Whether you’re an avid reader of comic strips or are only familiar with the Peanuts gang because you get nostalgic and watch the holiday specials, you’ve likely noticed one thing: you never see any adults on the page or screen.
You do, of course, occasionally hear their indistinct mumblings or shouted direction, but that’s not the same thing.
According to Charles Schulz, the creator of both the world and the characters, that’s because he just didn’t need them.
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“I usually say that [adults] do not appear because the daily strip is only an inch and a half high, and they wouldn’t have room to stand up. Actually, they have been left out because they would intrude in a world where they could only be uncomfortable. Adults are not needed in the Peanuts strip. In earlier days I experimented with off-stage voices, but soon abandoned this as it was not only impractical but actually clumsy. Instead, I have developed a cast of off-stage adults who are talked about but never seen or heard.”
Also, he believed they just just ruined the magical imagination of it all.
“Now, we can go [in] any direction with Snoopy. Woodstock, too. It’s absurd to think of this dog and this bird wandering through the woods going on hikes and camping out. So as soon as an adult is in the strip, bang, the whole thing collapses. Because the adults bring everything back to reality. And it just spoils it.”
That said, adults have made it into the strip – and the adaptations – here and there. Schulz himself drew a pair of adult legs in 1954, and adults with blurred faces could also be seen in the background of a panel that same year.
In 1964, Linus drew an adult, and in 1999, Schulz recreated the painting Washington Crossing the Delaware.
For the animated specials, producer Lee Mendelson and composer Vince Guaraldi worked together to imagine what musical instrument that could simulate adults’ talking and came up with a trombone.
I, for one, am glad no one has ever broken ranks with this. As everyone knows, adults make everything less fun – and even grownups need a place to go that reminds them how magical life can be if no one is interfering with your imagination.