Friday, October 12, 2018

On the Twelfth Day of Halloween

Warning: This is a long one today. You might want to spread it out over several days or even the remainder of the month.  Or binge watch like the kids do.

Peanuts has always been a staple of my Halloween memories. I can't remember not knowing about Linus and his fascination with Halloween and its patron saint. First introduced in October of 1959, "The Great Pumpkin" is revealed through Linus' imagination and his firm beliefs in spite of all naysayers.


In this strip two days later, we find Linus dreaming at the window when he conceives an idea to spread Halloween spirit.


This book of "Pumpkin Carols" was published by Ambassador in 1968 and features familiar tunes set to new words to reflect the season.







In the span of that week in 1959, Charles Schulz laid the groundwork, even writing some of the exact lines, for the beloved 1966 television special. I've collected all Halloween-related Peanuts strips below up to 1966. Enjoy!

1959







Depsite his disappointment, Linus picks up where he left off a year later.

1960











It was this year the familiar pumpkin patch in which Linus awaits is introduced, this time waiting with Charlie Brown.






1961











1962










The punchline of the above strip was changed in later strip collection reprints to reflect the year of publication of the book ("Welcome to 1963, 1964, etc.). It was finally changed to "Welcome to the 20th century" in the special.  That worked for 34 years. It has not been updated to reflect the 21st century.






1963








1964

In October of 1964, we find Linus running for class president.










1965

It's worth noting, the first appearance of the "World War I Flying Ace" and his "Sopwith Camel" debuted in the October 10th, 1965 Sunday strip. It would become one of the iconic scenes in the Halloween special.











Another appearance of the WWI Flying Ace is made on November 7th.  When Snoopy is shot down behind enemy lines, rather than skulking through the night back to the allied lines as shown in the special, he has a different reaction.

1966

A year later under similar circumstances, we see the familiar scenes.


Having run out of characters to educate in the existence of The Great Pumpkin, Linus turns to new-for-1966 character Peppermint Patty.










The following strip appeared the day of the debut of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown".







Noticeably absent from all the strips is any reference to the famous (or as some feel "infamous") scene in which Charlie Brown continually receives rocks instead of candy in his Trick or Treat bag.  A lone reference is made years later in 1975.


The decision to give Charlie Brown nothing but rocks was an idea hatched by Charles Schulz and executive Producer Bill Melendez. It had mixed reactions, with some finding it humorous while others sympathized with Charlie Brown, and other even went as far as sending bags of candy to the studio addressed to Charlie Brown. During the 1980's, the segment was removed entirely from the television broadcast, possibly due to the treat poisoning scare. It has since been restored.

If that wasn't enough of The Great Pumpkin for you, you can watch it below. As for me, I'm off to find a sincere pumpkin patch.  I'm a believer.


16 comments:

  1. Its not Halloween without watching the Great Pumpkin. I saw a yard the other day that has three ghosts and one had a mask like Lucy's and one had many holes in it. Super cute!

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    1. I agree. I watch at least twice during the season and I keep it running on the TV throughout Halloween evening.

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  2. what a great compendium of all the Great Pumpkin strips -- i had no idea there were so many! i remember lots of them, and it's interesting to see which ones ended up being source material for the animated special.

    this reminds me: every year i vow to track down a supply of foam rocks to sneak into random trick or treater bags. usually i remember too late. i also want to buy big rubber bugs, but i think it would be harder to sneak those in. for some reason it amuses me greatly for kids to open their candy bags later and say, "i got a ROCK!" like charlie brown used to do. i figure that i'd better make them foam rocks because otherwise if i get caught they might throw them at the house...

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    1. Great idea, but I'm thinking even with the foam rocks, some parent might freak out and call the cops on you.

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    2. i would welcome that interaction, lol. can you imagine? OFFICER: "So, let me get this straight... you want to file a complaint because this man gave your child a foam rock? umm, uh huh... and you sir, why did you give this child a foam rock, exactly? yes, yes, i remember the cartoon, that's pretty funny... oh, and you chose those size foam rocks because they are too big to accidentally eat, uh huh... ok, uh, LOOK PEOPLE..."

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    3. And I'd pay cash money to watch it.

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  3. I love the great pumpkin! Could not make it through all of these though, but just enough to bring back such wonderful childhood memories. Thank you.

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    1. Aw, c'mon, Lady M. You've got the rest of the month! I won't rush you!

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  4. Whoa hold on a minute!! That song book oh my gosh how I remember that in grade school!!! Amazing man the memories came rushing back!

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    1. That's cool that you actually sung Pumpkin Carols in school!

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  5. ...[T]he first appearance of the "World War I Flying Ace" and his "Sopwith Camel" debuted in the October 10th, 1965 Sunday strip. It would become one of the iconic scenes in the Halloween special.

    It was so nice, they used it twice - that sequence was reused in He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown (1968), and the feature film, A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969).

    Very timely post as a new soundtrack CD for the special goes on sale today.

    Great job here, Tom! May the Great Pumpkin shower you with garage sale goodies this year.

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    1. Thanks, James! I'd forgotten they'd reused that scene. I love the music from the show. I have "The Definitive Vince Guaraldi", but I'll check out that cd as it might have some of the incidental music as well.

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  6. Great post! I need that Pumpkin Carols book! :)

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  7. That was awesome. ty for sharing those strips!

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  8. meant to post this last night, but forgot. anyway, you will appreciate David Malki's Wondermark comic on the Great Pumpkin this year:

    https://twitter.com/wondermarkfeed/status/660003036278878208

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