Annotations of The Complete Peanuts/1961 to 1962

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Annotations to The Complete Peanuts: 1961 to 1962 by Charles M. Schulz (Fantagraphics Books, 2006. ISBN 1560976721)

  • p. 1 (January 1, 1961). In ten pin bowling, the bowler gets two tries to knock down ten pins; if he/she gets the remainder of pins on the second roll, it is called a “spare”. Lucy is “picking up the spare” by knocking down Charlie Brown, the last boy standing.
  • p. 2 (January 2, 1961). This strip begins what would be the longest continued narrative in Peanuts up to that time: three weeks.
  • p. 3 (January 6, 1961). The end of this strip and the following three dailies are sly references to drug withdrawal, specifically heroin—an amusingly mature theme for the comics pages, especially at a time where comics were expected to have nothing to do with political and social issues, although not surprising for Peanuts, as it would explicitly tackle those kinds of issues later on, such as the Vietnam War and tear gas at campaign protests of the early 70's and late 60's, runaway licensing, and once in 1985, even triple bypass surgery.
  • p. 4 (January 11, 1961). Hyannis Port (sometimes written “Hyannisport”) is an affluent residential village southwest of Hyannis. It is best known as the ancestral home of the Kennedy family, including then–President-elect John F. Kennedy, who would be inaugurated nine days later, on January 20.
  • p. 10 (January 22, 1961). A reference to the biblical story of David and Goliath. The diminutive Israeli shepherd David slew the giant Philistine warrior Goliath with a rock hurled from a sling, as Linus does here with a snowball from his blanket.
  • p. 12 (January 28, 1961). The second appearance of Lucy’s psychiatric booth (the first was on March 27, 1959), and the first time it is drawn with its familiar canopy. Also note the redundant “5¢” sign at the bottom; this would later be replaced.
  • p. 14 (January 30, 1961). Linus is tabulating the combined gifts from the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. The song has twelve verses, each listing the gifts given by “my true love”; the gifts cumulate with each day/verse. Linus’s math is correct; however, the song is more commonly sung to refer to “drummers drumming” rather than “fiddlers fiddling”.
  • p. 17 (February 8, 1961). Pasteurization is the process of heating liquids for the purpose of destroying viruses and harmful organisms, named for its inventor, chemist Louis Pasteur (1822–1895). It is most commonly used on milk, hence Lucy’s pun here. Puns of this sort would later be almost completely delegated to Snoopy once he began typing.
  • p. 18 (February 11, 1961). Speculating on the effects of television on American culture, which Snoopy parodies here, was a common theme in the early days of the Kennedy administration. It would culminate three months later with Federal Communications Commission chairman Newton N. Minow’s “Television and the Public Interest” speech, where he famously argued that television was often a “vast wasteland” with detrimental effects on the viewing public.
  • p. 21 (February 16, 1961). For the rest of 1961, Linus and (less often) the other characters will sometimes be wearing American Civil War–style hats, due to its centennial (specifically referred to on July 8 and November 23, 1961).
  • p. 21 (February 16, 1961). First instance of a note in Linus' lunch.
  • p. 29 (March 6, 1961). The first appearance of Frieda. Like Charlie Brown and Linus, she was named after one of Schulz’s fellow instructors at the Art Instruction School in Minneapolis[1].
  • p. 34 (March 19, 1961). A flannelgraph is a method of telling stories, used in real life as Lucy does here. It is generally associated with American evangelical Sunday school lessons, as a means of telling Bible stories to young children. Schulz was undoubtedly aware of the practice from his own experiences teaching Sunday school. Christian writer John Fischer said, “[t]hough it has largely disappeared from the scene, flannelgraph may very well be the closest thing to a strictly evangelical art form, for I never encountered it anywhere but in Christian endeavors, and I haven’t seen it anywhere else since. It was an evangelical quirk of the 1950s that soon went the way of sword drills and the family altar”[2].
  • p. 36 (March 23, 1961). In 1961, a television small enough to be portable was still a relative novelty.
  • p. 47 (April 17, 1961). National Library Week was started in 1958 amid concerns that television was reducing reading by children[3].
  • p. 48 (April 21, 1961). Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel (1904–1991) was a popular American children’s book author, best known for his 1957 book The Cat in the Hat.
  • p. 54 (May 4, 1961). Lucy’s psychiatrist booth takes on its final appearance with the addition of the “The doctor is in” sign.
  • p. 60 (May 19, 1961). The H-Bomb is the common form of referring to hydrogen bombs.
  • p. 62 (May 23, 1961). Frieda’s cat Faron was the only cat that would ever appear in Peanuts. Schulz wrote later: “One day, while searching for some kind of new story to work on, I decided to have the character named Frieda... threaten Snoopy with bringing a cat into the neighborhood. Snoopy was horrified, and, when the cat arrived, did not like it at all. Fortunately for him, I also discovered that I didn’t care much for the cat. For one thing, I realized that I don’t draw a cat very well, and secondly, if I were to keep up the relationship, I would have a traditional cat-and-dog strip, which was something I certainly wanted to avoid... the cat brought Snoopy back to being too much of a real dog. By the time the cat had come into the strip, Snoopy was drifting further and further into his fantasy life, and it was important that he continue in that direction. To take him back to his earlier days would not work, so I did the obvious and removed the cat. (My only regret was that I had named the cat after Faron Young, a country-and-western singer whom I admired very much...)”[1] Schulz would later introduce an “offstage” cat.
  • p. 63 (May 26, 1961). “Sandbagging” is a term mainly used in gaming or sporting contexts, meaning to feign weakness to obtain an advantage.
  • p. 64 (May 28, 1961). “Just Before the Battle” was an 1864 song written by George F. Root; it was a pro-Union song but was popular throughout America, including in the Confederacy. Linus is singing it in keeping with his Civil War centennial interest. He has gotten the lyrics wrong slightly: the second line is actually “I am thinking most of you”.

