The Forgotten ‘Peanuts’ Existential Schroeder Strips
On May 30, 1951, Charles Schulz introduced a new character to the Peanuts gang named Schroeder. The thing is, he looked quite a bit different than the Schroeder everyone knows. First off, he was a baby, and second off, there wasn’t a piano in sight.
Four months later, Schroeder’s first comic strip with a piano arrived. It depicted Charlie Brown introducing Baby Schroeder to the piano, only to find out Schroeder is already a virtuoso. And for Schulz, a devotee of classical music, it wasn’t enough to just scribble some musical notes into a panel. Instead, he painstakingly drew Schroeder playing a segment of Rachmaninoff’s “Prelude in G Minor” (this was before Schroeder became so focused on Beethoven).
In 1952, Schroeder underwent a serious growth spurt, becoming the same age as Charlie Brown and the rest of the gang, perhaps so that Schulz could use the character in more situations. While always depicting Schroeder playing actual music, Schulz did get creative with him on occasion, like this strip from 1952, where he spelled out “Merry Christmas to all” with musical notes:
A decade later, on March 13, 1963, Schulz did something entirely new with Schroeder when he showed Snoopy physically interacting with his musical notes. It was probably just meant to be cute at first, but this strip — and the many like it that followed — represented the most reality-breaking comics in the history of the Peanuts.
Sure, we all know about Snoopy’s adventures in pursuit of the Red Baron, but those were very clearly fantasies (albeit, of a hyper-intelligent dog), but these Schroeder comics interacted with the Peanuts reality in a whole new way. Perhaps the most astonishing thing about them, though, is how they barely seem to be remembered. Unlike the Red Baron or Lucy pulling the football, Schroeder’s existential musical comics are rarely a part of the popular Peanuts iconography. In hopes of correcting that, here are 15 of the very best of them…