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How It Turned Out
May 2, 2011 2:58 PM   Subscribe

"While going through my archives, I found this piece and emailed it to my friends -- most of whom didn't get it at all. There's usually only one way that change ever comes to the eternal childhood immortality of a comic strip, and that's by the strip being cancelled -- and sometimes not even then." How it turned out.
posted by bayani (59 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by nzero at 3:03 PM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ok, but was the tiger real or not?
posted by orthogonality at 3:07 PM on May 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sweet and sad. Sad and Sweet.
posted by benito.strauss at 3:11 PM on May 2, 2011


Very touching.
posted by localroger at 3:11 PM on May 2, 2011


Saddest thing I've read all month.
posted by signal at 3:12 PM on May 2, 2011


I guess it was just a phase, huh?
posted by kipmanley at 3:13 PM on May 2, 2011


Wonderful. Thanks.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 3:13 PM on May 2, 2011


But one day, while she was shooting hoops at the local Y, she met the handsomest man she had ever seen--or at least she thought so at the time. It turned out he worked at the PR firm her best friend worked (they had drifted apart afteer graduation)

Well, I don't buy that for a second.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 3:14 PM on May 2, 2011 [27 favorites]


Pretty weird day when Larson pulled the pin. I used to eagerly anticipate his cartoon-to-a-day desk top calendar each year at one stage. Couldn't get enough Larson. Being Luddite Australians who get everything five years late, there was always gold to be discovered in previously published work.

To a lesser extent Calvin and Hobbes.

I totally grew up with Footrot Flats – a famous daily strip that appeared in our local rag [written and set in New Zealand BTW]. I thought it would never end. Funny though, I never really liked it, but it was a comforting bit of regularity during my childhood. Really weird feeling when that one went.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 3:18 PM on May 2, 2011


Which one went on to play organ for that San Francisco hippie band?
posted by Faze at 3:19 PM on May 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


When he was posting last month Scott "Look at me!" Adams accused Metafilter of hating him "for his success", and I immediately thought of Charles M. Schultz, who has to be the most successful strip cartoonist of all time. And what kind of monster would hate Charles M. Schultz?
posted by Grangousier at 3:22 PM on May 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


Peppermint Patty would have married D'arcy and moved to Portland, and have a little organic plot of land somewhere.
posted by PinkMoose at 3:25 PM on May 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Marcy not D'arcy
posted by PinkMoose at 3:28 PM on May 2, 2011


Marcy D'arcy.

I liked the narrative, but what happened to Sally? And I don't believe for a second in that "Sparky" thing, not from good ole Charlie Brown. But the fact that it got me thinking about it, I guess that's what was good about it.
posted by jabberjaw at 3:35 PM on May 2, 2011


Of note: his last name is Schulz, without a T. (I myself spelled it incorrectly until someone corrected me some years back, passing it along.)
posted by JHarris at 3:36 PM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is very Salingeresque. And it made me cry, a bit.
posted by Judith Butlerian Jihad at 3:44 PM on May 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Corrected the tag. (Need more coffee!) Thanks, JHarris.
posted by bayani at 3:45 PM on May 2, 2011


I liked the narrative, but what happened to Sally? And I don't believe for a second in that "Sparky" thing, not from good ole Charlie Brown. But the fact that it got me thinking about it, I guess that's what was good about it.
posted by jabberjaw at 6:35 PM


Sparky was Charles Schulz's boyhood nickname. I think it was a nice touch.
posted by SPUTNIK at 3:45 PM on May 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


I guess it was just a phase, huh?

