Comics have been prevalent in my life since I was about 7 years old. Growing up, my father had a decent collection of Charles M. Schulz’ Peanuts anthologies he had kept from the 70’s that my brother and I would read from start to finish, over and over, until they gradually lost their covers and the spines began to untwine. For me, reading comics has always been a solitary act. Peanuts of course was a daily newspaper strip, yet, while reading the daily strips in the last few years of its original run, I could never fathom the same sense of fulfilment that I had with the books. As a child, making do with four panels per day never held the same effect of the ongoing narrative that formed when placed into these collections; storylines that would span a number of weeks in their original publication, would be condensed into something I could read within a few minutes, and following these characters uninterrupted gave me a focused appreciation over the narratives and character relationships in Schulz’s work.
Hindsight has made clear that what interested me was the ordinary nature of the strips. They were a day by day insight to these characters lives as they were forced to deal with the complexities and depth that came along with everyday experience. Like many others I was drawn to the character of Charlie Brown, and growing up reading these comic strips, my interests changed from marvelling his attempts at winning a baseball game or flying a kite, into an understanding of his self doubt and insecurities; most of all, his inability to talk to that Little Red Haired Girl. The melancholic nature of Schulz’s protagonist has suited and perhaps fostered my own way of thinking, and this project stems from my relationship to Schulz’s work (without which, I’m sure, I would not be writing this now), and as a means to comprehend my own emotive experiences.
Through my research I have found connections to my own life that the personal nature of the comic book can only supply; it is something that is visual, but not projected into a cinema, or broadcast to a living room, as are film or television. Sure, you may hand your copy over to your brother once you are finished, but the act of reading is solitary, allowing you to interpret and direct a narrative as you chose fit; slowing sections down, and speeding other parts up. Comics are a fluid and ever changing medium, one which changes through both artist direction and reader experience. Their ability to evoke emotion is handled in a variety of ways, from narrative, to personal experience, to visual techniques and comic structure. They work individually and together, yet their effects are entirely subjective. You interpret them as you will, but for me personally, the emotional experiences of characters are an insight to their lives, and through comparison, my own life too.
- C Schulz, ‘Peanuts, January 12, 1987’, GoComics, 2012, Retrieved 5 June 2012,