Good Grief! : Celebrating Peanuts # 7: Peppermint Patty

Like most long running serial works of fiction in the 20th Century, The Peanuts comic strips reflect the ever changing world in which they live. It is necessary in order for these changes to occur, otherwise a property can grow stale and forgotten. This was the case with the Archie Comics, which tried so hard to be relevant in the early years of the 21st century that they did some pretty ridiculous crossovers with properties like The Punisher, Predator, and Glee. While Peanuts may seem to have been stuck in the same time continuum as Archie in terms of technology , such as rotary phones and giant box TV”s with dials, Charlie Brown and the gang managed to successfully retain a place of relevance in pop culture that Archie lacked.

No one reflected this change in cultural views of women more than Peppermint Patty. The

Peppermint Patty

one way they did this was with their characters. Schulz found early on that some characters just weren’t that interesting, and would slowly let them fade away as was the case with Violet, Patty, and Freida, three of the girls in Charlie Brown’s neighborhood. This made room for other more unique characters, such as Peppermint Patty.

Peppermint Patty was more able to address the society’s changing views on girls than any other character, as she first debuted in the strip in 1966, right at the height of the women’s liberation movement. As Jesse Fask notes in “Charles M. Schulz, the Feminist” for The Baltimore Chronicle,

“ The other girl who holds much power in Schultz’s cartoon world is Peppermint Patty, the “Peanuts” jock. Patty is good at every sport. She is assertive, loud, and aggressive. She allows Charlie Brown to play sports only because she seems to have a bit of a crush on him. But whenever Chuck gets too emotional, she blasts him with a barrage of insults. And Schultz’s most obvious gender reversal occurs when Peppermint Patty’s best friend Marcie, who is the smartest and best student of the group, calls Patty “Sir” every time she addresses her.”

Continue reading

Posted in animation, Comic Strips, TV shows, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Of Tolkien and Legends

It’s true .We really do live in the “Golden Age’ of nerd culture. Look at the slate of comic book, fantasy, and sci-fi films that hit the theaters each year. Notice how superhero TV shows, which were once considered the death kneel of an actor’s career are now the crown jewel for a once struggling network? I watch pretty much every show available, and have even developed an appreciation for characters I didn’t like before like The Punisher thanks to Daredevil season 2.

But one of my favorites is DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Despite their attempt to try and

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 2

make Suicide Squad the DC equivalent of Marvel’s Guardians of The Galaxy it is the Legends of Tomorrow, an occasionally irreverent group of rag-tag misfit c-list heroes united to defend all space and time that really hits that mark. I’ve loved time travel stories since I was a kid, having eagerly devoured Back to the Future on VHS. Add to it superheroes and you have a winning combination. To top it all off, Legends has been filling the TARDIS shaped hole in my nerdy heart that was left when Netflix didn’t renew the contract with the BBC to air Doctor Who. And just when I got hooked on it. Continue reading

Posted in Comic Books, Faith, Life Lessons, TV shows | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“I Am In The Force, And The Force Is In Me”

I loved Rogue One: A Star Wars story. In fact I may be in the minority of Star Wars fans, but I loved it more then I loved The Force Awakens.  I felt that the space dog fights in Rogue were the best since Return of the Jedi, the “thing the heroes must destroy in space to win the day” original, the characters engaging, the story gripping, the special effects cutting edge,  and Ben Mendelson’s Director Orson Krennic a more engaging villain then General Hux in The Force Awakens. Sure one cameo or two was a little wonky but chances are that they will clean that up a bit for the DVD/Blu Ray (they’ve done it before).

But if I were to pick my favorite character of all of the new ones we met in this first stand-alone Star Wars film , it was the Guardian of the Whill, Chirrut Imwe. Not fully trained as a Jedi, he demonstrates skills and abilities on par with the greats, like Mace Windu, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and Qui-Gon Jinn with the wisdom and serenity of Yoda. The most engaging part: he was blind. Not counting Darth Vader in his giant walking prosthetic iron lung, or for that matter Saw Gerrera, this is the first time we have seen a character in Star Wars who can truly be described as physically disabled by our standards.

Chirrut Imwe

Continue reading

Posted in Action, Adventure, Faith, Fantasy, Film, Life Lessons, Sci-Fi | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Good Grief! : Celebrating Peanuts #6: Schroeder

One of the most common names for a municipal theater is “Orpheum” derived from the Greek mythological figure, Orpheus, who was legendary for his music. Tales of antiquity tell of his great love, Eurydice and how he went down to the Underworld to get her back from Hades, and how his song had so bewitched the Dark Lord and his queen Persephone that they relented, allowing him to have his bride, on one condition. He was never to look back, lest she fade away. He disobeyed, losing his wife until he joined her in the underworld, permanently.

In fact aside from the famous Apollo theater in New York, it isn’t common for a theater or music hall to be named for a fictional character. Usually, they are named after a great local


patron of the arts, or just for the city itself. Even on college campuses, the music hall is named for its donors. Thus, in 2014, it came as a big surprise to many that Sonoma State University in Northern California would name one of their music halls after a comic strip character.

