Boobs Are Not Bunnies: Miss Hannah Hart’s Tips and Common Con Courtesy for SDCC 2014

Category : Conventions, Featured, San Diego Comic Con

Cheers, kittens! It’s Moi! One week to go! San Diego Comic-Con (July 24-27, 2014, S.D. Conv. Ctr.) is nigh and America’s Finest City is all abuzz. My own home at the Hotel del Coronado is stuffed to its ivory cornices and red turrets with not just the usual summertime crush of les touristes from all over the globe, but also with a healthy, amusing dose of geekery. Bienvenue a tous! San Diego loves geeks!

SDCC 2013 TMNT

SDCC 2013 Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Be ye a local geek (comme Moi) and didn’t get in (ni comme Moi), there’s still a faint ray of hope. Local “news” station FOX5 is giving away a pair of badges a day, in this week leading up to the Con; naturally, one must actually watch the local broadcast to learn the “Code of the Day”. Of course, considering what I went through for badges, the hoops could be more difficult than having to endure an hour a day of local news. If you are going, local or not, contest winner or no, I proffer a few helpful tips and links to help your Comic-Con 2014 be as easy-peasy lemon-squeezy as can be.

  • Toucan Blog: daily tips leading up to the Con from the very wizards themselves behind the Comic-Con Int’l (CCI) curtain
  • Programming Schedule: SDCC’s complete, online, Wed.-Sun. catalogue of panels, screenings, autograph signings et al
  • Transportation Info.: quick links to parking, hotel shuttles and local transportation like the MTS Trolleys, Coaster and Amtrak
  • Uber and Lyft: sure-fire, friendly ride-sharing to, from and around the Con; but know these private companies’ rates fluctuate depending on the time of day/night and need. Business 101, kids. Supply and demand hard at work here.
  • Taxi Magic: the beauty of free enterprise and capitalism? It forces real competition! The taxi industry is trying a friendlier, gentler, cleaner approach to service. Download the Taxi Magic app and give S.D. Yellow Cabs another chance.
  • North County Coaster: a great option if you’re coming anywhere from Oceanside south; the Coaster is a quiet, clean ride with great views of the Pacific for most of the way (Snag a seat on the west-facing side for the best views!).
  • Call a friend or beg Dad: if you have anyone in the area whom claims to love you, even tolerate you, even a little bit, capitalize on that. Beg them for a ride! Drop-off and pick-up anywhere in the Gaslamp District makes your life easy-peasy!

As one expects, SDCC is a complete jumblef#&*. Whether you end up inside the Con rubbing elbows and armour with the likes of  Salma Hayek, Daniel Radcliffe, George R.R. Martin, Weird Al and Seth Green or, enjoying the wild festivities that occur just outside the Con doors, it can, at times, feel like a claustrophobic nightmare. Remember to be kind. (As a dyed-in-the-wool geek, I can attest that a lot of us don’t groove well in large volumes of people; we’re oft a pale, quiet, nervous type.)

Princess Leia, Daphne Blake, SDCC 2013

Be nice to the geek girls! SDCC 2013 Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Comic-Con is a haven for nerdery, creativity and pop-culture camaraderie. It’s also a Tokyo metro-style, sardine-packed, hot-and-humid mess. Try to say “Pardon me” when you bump into Poison Ivy, “Thank you” when Adam West Batman holds open a door for you and a chivalric “After you, Milady!” when you and Princess Leia arrive at the same egress, at the same time. When it comes to cosplay, leave the snark and sneers at home; compliments go a long way in making someone’s day. Some of those costumes take forever to make, are probably raw-ther uncomfortable and it’s a good bet that no matter how smoking they look, the wearer feels just a tad self-conscious.

Apropos: the boobs. Yes, the boobs. As I wrote in my coverage of WonderCon Anaheim 2014, “Of course, de rigueur, there are lots and lots of boobs. There are always lots and lots of boobs. Funny thing is, after a few years of this, I’m beginning to recognize some of them.”  There is also a lot of chatter about the appropriate amount of attention one should give those boobs.

