Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Is Peanuts "Over The Hill?"

A letter writer to the Northwest Herald complained recently about the inclusion of "Peanuts" reprints in the funnies section:

"The Northwest Herald would never think of running op-ed pieces more than a half century old, or anything else for that matter. I love Peanuts – Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the gang – but it’s time to put that old dog to sleep. Give another cartoonist a chance, and save the classics for the bookstore."

Specifically at issue are the occasional older pop-cultural references to persons like Sam Snead and things like (I would assume) "Hi-Fi," Davy Crockett hats, etc.

Personally, I think most of "Peanuts" is timeless -- but when reprinting the strips in national newspapers, I have no problem leaving out some of the more topical strips that might be too obscure for the general audience (perhaps that is rather Philistine of me, but that's how I feel).

What do you think?

(With a tip of the hat to Journalista)


  1. Anonymous12:12 PM

    I hate to agree with this guy for so many reasons, but I do.

    Keeping the strip in perpetual reruns is denying space to new blood, and it's already harder to break in that it ever has been.

    I love Peanuts more than about anyone, but the reprints have always left me cold.

    Frankly, it's only slightly less ghoulish than when someone else takes a strip over after a death

  2. See, I'd say it's less about outdated references, and more about the lack of new material. There are many good comics that are still producing new strips. It's not fair to other cartoonist to continue to simply rerun old strips, and it's not interesting to most newspaper readers. Peanuts is available in collected works, and can be found easily on the market. And while Peanuts was a brilliant strip, not every single day's strip for its entire run is nessessarily classic. Most of the reprinted strips in my local paper are simply ok. I would argue that most of the cultural significance and overall fondness for the peanuts characters stems from the holiday TV specials rather than the comic strips. Meanwhile "Pearls Before Swine", "Lio" and other less popular, yet still cutting edge and significant, strips struggle for more syndication.

    Although if it were up to me, no comic would be in the newspaper for more than 20 years. Except maybe Doonesbury. Really, how many times must we be reminded that Dagwood like sandwiches and is late for work, or that Sarge likes sandwiches and yells a lot, or that Garfield likes sandwiches and is lazy, Or that Hagar the Horrible likes sandwiches and is lousy at raiding castles? Once a joke has been beaten to death, do we really need to run its obituary every day, or can we just let the Lockhorns get their divorce and move on?

    Oh, but we could have more of those Family Circus strips where the dotted line follows the kid around. Those are cool.

  3. We don't get Peanuts reruns where I live and I always smile when I'm in another town and see them in the paper. There are a lot of dead strips taking up space in papers across the country. These should be sh*t-canned. Then there would be room for true classics like Peanuts alongside newer fresher ones.
    Ultimately the papers will choose whatever they think will make the readers happiest. The bottom line is far more important than making room for new talent in a niche literary form.

  4. Snoopy and the Peanuts gang is, without doubt, one of my fondest memories from my childhood... one I have shared with my children who know all of the Peanuts holiday specials like the back of their hands. The heck with this guy. Some things trensend time. Peanuts should be running in newspapers 50 years from now.

  5. Being Charlie Brown growing up (although I'm not entirely sure I completely grew out of it, if at all) I have a special connection to the strips. Plus, a lot of the new strips that have come in haven't been all that funny. Sports and Girls? Crap. Pearls Before Swine? Mega crap.

    I rather some quality stuff is allowed to be enjoyed by new readers. However, I agree the more topical strips should be left to the collected editions. I know once we start hitting the 60s I get lost.

  6. Ah... the Lockhorns... What guy can't identify with that old balding guy who still finds the energy to dance with attractive women half his age?

    Most strips are bland. Most days in the Daily News, which runs some 25 strips, I might find ONE strip that's funny. Rarely do I find one that is worthy of the refrigerator.

    Now, if we allow Peanuts, then we should also reprint Li'l Abner, Pogo, The Far Side, Barnaby, Gordo, King Aroo, and Calvin & Hobbes. Of course, they would have to run at a larger size, so even more strips would have to go to make room. Heck! Let's run old New Yorker cartoons in the newspapers! (Multipanel strips run on Sunday.)

    But with my luck, some paper would decide to reprint Love Is and Dondi.

  7. There are alot of things I would drop from my local papers 'funny pages' before I would remove 'Peanuts'.

    Little kids are unlikely to buy collections of Peanuts in book stores and of what I'm seeing most strips today are not kid friendly. At least keep something in the funny pages thats accessible to young readers.

    Of course I'm still mad our local fish wrapper stopped running 'The Phantom". I guess I'm old at 26.

  8. I have ambivalent feelings about this. I guess I halfway agree that Peanuts is taking up space that could go to a new comic and give someone else a chance, but at the same time, there's virtually no way the new comic could equal Peanuts in quality. So at least people are being exposed to a work of genius in a popular format. We use the word "genius" too freely, but I think that describes Charles Schulz and his work to a tee.

    It's almost like "Let's get Picasso or O'Keeffe out of the museum because their paintings are taking up space that could be used by some new artist." What are the chances of putting the new Pablo Picasso or Georgia O'Keeffe up, or even someone pretty good but not quite up to that level?

    With comic strips, the chances of getting another stinker like... yeah... Pearls Before Swine or yet another iteration of Dilber or something are much greater than the chances of blowing the museum analogy. Comic strips run much harder to mediocrity. It's a difficult medium... not that fine art isn't... but trying to do something funny and unique and smart or any of the adjectives that describe prime Peanuts? And have it become a success?

    Wow! If someone can pull that off, then they deserve the space. But failing that, let's just keep Peanuts. After all, there are 50 years worth of strips- the person who wrote this letter along with millions of others weren't even alive for the strip's best years during the late 50s and all through the 60s, so they should just shut up.

    It's new to them, even if the characters aren't.

  9. Wow, Charlie Brown at 57 looks exactly like my ex-husband, who coincidentally is currently 57...

  10. One major problem is that the stuff being rerun is a "best of" selection that couldn't be farther from being the actual best of peanuts.
    I agree that it's a classic, and deserves to stick around a lot more than some other "zombie" strips, I'd like to see a change in the selection process, or even a change in who's responsible for selecting the strips being rerun (even if Schultz's own kids are in charge).
    There's a deliberate policy of selecting only strips from the relatively mellower seventies era of the decades-long run, and a conscious avoidance of any of Schultz's forays into the overtly odd or surreal. Look it up. Stripping such stuff out results in kids being brought up to think that Peanuts was this sucky, boring old strip that's overrated by adults.