Adafruit’s comic reading list: Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz #adafruitcomics



A new edition of Adafruit’s comic reading list — this week it’s Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz, recommended by Zay, who says “Good Grief!” whenever he makes a shipping error!

Nobody can steal your childhood, even if you might want them to. So when folks get all up in arms because “Hollywood is stealing my childhood” or “George Lucas destroyed my youth” or “Female Ghostbusters? That’s an affront to my whole generation!” you can just nod and maybe say something nice, because they’re lost in some irreparable way.

This is something I have to remind myself when I see things like this:


Peanuts was my first comic love. It was therapeutic for me. The Charlie Brown holiday special only scratches the surface.

In 1947 Charles M. Schulz started a strip called Li’l Folks. It was about the relationship between little kids and the big world, drawing its humor from kids behaving like adults.

But in 1950 the strip’s name was changed to Peanuts. Charles M. Schulz famously hated the name, but that didn’t stop him from transforming his cutsie proto-Family Circus into something much, much stranger. Gone were all adults and all the cutesy kids playing house, and in walks this kid named Charlie Brown.

Here’s the first Peanuts strip:


Is it funny? Sort of. But in a sad and strange sort of way.

There’s a powerful irony at work whenever Charles M. Schulz uses the phrase “Good ol’ Charlie Brown,” and you can see it in action here. It’s an irony that gives Peanuts strips an existential and depressive feel that no popular comic strip has ever even come close to matching, even in the world of contemporary web comics, and it all starts with Charlie Brown.

Charlie Brown is far from the heroes or even the anti-heroes of other comic strips or comic books. He’s not funny or witty. He’s not that good of a friend. He’s self-involved. He’s not athletic or smart. His likability stems from his earnest nature and endearing sadness. But the most important thing about Charlie Brown is his depression.


I know it’s sounds strange, but I learned the word “depression” from Charlie Brown. Stranger still, his experiences helped define something that had been unnamable, scary, and alienating.

There is in Schulz’s depiction of Charlie Brown’s depression a level of nuance that brings a startling recognition for many who struggle with depression. Why, for instance, does Charlie Brown assume the famous head down sad walk pose when he’s particularly bummed out?


Again, there’s a kind of funny in the punchline of that strip — but it’s not a laugh out loud funny. It’s a surprising ironic twist that articulates a central truth about depression. A lot of the time that’s what Peanuts punchlines are all about.

But Peanuts isn’t all about moping around. Charles M. Schulz has a much more compelling picture of life than that. Like Snoopy.


Snoopy’s uses the power of imagination for fun and freedom. To Charlie Brown life and friends and love are just another opportunity for struggle and failure. To Snoopy his dog house is a fighter plane.


For Snoopy there is no failure, because for Snoopy struggle is fun. And if you’ve struggled all day, even if it’s only in your imagination, then the evening is time to dance the dance of joy.

Snoopy represents vitality, the true opposite of depression.


These thematic dyads are everywhere in Peanuts. Linus is the philosopher.


While Lucy is the explosive id.


What’s fun — and thereapeutic — about Peanuts is the interplay of all of these different approaches to life. Lucy can be terribly mean, but if Charlie Brown could learn her lessons he’d probably be much happier.


If you want to revisit an American classic and truly unique piece of pop art, and take a journey through the psyche that is full of rich ironies, Peanuts can be endlessly rewarding.

Every strip available online, in chronological order, for free.

Check out our previous posts Bee and the Puppycat, Spacetrawler, Grrl PowerKrazy KatShe-Hulk, King CityThe Whiteboard, HubrisAkiraThe Wicked and the DivineSagaAre  You My Mother?Cairo,  StaticElfquestHip Hop Family Tree, and Finder!

Make a robot friend with Adafruit’s CRICKIT – A Creative Robotics & Interactive Construction Kit. It’s an add-on to our popular Circuit Playground Express, FEATHER and other platforms to make and program robots with CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. Start controlling motors, servos, solenoids. You also get signal pins, capacitive touch sensors, a NeoPixel driver and amplified speaker output. It complements & extends your boards so you can still use all the goodies on the microcontroller, now you have a robotics playground as well.

Join 7,500+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community! http://adafru.it/discord

CircuitPython in 2018 – Python on Microcontrollers is here!

Have an amazing project to share? Join the SHOW-AND-TELL every Wednesday night at 7:30pm ET on Google+ Hangouts.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Follow Adafruit on Instagram for top secret new products, behinds the scenes and more https://www.instagram.com/adafruit/

Maker Business — Despite multiple bankruptcies, RadioShack continues to find ways to keep the lights on

Wearables — Molding with glue

Electronics — A few words on inductor resistance

Biohacking — Running Blades

Python for Microcontrollers — Help bring CircuitPython to other languages!

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at AdafruitDaily.com !

No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.