For this girl’s take, if you’re going to put them out there, waaaay out there as some of the ladies do, I think you’d better expect some feedback. Still, that does not excuse some of the vile, verbal assaults hurled their way. Keep it clean, folks. Common courtesy guides one should ask before taking a picture, glance but don’t gawk and never, ever touch! (Please, see official guidelines below.) Just be nice. Like Thumper’s mama says, “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.” A good time shall be had by all, especially when we’re all cheery comic chums! Come on, everyone! Let’s all play the Pollyanna Glad Game!

boobs, SDCC

They are not bunnies; you may not pet them. SDCC 2013 Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

As in years past, Dr. Lucy (Twisted Pair Photography) and I shall be covering SDCC 2014 for geek-culture website GoodToBeAGeek, even Preview Night! To boot, Yours Truly is champing at the bit to learn if this year’s submission to the official Souvenir Book -a Hellboy retrospective- made it in again: previous published articles include Peanuts, Tarzan and Bongo/Simpsons Comics. So, follow us on Twitter and stop by GoodToBeAGeek.com in the days following the Con for all the geeky, gooey, booby goodness coming straight from San Diego Comic-Con 2014!

  • Update: 23 July 2014: Yes, my Hellboy article did make it into the 2014 Souvenir Book!

*CCI’s Code of Conduct and Anti Harassment Policy

Attendees must respect common sense rules for public behavior, personal interaction, common courtesy, and respect for private property. Harassing or offensive behavior will not be tolerated. Comic-Con reserves the right to revoke, without refund, the membership and badge of any attendee not in compliance with this policy.

Persons finding themselves in a situation where they feel their safety is at risk or who become aware of an attendee not in compliance with this policy should immediately locate a member of security, or a Comic-Con staff member, so that the matter can be handled in an expeditious manner. If your safety is at risk and you need immediate assistance you may also use a white house phone and dial 5911

Security may be contacted by visiting our Show Office in Lobby C. A Comic-Con staff member will be in the office during public hours.

 

Abyssinia on the Con floor, cats!

Follow  @JennyPopNet @GoodToBeAGeek @Eslilay  for Con-floor Tweets and pix! #geek #SDCC #cosplay

Hannah’s other fave places to haunt online?

JennyPop.net  jenniferdevore.blogspot.com and amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore

 

San Diego Comic-Con 2014 Badge Quest: Victorious!

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Category : Conventions, E-vents, Featured, Geek Rants, San Diego Comic Con, Travel

Holy moly, Hellboy!! This year was a close one! If you read my Adventures in WonderCon post, you will have noted the tint of sadness that came with realizing WonderCon Anaheim (WCA) was it for the year; the Comic-Con Badge Quest Slaughter of 2014 had left Dr. Lucy and myself emotionally exhausted and near expiration, with little hope of survival on the Con battlefield. Yet, like a Phoenix, rising from Arizona -wait, that doesn’t sound right- we mustered every cell of life that remained, gathered our courage and cerebral weaponry and … huzzah! With two weeks to spare, we parried and riposted our way into San Diego Comic-Con!

Dr. Lucy and I have had a pretty good run of not only getting into SDCC to cover it for geek-culture website GoodToBeAGeek, but also of Yours Truly getting into the accompanying Souvenir Book for a number of years. (Past years included articles on Peanuts, Tarzan and Bongo/Simpsons Comics.) This year’s submission is a piece on the 20th anniversary of Mike Mignola’s half-demon/half-Boy Scout, Hellboy. (Cloven-hooves crossed I get in the Book this year, too!)

