It’s weird going back to something you loved when you were younger. Old movies are often not as funny as you remember them, and old music often sounds silly when you hear it again years later.
I probably last read Peanuts in early high school. That was a long time ago, longer than I’d like to contemplate (I’m closer to 50 than I am to 18) and a hell of a lot has changed since then. I’m older and hopefully wiser, and many of the comics I enjoyed in high school seem almost unreadable now.
Peanuts, however, is much better than I remember it being. This is brilliant, brilliant stuff. Even in 1953 and 1954, before Snoopy walked on two legs and before Linus could even walk, this was an astonishing comic. With a minimum number of lines in his art, and just the right amount of words, Schulz presents a full world, a complete world of cruelty and friendship, genius and silliness, profoundness and wackiness. And it’s still funny and fresh. Sure, the kids are outside playing baseball or cowboys and indians instead of inside playing video games, but it’s the characters that matter. And they don’t get more archetypal than Charlie Brown, Schroeder and Lucy.
What makes Peanuts really special is exactly what I remember being the best thing about the strip: everything is so damn fun. Charlie Brown is a loser, but he’s probably one of the most lovable losers in comics history. He might lose every baseball game (and game of Checkers too), get his kite stuck in trees, and be generally despised by his peers, but we still love him. Lucy might be a blowhard know-it-all, but she’s also one really fun character.
Stripped away from everything surrounding Peanuts – the television specials, commercials, stuffed animals and other merchandising around the strip – Charles Schulz’s creation was extraordinary. Even in its third and fourth years, this comic was amazing. And it just gets better from here. I took a long time to return to Peanuts, but it’s been waiting for me all this time.