A Charlie Brown Nuclear Winter

Art by Tom Whalen

Peanuts is been an indelible part of pop-culture. Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy, the black one they added in the 80’s, all of those sweet little round-headed misfits have burrowed their way into our cultural hearts. Each holiday season we watch Charlie Brown bumble his way through depression, getting a Christmas tree that matches his undiagnosed mental condition. But what if that tree is more indicative of Chuck’s mental state and more a symptom of his environment?

What Charles Schulz never told anyone was that Peanuts was set in a nuclear winter, the characters victims of dangerous levels of radiation.

First off, loot at them. Their gigantic, swollen heads and tiny limbs. That’s a symptom of either inbreeding or radiation poisoning whilst in the womb. Charlie Brown is bald at age, what, 8? Pig-Pen isn’t dirty, he’s irradiated. I would argue that Linus, a kid who believes in sentient pumpkins, sucks his thumb due to a major trauma and clings to what looks like a radiation blanket. Woodstock is all sorts of jacked-up. If I saw a Woodstock-looking bird in my yard, I would invest in a slingshot or a cat.

Snoopy, a delusional dog that somehow has extensive knowledge about World War I air battles? Snoopy, a dog that sleeps on the pointed roof of his doghouse and who is friends with a bird that doesn’t really have a beak? Snoopy, a dog who is primarily bipedal? Can you even put in your brain how disturbing it would be to go to a friend’s house and their dog is just walking around upright on its hind legs?

Teenager Charlie looking like a Cormac McCarthy character drawn by Max Dunbar

It seems obvious. If they don’t physical abnormalities like Charlie and Pig-Pen, they have mental issues like Linus’s advanced oral fixation, Lucy’s messiah complex, Sally just being staggeringly dumb–sorry, having learning disabilities, Marcie’s co-dependency, Peppermint Patty’s smoker voice at such a young age. Schroeder got the good kind of mutation in that it made him a child prodigy on the world’s tiniest piano (the only one suitable for his stubby deformed fingers).

Charlie keeps falling for that stupid football gag, and Lucy keeps on using the same tired old gag, not because it’s hilarious for all involved, but because they’re both insane. Everyone is insane. They never change clothes!

In this context, what if the Great Pumpkin is real! The Great Pumpkin is a monster born out of radiation, like the Fantastic Four (and just as pretentious if he’s going to call himself “the Great” like “Mr. Fantastic”). That pumpkin is real, it’s sentient, and it’s freaky.

Why do you think we, the audience, are unable to understand any adult? Because they lived through the massive nuclear event. If you’re still skeptical, remember, ol’ Chuck Schulzy came up with the strip during the Cold War.

Oh, you’re right, Charlie looks healthy.By artist Tim O’Brien (couldn’t find a viable link)

If you’re watching A Charlie Brown Christmas, watch it knowing those kids are slowly dying from fallout and any snow you see is nuclear winter. It’s a tragedy more than anything.


Add yours →

  1. Debra She Who Seeks December 17, 2018 — 7:15 am

    By gawd, I think you’re right! Sheesh, that puts a whole new spin on things, doesn’t it!


  2. Good grief!

    The speech patterns of the adults now make more sense, too.


  3. Well, I for one am glad there is another mind out there that thinks like me. My brother thought I was being morbid when I explained things happening like the characters were survivors of a nuclear holocaust while we watched the Peanuts gang do their thing. You never really see a grownup, what happened to their parents. You never see the parents.


  4. Ok I have heard of Charlie Brown but that is the limit of my knowledge of him, that said this was an interesting read


  5. No! Charlie Brown Christmas is Good. Period.

    These photos are horrifying.


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