  • Update: 23 July 2014: Yes, my Hellboy article did make it into the 2014 Souvenir Book!
Frank Cho artwork, Hellboy, SDCC

Hellboy artwork by Frank Cho

Still, as anyone will tell you, SDCC is becoming more and more difficult to permeate. Getting into the Con via standard, online badge purchase is a crap shoot; obtaining a Member ID is simple enough and getting in the online queue is equally non-taxing; getting to the front of the queue before every day sells out is a seemingly random, lottery-style mind%&*#. GoodToBeAGeek’s very own editor, Jessa Lynn Phillips, who one should note is closely tied-in with SyFy Channel’s upper-echelon, stated, “I don’t think I know anyone who got passes (other than panelists) for more than one day this year.”

To wit, not only is a badge purchase a shot in the dark, this year Comic-Con International (CCI) eliminated the ability to purchase 4-day badges. (Exception being if you purchased a Preview Night badge, for an extra fee, you can add an automatic 4-day pass.) The purpose, according to CCI, was to cut down on unused, precious badge space: folks buying all four days with the intention of only using one or two days. Further, the ability to purchase for friends (up to three plus yourself) during the pre-registration phase -which one can only enter if one attended the previous year- also limited those three friends to those whom attended the previous year. (Crikey! Getting a law degree has got to be simpler. Of course, based on some attorneys I know, it very well might be!)

Naturally, WCA was a blast and, for someone whom loves to play dress up, getting to don my Louise Belcher costume was fun enough in itself and enough to hold me over until Hallowe’en. Still, there had been a faint raincloud over my head as I read CCI’s Toucan Blog daily posts counting down to SDCC 2014.

I had worked my wee fingers to the bone massaging every contact, acquaintance and stranger I could. No one can say I didn’t try. I jiggled all the door handles; like Hillary trying to get into the White House. I even answered an ad on Craigslist to wear an M&M costume; and offered my scribing services for legit pro or press passes, only to be flagged. Apparently “honest-work for honest-comps” is offensive to the CL community; had I offered boudoir photos for scalped badges, I might have made “Best of Craigslist”. Besides the Badge Quest Slaughter, we here at GTBAG applied for press passes, only to be sliced and diced by CCI’s intensely perlustrative press wizards: You shall not [press] pass! I offered to man a booth at GoComics -sadly that contact was no longer with the organization- ; and I looked into volunteering anywhere there was a need within the Con, except the lavvies. One industry-insider advised with a pitiful shake of the head, “Volunteers was filled months ago. It goes almost as fast as the badge sale these days.”

In the end, neither the M&M suit nor a volunteer’s t-shirt was necessary. Happily, Lucy and I were fortunate enough to garner not just an enviable Saturday-pass, but the much-coveted Preview Night-pass! How, you may wonder, mouths collectively agape like codfish? Simple: intricate dealings in the Black Arts, magick of the Teutonic strain and a serendipitous, random spin of Lady Fortuna’s wheel.

Keep all this in mind next year, kids. SDCC online badge sales usually hit mid-February to mid-March. If you got in this year, use that pre-registration phase next year! If you don’t get a badge for 2015, try not to utter in disgust the words of Dr. Sheldon Cooper. It’s okay. You know, th-there’s always WonderCon in Anaheim, you know? Th-that’s just as good. Excuse me. (Turns to cry)

The Big Bang Theory S7e14: "Convention Conundrum". Chuck Lorre Prod., Warner Bros. Prod.

The Big Bang Theory S7e14: “Convention Conundrum”. Chuck Lorre Prod., Warner Bros. Prod.

Take not ye Cons for granted! Each one seems to grow exponentially, year over year. Citing Events in America, a North American trade show and conference directory, SDCC 2014 augurs 130K attendees once again: a self-imposed, max. capacity. Only CES Int’l Las Vegas and New York Comic-Con (NYCC) will bring in more geekage per cubic sq. ft.: 150K and 133K, respectively. NYCC’s projected attendance is up from 117K last year.

As I wrote earlier this year of WCA, oft minimized and discounted as Comic-Con’s little sister, “Whether you get into SDCC or not, WC is fast-becoming a good time all her own and very possibly, depending on how things line up, just as high-maintenance.”

