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March 28, 2011 7:59 AM   Subscribe

We all know what happens when you take Garfield out of Garfield, but what happens when you take the punchline panel out of Peanuts? A never-ending morass of melancholy and despair.
posted by Freon (82 comments total) 89 users marked this as a favorite

 
Let me be the first: There are punchlines in Peanuts?
posted by knile at 8:01 AM on March 28, 2011 [14 favorites]


These are great!
posted by Greg Nog at 8:02 AM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Peanuts is really pretty dark to begin with, so I'd be surprised if some of the omitted "punchlines" weren't much more than "Oh, Charlie Brown!"
posted by mikeh at 8:03 AM on March 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


Note that if this were applied to the first Peanuts strip, it would produce a really weird result: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:First_Peanuts_comic.png
posted by Bromius at 8:05 AM on March 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


It isn't just peanuts. A lot of humor is a sad situation with a punchline at the end.
posted by DU at 8:06 AM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


These don't subvert the message of the strip, they emphasize it.
posted by theodolite at 8:06 AM on March 28, 2011 [26 favorites]


Kinda of hard to "get" any of these without the original strip to compare them against.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 8:09 AM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Peanuts is really pretty dark to begin with, so I'd be surprised if some of the omitted "punchlines" weren't much more than "Oh, Charlie Brown!"

Now I want to go to a Bright Eyes concert and shout, "Oh, Charlie Brown!" at the end of every song.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:09 AM on March 28, 2011 [28 favorites]


With some of these I actually remember what the missing panel says.
posted by JanetLand at 8:11 AM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


"At the veterinarian, Charlie Brown stares into the void, the clock ticking as Peanuts is put out of his year-long agony, the soul-sucking emptiness of a cold, non-anthropomorphizable universe eats away at him till a single tear rolls down his now-hardened, more adult-like cheek....?

"Yes, that is the title of my gift book to you! Happy 7th birthday, Bobby!"
posted by lalochezia at 8:11 AM on March 28, 2011


Love this. Thanks.
posted by josher71 at 8:13 AM on March 28, 2011


These don't subvert the message of the strip, they emphasize it.

Back in my 20s when I was reading lots of weird and experimental literature, I'd often start my days by going to the morning comics page of the local newspaper and reading everything backwards. I found Rex Morgan MD particularly effective in a resolutely benign way.
posted by philip-random at 8:13 AM on March 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


*sigh*
posted by bondcliff at 8:16 AM on March 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh, hey, Achewood's back!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:20 AM on March 28, 2011 [32 favorites]


The Chicken Never Stops, Charlie Brown.
posted by Artw at 8:21 AM on March 28, 2011


Peanuts is really pretty dark to begin with

I remember reading a Sunday Peanuts strip, years ago, when Snoopy's brother, who lives out in the desert, is (as usual) talking to a cactus. He says "People ask me why I live out here," then goes on to narrate how he chased a cat out into the street where it was hit by a car, and he moved to the desert where that would never happen again. He ends the narration with "...and I have never told anyone that story." In the last panel, he is looking at the cactus and thinking "...and I guess I still haven't."

The image of Snoopy's poor, schizophrenic brother, driven into madness and isolation by his terrible crime, having a brief moment of clarity too far from anyone else to get the help he desperately needs, haunts me.

I am afraid to go look for this strip for fear that I will discover that I imagined it....
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:22 AM on March 28, 2011 [65 favorites]


Schultz had great rhythm to his writing beats.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:22 AM on March 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's amazing how well these work. The Garfield memes are often just kind of weird, with the occasional zinger. This is raw existential angst.

As theodolite pointed out, this treatment emphasizes the message.
posted by Xoebe at 8:24 AM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's like good grief without the good.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:31 AM on March 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


Well, that was depressing.
posted by zarq at 8:39 AM on March 28, 2011


I love this!