That's what got me as well. Peanuts, underneath the facade of a newspaper comic strip, was about the melancholy of life. They all go on to their lives, and while not perfect, the author projects as a certain content of who they are and where they are that I thought wasn't a part of the strips. Existential melancholy just doesn't go away, I've found.
posted by zabuni at 3:47 PM on May 2, 2011


A few years back, a script made the rounds in Hollywood called "Blockhead." It was the Peanuts kids in their 20's and 30's, screwing, drinking, generally being fuck-ups. Got the writer a lot of attention. It was a clever idea executed sort-of well. For obvious reasons, it'll never get made.
posted by incessant at 3:52 PM on May 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


This made me cry a little bit too, Judith. I lost my cat, Jack, during a bad thunderstorm after ten years not 4 months ago, so reading that the same fate befell Snoopy choked me up.
posted by scunning at 3:54 PM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


That made me choke up. Wasn't expecting it at all.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:01 PM on May 2, 2011


A few years back, a script made the rounds in Hollywood called "Blockhead." It was the Peanuts kids in their 20's and 30's, screwing, drinking, generally being fuck-ups. Got the writer a lot of attention. It was a clever idea executed sort-of well. For obvious reasons, it'll never get made.

Yes! I knew this made me think of something.

Not sure where the script went, but I know I read it at the time so it'll be on the tubes somewhere.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:13 PM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sparky was Charles Schulz's boyhood nickname. I think it was a nice touch.

Excellent trivia! Then it was a nice touch.
posted by jabberjaw at 4:15 PM on May 2, 2011


I've heard the play Dog Sees God is good, but I've never read it, and I don't like reading the synopsis of something I'd like to watch later.

No idea if it's any relation or draws inspiration from Blockhead.

It's funny how the internet seems to hate on newspaper comic strips like a living, but Peanut's gets a pass. It's just a testament to how quality and charm can calm even the grariest parts of the internet.
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:22 PM on May 2, 2011


I'm not entirely sure of the linked material -- maybe I'm too dumb to get it -- is it about Schulz? Or is it a "what if" about Charlie Brown when he grew up?

O/T: "Except for a brief flirtation with psychology (which she abandoned when she realized it involved med school)" -- um, no, actually, psychology doesn't require med school. The author is thinking of psychiatry. Right?
posted by davidmsc at 4:45 PM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always imagined that Marcie somehow grew up to be Honey Huan.

And the internet did hate on Peanuts, right up until Schulz died. Everyone breathed a big sigh of relief when nobody took over, and general consensus seems to be that the best of it happened before the eighties. At least, that was the perception I got.
posted by darksasami at 4:47 PM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not entirely sure of the linked material -- maybe I'm too dumb to get it -- is it about Schulz? Or is it a "what if" about Charlie Brown when he grew up?

Yes, each segment is about one of the major Peanuts characters. For the spoiler-sensitive, I won't spell out who's who.
posted by mykescipark at 5:10 PM on May 2, 2011


oh, that was sad. *goes off to read 3eanuts*

now sadder.
posted by nile_red at 5:13 PM on May 2, 2011


Nice stuff, bayani.
posted by steambadger at 5:23 PM on May 2, 2011


Very touching.

I'm still reeling from the loss of my dog back in February, and I frequently tell stories about his antics. The last paragraph about Snoopy made me tear up.
posted by SisterHavana at 5:32 PM on May 2, 2011


The last paragraph about Snoopy made me tear up.

Me too. Such a nicely done piece. When I was eight or nine or so I remember that one of the few nice things I ever did with my Dad was walking to the drugstore a couple of miles away in the evening to pick up a new Peanuts paperback.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 5:51 PM on May 2, 2011


That was poignant and lovely.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:54 PM on May 2, 2011


You know, Mad Magazine did this same idea about 40 years ago. I remember the scene with the nostalgic Charles up in the attic, nostalgically finding his old bat, his heart, his football...and then wondering of Lucy will let him out after her tea with the girls is over
posted by happyroach at 6:01 PM on May 2, 2011


What, no Sally?
posted by francesca too at 6:12 PM on May 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


HE didn't do well in school. Tested well but with, poor behavior, inattentive fugues, hyper in class. That story. The school suggested medication and his parents refused, they didn't want their kid on drugs, They tried channeling his boundless energy into sports but he wasn't, in the words of the Child Study Team, "comfortable in groups."

