"I'm torn between the desire to create and the desire to destroy." – Lucy Van Pelt


“Watchpeanuts” by Evan ‘Doc’ Shaner

Todd Seavey discusses Watchmen, Peanuts, Terry Gilliam, and the Futurists”

…Why think of the Peanuts gang at a time when the Watchmen — often credited for convincing people superheroes aren’t just for kids — are poised to conquer popular culture? (The two sets of characters are merged above in a pic by artist Evan Shaner.) I think of Peanuts now partly because, like the book about Gilliam discussed below (and some other Book Selections over the past three months), copies of five very early (1950s/early 1960s) Peanuts anthologies were given to me by Dawn Eden during one of her periodic house-cleanings (so once more, my thanks to Dawn). Partly because, as a graphic designer who was in charge of packaging Peanuts collections once observed, they are one of the few things in our culture that seem equally beloved by people of all ages, social strata, and intelligence levels. Partly, though, because the Peanuts are arguably every bit as dark as the Watchmen.

I mean, sure, the Watchmen are fighting largely in vain against inexorable conspiracies and a tragic, flawed human race (the fetish art of one of Superman’s co-creators, pointed out to me by Caryn Solly, would have seemed right at home in the Watchmen’s disillusioning world) — but Charlie Brown’s world is so miserable that when he writes to his pen pal, he goes on for several lines about having no friends, pauses for a moment in the third panel, and then adds a P.S. saying simply “P.S. Everyone hates me.” He’s our protagonist, and still everyone hates him. These strips have to have been great consolation to all manner of loners and misfits over the years, not to mention anyone who went through the often cruel, absurd, and wretched first decade of life with eyes open…

… Another tempting maneuver — one favored by many punks, anarchists, fascist brownshirts, and others — is simply to smash things and start over. That was the Futurists’ naive plan, exactly one hundred years ago last month, and as wrong (and profoundly unconservative) as those artists and poets were, they certainly sound like a harbinger of all that was to come over the next century. Saturday, I went from an exhibit about the Futurists at the Museum of Modern Art to that American Tea Party protest against government spending and then to another museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to see an exhibit on trade and culture surrounding ancient Babylon, recommended to me by Michel Evanchik. The Futurists would not have approved of my day…


About marypmadigan

Writer/photographer (profession), foreign policy wonk (hobby).
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