Sixty-five years ago today, paperboys were hitting doorsteps with newspapers that included the very first Peanuts strip. Folks who read about Good Ol’ Charlie Brown (“How I hate him!”) probably hadn’t a clue as to how old he would become.
And let’s think about that age for a bit. We still see Peanuts as a modernish thing – not cutting edge, mind you, but there were new strips being produced by the creator during the lifespan of every adult reading this. It’s not black-and-white TV, much less silent pictures. The last episode of Friends is only three years newer than the last Peanuts strip.
Yet if you line it up with culture things that are old, things that are on the slim list of survivors of the days before we were born… it’s getting there. It’s more than 60% as old as Tarzan, more than half as old as Sherlock Holmes. It’s clearly not one of those things that is fading away, to be forgotten like Buster Brown or Frank Merriwell. It doesn’t even look to be teetering on disappearance, like The Lone Ranger. There are new major projects, there is ongoing sales of collections of Peanuts strips, it is not merely a nostalgia item or a window on the past.
It will be interesting to see how the future treats Peanuts, whether it becomes modernized, treated as an element of nostalgia, becomes more of an iconography to people than a set of actual characters with story, or simply continued to fine a new audience for what it already is.