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The Complete Peanuts 1950-1954 Box Set
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on May 8, 2005
I loved Charles Schultz's 'Peanuts' strip when I was young. My parents owned perhaps a half-dozen paperback collections of strips that I read over and over again in addition to his daily strip. As I reached adolescence, however, Peanuts seemed to become less relevant and amusing and I drifted away from it, losing track of a childhood friend. Occasionally I would see a strip in the paper and get a chuckle out of it, but it was no longer a daily fix. Not until Schultz shocked the world by ending the strip as his health problems grew worse in early 2000 did I take the time to go back and look at just what I'd been missing over the years, at which time I was disturbed to see that even fifty years after starting the strip, Schultz's work was funny, topical, and even occasionally poignant.

With that in mind I decided to go back to where it all began with this beautiful collection of the first five years of Peanuts strips, and I'm quite glad I did. Peanuts tends to fool the reader with its use of children as primary characters; we assume that it is a strip written not just about, but for children. Nothing could be further from the truth. Schultz uses children, yes, but the themes he explored with those characters went far beyond typical childhood troubles. Schultz's everyman, Charlie Brown, speaks to everyone who has ever doubted themselves for a moment, which is to say, he speaks for us all.

Going back to the beginning not only demonstrates why Peanuts quickly took off, it presents a marvelous look into the evolution of the strip. Who knew that some of the characters we know so well today were absent from the early years? We get to see the arrival of Lucy, the queen fussbudget, her brilliant younger brother Linus, and the prodigy and Beethoven fanatic Schroeder, as well as the developing relationships between Charlie Brown and the neighborhood gang. The two books are a treasure trove for all, but will be of particular interest for readers unaware of how Charlie Brown and the rest got their start. The strips are augmented with numerous essays and interviews about Peanuts bookending each volume and serving as a kind of cultural barometer for the wide-ranging influence of Charles Schultz.

The books themselves are well-made and packaged inside a handsome slipcase, making them an attractive addition to your bookcase when you're not poring over them. Both volumes are hardcover with sleeves and should last a lifetime of reading.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2005
Let's get one thing straight, Fantagraphics pulled out all the stops on these books. The reproductions are magnificent and all the strips are bookended by great interviews.

As a long time fan of Peanuts I have only started to truly appreciate Sparky's amazing talent. I read Snoopy books religiously as a child but put them aside in my late teens and twenties as I thought them too childish. I have recently come back to read the strips again with a fresh mind and am amazed by Schulz's talent to say so much about us as people in only 4 panels and a few well-place pen strokes (perhaps only matched by Bill Waterson of Calvin & Hobbes fame).

The true joy of these books (and I haven't finished reading them yet, but I digress) is seeing the progression of characters from day one. Snoopy is just a puppy with an upturned nose who doesn't talk. Heck, for quite a while it is not even clear who he belongs to! Slowly characters are introduced into the neighbourhood. It was amazing to see a baby Schroeder introduced and immediately play Bheethoven on his toy piano.

All in all, an amazing purchase. I look forward to the rest of the series.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2005
Good grief, here it is!!! For all of us Peanuts fans, lying awake at night under our security blankets, dreaming of the day when ALL of those classic Charles Schultz cartoons would finally be reprinted in lovely collectible, box set form, here is the premier installment, covering the first four years of Peanuts strips 1950-1954, with a promise of one new two-year collection per year to follow in subsequent years. Here are Schultz and his creations, ready to remake the world of the funny papers forever. We see them VERY young, full of promise and hope, yet already tempered with the real-world insight that would make them the most idolized comic characters in history. For those of you who are new to the Peanuts story and looking for your favorite characters, you may have to wait until subsequent volumes are published; 1950-1954 contains only Charlie Brown, Shermy, Patty (NOT Peppermint Pattie; she wouldn't make her first apppearance for over a dozen years), Violet, Snoopy (as a puppy), Pig Pen (in the second volume), and Schroeder, Lucy, and Linus (all introduced as babies in the first volume). Charlie Brown is the main focus of the action at this point; he would remain so until Snoopy and the other characters outgrow their "baby phases" and become more central to the action a few years hence. Fans of the strip in later years may be surprised by the look and feel of certain characters; Charlie Brown in particular, alternates his usual melancholy persona with a brash, almost cocky attitude at times. Even as a baby, bright-eyed Lucy is demonstrating the cheerful selfishness that later gave her the title of world's champion fussbudget, while fellow female cast mates Patty and Violet take catlike turns sharpening their claws on Charlie Brown, who refers to himself as a "spiritual scratching post" at one point. Early on, Snoopy is thoroughly cute rather than the wonderfully amusing dog we would all know and love later. Still, his unique inventiveness is already starting to show: rather than catch a balloon in his mouth to retrieve it, he resorts to bumping it along with his head. The packaging of Complete Peanuts is glorious, and the added materials, from an extensive interview with Schultz in volume I to a forward by a star-struck Walter Cronkite in Volume II, are wonderfully insightful. Even though many of these early incarnations of the characters often behave differently from their later counterparts, and even though Schultz was not yet at the peak of his abilities (his "glory years" really start about 1954, the last year of this set), the fabulous packaging, wonderful added materials, and above all, the completeness of The Complete Peanuts 1950-1954 make this a must-purchase for the Charlie Brown or Snoopy fan in your household. Good Grief, indeed!!!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
This two volume set from the earliest years of "Peanuts" is absolutely gorgeous. The strips are all here in the original order, and are immaculately produced. I was born long after these strips ran, and these are the cleanest copies of these strips that I have ever seen. The books are beautifully bound and come in a very sturdy slip jacket, which will last a lifetime if cared for.

