Charlie Brown is hesitant. Marcie is shy. Lucy is cruel. Schroeder is aloof. But Franklin is just…perfect.
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Snoopy's doghouse is so well-known and recognisable that even when there are no Peanuts characters in the frame, it is impossible to mistake it for anything else. The red, wooden structure has a distinctive mushroom profile, with three slats on the top and three slats on the bottom. When it burned to the ground in a 1966 story arc, Charles Schulz drew on readers' familiarity with it to explore loss, mourning and recovery.
Aside from Charlie Brown, Peppermint Patty is the most well-thought out, deeply characterised member of the Peanuts gang. Charles Schulz told some heartbreaking stories about unrequited love, single parenthood, gender norms and deep-seated insecurities -- themes that did not normally appear on the Sunday funnies page. With unique characterisation that helped her gain the audience's sympathy and trust, Peppermint Patty was usually the delivery person of those themes.
Violet was the original mean girl of the Peanuts gang. She was even the first character to call Charlie Brown a blockhead. Her main weapon was social exclusion: "I'm having a party, and YOU'RE not invited!" She was, on the surface, an unrepentant bully and one of the least likeable characters in Charles Schulz's strip. Her meanness was not without reason. Eventually, however, it consumed her, to the point where she had nothing else to offer to her peers.
For many years, I thought that Marcie, the bespectacled, book-obsessed girl in Peanuts, was Asian American. It wasn't just about how badly I wanted an Asian American in my favourite comic strip; it was about how much I identified with her. Through Marcie's various story arcs, Charles Schulz depicted the struggles of a shy person who learned her self-worth by reaching her breaking point.
By the end of its run in 1999, Peanuts was an institution. It had become an omnipresent part of American culture -- and that's not a compliment. The general response to reading the average Peanuts strip in the 80s and 90s was a "meh" half-smile -- a snicker, maybe, but never a full-blown laugh. The strip had run for over 50 years, but it was a flicker of its former flame, mostly coasting on its reputation and its endurance. Mobile users, please note this article contains a lot of images.
Video: Am I crazy, or does Activision's The Peanuts Movie tie-in game look pretty good? Snoopy's Grand Adventure, due out late 2015 on Xbox One, 360, PS4, Wii U and 3DS, sees Charlie Brown's pup platforming through the worlds of his imagination and taking flight against the Red Baron. It's even got Woodstock co-op!