Two Peanuts Anomalies

Two strips from the 1967-1968 volume of The Complete Peanuts by Charles Schulz (Fantagraphics, 2008).

These panels from the February 14, 1967 strip have a certain manic energy to them that contrasts with Schulz’s usually calm images. Even images such as Charlie Brown getting knocked out of his clothes by another well hit baseball does not have the energy of these two panels: the flying sweat drops, Lucy’s wild hair, and Snoopy’s improbably frayed ears. It looks like something out of a contemporary art comic.

An unusual use of text by Schulz in this strip from March 22, 1967. The batting averages placed inside the little explosion of Jose’s swings act as an effective shorthand to show his hitting skill. Instead of reading a narration of Peppermint Patty telling us he’s great, or having a series of panels showing him hitting balls (Schulz’s baseball scenes are never that involved), we “see” his skill through an abstraction of numbers and statistics.

I never did follow up my series on baseball comics with a post on baseball in Peanuts. Thinking about it just now as I scanned this last image, it occurred to me how Schulz’s baseball is as two dimensional as his settings. In Peanuts baseball is primarily pitcher, catcher, and outfielder, with the batter off-panel for the most part (that panel above is a rare case I’ve seen of hitting being shown). The focus is on Charlie Brown (pitcher) with the most frequent other fielders being Schroeder (catcher) and Lucy (outfield, I imagine her in center field creating a straight line through Charlie from Schroeder to her). Snoopy (shortstop) is also a more central position (particular when compared with first or third).