A Peanuts Prospectus: Of Snoopy, Lila, and Old Relationships
Sometimes when we go back and look at things some years down the line, we can see them in a different light.
This is often the case when it comes to some of the works of Charles Schulz. When I was a kid, some of the Peanuts comic strips he wrote dealing with relationships, lost love, and heartache just didn’t resonate with me. Then, when I grew up (a little), they really began to speak to me in some respects.
Regarding past relationships, one story arc revolving around Snoopy, recently celebrated it’s 50th anniversary. It would reveal some startling revelations about the beagle we assumed had always been owned by Charlie Brown, and, showed that you may never really know everything about someone.
As the Peanuts comic strip continued over the years, Charles Schulz gave us more information on Snoopy. From the name of the puppy farm where he came from, to the circumstances that led to Charlie Brown getting him in the first place.
But in 1968, Schulz opened a new door into Snoopy’s past, and through it would come a little girl named, Lila.
Unknown to most readers out there, Lila originally showed up (by name) in a comic strip in February of that year, when we see Snoopy eagerly going through a stack of Valentines he’s received from female admirers.
At one point, Charlie gets upset at the dozens of girls Snoopy knows, and tells him that Lila did not send him a card (see left). Snoopy is heartbroken for a few seconds, but quickly brushes it aside, and continues going through the rest of the cards.
In June of that year, Snoopy received several letters from Lila, leading him to much frustration (see right), notably when she claimed she was coming to visit him. Even Charlie agonized over this visit, but claimed in one comic panel that he had no idea who Lila was (which makes his acknowledgment of her in February of that year seem very odd!).
When Lila did come to visit on June 7th, Snoopy hid in his doghouse until she left. Once she had gone, he wrestled with his feelings, but quickly pushed them aside as he wondered when suppertime was. It is also assumed that Charlie Brown never saw her.
Two months later, another letter would arrive from Lila. Snoopy’s first reaction is one of frustration, but upon reading it, he grabs his supper dish and rushes off…leaving Charlie Brown in a confused daze. He eventually tells Linus what happened, and mentions how he is at a loss as to why Snoopy would rush off like he did.
The next day, we see Snoopy arriving at a hospital, and carefully sneaking through it’s corridors. He soon finds Lila’s room (see left), and we are treated to our only image of her in the entire comic series.
After visiting Lila in the hospital (her reason for being there is unknown), Snoopy returned home. Charlie eagerly wanted to know what happened, but received the silent treatment from his dog.
Seeing his best friend about to lose his mind about not getting any answers, Linus provided Charlie with the calming hand he needed regarding more information about Lila.
Knowing that Snoopy had been purchased from the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm, Linus called them for more information. He learned that before Charlie Brown’s family had purchased Snoopy, the beagle had originally been purchased by Lila’s family. However, upon finding out the apartment they lived in did not allow dogs, they returned Snoopy back to the puppy farm, where Charlie eventually purchased him.
Even though Charlie is now Snoopy’s owner, he does wonder if given how Snoopy rushed off to see Lila, if he still wished he was still her dog.
“I doubt it, Charlie Brown,” says Linus. “He wouldn’t have been happy in an apartment.”
The final panel of the storyline, showed Snoopy once again as the World War I Flying Ace, off on another mission. I often took this as a non-verbal sign that Schulz was saying that Snoopy definitely preferred his life with Charlie and the kids, and that Linus was right.
Lila never showed up again in the comics after 1968, but four years later, she would be part of the story arc in the 1972 animated film, Snoopy Come Home.
Unlike the more concise storyline in the 1968 comic strips, the film became mainly a road-trip story involving Snoopy and Woodstock, on their way to see Snoopy’s original owner.
The film starts off with Snoopy seeming almost like a nuisance to the kids (at one point he gets frustrated and attempts to bully Linus out of his blanket!), and we also get a subplot of him being upset in a world where everywhere he looks, there are “no dogs allowed” signs (see left).
Unlike the comic, we would spend some more time with Lila in the hospital, and see her interacting with both Snoopy and Woodstock.
