Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Off the shelf: Schulz

When I was about 11 or 12 I was out with a friend exploring a den of some kind on a bit of old wasteland when we came across a stash of books and magazines hidden under a plank. The magazines were of intense interest to 11- or 12-year-old boys, being full of naked ladies, and the books were three compilations of Peanuts cartoons by Charles M. Schulz. Somehow, when we divided the spoils, I ended up with the cartoon books, thus beginning a pattern in my life.
The books were all collections of strips (perhaps I got confused about that word) with Snoopy as the star: ‘We Love You, Snoopy’; ‘All this and Snoopy, Too’; and ‘Good Ol’ Snoopy,’ all published by Coronet in the early ‘70s, the contents having been drawn from the mid ‘50s on.
Although they smelled a bit weird (possibly of cat pee) I took them home and read them and put them on my bookshelf. I don’t think I was very impressed with them at the time – they didn’t seem very funny, the characters didn’t seem much like real children to me, and Snoopy didn’t seem much like a real dog. Gradually I’ve come to appreciate the subtlety and simplicity of the drawings and the fact that a small observation can make as good an idea as a big statement (it took me a long time to learn that one). Also it’s impossible not to admire Schulz who worked with the same set of characters for 50 years and produced the most popular cartoon strip in history.
This strip, the last one in ‘We love you, Snoopy,’ is one of my favourites from all three books. One reason I like it is because it doesn’t have any speech bubbles. I’ve preferred silent cartoons from a young age, possibly because I'm deaf in one ear (and stupid in the other).



Love that story. I had a similar expereince finding a stash of nudie mags as a kid. No comics too. And the pages were kind of damp... really hope it was rain damage ;p

nonstickplans said...

Thanks for the comment, Eddie.
I seem to remember my friend and I having a discussion at the time as to why someone would hide nudie mags with cartoon books. I guess we'll never know.