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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