Linus’s Glasses

Coincidences delight me because they somehow seem like magical juxtapositions. This blog derives from a volunteer’s question and the delivery of a cassette tape recorded (of course) quite a while ago.

The volunteer’s question had to do with Linus’s glasses and how he came to wear them and why he stopped wearing them. The cassette tape answered half of the question.

As to the volunteer’s question and how Linus came to wear them – Sparky, of course, wore glasses, so it is reasonable to imagine that he might have thought of one of the characters with glasses. Sparky used them for any distance more than about 2 or 3 feet. Even faces at 3 feet might have been blurry, I assume, because Sparky always put his glasses back on when he lifted his head from drawing. I can remember the gesture of his replacing his glasses when he greeted me walking into his studio. Oddly, I can’t remember which hand he used; but I assume his right.

Sparky’s ophthalmologist, Ward Wick, was, in addition to being his doctor, a social friend and they often played golf together. I know that when Sparky drew the strips about ‎amblyopia (Sally’s lazy eye) he referred to Ward so that he would be sure the medical part was correct.

I suppose we’ll never know exactly why Sparky began drawing glasses on Linus. Whether it was an observation that there always seemed to be one child with glasses, or it might have been the memory of his own glasses when he was small (we have photos in the archives of Sparky about 3 years of age with glasses). Or it may have been a thought that because Linus was the intellectual in the gang, glasses might suit his image.

In any case this is Linus’s first appearance with glasses, complete with explanation:

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This Peanuts strip was originally published on February 5, 1962.

It immediately exposes a soft side in Lucy, but one she is quick to cover up.

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This Peanuts strip was originally published on February 6, 1962.

A little later Lucy has other ways of being her helpful self to her little brother. And she even refrains from her favorite response because of her fear of REALLY hurting Linus.

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This Peanuts strip was originally published on February 21, 1962.

And of course Snoopy is always up to his antics.

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This Peanuts strip was originally published on February 10, 1962.

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This Peanuts strip was originally published on February 20, 1962.

And as usual, Sparky uses Snoopy for visual humor.

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This Peanuts strip was originally published on March 16, 1962.

In this strip, Charlie Brown plays his customary role of not being sure about anything while Linus’s simplicity wins the discussion.

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This Peanuts strip was originally published on April 12, 1962.

And of course EVERYTHING conspires to ruin Charlie Brown’s chance of baseball success‎.

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This Peanuts strip was originally published on March 18, 1962.

I remember reading a story about the Chinese rug ‎weavers stopping to do eye exercises every day because of the intensity of the close-up focus they were forced to use. Sparky quoted Ward Wick to me:

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This Peanuts strip was originally published on March 14, 1962.

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This Peanuts strip was originally published on March 15, 1962.

And of course I suspect all this thinking about his doctor made him think of a downside for the profession.

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This Peanuts strip was originally published on July 25, 1962.

As to the second half of the volunteer’s question and why Sparky stopped drawing Linus with glasses – I mentioned a cassette tape I was given recently. It was recorded in 1985 by a friend  who was interviewing Sparky for a course she was taking toward her Master’s degree in Children’s Literature. In it Sparky explained that he stopped putting glasses on Linus because it interfered with the expression lines he could give him. Compare how Linus looks with the glasses to how he looks without them, and you’ll see how it affects his look.

And notice in the strips above how Sparky gives Linus in his glasses the same vacant look that became Marcie’s signature look when she appeared in Peanuts on July 20, 1971 (and was first mentioned by name on October 11, 1971).

—Jean Schulz

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