His dad got the computer, for doing taxes, but he made it his own. It migrated into his room where, after much pleading, it was finally outfitted with a modern modem. The internet suited him, even in it's primitive 1.0 era. He wasn't god with the techy side but you pick stuff up, and picked everything up. Skating, scripting, HTML, bad movies, Japanese TV, comic-book-how-tos The Anarchist handbook, mix-tapes, zines , trolling-before-it-had-a-name, all of it. He even messed around doing pixel art for a video game made on a cracked and badly translated version of RPGMAKER2000

That was the ticket. Almost by accident he had stumbled into doing custom sprites for homebrew games. He was popular. He started to expand his skills, staying up all night turning a blue panel into a weathered sci-fi ship wall. His vivid imagination was an asset, not something that needed to be controlled.

Two friends of his, people he worked with on other games started a company almost absent-mindedly. It was senior year of High School and he was nearly expelled for absenteeism. His mom died, car crash, and his Dad retreated into his model trains in the basement, remote as the moon. On the day he was supposed to go to Prom, the three teenagers released their little exploration/adventure game: Sled

It wasn't a hit. It was a phenomenon.

He didn't go to college. What was the point when he was pulling in more then his dad with job offers ankle-deep. The other guys dealt with the business end, incorporating and buying office save. Kablooey! Games was the first independent game company to make the cover of Forbes Magazine.

Kablooey! was eventually bought out by Google, wanting to use it was a nugget to start an independent developer portal. He retired. He wrote blog points on the purity of Capitalism and Rand and Taking Charge Of Your Universe. There was the penthouse, the clubs, the coke, the strippers, the suits, the coke, the benders, the adventure tourism, the coke, the MMA fixation, the tattoos, the coke.

He didn't hit rock bottom so much as he kind of hovered in place. He still had the money. Not so much, but his needs were simple. Bed. Liquor. Internet connection. But he turned around and was 30 and realized he didn't know a single person he could call on the phone.

On a whim he went to his High School Reunion, rub in all their stupid suburban faces. I bet they're fat he thought. He hoped they where fat. And ugly. And poor.

And that's when he met HER

SHE was a very serious student. Her teachers loved her. She took college courses in High School and wrote an award winning essay on the importance of civil responsibility. She had her pick of schools and while she started in Pre-Law (her mother's insistence) she floated toward History. She didn't date until College, not out of shyness but more of a casual indifference. She was always happiest in the library, the quiet it held, the thrill of uncovering the perfect anecdote to illustrate a theme. She had her pick of equally serious young men with chunky glasses and sweater vests. She cultivated a studious, cerebral look with nods toward the right kind of boho hippie fringe. She donated to NPR. She used re-usable bags for it was cool. When she remembered, she was a vegetarian, but the world outside her graduate thesis was hazt best.

She nearly married an up-and-coming politicians but couldn't deal with the glibness, the small talk, of having to perform the role of The Wife. She realized she didn't really love him, she just liked the way he made her feel like the center of attention. He did that to everyone.

She lived in a small apartment in a large mid-western city done up in Lower Thrift Store and bookshelves. She tried her hand at fiction, tidy little portraits of life at various times. It was worse then graduate school, worse than her desperate grab for a tenure-track job, the constant never-ending rejection. She'd read her favorite writers over and over again, trying to figure out why they could just turn a phrase and in two lines pierce her heart. And why she couldn't make her own words couldn't. Eventually the weight of teaching broke her of the habit.

She had a daughter with her live-in boyfriend, a Non-Profit worker who wrote grant proposals and and liked to do the cooking. She eventually uncovered an affair between him and his loud, jangly supervisor at work. She let him go quietly, without malice. They kept in touch and shared custody.

If she thought about HIM at all, it was as a vague annoying blur that became famous or something. Something with video games. Figures. He was so immature. She was surprised he had shown up to the reunion at all.

