The Debt That All Cartoonists Owe to Peanuts

It’s not the skill of the drawing, or the lines, or the lettering, or the funny words that make a strip work. Timing is the life force of comics. Without a sensitivity to the rhythms and the music—a.k.a. the reality—of life, a comic strip will arrive D.O.A., nothing more than a bunch of dumb pictures. When the comic-strip reader moves through those four panels containing those little repeating hieroglyphs, the characters must come alive on the page with as much ferocity and resonance as the people in one’s own life and memory. The reader doesn’t just look at Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, and Snoopy but reads them as musical notes in a silently heard composition of hilarity, cruelty, and occasional melancholy.

Cartoonist Chris Ware‘s essay for The New Yorker in praise of the Charles M. Schulz comic strip.