HelloKittyHellboy

Hello Kitty loves dress-up, too!

 

 

Follow  @JennyPopNet @GoodToBeAGeek @Eslilay  for Con-floor Tweets and pix! #geek #SDCC

 

 

Hannah’s other fave places to haunt online?

JennyPop.net  jenniferdevore.blogspot.com and amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore

That Other Jane and Carrot Top: Tarzan Lands at SDCC 2012

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Category : Comics, Conventions, Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, Geek Rants, Literature, Movies, San Diego Comic Con, Television, Travel

For all you poor mooks whom did not make it to San Diego Comic-Con 2012, or did and possibly lost, tossed or neglected your coveted Official Souvenir Book, unaware of the gems contained therein, I feel sad that you missed out on author Jennifer Susannah Devore’s Tarzan article. You should feel bad; it was good enough to garner Miss Jenny a personal invitation to meet the one, the only Dr. Jane Goodall! Where? A banquet in Tarzana, of course! No worries, jelly beans! There’s still time to mend your silly ways.

Swing on over, grab a Sailor Jerry Banana Hammock and read Jenny’s article here!

Steampunk Jane and her Carrot Top Tarzan, Lord of the Props Photo: Twisted Pair Photography SDCC 2012

 

That Other Jane, reprinted with JennyPop’s very own permission, from the 2012 Official Comic-Con Souvenir Book

(Special thanks, again, to Gary Sassaman, Director of Print and Publications Comic-Con International: San Diego)

 

That Other Jane: 100 Years of Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle, Heartbreaker

by Jennifer Susannah Devore

I was so jealous. I thought she was a wimp. I was sure I’d have been a better mate.

                                                                                                             -that other Jane … Goodall

Herein lies the innate appeal of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. Be he an object of affection, admiration or competition, Tarzan falls neatly into the untidy world of animal instinct, feral existentialism and personal authority: a Lord Greystoke of the Flies, if you will.

Burroughs composed an enduring theme and a permanence of characters spawning not only a succession of film and television iterations, but also serial books and eventually comics, penned not by Burroughs himself, but a veritable jungle encampment of devotees. From Dell Comics’ cheerful adventure yarns of the 1940s, which featured a ripped, yet stick-thin version of Tarzan, to Psychology Press’ Ways of Being Male: representing Masculinities in Children’s Literature and Film by John Stephens to George of the Jungle, Tarzan has been a centenary of topic. Scholars may argue a garden of reasons why the jungle Brit in the loincloth has remained ever so popular; but the reader’s heartbeat will tell you unequivocally there exists solely one answer. Stimulation.

Certainly, the sight of a well-sculpted, 1930s Johnny Weissmuller slicing into a sheath of river or even the hot, animated Disney Tarzan of 1999 swinging on a vine (Watch out for that treeeeee!), brings a swoon to many a fan, just as Captain Jack Sparrow, Indiana Jones or Han Solo does. Be not fooled, it is not simply the silky hair flop, the cheekbones and the swagger (uh – well, it kind of is). It is primarily what brings about said-swagger and the flip of that flop which oft has a nuclear power to melt its unsuspecting, doe-eyed victims like wax. It is the hero’s confidence, fearlessness and willingness to machete his way through the jungles and bridge the rivers, only to pop back to the surface victorious and, even if a bit broken, durable enough to shake off the snakes, the leeches and the authorities to forge ahead.

Edgar Rice Burroughs, born of Mid-western stubbornness and raised on Western ruggedness weathered the literal, as well as figurative, frontier realities of a changing America at the turn of the 20th Century. The son of a Civil War veteran and a protective yet yielding mother of six boys, two having died as infants, Edgar was the youngest of a large and prosperous family prone to enterprise, exploits and chance. From Chicago business ventures to Idaho gold dredging and cattle ranching, a young Edgar saw a world of possibilities; he certainly recognized his growing America was whatever a man wanted it to be. After a smattering and sampling of job-jobs like railway security, clerical manager, door-to-door salesman, pencil sharpener wholesaler, ditch digger and accountant, amongst others, Edgar found his future in the fertile pages of pulp fiction.

