TALISMANIC OBJECTS (25)
June 25, 2017
One in a 25-part series of nonfiction stories about objects of talismanic significance. This is the second volume in the PROJECT:OBJECT series. Please subscribe to the P:O newsletter; and purchase P:O apparel and accessories — all profits will be donated to the ACLU!
Charles Schulz’s Peanuts is the first comic strip I ever gave a moment’s thought to. From kindergarten age, I just loved it; today, I believe it’s what set me on the path to becoming a cartoonist myself.
In my teen years, although I still read Peanuts every day, my cartooning focus shifted over to Spiderman and his beefy colleagues. In my early 20s, though, I got obsessed with Peanuts all over again. Recognizing it as a brilliant body of work, I gathered up all the Peanuts collections I could find — the most common being the Fawcett Crest paperbacks that every kid in the ’60s and ’70s read.
At some point, when I was in my 30s, I stuffed a crisp copy of The Wonderful World of Peanuts (the very first Fawcett paperback) into my suit pocket and started diligently carrying it around with me everywhere. To me, Peanuts was so important that this collection was like a bible. For 15 years or so, each morning before I went out the door, I switched The Wonderful World of Peanuts from one pocket to another.
Over time, the book’s cover came off — so I stuffed them into the guts. The spine split and crumbled, requiring the addition of an elastic band. Pages tore and yellowed and frayed. The messier it got, the more magic this object acquired. If other ephemera found its way between the pages — a movie stub for The Magnificent Ambersons, a photo of my dad, neither of which I remember inserting — then I knew that removing them was taboo.
When I went to Santa Rosa to propose the Complete Peanuts book collections to Jean Schulz — which were published by Fantagraphics beginning in 2004 — The Wonderful World of Peanuts was in my pocket. Maybe that’s why it had been in my pocket for so long, in anticipation of the day when that project would be set in motion.
One day, a few years ago, I stopped carrying the book. I left it home, and that was that. I didn’t set it aside carefully, just forgot about it. However, when I came across it recently, I finally recognized the object’s power. Today it’s displayed reverentially in my studio — a mysterious relic created by routine, familiarity, and sentimentality.
In April and May 2017, we ran a Talisman Story Contest. The stories were judged by PROJECT:OBJECT’s Rob Walker and Josh Glenn, and by the legendary Annie Nocenti. Seth’s PEANUTS BOOK story was the winning entry.
CONTEST-WINNING FICTION: 1. TROUBLED SUPERHUMAN: Charles Pappas’s “The Law” | 2. CATASTROPHE: Timothy Raymond’s “Hem and the Flood” | 3. TELEPATHY: Rachel Ellis Adams’s “Fatima, Can You Hear Me?” | 4. OIL SPILL: A.E. Smith’s “Sound Thinking” | 5. LITTLE NEMO CAPTION: Joe Lyons’s “Necronomicon” | 6. SPOOKY-KOOKY: Tucker Cummings’s “Well Marbled” | 7. PULP HERO: TG Gibbon’s “The Firefly” | 8. FANFICTION: Lyette Mercier’s “Sex and the Single Superhero”
TALISMANIC OBJECTS series: INTRODUCTION | Veda Hille on CROCHET SHEEP | Gary Panter on DINOSAUR BONES | Jami Attenberg on SELENITE CRYSTAL | Annie Nocenti on MINIATURE DICE | Wayne Curtis on CLOCK WINDING KEY | Judith Zissman on SPINDLE WHORL | Amy Fusselman on BOX OF PENCILS | Josh Glenn on MONKEY WHIMSEY | Mike Watt on DASHBOARD TOTEMS | Gordon Dahlquist on CLAY FOX | Mark Kingwell on ZIPPO | Jennifer Schuessler on BEER-CAN CHAIR | Anne Gisleson on WISDOM TEETH | Ben Ehrenreich on CHROME LUMP | Matthew De Abaitua on HATCHET | Ty Burr on INFLATABLE KING KONG | Jacob Covey on ARGUS COIN | Jessica Helfand on PILL BOTTLE | Shelley Jackson on IMPUNITY JANE | Jennifer Krasinski on LEO’S LIGHTER | Molly Heintz on EVIL EYE | Mark Frauenfelder on MARTIAN FINK RING | Amanda Fortini on PRAYER CARD | Ed Skoog on MAMMOTH IVORY | CONTEST-WINNING STORY: Seth on PEANUTS PAPERBACK.
POLITICAL OBJECTS series: INTRODUCTION | Luc Sante on CAMPAIGN PAMPHLETS | Lydia Millet on PVC POLAR BEAR | Ben Greenman on MATCHBOX CAR | Rob Baedeker on PRESIDENTS PLACEMAT | L.A. Kauffman on WHEATPASTE POSTER | & 20 MORE.
SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS at HILOBROW: PROJECT:OBJECT homepage | PROJECT:OBJECT newsletter | PROJECT:OBJECT objects (Threadless shop — all profits donated to the ACLU) | POLITICAL OBJECTS series (1Q2017) | TALISMANIC OBJECTS series (2Q2017) | ILLICIT OBJECTS series (3Q2017) | LOST OBJECTS vol. 1 series (4Q2017) | FLAIR series (2Q2018) | FOSSIL series (4Q2018). 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | 12 MORE DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE (AGAIN) | ANOTHER 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE . ALSO SEE: SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS website | SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS collection, ed. Rob Walker and Josh Glenn (Fantagraphics, 2012) | TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY, ed. Josh Glenn (Princeton Architectural Press, 2007) | TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY excerpts.