He looked bad, long and pale, strutting with teenage confidence well into his 3rd decade. He was showing off his tattoos to some men she didn't even remember, burn outs, not serious people. She thought she'd be nice, say hello, introduce him to her daughter who, even at the age of six still carried around her favorite doll, something that faintly worried her.

Later, at the hotel bar, the only thing anyone could talk about was that when he turned to greet her he look one look at her daughter's stuffed tiger and broke into sobs. Everyone agreed, money or not, he was still a freak.
posted by The Whelk at 6:18 PM on May 2, 2011 [112 favorites]


This reminds me of the last episodes of television shows. I can barely stand to watch them.


I never watched Friends in its first run- I was a bit too young when it first came on, and by the time I was old enough to get get it I had missed the cultural zeitgeist. Then, senior year of college I borrowed the first season and watched the entire series over two months. All those episodes in rapid succession... I was a bit in love with this idea of adulthood, where adults half a decade older than me got to wander through life, having fun, making money, dating an endless stream of attractive people. As the series progressed, they started taking on adult responsibilities- Monica and Chandler got married, Rachel had a baby, and even Phoebe married- but still, every night they were right back in Central Perk, sans baby, in this beautiful family they chose.

Then, the last episode. Monica and Chandler adopt and move to the suburbs. Joey decides to move to LA. Rachel and Ross decide it is time to be together. And like that, adulthood became real. They have their last night together, but it will never be the same, and they will stop being this family and go have their own, separate families. And even though they have to do that- and one day, I realize, I will too- I can hardly handle the thought. I want them to stay forever preserved in this prolonged adolescents. I will take on adult responsibilities one day, I thought from my dorm room, but let these people sit forever in their coffee house, living out my dream.

I can't let them move on, because it will mean I have to as well.
posted by jenlovesponies at 6:18 PM on May 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Crud. I saw this linked elsewhere, knew if I read it it'd make me all weepy, didn't read it. And then I saw it here and read it and it did, just like I knew it would.

But the thing is, it's wrong.

That's the whole thing, with Peanuts- maybe it's why it's OK w/ the internet, certainly it's why it was necessary for it to end- it's a tragedy. Because Charles Shultz was tragic, because life is tragic.

They're always going to be that age, it's never going to Get Better. The little red headed girl is never going to like him, he's never going to kick the football. There's no Later On to look back from and go aw, weren't we cute when we were kids and now we're all grown up. There's only 50 years of Now. And it's mostly pretty sad.

I don't know. This sort of thing may be more 'realistic', and it certainly tugs at my heartstrings for reasons I'm probably better off not understanding, but it's just not true.
posted by hap_hazard at 8:01 PM on May 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


it's just not true.

Depends on the what the meaning of the word "true" is, I suppose. For me, the emotions it triggered in me are the only important truth: the sadness of time passing; the bittersweet realization that the ideals of youth have turned silently into memories, strangely taking on more power as I age; the feeling that what has happened before is somehow lost to me except in how it has shaped my character, and except that I ruminate on it as I marvel that I have become the person I could never quite imagine when I was young.
posted by ericost at 8:29 PM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was just about to write one about a fat, old orange cat, unable to keep his lasagna down, suffering from diabetes as his organs begin to fail him, bald spots on his hind quarters; looking for a quiet, dark corner, somewhere dark, somewhere alone, where he could rest, close his eyes, and as he falls asleep he sees a spider but cannot get the strength to crush it.

It was a Monday.

But this shit is depressing.
posted by jabberjaw at 8:43 PM on May 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


You know, Mad Magazine did this same idea about 40 years ago.

Here is some of it. (You have a good memory!)
posted by ericost at 8:48 PM on May 2, 2011


Two things: I am positive I have read 'How it turned out," somewhere, somehow. Maybe it got linklove at the CJ back in the day, who knows.

