Thursday, July 16, 2009

Peanuts Minus Snoopy: Do you have any regrets, Charlie Brown?

Friend of the blog, or at least the Twitter feed, Alex brings word of Peanuts Minus Snoopy, which I guess was sort of inevitable in the wake of Garfield Minus Garfield. The genius of Garfield Minus Garfield, of course, is that it changes the focus of a terrible comic and in so doing makes it a pretty great comic.

In Garfield the focus is always on Garfield: Garfield likes lasagna; Garfield likes to crush spiders; Garfield likes to torture dogs; Garfield likes to mock his owner; Garfield thinks he's way funnier than he actually is; etc. Removing Garfield shifts the focus of the strip onto Jon Arbuckle, whose pathos had always been obscured by the wisecracking of his dumbass cat. And so the comic becomes something genuinely different and smarter and better.

Peanuts Minus Snoopy, on the other hand, takes a great strip and turns it into...something slightly less great.

Unlike Garfield, Snoopy isn't really the focus of his strip. Peanuts is an ensemble; Snoopy is an important player, but Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy and Sally are all just as important. And so removing Snoopy doesn't change the focus of the comic in the way that removing Garfield from his eponymous strip does. Peanuts is about the struggles of childhood. Peanuts Minus Snoopy is...about the struggles of childhood.

This isn't to say that Peanuts Minus Snoopy is a disaster or anything. Far from it. It's an interesting experiment. It puts a finer point on some of the non-Snoopy relationships. It provides some pretty decent surreal humor. But it isn't as good as the originals. More often than not, it just feels like a pretty good comic strip that's missing something.


  1. The other thing about "Garfield" is that Garfield hardly ever does anything (except eat lasagna), so most strips just have Jon talking about himself, with Garfield reacting. When you remove Garfield, it's a coherent story about an idiot talking to no one.

    Snoopy, on the other hand, often does stuff, and there's usually a reason why the kids are talking to him. Remove Snoopy and the kids don't come off as insane or anything; it just comes off as a strip where one character has been removed.

    (And sometimes, as in the above strip, they're carrying on a coherent conversation with each other, whereas Jon never has anyone except his pets to talk to.)

  2. Being the person who actually did Peanuts Minus Snoopy, it started off with some pretty good ones like this:

    And this:

    And so on:

    The thing I've noticed after doing this for a while now is that Snoopy and the rest of the gang aren't even in too many comics together. It's either Charlie Brown and the Gang doing something or Snoopy and Woodstock doing something. They actually don't do a lot together...or at least a lot less than I remember. I think (often times, as in the strip above) eliminating Snoopy from the strips often eliminates the joke, punctuating the profound or depressing things the children are actually saying.

    Part of me wanted to do this because Peanuts was my favorite strip as a child. I wanted to see it get some weird internet memes in the same way Garfield seems to have.