Coffee and Synchronicity

Label for Nite Owl coffee

I found the above in my E-mail last Thursday, courtesy of Amazon.

My first thought was that it was a surreal and ludicrous (if admittedly creative) promotion, whoring out a concept as completely as possible. Then came bemusement over having had a long, freewheeling conversation at local haunt Showcase Comics just the day before on the upcoming Watchmen film, largely about Alan Moore’s displeasure with publisher DC over rights issues; his decades-old frustration stems partly from early Watchmen merchandise. Then I actually read the body of the message indicating that the coffee isn’t simply a marketing tie-in but is featured in the movie — which one familiar with the characters might surmise from the Veidt Enterprises logo atop the bag, although the Watchmen logo and date are likely absent onscreen.

Lucy saying to Charlie Brown and Linus, 'I make the world better! I'm a positive force!'

I’d marked a Peanuts strip for sharing after reading it earlier this month. Charles Schulz’s best strips to me are the most indescribable, and I’ve had a soft spot for Linus — the kid who toggles from Chauncy Gardner’s serenity to Woody Allen’s detail-oriented, brainiac neuroses — since playing him in a high-school production of You’re
a Good Man, Charlie Brown
. Not long after I embedded the strip here from the syndicate’s website, however, it went AWOL, only for me to find a replacement panel tying nicely into the Watchmen theme and therefore into this post’s larger theme of serendipity. ’Cause rather than wait until the Watchmen film premieres next week, I’d opted to give in to all the synchronicity (more to come on that) and share another goodie that I’ve been holding onto for a while.

What if Charles Schulz had created 'Watchmen'?

The illustration above is a creative mind (and talented hand) asking the magical question “What if Charles Schulz had created Watchmen?” I’ve put one of co-creator Dave Gibbons’ covers to the graphic novel below so that Watchmen newbies can see how the original costumes, some reworked for the live-action film, match up; Charlie Brown is Doctor Manhattan, Snoopy is Rorschach, Lucy is The Silk Spectre, Linus is The Comedian, Schroeder is Ozymandias, and Pig-Pen is Nite Owl.

Cover to 'Watchmen' international edition with characters in front of giant yellow clock face

I apparently was late to the game on this cartoon, because by the time I read it last summer and traced it back to the artist’s website he was sick of it — last fall he actually removed it from his blog altogether. When I contacted him the other day he graciously gave me permission to post it here and provided me with information confirming that we’re probably not related (still more synchronicity to come). Evan, the artist, mentioned himself and I just found online a similar Peanuts/Watchmen mash-up
[bad link] that appeared 25 years ago in the magazine Comics Scene drawn by future comics professional Jeff Parker.

Now on to the further synchronicity I promised. After my Watchmen conversation
at the comics shop, I had dinner with my grandparents and our conversation included the oft-repeated story of my grandfather’s grandfather’s arrival in Philadelphia from Lithuania at the turn of the century. Many of us have heard if not lived the legacy of immigrants from that time having their names mangled when traveling from a European mouth to an English speaker’s ear and then out onto documentation. This was turned on its head somewhat as my great-great-grandfather Sam and his siblings disagreed amongst themselves on whether their family name was best expressed as Saner, Shaner, or Seiner — meaning that only two generations back from a man with whom I speak regularly, part of my family was split in name by their own doing.

When I began to put together posts for today, I realized that the Watchmen coffee
from Thursday’s mailbox and the Peanuts strip I’d been meaning to run could be tied together with the Peanuts-as-Watchmen gag from last year. So I followed the bookmark I’d saved for it, having entirely forgotten that the artist’s name was Evan Shaner. I know of Shaners from Scotland well as Lithuanian ones, and it was merely coincidence that I’d just been discussing the Shaner branch of our family the night before. Nevertheless, I had to inquire about his origins, and Evan replied that while there were Scots in his family the Shaner name was anglicized from the German Schoenner. Evan is a seriously talented fella with a good design sense and a hell of a way with markers, as you’ll see if you click through his name above; despite us not turning out to be cousins I’m glad we’ve virtually met.

Peanuts is a trademark of and the panel reproduced is © 1982 United Feature Syndicate.
Watchmen is a trademark of and the cover to the international edition shown is © 2008
DC Comics. The Peanuts strip panel was created by Charles Schulz. The Watchmen cover
was illustrated by Dave Gibbons. The mash-up cartoon was created by Evan Shaner.

Related: Ozy Ozy Ozy Clocking In Minutes to Midnight

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