Redrawing the Comic-Strip Child

Charles Hatfield

in The Oxford Handbook of Children's Literature

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780195379785
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Redrawing the Comic-Strip Child

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  • Children's Literature Studies
  • Literary Theory and Cultural Studies



This article discusses the formal similarities and distinctions between comic strips and narrative children's books, exploring the historical development of the “comic strip child,” especially in the context of the Peanuts strip (1950–2000). Charles M. Schulz's vision and aesthetic in Peanuts were fundamental to the construction of childhood in the postwar era. Schulz's achievement offers an opportune way of undertaking that larger task. Some Peanuts gags revolve around the disparity between the kids' smallness and the overwhelming size of their surroundings. The Peanuts kids developed conflicted and believably complex personalities. Their concerns were genuine and relatable. What made Peanuts groundbreaking was its knowing, sometimes surprising revision of the comic-strip child, the fact that Schulz's “li'l folks” spoke for children and adults alike. Peanuts reached grown-ups through its recollections of childhood and reached children by recognizing the seriousness of their social and emotional lives.

Keywords: Peanuts; Charles M. Schulz; cross-writing; comic strips; narrative children's books

Article.  9433 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Children's Literature Studies ; Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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