Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Oneiric climates

At the LRB, Elif Batuman has an interesting and wide-ranging essay on the graphic novel. Interesting reflection on the old hero-in-two-persons arrangement, present in many cyclically related comics:
Probably the best-loved example is the duality of Snoopy and Charlie Brown. Snoopy, the romantic ‘hero’, is variously an attorney, a pulp novelist, an Olympic figure-skater, a Beagle Scout, Flashbeagle, the Lone Beagle, the Flying Ace, a World-Famous Golfer, a World-Famous Surgeon; while Charlie Brown is inescapably ‘the Charlie Browniest’ of all Charlie Browns. Charlie Brown is all talk and worry; Snoopy is all image and imagination. And an ‘oneiric climate’ just about describes the sense of time developed by Schulz. Seasons change, as do fashions: Snoopy is always on top of the latest fads, from contact lenses to grunge. But although new babies are occasionally born (Sally, Rerun), the existing children don’t get any older; and history always remains outside the frame.

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