Needs the "comics" tag.
posted by ixohoxi at 8:40 AM on March 28, 2011


Darkly hilarious. I hope I am not the only one who is flailing at the air in hysteria.
posted by IvoShandor at 8:42 AM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gad, this is fantastic: like finding the "key" to Peanuts. This was it. This is what Schultz was saying.
posted by Faze at 8:42 AM on March 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm curious, would this website be considered in violation of copyright laws?
posted by storybored at 8:45 AM on March 28, 2011


I feel like I finally get Peanuts, which I never liked before because of the lameness of the punchlines. Now I wonder if that was the point.
posted by IjonTichy at 8:46 AM on March 28, 2011


Tears. Literally tears.
posted by IvoShandor at 8:47 AM on March 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


GenjiandProust, it was a rabbit, but otherwise you're spot on.
posted by daniel striped tiger at 8:47 AM on March 28, 2011 [10 favorites]


The second one IvoShandor links to especially brutal when you factor in that the Schroeder-Lucy relationship was based on Schulz and his first wife...
posted by COBRA! at 8:48 AM on March 28, 2011


I love this thanks. I was reading one of the early 1950's collections last night and was reveling in some of the warped darkness and also strange to me behaviors of some of the characters before there personalities were fully formed. Int he early strips there's lot of weird 3/4 views of Snoopy that you wouldn't see later when everything seemed to be looking at him from the side.

When Peanuts was good, it was fucking the best.
posted by marxchivist at 8:49 AM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


The biography Schulz and Peanuts addresses some of the issues raised above. Worth a read. Charles Schulz wasn't an altogether happy guy, and if the biographer paints an accurate picture, he had some pretty serious self-esteem issues.
posted by elendil71 at 8:53 AM on March 28, 2011


> ...what happens when you take the punchline panel out of Peanuts? A never-ending morass of melancholy and despair.

To be fair, that's also what most of them are with the punchlines in place.
posted by ardgedee at 8:55 AM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


it may be hard to appreciate this without the WEEKS of Linus' breathless anticipation but this one devastated me.
posted by victors at 8:55 AM on March 28, 2011


The one with Snoopy in the snow actually made me laugh out loud. These are great, thanks!
posted by marimeko at 8:57 AM on March 28, 2011


Charles Schulz wasn't an altogether happy guy, and if the biographer paints an accurate picture, he had some pretty serious self-esteem issues.

And despite publishing evidence of this for decades most people didn't realize it until after his death.
posted by tommasz at 8:58 AM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I feel like I finally get Peanuts, which I never liked before because of the lameness of the punchlines. Now I wonder if that was the point.

Kind of. There's two faces to Peanuts: first, every strip has a surface joke, which is always just at the sub-chuckle level of humor (for adults, anyway), but can be appreciated as an example of the classic "gag" comic -- see Mark Newgarden and Paul Karasik's How to Read Nancy for an excellent look at this sort of strip, which has a minimalist architecture of its own. But while Nancy is never anything more than the gag, Peanuts has a dark heart (laid bare in these edited strips); not necessarily cynical, but shockingly realist and often melancholy. It's this underlying humanity that makes Peanuts such an amazing comic.
posted by theodolite at 8:58 AM on March 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


GenjiandProust, it was a rabbit, but otherwise you're spot on.

Thank you, daniel striped tiger, I am glad I didn't dream the whole thing. On the other hand, the image of Snoopy's brother (is his name Spike?) being goaded into his crime is more heartbreaking than what I remembered. Memories, indeed.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:00 AM on March 28, 2011


Henry.
posted by clavdivs at 9:04 AM on March 28, 2011


HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
posted by swift at 9:09 AM on March 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


This one cuts to the bone.
posted by jsturgill at 9:12 AM on March 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


This really makes me appreciate Peanuts so much more. Schulz was dealing with some serious shit here and, lest we forget, many of the fears of childhood were existential.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:16 AM on March 28, 2011


I was expecting to be amused (or at least bemused). Now I'm just depressed.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:19 AM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I never really understood why people like Peanuts. It's the most depressing comic strip ever.
posted by Authorized User at 9:23 AM on March 28, 2011


That How to read Nancy link is a splendid piece of work, but I think they have gotten the significance of Fritzi slightly wrong.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:26 AM on March 28, 2011


I understand why people like Peanuts. It's the most depressing comic strip ever.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:26 AM on March 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


You just answered your own question.
posted by emelenjr at 9:27 AM on March 28, 2011


It's the most depressing comic strip ever.


