Poor Charlie Brown. He can't fly a kite, and he always loses in baseball. Having his faults projected onto a screen by Lucy doesn't help him much either. Against the sage advice and taunting of the girls in his class, he volunteers for the class spelling bee...and wins! Now the pressure is on as he is off to New York City for the televised national spelling bee.
In earlier strips it is not clear who Snoopy belongs to; for instance in the February 2, 1951 strip, Charlie Brown accuses Snoopy of following him, only to be told by Patty that Snoopy isn't following Charlie Brown but merely lives in the same direction. Indeed many early strips show Snoopy interacting with Shermy (who is shown in one early strip running with Snoopy on his leash) and Patty without Charlie Brown, making Snoopy appear to belong to all of the neighborhood kids, similar to the dog Pete in the Our Gang comedies, who is everyone's dog. (Note: in this era, it was common for dogs to roam their local area and congregate with local children, and then return to their respective homes). Later, Charlie Brown states that his parents bought Snoopy for him at the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm, after another boy had dumped sand on him while playing in a sandbox.
Snoopy was a silent character for the first two years of his existence, but on May 27, 1952 he verbalized his thoughts to readers for the first time in a thought balloon; Schulz would utilize this device for nearly all of the character's appearances in the strip thereafter. At first, Snoopy acted as a normal dog, and would only think in simple one-word phrases (such as "FOOD!"), but then became more articulate.
In addition to Snoopy's ability to "speak" his thoughts to the reader, many of the human characters in Peanuts have the uncanny knack of reading his thoughts and responding to them. In the animated Peanuts films and television specials, Snoopy's thoughts are not verbalized; his moods are instead conveyed through growls, sobs, laughter, monosyllabic utterances such as "bleah," "hey," etc., as well as through pantomime. The only exceptions are in the animated adaptations of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Snoopy!!! The Musical, in which Snoopy's thoughts are verbalized through voice overs (by Robert Towers and Cam Clarke, respectively). Animation producer Bill Meléndez voiced both Snoopy and (eventually) Woodstock in numerous television specials from 1965 to 2006. In Peanuts Motion Comics, Snoopy's thoughts appear onscreen as text in thought bubbles, without voice.
October 4, 1950 – Snoopy's first appearance Oddly enough, the first time a beagle was mentioned in the strip (December 5, 1960), Snoopy denied being one. As Snoopy dozed, Charlie Brown paraphrased Gertrude Stein: "Beagles on the grass, alas." To this, Snoopy replied, "I ain't no stupid beagle!" (Years later, Snoopy would paraphrase the Stein expression himself: "Birds in the grass, alas; beagle on the roof, aloof.")
As the series progressed, Snoopy became a more human-like dog. His character is that of a dog who thinks he is a person (or who sometimes forgets he is a dog). In one Peanuts strip, Sally had to do a report on animals for school, and requested Snoopy's help. But Snoopy was reluctant. "How can I help?" he thought. "I don't know any animals."
Many of Peanuts' memorable moments come in Snoopy's efforts as a novelist: his eternal opener on the typewriter "It was a dark and stormy night..." is taken from Edward George Bulwer-Lytton's 1830 novel Paul Clifford. Almost all his submissions are rejected by potential publishers, who eventually resort to rude dismissals and cruel jokes to attempt to prevent being bothered by Snoopy. The contrast between Snoopy's existence in a dream world and Charlie Brown's in the real world is central to the humour and philosophy of Peanuts (e.g., the Peanuts book title Life's a Dream, Charlie Brown). "It Was A Dark And Stormy Night" remains his most successful work.
Schulz summed up Snoopy's character in a 1997 interview: "He has to retreat into his fanciful world in order to survive. Otherwise, he leads kind of a dull, miserable life. I don't envy dogs the lives they have to live."
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