The Whelk, that is awesome. I hope Watterson reads it some day.
posted by mwhybark at 8:49 PM on May 2, 2011


Sure beats reading Sweet Valley Confidential...
But seriously, I like this. Even though Peppermint Patty is so gay, come on.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:56 PM on May 2, 2011


Sorry, but even as someone who's on the cusp between "mid forties" and "late forties", with the attendant carry-on of regrets, any scenario with Peppermint Patty not coming out is inherently bogus.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:01 PM on May 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Wow.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:04 AM on May 3, 2011


Ok, the FPP made me nostalgic, but damn the whelk is making me cry my sorry heart out tonight.

If I could capture one ounce of the youthful optimism I felt from the the time I was reading Calvin and Hobbes as a ten year old kid...
posted by roboton666 at 12:47 AM on May 3, 2011


Damn. The Whelk nailed it.
posted by arcticseal at 1:42 AM on May 3, 2011


I never thought I'd see the day when fanfic made an FPP and the thread is generally positive. Glad to see Metafilter can prove me wrong from time to time.

Archive of Our Own has tons of "What happened next?" stories (look for the Post-Canon tag). YMMV on the quality of the fics, however.
posted by TrishaLynn at 5:33 AM on May 3, 2011


Damn.
posted by danb at 5:43 AM on May 3, 2011


Oh, and here was the other Calvin and Hobbes post-canon fanfic story I was thinking of the most.
posted by TrishaLynn at 5:44 AM on May 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


TrishaLynn: I'm no fanfic fan, but that was... sweet. Good selection!
posted by ChrisR at 7:03 AM on May 3, 2011


Ok, but was the tiger real or not?

The Tiger was a literal viking.
posted by FatherDagon at 7:29 AM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


SHE had barely squeaked into college, she always said, and had gravitated towards a Phys. Ed. degree, because "those who can't do, teach--and those who can't teach, teach gym." But one day, while she was shooting hoops at the local Y, she met the handsomest man she had ever seen--or at least she thought so at the time. It turned out he worked at the PR firm her best friend worked (they had drifted apart afteer graduation)--and as she was not in the least embarrassed to say,"the reest was history." They had five kids, and while this took its toll on her fem-jock's figure, her oldest son would testify that she had a fastball that could burn a hole in a mitt." About the only cause of friction is that she persists in calling her husband "Chip" even though he hates it.

No, no, no, no. Peppermint Patty was an icon for a generation of young lesbians, and deserves better than a closeted existence as the wife of a PR executive.
posted by jokeefe at 8:26 AM on May 3, 2011


I can't let them move on, because it will mean I have to as well.

One of the gifts of Art is that it forever preserves that which is mutable. The whole point of work like Schulz's strips is to preserve forever that which is by nature fleeting; that is its gift to us. The author dies, the children who emerged from his pen live on. It was ever thus.

I, for one, am grateful that Penrod will always get in trouble with Sam, that Tom Sawyer won't ever have a day job and that Charlie Bucket will forever have a wonderful future ahead of him.
posted by kinnakeet at 9:00 AM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Alright, can someone explain this "Peppermint Patty and Marcie were obviously lesbians" thing to me? Sometimes I feel like I'm not reading the same Peanuts as everybody else.

...And while I'm at it someone explain the "Lucy actually loves Charlie Brown" thing, too.
posted by KChasm at 10:38 AM on May 3, 2011


I cleaned up the C&H story and put it here
posted by The Whelk at 11:40 AM on May 3, 2011


I cleaned up the C&H story and put it here

Thank you, and also, thank you for reaching your long slender fingers into my heart and ripping it violently from my chest.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 12:02 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really need to put that on the back of a book.
posted by The Whelk at 5:30 PM on May 3, 2011


I like the whole piece, though I think only the Linus and Lucy bit is completely spot-on. It captures both their personalities and adds some actual maturity-- I love the part where Lucy is secretly proud of her do-gooder brother.

The Charlie Brown one is almost borderline creepy. But then the "real" version is, I think, "Charlie Brown grew up to write the most succesful comic strip ever". Reality strains credulity sometimes.
posted by zompist at 5:39 PM on May 3, 2011


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