I never found it depressing, mainly just melancholy, which is an emotion that children experience. If I recall correctly from my own childhood it's something that was generally not acknowledged about children at the time which made this strip stand out.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 9:38 AM on March 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm curious, would this website be considered in violation of copyright laws?

Isn't everything?
posted by tyllwin at 9:49 AM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


>I'm curious, would this website be considered in violation of copyright laws?

Isn't everything?


Everything good.

This is great, thanks.
posted by device55 at 10:04 AM on March 28, 2011


I never found it depressing, mainly just melancholy

I believe the word you are looking for is ennui.
posted by ennui.bz at 10:04 AM on March 28, 2011


Yes, while I appreciate this website making it obvious that Peanuts was never about the punchline, I...kind of thought that's why everybody read it anyway. I can't remember ever laughing out loud at a Peanuts strip as a kid but I read the books I had many times; clearly I was getting something else out of them.

(Reading Bloom County, I did laugh out loud, a lot, as a kid; nowadays, the political satire is a little too close to reality, so the punchlines hurt more, especially when you realize how much worse things have gotten in 20 years.)
posted by emjaybee at 10:06 AM on March 28, 2011


OK, this one's pretty great.
posted by anthom at 10:12 AM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Schultz was a great writer. I've always disliked people a little more if I discovered that they think Peanuts was "stupid." This concept (eliminating the "punchline") goes a long way towards illustrating why he was a great writer.
posted by sonic meat machine at 10:21 AM on March 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Peanuts is just fucking sad even with the punchlines. In one of the animated specials, where Charlie went to New York for a spelling bee, Charlie is alone in his hotel room, I don't think anyone even came with him to watch his big moment, and orders a bowl of cereal and a glass of milk from room service for dinner. For some reason I still remember that as one of the most depressing moments I've ever seen on TV.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:43 AM on March 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


To be honest, this has really helped me grok Peanuts. The strip always struck me as really sad and didn't make sense as a comic in the sense that I understood Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin and Hobbes, it seemed, ruminated on youth and childhood while being funny in a way that was clear to me. Peanuts was just a wildly different animal, and I can see that clearly now. Wow.
posted by elmer benson at 10:45 AM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Who says comics have to be funny?

Reading through these, I found them to be very insightful
posted by I am the Walrus at 10:45 AM on March 28, 2011


One of my favourite Peanuts panels ever.

It even works as a gag.

In one of the animated specials, where Charlie went to New York for a spelling bee, Charlie is alone in his hotel room,

It says something that I spent a minute wondering "who's Charlie?" before realizing that you were talking about Charlie Brown. I don't even recognize the character as having two names any more: he's Charlie Brown. His name is immutable and indivisible.
posted by Shepherd at 10:51 AM on March 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


To be honest, this has really helped me grok Peanuts.

Yeah I think this is the value of this project-- it lays bare the typical architecture of a Peanuts strip. Panels 1-3 show the existential melancholia that is common to thinking adults (but, here, expressed by children), and then panel 4 features a meager punchline that seems to place the foregoing existential melancholia into a proper context (Oh! These panels were here to set up this joke, haha!) but really only serves as post-hoc rationalization for an expression of the plight of mankind. It's sort of a metacritique of the comic itself, or even for all artistic endeavors: Doesn't this pieta/gothic cathedral/film/game/drawing make life make sense? Doesn't it justify the ongoing hardship of living?

