8/12/11

3 PEANUTS parodies that I like more than the JAWS one

Because I'm a JAWS scholar and shark geek, a number of people have shared Charles Forsman's mash-up (of JAWS re-told with the Peanuts gang) with me.

You might think I didn't like it because I'm some kind of a JAWS nut.  

But honestly, I thought it missed the mark when it came to the Peanuts characters.  I have to give credit to Forsman for drawing spot-on character designs in the style of Schulz.  But the strip didn't connect the dots between Charlie Brown, Chief Brody, Hooper, Linus, Quint, Mayor Vaughn, etc. 

So it's not that I'm a JAWS nut, so much as a big PEANUTS fan. I find the early strips groundbreaking and influential and as important to American literature as The Great Gatsby or Of Mice and Men. Seriously. 

However, I come not to bury Peanuts parodies, but to praise them.  

So here are three faux-Peanuts strips that I adore. 

First off, buy R. Sikoryak's MASTERPIECE COMICS.  You can get it here cheap. Sikoryak commits to a concept without going to easy jokes.  This collection is brilliant and beautifully illustrated. One of the stand-outs is his "Good Ol' Gregor Brown" where Kafka's Metamorphosis is re-told with the Peanuts cast.  This was presented as a slideshow at Kevin Geeks Out (during a "Holiday Grab Bag" show) -- and it killed.  Buy this book for yourself and get another one for your favorite English teacher. 

(this is just an excerpt, buy the book to read the rest)
Sikoryak's strip is so cool that one fan even went and got it as a tattoo.  The only thing sexier than a Charlie Brown tattoo is Kafka-Peanuts body-art!


Second, MAD Magazine did a 1968 strip titled "Will Success Spoil Charlie Brown?" where Shermy returns to the old neighborhood and sees how the commercial success of PEANUTS has changed everyone.  

As a kid, I didn't realize it was a parody of "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?" but I still got the jokes and loved seeing Charlie Brown in a toupee. 

I could not find this online. Sorry. 

But you can find plenty of other great MAD parodies.  Here's a list of the dozens and dozens that ran over the years. 


Third, Ted Rall's "Supply Side Lucy"
This 1996 one-panel gag is, sadly, still true today.  Check out more Ted Rall. He's a daring writer and he always challenges himself to do something different with each book -- whether it's a comics collection, narrative graphic novel or even his fantastic post-modern take on George Orwell's 1984. 

Do you have a favorite PEANUTS parody/homage?  Tell me about it in the comments. 


RELATED POSTS: 

JAWS vs. SHARK NIGHT the two types of shark-movie posters

Horror movie characters: A-Z

Kevin and Matt Geek Out about Shark Cinema

Deleted Scene from Kevin and Matt Geek Out about Shark Cinema

2 comments:

winkingskunk said...

Have you seen http://3eanuts.com/ ?
Much like Garfield minus Garfield. It gives you a whole new way to read the strips.

I have to agree that I love classic Snoopy the best. When I was going through books, deciding which to rid myself of, I couldn't bear the thought of getting rid of Snoopy and the gang and how they were originally drawn.

Nathaniel W said...

See, as far as I can tell (and similar to his Raiders of the Lost Ark-in-the-style-of-Popeye) he isn't really using the cast of Peanuts to re-enact Jaws; he's illustrated key moments from Jaws in the style of Peanuts (with the obvious, and to my mind perfect, exception of using Snoopy as the shark). It doesn't say anything particular subversive or insightful about either the film or the comic strip, but aside from the mimicry of Schulz's line, I think what really makes this combination special is the way he mapped iconic moments from the movie into the scale and pace of a Peanuts strip. He picked out great Spielberg moments and crafted them into pretty excellent examples of Schulz's storytelling. His use of Schulz's body language (defeated last panel of that first full strip, the smack in the second strip, the singing in the fourth strip, Snoopy's facial expressions in the fourth and sixth strip), the perfect four panel pacing, the use of understatement and dejection as punchline...just wonderful. I'm sure this wanders into just being a matter of taste, but I found reading the Mrs. Kintner strip and the drunken singing strip genuinely thrilling. Thought they were perfect.

The Metamorphosis parody also looks good, and the Ted Rall panel is also excellent (and sad).

The 3eanuts thing bothered me when it made the internet rounds in a way none of the Garfield reworkings ever did (though I also always preferred the original "Arbuckle" notion to "Garfield Without Garfield", which seemed to not understand why "Arbuckle" was so funny). I'm sure some of it has to do with me loving & respecting Peanuts more than most comic strips, but also because it seemed to miss the point of regular-style Peanuts. The mission statement at the top of the site talks about the despair that the project somehow reveals by taking away the joke that softens the blow, but that either misses or ignores that there was often more despair or resignation nested inside that last joke. I'm not even somebody who relishes wallowing in the despair and melancholy of Peanuts (I think it's often beautiful or darkly hilarious, but I'm glad it's not the only thing the strip had to say), but I don't understand what 3eanuts actually reveals about the original aside from the strength of Schulz's pacing (which it does by breaking it and making it worse). Unlike the Garfield stuff, which tried to break the original strip to reveal something else hidden inside it, 3eanuts just seems to break the original to reveal something that's perfectly well-expressed already.