Burroughs would state later that if people were paid for writing rot such as I read in some of those magazines that I could write stories just as rotten. This was in the same spirit as, Mark Twain, claiming some thirty years previous and Hunter S. Thompson claiming some eighty years after Twain, that a lot of folks make an awful lot of money writing some really awful schlock. It appears the unifying theme was, hopefully, they might be equally as fortunate. Mark Twain summed it up best when he prognosticated about Huckleberry Finn, They have expelled this from their library as, quote, trash and suitable only for the slums! That will sell 25,000 copies for us, sure.

Screaming through his tales, like Carol Burnett’s clear-as-a-bell Tarzan yell, Burroughs’ Wanderlust and spirit for adrenaline ripped through his tales of pirates, jungles, space, cavemen, dinosaurs and, lest we forget, The Land that Time Forgot. Over the decades of his long and successful life, Tarzan would be his Goose That Laid the Golden Egg. If Tarzan book money was good, Tarzan film money was out of this world.

The first celluloid representation was Tarzan of the Apes (1918) starring Elmo Lincoln as the silent hero. Whilst this iteration would follow most closely the events of the original novel, it was Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) that would explode out of the water like a surfacing submarine to penetrate pop culture. It would give us not only a taut and toned Olympic gold medallist swimmer named Johnny Weissmuller but also, as the first Tarzan film with sound, that iconic Tarzan yell which many will cringingly attempt. Raise your hand if you never tried it while swinging from the monkey bars on the playground.

As they often do, successful writer/film types take those sawbucks and buy Hollywood ranches, Palm Desert compounds, Caribbean islands or spooky manses in the Maine woods. Burroughs bought a sprawling one of the former just north of H-town. As a testament to the zeitgeist in 1923, the residents and citizens of the L.A. suburb burgeoning around his ranch, voted to incorporate as the town of Tarzana. Just five years previous, he had already incorporated himself: a savvy and uncommon move for a writer of this era.

Adventurous in word as well as deed to the end, Burroughs served as a WWII correspondent in Hawaii, embedded with U.S. Air Force bombers and even crossing paths with his equally unflappable son, Hulbert, a war photographer. After the war, he returned to the sunny jungle of Tinsel Town. Passing away in 1950, he would miss the continuing success of Tarzan throughout the Fifties via comic books and reprints of his novels and serials. He would also miss out on the explosive rebirth of his chef d’oeuvres as the Sixties would bring Tarzan the television series and a paperback book smash that introduced “Me Tarzan, you Jane”, their son, Boy, and a charming chimp named Cheeta to a whole new generation of restless rowdies ready for anything that wasn’t suburbia.

“It was somewhere between ten and eleven that I read Tarzan and decided I would go to Africa, live with animals and write books about them,” Dr. Jane Goodall, founder and mentor of the Jane Goodall Institute, recounts in a 60 Minutes interview. One-hundred years after the initial October 1912 publication of Tarzan of the Apes in All-Story magazine, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ creations match, if not absolutely mirror, mankind’s quest for self, sufficiency, survival and stimulation … well, and the cheekbones.

From creatures At The Earth’s Core, to a Martian Princess to the Lord of the Jungle, from The Cave Girl to The Girl From Hollywood to The Mucker and Pirates From Venus, Burroughs proffers vicarious pleasures and fantasy to the desk-bound, the cubicle-trapped and the homebodies of the planet. Simultaneously, he gives hope, inspiration and itineraries to the modern-day travelers and dreamers of the world.

