Saturday, April 1, 2017

Peanuts: The Lost Characters

Shlabotnikback Saturday takes a break from politics and World War I today to pay tribute to the kids who appeared in Charles M. Schulz's epic comic strip, "Peanuts," but who failed to make the cut to join the regular cast of characters.

I'm not talking about characters like Shermy, who was in the strip in the early days before becoming African American. Changing his name to Franklin, he was with "Peanuts" for several more years, but never again as Shermy  because, as you know, once you go Black, you never go back.

No, I'm talking about characters like Roy.

Roy and Charlie Brown met in 1965 at summer camp, where socially awkward Charlie and homesick, lonely Roy quickly became fast friends. The episode mirrored the experience of many who find that when you go to summer camp, you can leave your at-home persona at home and start over with a clean slate among kids who have no idea what a wishy-washy blockhead you really are.

Roy, in turn, mentored Linus Van Pelt when they met at summer camp the following year. Roy introduced Peppermint Patty to the gang shortly after that. When Marcie entered the strip in 1971, however, she and Roy simply could not get along backstage. Forced to choose between the two of them, Peppermint Patty picked Marcie, and that was the end of Roy's career in comic strips.

With Roy thus edged out by Marcie's All About Eve power play, Charlie Brown was left with only fading memories of his Bestest Friend Ever. If Charlie Brown had only asked Roy what his last name was, he could have looked Roy up on Facebook nowadays. He would have learned that Roy grew up to be a medical research scientist specializing in human disease. Roy was well on his way to finding a cure for Adult Onset Wah-Wah Mute Syndrome before the Trump administration cut off funding this year.


Peppermint Patty was the one who introduced José Peterson to the Peanuts gang in 1967. A top-notch second baseman with a batting average well above .600, he was about as likely to stick with Charlie Brown's baseball team as Alex Rodriguez would have been with the San Diego Padres. He and Patty soon left to start their own team across town.

Sidelined by torn ligaments playing college baseball, Peterson unfortunately never made it to the major leagues. Instead, he coached women's softball at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, and the University of New Mexico before discovering a passion for fusion cuisine.

Currently the chef and co-owner, with his brother Mordecai, of Los Fiordos in Beachwood, Ohio, the fame of his kosher Swedish meatball chimichangas and cajeta with lingonberries over rugelach has spread far and wide.

Sometime in the spring of 1963, Schulz decided to make some sort of comment on how we are losing our identity and becoming mere numbers by introducing a character named 5.

5, actually, was short for 555 (of course). Readers never met his older sisters, 3 and 4, except as dancers in A Charlie Brown Christmas Special. After his first week and a half in the strip, 5 made only occasional appearances in "Peanuts," playing third base on Charlie Brown's baseball team.

After leaving "Peanuts," 5 moved to Chicago and pursued a career in acting. He joined the Second City comedy troupe and appeared in a number of commercials for Fifth Third Bank. He was cast in the title role for a 1986 remake of "The Third Man" which, unfortunately, was never filmed due to a dispute with the Orson Welles estate. You may recall the movie's title track by U2; it spent seven weeks on Casey Kasem's Top 40.

5's grandson, 555 95472 III, is one of the leading bioengineers working to network us all into Elon Musk's Borg Collective.

Schulz introduced tennis player Molly Volley into the strip in April, 1982; she was Snoopy's doubles partner at the Italian Open in Perugia that year.

The two were eliminated as the result of a disputed call in the quarterfinals match against Bad Call Benny and Crybaby Boobie.
Snoopy withdrew from the doubles tennis circuit shortly afterward; Molly subsequently partnered with Farley from "For Better or Worse," then Odie from "Garfield," with whom she won the Labrador Invitational in 1988.

In her 2003 autobiography, Puppy Love 40, Molly Volley admitted to steroid use, which she blamed for her sideburns and handlebar mustache, and her arrest when she tried to use the ladies' rest room during a visit to Raleigh last October. (Molly Volley's court date in Raleigh is still pending.) She currently lives in Bark River, Michigan with her wife, Sybil from "Wee Pals," and their German shepherd, Marmaduchess.

They nearly bought a collie named Dolly.

But that would be silly.

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