Friday, January 16, 2009

Good Grief

Usually I don't like precocious child characters. But when they're balding or run their own psychiatry clinics or love Beethoven and are animated, I'm in. Of course I'm talking about Peanuts, Charles Schulz's major comic work. Who isn't at least familiar with Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and Linus? They're cultural icons. And they're not sappy and sickening like the kids in Family Circus. They're all really awkward and nerdy. (Just like kids should be!) After all, Schroeder loved Beethoven. What elementary schooler gets into classical music? (And isn't beat up?)

The New York Times has a sweet article about music (specifically classical) in Peanuts comic strips. The music theme may not be as memorable as the football thing, or Snoopy plugging away on his typewriter, or Lucy playing mental health with her friends; but Schulz was really into music and wanted it to be a part of the comic:

"When Schroeder pounded on his piano, his eyes clenched in a trance, the notes floating above his head were no random ink spots dropped into the key of G. Schulz carefully chose each snatch of music he drew and transcribed the notes from the score. More than an illustration, the music was a soundtrack to the strip, introducing the characters’ state of emotion, prompting one of them to ask a question or punctuating an interaction."

For a weekday comic, I think that's really neat. Schulz brings in an entirely different medium to express the emotions of cartoon characters. It's a cool way to explore what you can do with art and character.

And speaking of characters:

"[After a concert] he would say, ‘How would it be if Marcie and Peppermint Patty were at a concert, and ...’ He was always thinking about his characters."

I like anyone who goes to a classical music concert and thinks about how his young animated characters would react to the music.