Wanderlust is just ein deutsch Wort away from lust. Adventure-lit hits all the right buttons. Burroughs and Tarzan sliced their own paths, just like Captain Jack, Han Solo, Grizzly Adams and each real-life Indiana Jones throughout modern history, including the likes of Margaret Mead, Diane Fossey, Alan Shepard, Buzz Aldrin, Jacques Cousteau, John Glenn, Charles Lindbergh, Sally Ride, Teddy Roosevelt, Neil Armstrong, Gus Grissom, Valentina Tereshkova, Admiral Richard Byrd, Sir Richard Branson, Sir Edmund Hillary, Amelia Earhart, all the Monkeynauts and, finally … that other Jane.

In an October 2010 CBS 60 Minutes interview, reporter Lara Logan asked Dr. Jane Goodall: Why Africa? Dr. Jane replied: Because of reading Doctor Dolittle and Tarzan. Doctor Dolittle rescues animals from the circus and takes them back to Africa. And then, Tarzan, of course. The Lord of the Jungle.

Then the subject of Jane Porter, Tarzan’s girl, arose. In a statement soaked with decades of irritation and disgust, Dr. Jane exclaimed: I was passionately in love. He marries that other, stupid Jane. I think I’d have been the perfect mate for Tarzan, don’t you?

While today we’re bombarded with everyone else’s imagination, it’s satisfying to recall an era when we worked our own, fueled simply by Burroughs’ words … and, at least in Jane’s case, the loincloth. Now that’s what I call stimulation.

Jennifer S. Devore w James Sullos, Jr. (left/president of ERB, Inc.) and Tarzan author, Tracy Griffin (right) plus a special invitation to meet Dr. Jane Goodall herself in Tarzana! Photo: JSDevore SDCC 2012

 

Author bio: Jennifer Susannah Devore authors the historical-fiction series Savannah of Williamsburg, as well as the contemporary The Darlings of Orange County. She is a regular contributor to GoodtobeaGeek.com under the pseudonym Hannah Hart, ghostdame of the Hotel del Coronado; her tribute to the 60th anniversary of Peanuts was published in the 2010 Comic-Con Souvenir Book She lives on a San Diego beach with her husband, a Pomeranian and an immortal cat she believes is Binx from Hocus Pocus.

 

Abyssinia, cats! maybe miss jenny will tell us all how the banquet with Dr. Goodall goes!

Hannah’s fave places to haunt online? @JennyPopNet   jennypop.net   amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore 

San Diego Comic-Con 2012: Tarzan, Peanuts and Cocktails with Boba and Darth

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Category : Comics, Conventions, E-vents, Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, Geek Rants, San Diego Comic Con, Travel

Cheers, babies! It’s me, Miss Hannah Hart, ghostdame of the Hotel del Coronado and it’s June! You know what that means? Summer is mere days away and San Diego Comic-Con is a mere month away!

If you think comic dorks can't party, you'd be wrong. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

If you think comic dorks can’t party, you’d be wrong. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

No one is more excited than yours truly … well, okay. I imagine there are some nibbling their fingernails a tad more than I. After all, part of the appeal of our Comic-Con is that it’s in glorious San Diego. I get to live here year round, kids, haunting my dilly of a Hotel Del. If you’re zinging your way here for the Con and it’s your first time in San Diego, we welcome you, one and all! Need some priceless, insider tips on all the SDCC how-tos? Check the SDCC Expert for Baby’s First Comic-Con.

Yep, ’tis no place in Cali quite like San Diego. Even the dearly departed Godfather of Comic Books, Richard Alf, knew that! Sunnier than San Francisco, cheaper than Santa Barbara, friendlier than L.A. and cleaner than Anaheim, why wouldn’t we welcome the world? Whilst you’re in town, may I heartily suggest Nerdcore Night at famed The Ruby Room in Hillcrest?

If you’re still looking for a hotel, I feel true pity, ya mooks. Whilst an average $560.00-$730.00/night seems lofty at my Hotel del Coronado, it’s a regal steal compared to some of the fleabag dumps near the airport: real slimy, 1-star m-m-m-motels charging upwards of $569.00/night during the week of SDCC!!! That should be criminal. It’s easily extortion and trust me, I lived in Beantown during Prohibition. I know all about mob behavior. If you have a room at all, huzzah for you!