As the Los Angeles Times reported,

“Schroeder Hall — a modest, 250-seat venue located at the public university’s Green Music Center — will have its opening later this month. The hall is named in honor of the “Peanuts” character Schroeder, the precocious boy who enjoys playing the music of Ludwig van Beethoven on his toy piano. A university spokeswoman said that the hall’s naming was a way of recognizing Jean Schulz, wife of the late “Peanuts” cartoonist Charles Schulz. Jean Schulz has been a supporter and donor to the Green Music Center for years…An inaugural performance at Schroeder Hall is scheduled for Aug. 22. The private event, featuring pianist David Benoit, will honor Jean Schulz with a program titled “Tribute to Charlie Brown.””

Continue reading

Posted in Comic Strips | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Good Grief! : Celebrating Peanuts #5: Franklin

The individual members of the Peanuts gang are best known for their little “quirks”. Linus has his security blanket like a little child, yet he has the mind of a scholar. Schroeder is obsessed with his piano and Beethoven music. Sally is sweet and well meaning but tends to mess up her thoughts. Lucy is crabby, and yet melts around Schroeder. Peppermint Patty is a great athlete, and cant’ seem to figure out that Snoopy is a dog. And Charlie brown is…well, Charlie Brown.



This even extends to some of his supporting players such as Pig Pen with his traveling cloud of dust, or Frieda with her naturally curly red hair. Yet some characters don’t get as much development. In some cases they are just meant to be one off characters for a brief arc. In other cases there was just nothing that can be done about them and they were phased out like Shermie.

One however that has a fairly stationary character actually came into existence when a fan wrote to Charles Schulz and asked to create a character like him. That character is Franklin, and while he isn’t known for any of his quirks, he is well known for bringing some much needed diversity to the strip. It takes more than a casual glance at the cast of main characters, and a cursory reading of their very Germanic surnames ( Van Pelt, Schroeder, Reichhardt, and even Brown was a very common Anglicization of the German name “Braun”)  that make the strip sound like the characters just came from an Oktoberfest celebration. When the creator himself was of German and Swedish ancestry it’s not too surprising.  Writers write what they know, and someone of that background is going to create characters that reflect their heritage. Continue reading

Posted in animation, Comic Strips | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Avoid a Very Mustafar Valentines

One of my favorite moments in the new Star Wars film Rogue One ( and believe me there are many of them) is getting to see Darth Vader’s personal fortress. The idea of Vader’s citadel has been a notion long toyed with since the first script for The Empire Strikes  Back. This fortress was to be located on a volcanic planet then known as Had Abaddon, a name derived from the Hebrew word for “Destroyer” a fallen angel who is to lead the demonic hoards from the bottomless pit in the Last Days according to the book of Revelation.

Rogue One Concept Art of Vader's Citadel

Rogue One Concept Art of Vader’s Citadel

Not only was Had Abaddon the Imperial homeworld and location of Vader’s citadel, it was also where he was supposed to have received the wounds that forced him to need his iconic armor to survive. This idea was shelved due to budgetary concerns, and to be saved for Return of the Jedi. It would be nixed again due to budgetary concerns and instead fans were given a second Death Star. It would not be until 2005 with Revenge of the Sith that fans would get to see this world of fire and brimstone. Continue reading

Posted in Action, Adventure, animation, Fantasy, Holiday, Life Lessons, Sci-Fi, Uncategorized, Valentine's Day. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Good Grief! : Celebrating Peanuts #4: Sally Brown

The years following World War II led to the birth of the generation known as the “Baby Boomers” those individuals born between 1946 and 1964. At its peak, the ideal family unit at this time included parents, 2.5 children and a dog. This was often seen on many of the TV sitcoms of the day, and as the Peanuts comic strip reflected the world of Middle-class, Upper Midwestern America, it would also feature the ideal family unit. Midway the first

Sally Brown

Sally Brown

decade of the Peanuts comic strip, readers would see the Van Pelt family grow dramatically through Lucy and Linus.

However, as Schulz always referred to Peanuts as “featuring Good Ol’ Charlie Brown” naturally his family unit would become more defined. In the earliest strips, Snoopy gradually shifted from the neighborhood dog to belonging solely with Charlie Brown. Then as the 1950s drew to a close, the world was introduced to the newest member of the brown family, Charlie Brown’s adorable and precocious little sister, Sally.

Much like how Linus was introduced off screen through his sister offering to trade her brother for Charlie’s bike, Sally was introduced through her big brother’s reaction, showing just how different these two families were. While Lucy was eager to get rid of Linus, Charlie couldn’t have been happier. As is seen in a strip from May 26, 1959, Charlie had just gotten off the phone with his father at the hospital and happily ran down the street yelling,

“A BABY SISTER! I’M A FATHER! I mean my DAD’S a father! I’M a brother! I have a baby sister! I’m a brother!” Continue reading

Posted in animation, Comic Strips, Film, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment