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NUTS AND PEANUTS

NUTS logoGahan Wilson did a comic strip for National Lampoon. The strip was entitled Nuts. The title is inspired by Charles Schulz’s iconic strip. In his book I Only Read It For the Cartoons about some New Yorker cartoonists, Richard Gehr says: “Wilson admires and appreciates Schulz’s work, but he considers Peanuts a deceptively anodyne depiction of childhood.” Gehr goes on to quote Wilson:

“I always respected what Charles Schulz did — which was religious teaching. He was doing a kind of medieval religious pageant. His strips were little moral fables. It’s fine and dandy, but it has nothing to do with children, and that’s all there is to that. But he did exactly what he set out to do, and it’s quite extraordinary stuff. It did piss me off that he was pretending it was about children and it wasn’t.

“Childhood,” Wilson went on, “is a terrifying world. The little critters are so alive and so perceptive. They’re all scared to death but so delighted when something works out. Children are intensely alive and complicated. The thing that made me angry at Schulz is that he sentimentalizes the idea of childhood, which has really done a lot of harm.”

In his Nuts, Wilson drew everything “down” to scale. “It’s like the kid is being crushed and confined in this box. The frame is kid-sized, and you only see parts of the huge people and world that surround him. That’s all a kid apprehends: giant projections in his immediate vicinity and everything else far away. Doors are big, difficult to open, and so on. But they struggle through; they’re amazing.

“So Nuts was saying, ‘This is the nitty-gritty, folks. This is what it’s like being a little kid.’”

To devise adventures for his kid, Wilson just “racked” his brain to remember things that happened to him as a kid that were so awful. “The Kid is trying to figure it out. The Kid never had any name at all, also very much on purpose. I didn’t want to nail him down.”

Wilson’s Kid was every kid, terrified of the looming world around him. Here are a couple of his adventures.

Nuts

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