A Peanuts Prospectus: Charlie Brown, and the Enchanted Afternoon with Emily
I guess February has become my month for discussing the Peanuts comic strips, and the romantic entanglements of several of its characters. I kicked this tradition off two years ago talking about Charlie Brown meeting a girl named Peggy Jean at camp, and last year, mentioned Linus’ infatuation with a girl named Truffles.
Back in my article about Charlie and Peggy, I made a small note about a girl named Emily. Well, I think now is the time to tell you about her, and their story.
In February of 1995, Charlie went to Lucy’s psychiatry booth, telling how he feels lonely. Lucy’s solution? He should take dance lessons, feeling it’ll make him a better person socially.
Charlie then begins to take lessons at the Ace Dance Studio, but is unsure if he’s even in the right place. When he mentions to a girl sitting next to him, that he hopes dancing will make him more outgoing, she retorts that she’ll “outgo” Charlie right over the head if he asks her to dance.
Naturally, this response doesn’t do much for Charlie’s self-confidence, but he is surprised when a girl with long hair named Emily approaches him (right), and asks him to dance!
The chance encounter with Emily soon ends up being all Charlie can think of. However, this happy moment’s remembrance also causes him to space out in class, and even walk right into a telephone pole.
Charlie eagerly shows up at the dance studio’s next lesson and asks for Emily…only to be told there’s noone signed up at the studio by that name!
Pretty soon, it becomes apparent to several of his friends, that Charlie must have imagined this “dream girl.” Naturally, Charlie returns to Lucy for help (left), and gets none in return.
Charlie and Emily’s storyline happened during the daily strips from February 7-February 20th, 1995. Compared to Peggy Jean’s arc, Emily had very little time regarding her appearance, especially for an imaginary character.
…or was she an imaginary character?
On April 11, 1996, Charlie Brown received a phone call…from Emily, inviting him to be her date to the Sweetheart Ball! Most of Schulz’s story arcs often had some head-scratching un-reality to them (Snoopy himself is a prime example at times), and the factor of Emily being real or imaginary, seemed to take a backseat to the story Schulz wanted to tell.
Not even questioning how a girl he dreamed up called him on the telephone(!?), Charlie Brown soon after rented a tuxedo, and made his way to the ball a few days later, eager to once again dance with his (latest) “dream girl.” On April 19th, Emily returned to the strip, and the two took to the dance floor (left). Emily happily tells Charlie (whom she calls “Charles”) how she still remembers meeting at the dance class.
This continuity works in an intriguing way: for the newcomer, Emily most likely seems a very real character…but for those who remembered her appearance almost a year prior, there’s still a question of doubt if this is really happening. Besides, just like those previous strips, when Charlie was dancing with Emily, we never saw anyone else near him, as if he was lost in his own dream world.
However, Charlie’s enchanted evening is soon interrupted when an announcement goes out over the dance floor (right). It turns out Snoopy, clad in his French Foreign Legion headgear, has decided to join the party, dancing with a frizzy-haired girl.
Naturally, when it is figured out Charlie is Snoopy’s owner, both are ejected (for violating the ‘no dogs allowed’ policy of the dance). Needless to say, Charlie is distressed about being separated from Emily and a good time. He then calls Emily the next day to apologize for what happened, ending the latest chapter in this little romantic saga.
Just like Peggy Jean, Charlie Brown would have three encounters with Emily. And just like Peggy Jean, the last encounter would occur, in 1999.
On August 9th, Emily called Charlie Brown from the dance studio (…the one that 4 years ago said she didn’t exist?), eager to dance with him again. Charlie happily accepts, and over the next few days, viewers were treated to single-panel strips of Charlie and Emily dancing, before Snoopy joined in (see below).
So far, along with the girl with the frizzy-hair, Snoopy is the only other character we’ve seen near Emily. And in this panel, he’s holding her hand! Well, I guess that solves the is she real-or-not dilemma once and for all.
Eventually, just like the Sweetheart Ball, it’s found out that dogs aren’t allowed in the dance studio. And so, Charlie has to take his leave (right), leading to Emily’s final appearance (and a Great Gatsby reference).
Though not quite as thorough a relationship as the one with Peggy Jean, Charlie Brown’s time with Emily always seemed pleasant enough, though one has to wonder how important certain story elements were to Schulz. After all, there’d be times where characters would try to explain sense to someone, and yet they would often ignore the “advice” (Lucy refusing Linus’ belief in the Great Pumpkin, for example).
Compared to the final appearance of Peggy Jean, it seemed that Emily could have become a possible new crush for Charlie Brown. Their last scene left the door open for her, as she seemed to enjoy dancing with Charlie, and didn’t have a boyfriend. Of course, we can only speculate on a future where Charlie continued taking dancing lessons, and attended several more dances at Emily’s request.
Charlie Brown also seems to be at his happiest in these strips. Several of the images I’ve seen with him smiling and dancing, have even shown up on some merchandise. One example is the compilation CD, Jazz and Peanuts, which features music from several of the television specials in the 80’s and 90’s.
Much like many minor characters, Emily’s likeness didn’t go far when it came to Peanuts merchandise. As it stands now, the only appearance of her outside her comic appearances, was as a vendor in the iOS game, Snoopy’s Street Fair. Her stall in the game sold dance wear, which was appropriate to her character in the comics.
And so, another romantic remembrance from my Peanuts Prospectus draws to a close. Maybe I’ll start doing these twice a year, to cover some other little storylines. There’s one that takes place during summer camp, that I’m itching to dive into.