Doesn't it?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:52 AM on March 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


These were great. I can laugh at Homer Simpson because he is Homer Simpson, but I can't laugh at Charlie Brown b/c I'm afraid I am him.
posted by lord_wolf at 10:52 AM on March 28, 2011 [15 favorites]


orders a bowl of cereal and a glass of milk from room service for dinner. For some reason I still remember that as one of the most depressing moments I've ever seen on TV.

When I was a kid I thought the "I got a rock" gag from The Great Pumpkin was the funniest thing ever. Seeing it as an adult, part of me still laughs, but mostly I'm just thinking "Oh my god, even the adults hate him so much they give him a rock while they give his friends candy. And they only just met him!"

It really is a horrible, horrible thing when you think about it. And I love Peanuts.
posted by bondcliff at 10:56 AM on March 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


OK, this one's pretty great.

That literally made me laugh out loud for like a minute straight. God, these are phenomenal!
posted by Greg Nog at 11:16 AM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Note that if this were applied to the first Peanuts strip, it would produce a really weird result: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:First_Peanuts_comic.png

It's very simple to make a link
posted by Bonzai at 11:25 AM on March 28, 2011


These are the damned of childhood, forever roaming the earth with arched backs and wet faces.

That How to Read Nancy PDF is fantastic.
posted by chavenet at 11:30 AM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


See, I liked the melancholy of Peanuts when I was a kid. Because it felt truthful.

Not that my life was 100% desolation and despair -- but there were plenty of things that I went through that felt like it at the time, even though it's likely that the only thing making it feel like desolation was my own child's lack of perspective. And everything else I read talked about how everything was shiny happy puppy giddy rainbows and glitter, and when I was having a bad day, that shit pissed me off. Peanuts was like the guy at the bar who listens to you pour out your sob story and then just grunts and says, "you tell it, Mac," and you know you're not the only one who Sees The World For What It Is. And you need that sometimes.

And then there were also the just plain surreal strips. I've been looking for one of my all-time favorites, but can't find it -- It opened with Schroeder in his catcher's mask walking out to the pitcher's mound to talk to Charlie Brown. When he gets there, Schroeder looks at Charlie Brown, and says, "Things fall apart; the center cannot hold." And then he just turns and walks away. Charlie Brown watches him go, and then says, "When catchers get hit on the head with too many fly balls, they get a little weird."

Life can be hard, but it can also be deliciously surreal.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:28 PM on March 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


Techdirt: "A never-ending morass of melancholy and despair."

It had to be said
posted by mmrtnt at 12:30 PM on March 28, 2011


Peanuts is just fucking sad even with the punchlines. In one of the animated specials, where Charlie went to New York for a spelling bee, Charlie is alone in his hotel room, I don't think anyone even came with him to watch his big moment, and orders a bowl of cereal and a glass of milk from room service for dinner. For some reason I still remember that as one of the most depressing moments I've ever seen on TV.

This is my reaction to A Charlie Brown Christmas. I finally saw it for the first time 3 or 4 years ago; I couldn't sit through it all. It was horribly, gut-wrenchingly (literally, I felt ill) depressing.
posted by asterix at 1:02 PM on March 28, 2011


This is my reaction to A Charlie Brown Christmas. I finally saw it for the first time 3 or 4 years ago; I couldn't sit through it all. It was horribly, gut-wrenchingly (literally, I felt ill) depressing.

Better stay away from Snoopy, Come Home, then. Man, that thing is brutal.

These strips are great. The Garfield version was pretty funny, but these are amazing.
posted by equalpants at 1:38 PM on March 28, 2011


Damn. I don't think even think Life in Hell was as despairing as these. And that had "Hell" in the title.
posted by Weebot at 2:12 PM on March 28, 2011


1. You can play this game with Sunday strips, but cutting off the first two panels, and you won't change the joke!

2. Late in the strip's run Schulz mostly switched to a three panel format, which upsets this dynamic a bit.

3. This seems interesting, yes, but we need a control here. How many other comic strips will appear profound/depressing if you read a sequence of them cutting off the last panel, when you deprive them of their reason for existing?
posted by JHarris at 2:40 PM on March 28, 2011


How many other comic strips will appear profound/depressing if you read a sequence of them cutting off the last panel, when you deprive them of their reason for existing?