We see Snoopy enjoying his time with her, but there comes a point where she says something that makes him a little apprehensive:
“Perhaps soon, ‘we’ can go home.”
Lila claims that Snoopy’s presence has helped her get better, and she feels that her parents will see this and let him come home with her, and it can be like it was long ago.
However, Snoopy suddenly breaks down in tears, torn apart by his emotions. While he does care for Lila, much of the life he’s known, is back with Charlie Brown and the other kids.
Thinking with a more grown-up mind, I couldn’t help but feel that the emotional turmoil Snoopy was experiencing, was not that different than encountering an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend, and finding that they want to get re-acquainted with you after so many years.
However, you’ve moved on. You want to be sure that person you had something with a long time ago is alright, but you know it can never be like it once was.
Snoopy decides to leave after a few days, but he emotionally finds himself giving in to Lila’s request, making her very happy.
It is then that she suggests he go home to “settle his affairs,” before coming to live with her.
This leads to Snoopy returning to the neighborhood, much to Charlie Brown’s delight! However, Snoopy quickly types up a letter, declaring his going -away, and the donation of a number of his things.
A farewell party is held, and Snoopy tearfully goes on his way. However, upon finding where Lila lives, he learns that not only does she also have a cat (he can’t stand them!), but that the apartment building she lives in has a “no dogs allowed” policy! This sign is right outside the front door of the building, and it seems odd that for all her time living here, Lila never once noticed it.
This means that Snoopy is unable to stay and after bidding his former owner goodbye, cheerfully returns to the kids back home (as Lila sadly watches him go).
It looked like that would be the last time Lila would appear in animated form, but in 1991, she showed up in the television special, Snoopy’s Reunion.
Over the years, Schulz had introduced a number of siblings for Snoopy. From his brother Spike to his sister Belle, Snoopy was soon revealed to be one of 6 siblings in the comic strip. In Reunion, the number was expanded to eight, with the TV special giving him an extra brother and sister.
The special showed Lila’s mother taking her to the puppy farm where she chose Snoopy, and we are then privy to some scenes of the two happily playing together. It is soon revealed that the family has chosen to move to an apartment…one that has a “no dogs” policy.
Sadly, Lila returns Snoopy to the puppy farm, and back into the hands of the farm’s owner (making it one of several animated shorts where we see adults interact with the kids).
This seemed to tie in with what we’d seen established with the 1968 comic strips and Snoopy Come Home, but the special rewrote a few more things.
Unlike the comic telling of Charlie Brown going with his parents to the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm when he was very young, he and Linus go by themselves to purchase a dog. It is also while there, that Linus snoops around, and finds the information about Snoopy being “a used dog.”
Love and relationships in many forms have been a part of the Peanuts strips over the years.
While Snoopy would have his ups-and-downs with female dogs (even coming close to marriage at one point!), Lila was one of the more prominent little girls in his life. However, she wasn’t the only one who (painfully) broke his heart.
In late 1972 and early 1973, Schulz showed that Snoopy had another “bad relationship experience.” This was seen in the last Sunday comic strip of 1972, when a girl named Poochie came to see Snoopy.
Snoopy was very upset, recalling how he encountered her when he was a naive little puppy. Poochie made him fetch a stick, but upon running to return it to her, he saw that she was walking away with an English Sheepdog, making it seem that maybe she was toying with his affections.
When Poochie eagerly came to see Snoopy in the next Sunday strip (see left), she found him not as a cute little puppy anymore, but wearing his Joe Cool shades.
“Thomas Wolfe was right,” said Poochie, as she left Charlie’s house (and the comic strip forever), “You can’t go home again.”
Some often dismissed Peanuts as being a comic strip for kids, and Schulz over the years, often balked at these statements. There was something fascinating in the stories he told in his comics. That mixture of the kids and Snoopy, often dealing with the big issues in life, even though they themselves seemed not of the appropriate age to deal with them.
The relationship with Lila showed how many of us can have things happen to us in the past, that can shape the course of our lives. Sometimes we can ignore them, but other times, we may not be able to completely shut them out.