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David Michaelis, Schulz and Peanuts, Harper Collins, Copyright 2007 by David Michaelis:
"Charles Schulz and the Great Pumpkin. Though often identified with the evangelical church, Charlie Brown's creator struggles with organized religion, stating that "Peanuts is not an evangelistic strip. In fact, it's anti-evangelistic." Linus's obsession with the Great Pumpkin is one way Schulz manifests his views:
"The theme of questioning and faith, which was central to his life, had emerged in the strip's Great Pumpkin sequences, where Linus, smart but simple, had gotten ahead of himself in holidays and begun to believe that an omnipotent pumpkin would appear on Halloween to serve good little children as Santa Claus did on Christmas. But, of course, the Great Pumpkin does not come to lavish toys on all good little children. Linus performs a mitzvah every Halloween in going to the pumpkin patch to do what he must to be betrayed again. The reader does not discern any radiance of certainty; the worshipper is not alight with enduring faith--he's hopelessly hyped up: his enthusiasm is a more modulated and cheering emotion. Linus is keyed to the highest pitch as he marches out with his placard: WELCOME GREAT PUMPKIN! His willed mania demonstrates that some people would rather live drunk on false belief than sober on nothing at all, at whatever cost in ridicule. Schulz is saying: be careful what you believe. ...
"Schulz received few serious complaints--no more than a dozen over the course of Peanuts' first fifteen years. One, in 1965, had come from a woman who asserted that the Great Pumpkin was sacrilegious. Schulz wrote back saying that he was 'basically on her side, that the real sacrilege is Santa Claus, and that he had been trying to show this in the Great Pumpkin strips."
David Michaelis, Schulz and Peanuts, Harper Collins, Copyright 2007 by David Michaelis, pp. 245- 247.
"In 1952, the introduction of Peanuts, with its clean drawings and psychological orientation, made for a stark contrast with both the clutter and the vaudeville-gag orientation in cartoon strips of the time:
'Most cartoon drawing is about distraction: popular masters like Walt Kelly and Al Capp crowded their panels with characters and activity; Pogo and Li'l Abner are dense with what actors call 'business.' Peanuts, full of empty spaces, didn't depend on action or a particular context to attract the reader; it was about people working out the interior problems of their daily lives without ever actually solving them. The absence of a solution was the center of the story. ...
"The American assumption was that children were happy, and childhood was a golden time; it was adults who had problems with which they wrestled and pains that they sought to smooth. Schulz reversed the natural order of things ... by showing that a child's pain is more intensely felt than an adult's, a child's defeats the more acutely experienced and remembered. Charlie Brown takes repeated insults from Violet and Patty about the size of his head, which they compare with a beach ball, a globe, a pie tin, the moon, a balloon; and though Charlie Brown may feel sorry for himself, he gets over it fast. But he does not get visibly angry.
" 'Would you like to have been Abraham Lincoln?' Patty asks Charlie Brown. 'I doubt it,' he answers. 'I have a hard enough time being just plain Charlie Brown.'
"Children are not supposed to be radically dissatisfied. When they are unhappy, children protest--they wail, they whine, they scream, they cry--then they move on. Schulz gave these children lifelong dissatisfactions, the stuff of which adulthood is made.
"Readers recognized themselves in 'poor, moon- faced, unloved, misunderstood' Charlie Brown--in his dignity in the face of whole seasons of doomed baseball games, his endurance and stoicism in the face of insults. He ... reminded people, as no other cartoon character had, of what it was to be vulnerable, to be small and alone in the universe, to be human--both little and big at the same time.'
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