Babboo." She may never win Linus’ heart, but she has her big brother wrapped around her little finger.
Rerun Van Pelt is often mistaken for Linus even though he’s his little brother. He can always be noticed by his trademark overalls. Rerun is more skeptical than his brother, much harder to convince, and always gets around Lucy where as Linus gives in. His only fear is being the passenger of one of his mother’s bicycle riding errands. Rerun also longs for a dog of his own, but since his mom won’t allow it, he just borrows Snoopy form time to time with a cookie bribe.
Last on the list is Pig Pen, another one of my fav.’s. He was first introduced on July 13, 1954 and since then has been the source of "dirt" clouds. He walks around in a cloud of dust, sprinkling dirt on all that comes in contact with him. Pig Pen enjoys being dirty and messy, he has no excuse, doesn’t find shame in it, and does nothing to try to keep himself from being this way.
The characters of this comic strip make the reader laugh as well as sympathize which helps create such a masterpiece. They are what make PEANUTS great. Just think without Charlie Brown’s glum little face, Snoopy’s bravery, Woodstock’s philosophies, Lucy’s bossiness, Peppermint Patty’s athletics, Marcie’s respect, Linus’s security blanket, Rerun’s stubbornness, Sally’s letter writing, Schroeder’s music, Pig Pen’s way of life, and Franklin’s supportiveness, where would you be today?