    Schulz would often refer to this strip as one of his favorites, and also as one of the few that was based on an idea he had gotten from his children: “We were at the dinner table and Amy was talking away on a real talking streak and finally I said, ‘Can’t you please be quiet?’ and she was silent for a moment and then picked up a piece of bread and began to butter it, saying, ‘Am I buttering too loud for you?’”[4] The punchline would be repeated by Schulz on August 5, 1998, in honor of Amy’s birthday[5].

  • p. 67 (June 4, 1961). In keeping with Schulz’s attention to detail, all of Lucy’s definitions are accurate.
  • p. 75 (June 22, 1961). The “little girl” referred to in this and the next two strips is President Kennedy’s daughter Caroline, who was three years old at the time they were published.
  • p. 80 (July 4, 1961). Shrimp Louie (or Louis) is a type of salad with shrimp and hard-boiled eggs. The recipe is based on the better-known Crab Louie.
  • p. 81 (July 8, 1961). Another reference to the Civil War Centennial. Charlie Brown is singing the “Battle Cry of Freedom”, a pro-Union song written by George F. Root in 1862; it was the most popular song of its day. Schroeder is singing “The Bonnie Blue Flag”, a pro-Confederacy song written by Harry McCarthy in 1861. See also May 28, 1961.
  • p. 83 (July 10, 1961). The Flabby American was a television program about the physical fitness of Americans broadcast on May 30, 1961.
  • p. 85 (July 16, 1961). Snoopy's first appearance as a vulture.
  • p. 102 (August 25, 1961). "Clam diggers" are pants that are longer than shorts but are not as long as long pants.
  • p. 121 (October 8, 1961). Blackbeard refers to the famous 18th century pirate Edward Teach, best known as Blackbeard.
  • p. 139 (November 19, 1961). The first reference to Charlie Brown’s unrequited love, The Little Red-Haired Girl. Schulz based her on Donna Johnson, a fellow teacher of his at the Art Instruction School, whom he dated in 1950. He had wanted to marry her, but later that year she married another man.

    Schulz said in 1997, “I was sitting home one night with my kids, and I was listening to some Hank Williams songs, and I was listening to Joni James singing, ‘Today I met you on the street, my heart fell at your feet,’ you know, and those songs were so depressing. And that was the mindset that got me going on Charlie Brown sitting at the playground, eating his lunch, and he looks across the playground, and he sees the Little Red-Haired Girl, and from that, that whole series came, one thing after another.”[6]

  • p. 151 and 154 (December 17 and 24, 1961). Linus' quotation is Matthew 2:17-18.
  • p. 170 (January 31, 1962). Linus refers to a queen snake for the first time.
  • p. 204 (April 20, 1962). Myopic refers to myopia, or nearsightedness, which is presumably why Linus requires glasses.
  • p. 212 (May 8, 1962). "A pretty girl is like a melody" is the title of a popular song by Irving Berlin, originally published in 1919.
  • p. 240 (July 21, 1962). Sam Snead was a legendary professional golfer from the thirties into the sixties, while Don Carter was a well known professional bowler during the fifties and early sixties.
  • p. 258 (August 25, 1962). Atmospheric testing refers to the testing of nuclear weapons within the atmosphere, as opposed to underground testing. Atmospheric testing was banned under the Limited Test Ban Treaty, signed in August 1963.
  • p. 273 (September 27, 1962). Gargoyles are ornamental sculptures of grotesque figures, used to convey rainwater away from a building.
  • p. 281 (October 15, 1962). The Sabin oral polio vaccine was a poliomyelitis vaccine developed by Albert Sabin that could be taken orally. It replaced the earlier Salk vaccine, which needed to be injected with a syringe.
  • p. 288 (November 2, 1962). Linus is alluding to the expression "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned". The original phrase is "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned / Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.", taken from "The Mourning Bride" (1697) by William Congreve.
  • p. 293 (November 12, 1962). Rachel Carson was the author of the early environmentalist book Silent Spring. As a well known author and scientist at the time, Carson will be frequently referenced in future strips as a female role model.

  1. a b Schulz, Charles M. (1975). Peanuts Jubilee: My Life and Art with Charlie Brown and Others. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. ISBN 0030150817. 
  2. Fischer, John (2003-02-03). "In Praise of Flannelgraph". Prison Fellowship Ministries. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-05-18. 
  3. "National Library Week Fact Sheet". American Library Association. Retrieved 2007-05-18. 
  4. Conrad, Barnaby (1967-04-16). "You’re a Good Man, Charlie Schulz". The New York Times Magazine. 
  5. Bang, Derrick (2007-04-29). "alt.comics.peanuts FAQ" (plaintext). Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  6. "An Interview with Cartoonist Charles M. Schulz". Interviewer: Charlie Rose. Charlie Rose. PBS. 1997-05-09. 20:30 minutes in.