A 2D Hero

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This may come as a surprise to everyone who knows me, but I prefer Charlie Brown to Snoopy.

Why this would surprise a lot of people (beyond those who are surprised I care at all) is that if you walk into my office you’ll see a lot of Snoopy stuff. Snoopy figures and posters and kites and latch-hooks rugs and even a black velvet painting that probably wasn’t strictly authorized. By comparison, Snoopy probably outnumbers Charlie Brown in my office by 10 to 1.

The reason for this is simple: more Snoopy stuff is made.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I like Snoopy. Next to Charlie Brown, he’s my all-time second favorite cartoon character. I am excited when I see, purchase or receive Snoopy things.

But I really like Charlie Brown.

Maybe it’s because I feel sorry for him. He’s the most-successful comic strip character in history and if there were some way of translating this (we are talking about a fictional character, after all) into the real world, I’m sure he would be a billionaire.

In his world, though (one of the great things about comic strips is that I can still hold them in my hands and receive a laughter from them tomorrow so even though the great Charles Schulz has passed on I can still refer to his creations in the present tense), Charlie is a loser. Often a loner. He’s the one they call “Failure Face” and “Blockhead”. He gets rocks for Halloween.

Quick aside: What sort of neighborhood is this?!?! It’s funny when Chuck gets the rock, but what cruel and stupid adult would do that? Cruel because who gives a kid a rock when he/she’s looking for candy and stupid because the natural response for said kid (if they were anyone other than kindly Charlie Brown) would be to turn and throw said rock through the giver’s nearest window.

It’s because of all this (though I always got candy at Halloween) that I identify with Charlie Brown. I wanted to be Snoopy—even if his adventures were just in his mind—but I was/am Charlie Brown.

I also want to be Charlie Brown, though, because even though Peanuts has been described as a fifty year strip about a chronically depressed child, he’s always out there trying. In spite of all the losses and his aggravating right fielder, Charlie Brown not only continues to pitch his heart out, he apparently has enough enthusiasm to keep the other eight coming out there day after day, for loss after loss.

Over the years, people have talked about the depression and cruelty aspects of Peanuts, but part of why we kept reading it—and still read it—is that the world of Peanuts is really a happy place. For all their arguing, Charlie Brown and Lucy are still friends. When Linus—the “intellectual and moral center of the group” has a problem—he goes to Charlie Brown. Sally doesn’t seem to respect her brother, but she goes to him first when she needs something.

I like Charlie Brown because there’s a lot of Charlie Brown in me … and that ain’t too bad.