chicken scratches

Woodstock (Peanuts)

Woodstock is a fictional character in Charles M. Schulz's comic strip Peanuts. Snoopy began befriending birds in the early 1960s, when they started using his doghouse for various purposes: a rest stop during migrations, a nesting site, or a place to play cards. None of these birds were ever given names, or even used speech balloons, they simply looked at Snoopy and he understood them. The first bird that bore a prototypical resemblance to Woodstock visited Snoopy in 1967, and this is generally considered his debut, though Schulz didn't give him a name and establish him as a full-fledged character until June 22 1970. Schulz acknowledged in several print and TV interviews in the mid-1970s that he took Woodstock's name from the rock festival.

Snoopy and Woodstock met when a mother bird built a nest on Snoopy's stomach. There were two birds in it, and the mom never came back. Snoopy, one day, got fed up with the two birds, and threw them into the world. Snoopy's first thought was that he was glad to be unburdened of the responsibility, yet later he appears to soften, thinking "here comes Woodstock, flying in his usual topsy-turvy way".

Woodstock quickly became Snoopy's best friend. The only non-avian character who can understand Woodstock's language is Snoopy. This is because his speech is rendered entirely in "chicken scratch" marks; Snoopy usually ends up translating them for the benefit of the reader. There are exceptions to this however, such as an "X" appearing in the talk bubble to represent No, and Woodstock does make verbal noises such as yawns, laughter, and sleeping noises like "Z"s or snores. In the movies and TV specials, the chicken scratches are rendered audibly as a staccato series of Scat singing by Snoopy's voice actor, Bill Melendez. Woodstock often works as Snoopy's secretary (most notably when the latter was appointed "Head Beagle"), and caddies for him when he plays golf (usually with some difficulty). Woodstock also plays American football with Snoopy, usually attempting to catch the ball but, due to his size, he is simply hit by it; sometimes getting embedded into the ground a short distance.

Woodstock is small but scrappy, taking Snoopy's gentle verbal digs at him and practical jokes in stride though not hesitating to stand up to Snoopy if his friend goes too far. Once, he and Snoopy stopped speaking to each other because of Snoopy's practice of reading War and Peace one word per day. When told that Woodstock was being attacked by the cat next door, Snoopy immediately rushed to his aid, getting clobbered in the process (what the cat was attacking ended up being actually a yellow glove). He also hates being mistaken for the wrong species of bird (though we are never told what species he actually is), and he is reluctant to eat thrown bread crumbs because he doesn't want anyone to think he's on welfare, and when asked about his net income by Snoopy in his 'census-taker' persona, he replied "four worms a day". He's a whiz at playing "trivia" too, and almost always manages to stump Snoopy.

For all of Woodstock's mental acumen, however, he is physically a very poor flyer, which has been a character trait since he first appeared. He flitters around in erratic fashion, often upside down, and frequently crashes into things. He usually manages to get where he wants to go, though, as long as he doesn't have to fly too high. He is prone to beak-bleeds if he goes over ten feet in the air. During the winter he relaxes by either skating or playing ice hockey on top of the birdbath, complete with his own Zamboni machine to keep the surface clean (except one year where Woodstock asks Snoopy to migrate with him, and the duo take the trip on foot). His one goal throughout the comic is to track down his mother so he can send her a Mother's Day card.

In the TV special, It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown, Snoopy buys Woodstock a birdhouse to replace his nest after a cold early spring rain. At first Woodstock refused to use it, so Snoopy forced the issue. Checking up later on Woodstock, Snoopy peers into the birdhouse to find Woodstock has converted it into a 70s style leisure room (complete with a quadraphonic stereo system) that appears much larger on the inside than from outside (much like Snoopy's own doghouse). Unfortunately, Snoopy gets his nose stuck in the door and demolishes the house, so he buys Woodstock a second birdhouse, which Woodstock accepts.

Woodstock and his fellow yellow birds (named Bill, Harriet, Olivier, Raymond, Fred, Roy and Conrad) often join Snoopy for group activities, with Snoopy as the de facto leader. Most frequently they embark on Beagle Scout expeditions with Snoopy as Scoutmaster, though they have also formed football and ice hockey teams (on one occasion a football team composed of Snoopy and the birds defeated a human football team led by Peppermint Patty). The birds and Snoopy are also occasionally shown playing Bridge. Although all but Raymond (who is darker) look alike, Snoopy seems to be able to tell them apart.

Both Snoopy and Woodstock were voiced by Bill Melendez from 1965 onward.

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