Monday, April 23, 2007

Charles M. Schulz's 'Young Pillars'

There's a new book scheduled to be released around the end of next month or so, collecting several hundred examples of cartoonist Charles M. Schulz's lesser-known comic strip, 'Young Pillars'.

Young Pillars centered around a cast of lanky teenagers in predominantly church-related situations. It was a biweekly single-panel cartoon that ran in the Church of God's teen magazine Youth. There were three paperback collections of the strip published.
(pictured here)

Schulz was creating it concurrently along with Peanuts, between the years 1956 - 1965.

(Let's see... That would mean that for a portion of that time - - from 1957 to 1959, he was juggling *three* different strips going simultaneously, including his sports-related strip, 'It's Only a Game'.
Good grief!)

(click on panel images to ENLARGE)

The strip is not about to be confused with any of Schulz's best stuff, but it's a very interesting artifact if you're at all curious about seeing a different facet of his work. I knew nothing of the strip's existence when I first stumbled upon these books several years back, and I was struck by the array of differences and similarities between it and Peanuts. For starters, it's fun to see Schulz work in a single panel format, and for something of a specialized audience.

The general drawing style is impossible not to recognize, but at first it just seemed so alien to see Schulz portray these long and tapered figures, as opposed to the squat and rounded ones we're used to. A different focus on scale. Elongation. His simple and brilliant expressive lines seeking humor from gangly angles, a slightly different vocabulary of form. There's the odd moments of juxtapozed proportions; the towering teenagers dealing with children of a more familiar stature and appearance. And there's adult characters! How bizarre is that?! - - And they're adults who often look eerily like tired and aged versions of the Peanuts gang.

The humor tends not to be quite as sharp as in Peanuts, (and certainly not as wonderfully angst-ridden) but it has its moments.The characters populating Young Pillars also touch gently on some theological areas that I suppose I'm accustomed to being the sole property of Linus.

I'll be keeping an eye out for this new collection when it appears. I'll be curious to at least take a peek; I gather there will be some strips included that have never before been reprinted, as well as some new background information.

(click on panel images to ENLARGE)

1 comment:

Craig D said...

I never knew this series was called "Young Pillars!" My parents gave me the "Teenager Is Not A Disease" book for my (you gueesed it) thirteenth birthday. Where they found it, I have no idea! Mustive been some sort of Christian bookstore or something.

What a blast from the past!

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