Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lio and the Origin of Peanuts

Just by reading Lio on a daily basis, I can tell creator Mark Tatulli has some strong opinions about "legacy strips," and most especially zombie strips. The former are comic strips that continue after the original creator's died. Dick Tracy is a good example, having passed through several creative teams after Chester Gould's retirement. Some legacy strips take the characters and develop them further, keeping pace with current trends (like Blondie). Others simply recycle the same tropes over and over, becoming less relevant and less entertaining with each iteration (like Beetle Bailey).

Worse still are the zombie strips, which are simply reprints. "Peanuts" is such a strip. Charles Schultz has departed, but his daily sequences show up again and again, like reruns of "I Love Lucy."

In the September 9, 2014 sequence, Tatulli makes a pointed comment about Peanuts, and it's creative stasis. (click on image to enlarge)

When Charles Schultz started "Peanuts" in 1952, it didn't look like any other comic strip -- nor did it read like one. Before the "Peanuts" gang became licensing commodities, the strip had a markedly different character.

Tatulli reminds the characters -- and us -- just how far Peanuts has strayed from its origins. Perhaps it's time to retire it for good and give the space to the next ground-breaking and original comic strip that can revitalize the form.

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