How Do They Produce Newspapers in Iowa, Charlie Brown?

OK, now this is just plain weird. In 1957, Charles Schulz seems to have given The Des Moines Register and Tribune permission to publish an eight-page comic in which Charlie Brown and Lucy fall out of a comic strip and into the arms of some unspecified dude who proceeds to give them a tour of the Register’s offices and printing plant. At the end of this visit, drawn in a sort of modified Soviet realism style, the kids are taken back to their strip by a Register paper boy.

Besides answering a lot of questions about the newspaper business, this story tells us how large comic-strip characters are in relation to human beings–a lot smaller, apparently, though the blockhead and fussbudget grow to about half-human size when they land in Iowa. (The tourguide is able to walk around with Charlie Brown balanced on one shoulder and Lucy on the other.)

The comic is signed by Bob Davenport, who I’m guessing was a Register staff artist, though I could be wrong. He did a sort of semi-competent job of drawing the Schulz characters, in what must of been one of very few instances in which they ever appeared in newspaper comics drawn by a hand other than Schulz’s. (I’m not sure whether this comic was distributed with the paper–it might have been a giveaway, perhaps one presented to real kids who toured the Tribune plant.)

What did Schulz think of all this, especially given how protective he was of his characters in their newspaper appearances? We may never know, unless documents relating to this project survive at the Schulz Museum.

Anyhow, as is by now obvious, I don’t know much of anything about A Trip Through the Des Moines Register and Tribune With Peanuts except that it’s oddly transfixing. Here it is–judge for yourself.

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5 thoughts on “How Do They Produce Newspapers in Iowa, Charlie Brown?”

  1. Hi,

    I came across your web-site and thought I’d let you know that Bob Davenport (or “Dav”) is my name-sake uncle. He passed away in 1972.

    Bob was a well-known cartoonist for the Des Moines Register and Tribue during the 50’s and 60’s. He started with two local strip in Des Moines – “Oscar the Calf” based on his experiences growing up on a dairy farm and “Rock-Age Roy, the Carrier Boy”, intended to attract boys into a child-hood career of hawking newspapers. His last and longest running strip was “Open Season”, which was a syndicated one-panel cartoon on various aspects of outdoor recreation.

    My uncle once mentioned his close friendship with Charles Schulz. My guess is that the permission to use the “Peanuts” characters came out of that friendship. Bob was no fan of plagiarism, having had his own work plagiarised and published in Canada.

    In addition to cartooning, Bob illustrated books and was a silent contributor to an underground Des Moines newspaper (some VERY funny stuff!) He also designed the signs that mark the Lewis and Clark Trail in the Northwestern US.

    When Bob died, the R&T kept some of his work for their gallery and gave the balance to my father. I think my brother may have posted them on-line (in fact, I was searching the web for his site, when I came across this link). If you would like to know more about “Dav” please let me know.

  2. Great info, thanks! I’d love to know more. Both my parents did some or all of their growing up in Des Moines, so I’m sure a bunch of my relatives read your uncle’s work.

    Regards,

    –Harry

  3. Hi, this is Tom Davenport brother of Bob Davenport (whose post I am responding to) and nephew of the Late Bob Davenport (Dav) whose promo piece using Peanut’s characters was the subject of your blog. It was fun for me to see the piece since it is one I have never seen before (one of thousands drawings used by the R&T that wasn’t included in the artwork given to my father).

    I have scanned most of the pieces that came into the possession of my father, these are the files my brother was looking for when he found you site. They are located at

    http://homepage.mac.com/tsmd

    The easiest way to see the pictures would be to download the entire collection, then load them into a good photo viewer (like iPhoto or Picassa).

    Remember, the family holds the copyright but we allow any non-commercial use. The “Open Season” cartoons are still under copyright by the R&T but they have allowed us to distribute them for non-commercial use.

    Enjoy,

    Tom Davenport

  4. I worked with Dav for several years at The Des Moines Register and Tribune. Dav had remarkable insight into human nature. I logged on to his family’s website and still see some of the wonderful cartoons he did. I am fortunate to have known this tremendous person and to have seen his talent first hand. Dav was one in a million and to be a friend and a colleague was an honor indeed.

  5. Running into to this is the highlight of my day. Love this yesteryear stuff. The Tribune has been gone for a long time but I remember it. Also recall peach pages back in the day.

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