Costume update, by the by: Dr. Lucy and I are pretty much all set. We’ve decided on a steampunk theme; she twisted my fragile ghost arms. She shall be the lovely and vivacious Lucy Westenra of Coppola’s Dracula. Moi? Lady Euphemia Greystoke of Stonington: traveller and archaeologist extraordinaire. I’ve found my 1920s, Cleopatra, chainmail headpiece and Lucy has been mending and modernizing some of her fine Victorian skirts. We are both in grave need of goggles, though. A very serious issue.

In celebration of the upcoming convention, I thought it would be fun to share an article from the 2010 Comic-Con Souvenir Book. Written by my pally Jennifer Susannah Devore, it’s a contemplative and philosophical look at Charles Schulz and the then-60th anniversary of Peanuts. (As a side note, Jenny’s just learned she’s being published once again in this year’s 2012 Souvenir Book with an retrospective of 100 years of Tarzan, Edgar Rice Burroughs and a nod to Dr. Jane Goodall … zowie, does that gorilla girl hold a grudge!

SDCC Souvenir Book, 2010

SDCC Souvenir Book, 2010

The First Beagle on the Moon

by Jennifer Susannah Devore

(Reprinted from the 2010 official Comic-Con Souvenir Book)

 

I think I could learn to love you, Judy, if your batting average was a little higher.

-”Just Keep Laughing”, pre-Peanuts Charles M. Schulz

Charles M. Schulz did not create a mere comic strip, a cast of characters to be listed on high school drama department playbills for eons to come; like all sustainable strips, the Writer-Artist-Creator gave us a neighborhood: a safe place where loyalty, security, friendship and a comfortable sense of continuity and familiarity are still unfailingly there for us. The Peanuts gang has been that other group of our friends, always ready to hang with us at a moment’s notice and at regularly scheduled mornings, especially Sundays. Similar to Shakespearean figures, the Peanuts gang has also been, as any psychologist with an ounce of humor and levity will tell you, a microcosm of humanity. A bevy of neuroses, borderline personalities, leaders and followers, Schulz, like the good Bard, nailed it all straight on the round-headed noggin. The psychology of Peanuts, not to drain the comic pool only to replace it with academia, pervades each and every “illustrated laughing square”.

No doubt, the young Schulz did not set out to create a controlled study of freckled subjects and lab beagles with sunglasses and tennis rackets; nevertheless, he did and you’d be hard-pressed to find a Psych 101 textbook without some reference to Charlie Brown’s martyrdom syndrome or Lucy’s narcissism. Blah, blah, blah, the kind reader may mock, but it is real humanity that is inherent in these characters. It is the nucleus of its success. The psychological endgame matters because in the beginning, and eventually that end, all creators start from the premises of what is known and, more importantly, what is felt.

If writer-artists give us some clue as to their failings, fears and fantasies within their oeuvres, then sports (baseball in particular) girls (darned, elusive redheads), loyalty and honor (Snoopy always comes through despite his egotism) were clearly on Sparky’s short-list. Charlie Brown’s undying dedication to his ball team, his tenacity and faith amidst rained-out games, Lucy’s “The sun was in my eyes”-excuses and dozing beagles-at-bat is a fortitude so many desire, yet oft do not posses.

The stomach-churning inner diatribes and teeth-grinding insecurity is thankfully, cathartically played out on-stage, as it were, in Charlie Brown’s (and Charlie Schulz’) quest for the affection of a little red-haired girl, even going so far as addressing the very adult, very 3-D distrust and heartache of jealousy, that love has been taken by a best friend: Linus, to wit, in It’s Valentine’s Day, Charlie Brown. Charles Schulz’ real-life and nonreciprocal marriage proposal marks the launching pad of Charlie Brown’s everlasting expedition of unrequited and, despondently, un-returned love.

