Monday, November 06, 2017
Obscurity of the Day: In Peanut Land
Eva Dean, an occasional illustrator of children's books, decided she wanted to do a book all on her own for once and conjured up the idea of a world populated by animated peanuts. Why peanuts? Well, frankly I can't figure that out, because her stories seem not to have anything much to do with them being, uh, nutty. Their world seems pretty much normal except for being populated by goobers. Frankly, I think the idea had more to do with peanuts being pretty easy to draw than any divine inspiration.
Dean must have had a close relationship with the New York Herald, because they not only published a series of Sunday comic strips of her peanuts, but they also held the copyright to her book of the same name (the material in the book seems to expand on the strips from the newspaper series). The newspaper series ran from at least February through August 1907 in their Sunday magazine section, sometimes with spot color, sometimes not. The series was distributed to other papers, which ran them willy-nilly -- I have yet to find one that seemed to run the whole series.
Ken Barker's Herald index does not include this strip, as he did not track comics outside the regular funnies section. I only discovered its existence recently, so I have not had a chance to review microfilm for exact running dates. Using the always maddening Fulton Postcards site, the earliest installment I could find there was on February 3, the latest August 4. Early installments were quite text-heavy, and the feature did not have a consistent running title. Alternate titles of The Peanuts and The Peanut People were common. Therefore, it turns out that Charles Schulz's strip was not the first to be so named!