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reports, reviews, thoughts, news (and fun) posted by Gary Ware

It Was A Dark And Stormy Night – Peanuts And Batman

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Brian Cronin hosts a number of online columns under the umbrella title ‘Legends Revealed’. Topics covered include entertainment, sport, music, and more. Cronin takes popularly believed facts or rumours and determines whether they are true or false. The one I follow covers comic books: Comic book Legends Revealed.
Since most of you probably wouldn’t follow a link to a site that deals with comic books, here is one third of Cronin’s most recent post.
It deals with a piece of classic contemporary American literature and a homage to it in a Batman comic.

COMIC LEGEND: Len Wein came up with an amusing tribute to Snoopy’s Great American Novel in a Batman short story he did with Walt Simonson.

STATUS: True

“It was a dark and stormy night” first appeared at the beginning of novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s 1830 novel, Paul Clifford. It has become one of the most famous example of “purple prose” ever.

In July of 1965, Charlie Brown’s dog, Snoopy, first began working on his novel, and sure enough, the phrase opened his work.

As a quick example of just how brilliant of a comic storyteller Charles Schulz was, just check out the progression of strips from the next few days following that first strip…

Pretty impressive riffing off that one basic gag, no? Schulz continued on for another few days – each time building the joke up more and more. Great stuff.

1969 was a good year for Snoopy’s novel.

First it had the famous Sunday strip showing Snoopy working on the novel (this strip has been reprinted many times over the years, and even served as the cover of a book about writing!)…

Later, in August and September of 1969, Schulz devoted a few weeks’ worth of strips to Snoopy’s novel. I’ll show you the parts where we actually see what he is writing.

How awesome is that pirate ship line?

These strips were collected in a very popular early 1970s Peanuts collection called Peanuts Classics.

So these were very well known strips.

SO well know that Len Wein even came up with a brilliant (and hilarious) short story tribute to Snoopy’s novel in 1981′s Detective Comics #500. Outside of the famous opening story, “To Kill a Legend,” by Alan Brennert and Dick Giordano, Detective Comics #500 had a series of short stories by different writers – Len Wein wrote one with Jim Aparo starring Slam Bradley, one of the original features in Detective Comics (in the pre-Batman days of Detective Comics #1-26). He also wrote a two-pager with art by the great Walt Simonson.

The story has no dialogue. It only has captions.

The captions? All lines from the aforementioned Snoopy novel!!

How awesome is that? Well done, Wein and Simonson!

I owned this comic book back in the day, but don’t remember having known the original source of the text. The author of the piece must have felt (some 29 years ago) that everyone knew the source of the text.

2 thoughts on “It Was A Dark And Stormy Night – Peanuts And Batman

  1. Heh! That’s great, Gary. I’d say the majority wouldv’e known the source- Peanuts was so massive, such a household name. Nice to see a mention of Jim Aparo, he’s one of my fav’s.

    I like how Schultz played with one idea for a few days (at least) in a row, and I like the way he comments on his own creation when Charlie Brown says ‘of course some authors become successful simply by..etc’

  2. Peanuts is thoroughly Ace.

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