For as long as I can remember I have loved my stuffed Snoopy well before I knew who Snoopy was and where this amazing dog came from. I became an avid reader of the “funny papers” due to my grandfather’s unknowing influence. He used to say to us grandchildren after we were ready to leave from a visit, “see you in the funny papers.” As a little girl I didn’t really get it until someone pointed out that my grandpa was saying goodbye each time and that the funny papers referred to the comics section in our local newspaper. Ever the literalist, I started to read them. Much went over my young head until I discovered Charles Schultz’s iconic Peanuts strip.
What I love about Peanuts is that everything was observed from a child’s point of view. Snoopy was this heroic dog that could be and do anything. Charlie Brown was a character that generated much sympathy and Lucy was that bossy older sister. Children and adults can relate to the every day ups and downs of the Peanuts gang, often seeing themselves in the characters that Schultz created. As Schultz stated, “If you read the strip, you would know me. Everything I am goes into the strip…” (schultzmuseum.org) Schultz was a dedicated artist who created great stories through his strip. Another thing I love about Peanuts is the innocence of the writing but there are also take away lessons and it is funny.
By far, Snoopy is my favourite character from the Peanuts gang. Snoopy could imagine going anywhere and being anything from the Red Baron to a detective to even Santa Claus. He is loyal to Charlie Brown and observes the children around him through silent thoughts and musings only really sharing with his side-kick Woodstock. As a child I could relate to Snoopy in a number of ways. I wanted to go different places and experience the world. I wanted to grow up to be a detective, a ballerina, a journalist, a doctor and so on. My imagination was in rapid fire mode as a child. That being said, I could also see myself in Linus, Peppermint Patty, Marcie, and even Charlie Brown. This social circle of friends experienced many of the same events that I did as a child including similar emotions and obstacles.
As an adult I came to understand and appreciate Schultz’s genius even more when I realized that as he was writing the strip he could comment on world events in the 1950s right through to the end of original publication in January 2000. His commentary was never malicious or said with ill-intention as he wanted his readers to laugh yet appreciate what he was trying to say during some tumultuous times in society. One could argue that Schultz was ahead of his time by including comic strips that tackled integration in schools, co-ed baseball teams (including dogs), and comments on technology like the Space Race between the Americans and Russians.
Peanuts has stayed with me long after the last strip was written. My son enjoys Peanuts too laughing along at the mishaps of the gang and the observations and antics of Snoopy often resulting in discussions about the characters at bedtime. I appreciate that Schultz opened a world of comics to me later encouraging me to look beyond books and explore traditional comic books and graphic novels. This is why Peanuts continues to be my favourite comic strip of all time. See you in the funny papers!