I love Peanuts. I love Peanuts so much. Here are some of the reasons I love Peanuts, and why I thought briefly about writing a senior thesis on the fifty years it ran:
1. It was written and illustrated by one man, for almost fifty years, Charles M. Schultz. It started in 1951 and ended in 2000 with his retirement.
2. The western world, the United States specifically, changed immensely during that 49-year span. In 1951, the US and the Soviet Union were beginning their space race. Armstrong wouldn’t reach the moon for another 18 years. By 2000, when I was ten years old, there was internet in more and more western homes.
3. Charles Schultz worked within the culture, but allowed his women (or girls, depending on how you choose to read the comics) to be strong and independent, both when choosing to rebel and when choosing to conform to the society they were part of.
4. There is a character that can be read as either an unabashed tomboy or a semi-closeted trans-person or a gender-queer person. A very serious conference project could be written about Peppermint Patty.
5. In general, the children don’t tend to fall very easily along stereotypically gendered activity. The fact that they are portrayed as children allows this freedom which would not be allowed a comic about adults in the ’50s.