Even the best cartoonists repeat now and then.

I grew up on Peanuts™. I learned how to read with the first Peanuts book that appeared in 1952, and read them voraciously as other volumes were published. Over time my collection was sold or given away (heresy!), and when I came to my senses decades later I began collecting them again.

peanuts-1952

The challenge with the original books was that Schulz was very selective about what he allowed to be anthologized, and many of his strips vanished from the public consciousness. Happily, later arrangements with Schulz and his estate allowed the entire collection to be republished either by Fantagraphics (beautiful but very expensive) or online at GoComics (colorized but free.)

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the GoComics edition, and read it faithfully and daily. But recently I came across a strip that rang a loud bell:

peanuts-bread-and-budder-sandwich-1

I remembered this strip clearly, but something about it seemed “off.” When I finally had some time to do a deep search of the internet, I was able to find the one I remembered:

peanuts-bread-and-budder-sandwich-1

Same gag, re-drawn, slightly different punchline. According to comments at the GoComics site, there may also be a strip where Linus tells Lucy that if you cut a PB&J sandwich, all the flavor runs out.

Why the re-do? Could be any number of reasons. Maybe Schulz liked this punchline better and wanted to see it published. Charles M. Schulz created a total of 17,897 Peanuts strips; maybe he just forgot he had done this one and the idea stuck in his head, so he “re-created” it. Maybe he was stuck for an idea on a given day. Whatever the case, if this is the only true duplication of a gag that he ever did, that’s a prodigious feat.

Other cartoonists repeat occasionally (and not just re-runs for vacations or filler.) I’ve seen one or two examples, but most of them keep coming up with fresh ideas (or in the case of some comic strips, not-so-fresh ideas) for years or even decades. Schulz was undeniably one of the masters of the genre, and an inspiration for countless cartoonists who followed.

The Old Wolf has spoken.