Fans of the comic strip Peanuts will undoubtedly remember the startling sequence of strips from 1964 in which Lucy enters Linus and his blanket as her project in the school science fair:
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And if you are a superfan of Peanuts, you probably know that Schulz used the name “Martha Arguello” for one of the contestants in the science fair (see strip 4-17-64, The Complete Peanuts 1963-1964 [Vol. 7, Fantagraphics Books], p. 203) as a tribute to his fellow cartoonist and friend, Marty Links, the creator of the comic strip Bobby Sox, which was later renamed, and is perhaps better known as, Emmy Lou:
Marty was short for Martha, obviously, and Arguello was the storied surname of Martha’s high-school sweetheart, Alexander Arguello, whom Martha Links married in 1941.
(As far as I know, Marty Links always signed her maiden name to her comic strip. When she died in 2008, however, the headline of her obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle read as follows: “Martha Arguello – Bobby Sox, Emmy Lou cartoonist dies in San Rafael.”)
What even superfans of Charles Schulz may not know, however, is that Marty Links actually included a nod to Schulz in Emmy Lou! How do I know this? Because I recently purchased the Emmy Lou strip in which it happened from Heritage Auctions. Here’s the strip:
As you can see, in the first panel, Emmy Lou’s sad-sack boyfriend, Alvin, says, “I don’t think our art teacher Mr. Schulz, likes me.” Now, I doubt that any cartoonist would use the name Schulz in a comic strip by accident; it’s almost certainly a name check. But were Schulz and Links also friends? And were they close enough that Schulz might have dared to diss Alvin, or that Links might have dared to kid Schulz in her strip? From a TV interview with Marty Links posted below, here is a short excerpt in which Links mentions her friendship with Schulz and expresses her admiration for his work:
JAMES DAY: Do cartoonists get together at all?
MARTY LINKS: Well, yes, I know Sparky Schulz very well; he’s a very good friend of mine.[…] When I’m with Sparky, and I see his work,[…] I’m so lost in admiration, I guess of his genius, that I just stand there and not even think of cartooning; in reference to myself, I’m just admiring the works.
So who knows? The real Mr. Schulz might actually have told his friend Marty Links that he didn’t like Alvin; he certainly didn’t hesitate to comment to his cartoonist-friend Lynn Johnston about developments in her strip For Better or For Worse.
Not that it matters. Because even if Schulz didn’t say a word to Links about Alvin, Links’s/Alvin’s reference to “our art teacher Mr. Schulz” remains a nod to the genius cartoonist Mr. Schulz, I think.
Of course, the irony is that, after having spent the entire evening reassuring Alvin that everyone, including Mr. Schulz, really does like him, Emmy Lou herself finally loses patience with Alvin’s relentless self-pity:
EMMY LOU: Haven’t you forgotten the most important person of all, Alvin?
ALVIN: Who is that, Emmy Lou?
EMMY LOU: It’s me! I can stand you!”
Unfortunately, the copyright information that was glued to the art that I now own is partially missing, so I don’t know if Marty Links’s tribute to Schulz occurred before or after Schulz’s tribute to Links/Arguello.
Here’s a charming interview with Marty Links that was taped on 05/08/75 for the public-television series Day at Night:
- Hairy Green Eyeball 2 > Emmy Lou and Sweetie Pie – includes twenty-five one-panel strips scanned from the collection More Bobby Sox: The Life and Times of Emmy Lou.
- Hairy Green Eyeball 2 > Bobby Sox by Marty Links – twenty-six more one-panel strips scanned from the collection More Bobby Sox: The Life and Times of Emmy Lou.
- John K. Stuff > Bobby Sox By Marty Links – eleven one-panel strips scanned from the collection More Bobby Sox: The Life and Times of Emmy Lou.
- Stripper’s Guide > News of Yore: Marty Links Tells Her Own Story – transcribed from The Cartoonist, (Summer 1957).
- Fantagraphics Books > The Complete Peanuts 1963-1964