So far already eight people have thrown themselves into the path of a speeding bus after trying this experiment with Funky Winkerbean.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:44 PM on March 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't really get the shtick here. "Peanuts" was never ha-ha funny to begin with, it was never meant to be that. For Christ's sake, the first strip (linked or referenced above) ends with the punchline "How I hate him!"

That lack of ha-ha was one of the strip's best qualities. In fact the strips got worse in quality later in Schulz's career when he was in his maudlin, nostalgic last-lap-around-the-track phase and tried to leaven the bitterness and despair with treacle -- strips that ended with Snoopy dispensing Hallmark homilies as he lay under a tree staring at passing clouds.

The thing I do like about this tumblr gimmick is that it will make the haters loathe the strip even more, with the burning intensity of 1000 burning-hot suns.
posted by blucevalo at 2:45 PM on March 28, 2011


You can play this game with Sunday strips, but cutting off the first two panels, and you won't change the joke!

That's intentional, those first two panels are written to be cut for space if needed.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 3:36 PM on March 28, 2011


Some papers give certain strips less room on Sunday, so the first two panels have to be removable, because any given paper may not be running them. It's a bizarre convention and was the center of one of Bill Watterson's lengthy disputes with his syndicate for greater creative control (his later Sunday strips often eschewed panels altogether, or at least in any way that would allow for reformatting).
posted by shakespeherian at 4:20 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Economics!
posted by saturday_morning at 5:11 PM on March 28, 2011


The only strip for which this treatment is at all necessary.
posted by kenko at 7:20 PM on March 28, 2011


Oh dear lord. I love this.
posted by Evernix at 9:01 PM on March 28, 2011


How many other comic strips will appear profound/depressing if you read a sequence of them cutting off the last panel, when you deprive them of their reason for existing?

I cut off the last panel of every Family Circus, and ended up much happier.
posted by inigo2 at 9:31 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


(I know the reason the Sunday strip thing works, heh.)
posted by JHarris at 10:04 PM on March 28, 2011


I sort of wonder if I should feel bad, judging by some of the earlier comments. I never really liked Peanuts, it never seemed funny or even interesting.

Thing is, seeing these strips with the punchline panel missing, I suddenly have a whole new (different) appreciation for the strip. I like these, but they really are incredibly depressing.
posted by Bonky Moon at 11:35 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


These things are hitting me like a ton of bricks.

Things I've Learned After It Was Too Late: A Whole Stack of Memories Will Never Equal One Little Hope


waaaahhh my life

We Lost Again...I'm So Tired I Can Hardly Move...I'm Even Too Tired To Cry

waaahh, Eagles lost in the playoffs again

Metafilter Lately

Peanuts is awesome.
posted by Danila at 11:41 PM on March 28, 2011


Looking through the tumblr, I immediately recognized this strip. I've read a lot of the Fantagraphics reprints and that was one of mine favorites; the original storyline is very melancholy. He didn't need to take out the last pannel, the original strip is much worse.

I think people forget how Peanuts was often so sad and odd. It was, more or less, a comic strip about a little boy who everyone hated. I mean, one of the running gags was Lucy running a therapy booth. This tumblr is completely missing the point.
posted by catwash at 12:31 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love this one. Creepy and haunting.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:47 AM on March 29, 2011


I've continued reading some of the early 1950's anthologies since this post, and I don't think I can ever read Peanuts again without mentally cutting out the last panel and seeing how that works.
posted by marxchivist at 6:18 AM on April 2, 2011


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