Coffee and Synchronicity
Not to be confused with Tea and Sympathy...
I found the above in my E-mail last Thursday, courtesy of Amazon.
My first thought was that this was surreal and ludicrous (if creative) marketing, whoring out a concept as completely as possible. Then came bemusement over memories of a long, freewheeling conversation the day before at local haunt Showcase Comics on the upcoming Watchmen movie, largely about Alan Moore's displeasure with publisher DC over rights issues; his long-standing frustration, ironically, stems partly from early Watchmen promotional material. Then I actually read the body of the message, which indicates that this coffee isn't just 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 itself is likely absent in the film.
[Update: I gather that the coffee was a limited-edition product; the link that was here to the storefront on Amazon is longer valid. Might we interest you in a Watchmen coffee mug, illustrated by Dave Gibbons with the film actors' likenesses?]
I'd marked a Peanuts strip for sharing here after reading it earlier this month — dunno when it first ran; they are of course, sadly, all reprints now. Good ol' Sparky Schulz's best strips 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 — ever since playing him in a high-school production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Shortly after I embedded it in this post from the syndicate's website, however, it went AWOL, only for me to find a replacement panel for this post that ties into the Watchmen theme nicely and therefore into the post's larger theme of serendipity. 'Cause rather than wait until Watchmen premieres next week, I'd opted to give in to all the synchronicity (more to come) and share another goodie that I've been holding onto for a while.
The illustration above is a creative mind (and talented hand) wondering "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 movie) 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.
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 also provided me with information confirming that we're probably not cousins (yes, still more synchronicity to come). Since Evan, the artist, mentions it himself, and since I just found it online, I should point out that a similar Peanuts/Watchmen cartoon 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 last Wednesday, I went to have 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 — so only two generations back from someone 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 cartoon from last year. So I followed the link I'd saved for the artist's website, having entirely forgotten that his name was Evan Shaner. I know of Shaners from Scotland well as Lithuanian ones, so it was probably coincidence that I'd just been discussing the Shaner branch of our family the night before. Still, I had to ask, and Evan replied that while there were Scots in his family the Shaner name was Anglicized from the German Schoenner. Even if we're not related, Evan is a seriously talented young man with a good design sense and a hell of a way with markers, as you can see from clicking through the above link in his name; I'm happy that we've met.
Watchmen is a trademark of, and all related art is copyright year of production, DC Comics.
The Watchmen cover was illustrated by Dave Gibbons. The Peanuts panel was written and drawn by Charles Schulz. Peanuts is a trademark of, and the panel reproduced is copyright year of production, United Feature Syndicate Inc. The "What if Charles Schulz had created Watchmen?" cartoon was created by, is property of, and has been used with permission of Evan Shaner.