“It must’ve sucked to be a racist. Unless, that is, you’re a fan of Dennis the Menace”
Not only does the world cease its relentless, playful torment of Charlie Brown, but the boy who tamps it down is black and can swim. Because on 31 July 1968, Schulz introduced the world to Franklin. May not seem like much, but it’s as explicitly political as Peanuts ever ventures. Until, that is, 1 August 1968:
The father of Franklin, the black boy who swims, is over in Vietnam. That second panel neatly illustrates how far Schulz strayed from his comfort zone. Charlie Brown’s father “was in a war, but [he doesn’t] know which one.” That’s the extent to which contemporary politics typically intruded the most popular daily comic in America. But for some reason, Schulz felt the need to contradict conventional racist wisdom that summer.