Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

Roy T. Cook on “Once Upon a Time”

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Comic strip of Batman interrupting a robbery. Text reads "It was a dark and stormy night", "Suddenly a shot rans out", "The maid screamed", and "A door slammed."

This is entry #13 in our ongoing 100 Philosophers, 100 Artworks, 100 Words Series.

Philosopher: Roy T. Cook (University of Minnesota–Twin Cities)

Artwork: “Once Upon a Time”, in Detective Comics #500 (1981), Len Wein (writer) & Walt Simonson (artist), 2 page comic.

Words: Charles Schulz created a metafictional series of Peanuts strips about a Beagle who writes a short novel (the definitive version, including cover art by Lucy van Pelt, is found in Snoopy and “It Was a Dark and Stormy Night”, Holt, Rhinehart & Winston, 1971). Wein and Simonson created a two-page meta-meta-comic whose only text is Snoopy’s brief masterpiece. Intentionally purple prose is thus transformed into a poignant superhero adventure. Is it true in the Peanuts fiction that Snoopy wrote a Batman comic? Are facts about Snoopy’s fictional biography relevant to our interpretation of “Once Upon a Time?” My head hurts!

One Comment

  1. Very cool. Although I had read this comic before, I was not aware that the text came from Peanuts.

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