What A Nightmare, Charlie Brown by Charles M. SchulzCharles Monroe Schulz was an American cartoonist, whose comic strip Peanuts proved one of the most popular and influential in the history of the medium, and is still widely reprinted on a daily basis.
Schulzs first regular cartoons, Lil Folks, were published from 1947 to 1950 by the St. Paul Pioneer Press; he first used the name Charlie Brown for a character there, although he applied the name in four gags to three different boys and one buried in sand. The series also had a dog that looked much like Snoopy. In 1948, Schulz sold a cartoon to The Saturday Evening Post; the first of 17 single-panel cartoons by Schulz that would be published there. In 1948, Schulz tried to have Lil Folks syndicated through the Newspaper Enterprise Association. Schulz would have been an independent contractor for the syndicate, unheard of in the 1940s, but the deal fell through. Lil Folks was dropped from the Pioneer Press in January, 1950.
Later that year, Schulz approached the United Feature Syndicate with his best strips from Lil Folks, and Peanuts made its first appearance on October 2, 1950. The strip became one of the most popular comic strips of all time. He also had a short-lived sports-oriented comic strip called Its Only a Game (19571959), but he abandoned it due to the demands of the successful Peanuts. From 1956 to 1965 he contributed a single-panel strip (Young Pillars) featuring teenagers to Youth, a publication associated with the Church of God.
Peanuts ran for nearly 50 years, almost without interruption; during the life of the strip, Schulz took only one vacation, a five-week break in late 1997. At its peak, Peanuts appeared in more than 2,600 newspapers in 75 countries. Schulz stated that his routine every morning consisted of eating a jelly donut and sitting down to write the days strip. After coming up with an idea (which he said could take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours), he began drawing it, which took about an hour for dailies and three hours for Sunday strips. He stubbornly refused to hire an inker or letterer, saying that it would be equivalent to a golfer hiring a man to make his putts for him. In November 1999 Schulz suffered a stroke, and later it was discovered that he had colon cancer that had metastasized. Because of the chemotherapy and the fact he could not read or see clearly, he announced his retirement on December 14, 1999.
Schulz often touched on religious themes in his work, including the classic television cartoon, A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), which features the character Linus van Pelt quoting the King James Version of the Bible Luke 2:8-14 to explain what Christmas is all about. In personal interviews Schulz mentioned that Linus represented his spiritual side. Schulz, reared in the Lutheran faith, had been active in the Church of God as a young adult and then later taught Sunday school at a United Methodist Church. In the 1960s, Robert L. Short interpreted certain themes and conversations in Peanuts as being consistent with parts of Christian theology, and used them as illustrations during his lectures about the gospel, as he explained in his bestselling paperback book, The Gospel According to Peanuts, the first of several books he wrote on religion and Peanuts, and other popular culture items.From the late 1980s, however, Schulz described himself in interviews as a secular humanist: I do not go to church anymore... I guess you might say Ive come around to secular humanism, an obligation I believe all humans have to others and the world we live in.
What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown (1978)
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It was originally aired on CBS in It's notable in that it solely features Snoopy and Charlie Brown; none of the other Peanuts cast appear. In the winter, Charlie Brown is trying to pretend to be a musher with Snoopy, but Snoopy has other ideas and gets Charlie Brown to pull while he has fun riding in the sled. When night comes and they are comfortably indoors, Charlie Brown is indignant that Snoopy is adjusting too well to home life, reminding Snoopy of facts that Arctic dogs are only fed once a day, their meals largely consisting of cold meat and raw fish to which Snoopy blanches and gives a look of "it is too bad to be them" and coming to the conclusion that Snoopy is "overly civilized". After making a dinner of five pizzas and a large milkshake all of which he eats himself Snoopy goes to bed on his doghouse and promptly wakes up to find out that he is now a sled dog of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska, presumably during the Klondike Gold Rush or the serum run to Nome. At first Snoopy is cruelly mistreated by his owner whom is only seen in silhouette and only speaks in a much deeper version of the classic Peanuts adult "waa-waa-waa" language and his fellow dogs, being run ragged and then denied any food or water. The dogs also take turns barking loudly at Snoopy in order to let him know he is indeed an outsider.
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The cartoon made a significant impression on me. It was unnerving to see Snoopy whipped, starved, pelted with produce, and drowned. There have been many Peanuts specials over the years, and their quality is wildly inconsistent. What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown is not that sort of unmitigated disaster. The running joke in Peanuts , especially in the early days, was that Charlie Brown was so downtrodden, so kicked upon, that even his dog had a more interesting life than he did. And lest you think he treated all humans that way, he certainly remembered Lila, his first owner.