The fear of not being accepted, of not belonging is universally shared, regardless of what the aesthetics and sartorial effects may try to loudly declare. Searching the mailbox for that proverbial Halloween party invitation, learning it was a mistake, then going anyway is a Trick-or-Treat bag fraught with snakes and evil clowns: What if I’m not on The List? What if I am on The List? Who will talk to me? What if I’m left all alone? What if they make fun of my costume?

The fear of not receiving a single Valentine in class, and in front of everybody no less, the dread of an empty mailbox and heart at Christmastime, the cold, autumnal loneliness of being the only one whom truly believes in the Great Pumpkin; these comic worries are so real that the chest-pounding is audible, the butterflies are so visceral we can only cringe and endure, waiting nervously for the certain, happy ending. Sadly, it is not always so certain, though. The ending of Snoopy, Come Home is so gut-wrenchingly awful that it is suffered through only because of our own, Charlie Browniest belief that everything will be okay. It is not, in the case of said film. There is no good outcome, there cannot be; everybody loses, big time. To that end, everybody has heart and soul that trudges forth no matter what. This is why we continue to love, adore and cherish our Peanuts gang.

Be it Snoopy’s devotion to Lila, the dying girl, in Snoopy, Come Home, Snoopy’s devotion to his supper dish, Linus’ unrelenting conviction for the Great Pumpkin and, deeper still, Sally’s dedication to Linus and his mission, it is all so human, so carbon-based. Family or friends, it matters not with Peanuts. As is often the case in real-time, digital worlds or the land of ink-and-watercolor, friends are often family, and family, good friends. The Browns and the Van Pelts are core, bound by blood; but that is not pivotal, being bound by blood. Snoopy and Woodstock, Charlie Brown and Linus, Peppermint Patty and Marcie, Lucy and herself, Schroeder and his Piano, Sally and her Easter shoes and her Sweet Baboo: these are the real bonds, the vital relationships that keep Peanuts going year after sixty years.

In the vein of a youthful William Shakespeare, Matt Groening or Seth MacFarlane whom all wrote of the communities they knew, the people and their foibles they shouldered through life, good and bad, lovely and horrid, Charles M. Schulz presented us with pencil and ink versions of ourselves: our ids, egos, superegos and alter egos. He gave us characters and friends upon whom we knew we could count through any rained out game, school exam or major holiday, even when It’s Presidents’ Day, Charlie Brown.

Above all, there is honor. Consider that, akin to so much great “children’s” literature, young-adult fiction, superhero tales, classic fairy tales, adapted fairy tales, graphic novels, comic strips and animated series there exists no ethical enforcement, save one’s own internal gauge and moral compass. It is universal, from Cinderella and Snow White to Snoopy and Spongebob Squarepants, that parents are either handily out-of-frame or conveniently ineffective; adults of any walk and educators of every sort are primarily a concept and rarely given a name, a face or, in Peanuts’ case, even a voice. Law enforcement is a rare impression lest it appears in an almost supernatural state of purity and perfection, like Scully and Mulder or Police Commissioner Gordon. The heroes cannot get away from themselves and must answer to their own merit of principle. There are no citations, no court dates, no weekend restrictions or media groundings. There is no law, no order, only the inner voice and scruples of the very good and, where it relates to our Peanuts, the very, very admirable and steadfast fraternity of fast and eternal friendship. The lasting appeal of Charlie Brown and Charles Schulz is that they are us. As Lucy states so wisely, “Charlie Brown, of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you’re the Charlie Browniest!”

The Charlies and we are in the vital and primitive hunt for love, camaraderie and faithfulness. They and we are scared to death that nothing will happen and equally so that everything will. The round-headed kid, the barber’s son and we are all optimistic to a fault, likened to Spongebob in our unending and Bikini Bottom-deep belief that everything and everyone will be just fine. They and we are all flawed superheroes, or at the very least, we strive to be.

(A special thanks to Gary Sassaman, Director of Print and Publications Comic-Con International: San Diego)

 

Abyssinia on the Con floor, cats!

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