The strips are interesting to see the early innocence of the characters, which are all dramatically different stylistically than they were in later years. Snoopy in particular is very different looking, and has no lines in these early strips. The progression of the characters over the years is fascinating to me, particularly the development of Charlie Brown and Snoopy into the nexus of the strip.

Although I was born long after "Peanuts" began, I still remember reading the strip as a young child, a habit I kept until Schulz passed away. These are wonderful books and I highly recommend them to anyone of any demeanor anywhere at any time for any reason.

Thank you Charles Schulz. We miss you.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2004
The COMPLETE PEANUTS BOX SET includes the books WITH jackets, no matter where you're ordering it from. Box set = slipcase + both books + both jackets. --The Publisher
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2005
I have been a huge fan of Charlie Brown and Snoopy my entire life. I have collected books and movies and whatever else I could lay my hands on, but this collection is the best by far. Starting with the very first Peanut strip, you see personalities traits and characters that slowly change over the years and answers to questions you never knew you had. It was very enlightening to see Charlie Brown kick a football and to discover that Lucy wasn't the first girl to give him problems doing so. I highly recommend these books for the young or young of heart who just like Charlie Brown and pals never grew up. Charles Schulz we'll miss you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2006
The Complete Peanuts is definitely complete! It's a real collectors' item! Hats off to Fantagraphics Books for initiating such an ambitious project though their release schedule (releasing only two books every year - it will take twelve and a half years before the entire collection is published) leaves one frustrated.

Each book contains 2 complete years of Peanuts - one of the funniest comic strips of all time (IMHO). So this two-book set contains the first four complete years of Peanuts in its entirety and a little extra. Please note since the strip started in October 1950 as an added bonus we get extra three months (October-December 1950) of peanuts in addition to the four complete years (1951-1954). Did I mention that this is the complete collection.

Note that both books included in the boxed set are exactly the same ones that are sold separately. The books also contain full book jackets (i.e. if desired can be shelved separately). As of this review date it is cheaper to buy the two-book set cheaper than to buy them separately and we get an added attractive slipcase with the two-book set.

Recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
These volumes treat Peanuts as art not just entertainment. First of all, there are insightful essays in each volume from people who know comics and love Peanuts. Next, the physical volumes are beautiful and wonderfully present the strips as they appeared at the time. Then there are the strips themselves; has any artist noted the passage of the seasons with as much simple, bittersweet joy as Charles Schulz in Peanuts? That is truly one of my great joys of reading these comics compiled rather than as a daily strip. The way he subtly notes the first snow of autumn, or a spring shower is unsurpassed in any artistic medium and gets me in touch with my connection to the larger world as well as my own mortality. Finally, it surprised me how quickly Schulz reached his mature style. By the early part of 1953, the look and the nature of the major characters is pretty much Peanuts as we know it today.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2006
I have found the Complete Peanuts set to be excellent reading for parents and children together. My 4-year-old loves the visual humor, my 7-year-old loves to read the strips herself, and I love to see Schulz' slightly more experimental early style. I took volume 1 on vacation, and it was perfect relaxing, fun family vacation reading. And the box set is a great value over purchasing individual volumes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Peanuts has always been, to me, the best comic strip. The evolution of each character of the years has made each of them a part of our culture. I grew up reading the Peanuts, often searching for the latest softback books whenever my mom would haul me off to Gemco or similar stores. The fact that I, and the rest of the world, can enjoy this wonderful series in chronological order from the very start, is incredible. These sturdy hard cover books come with an introduction and an index.

The boxed set version is certainly the best way to purchase this set. Not only is the box itself convenient for storage, but it is a collectors item in its own right with great art.

In the first volume, the introduction is by Garrison Keillor. The index is a nice touch, as you can look through and enjoy the first appearance of characters and other pivotal moments. These strips hold up very well. I ahve no doubt that were they to be released today, having never been seen before, they would be just as popular and we would soon be calling our friends Blockhead, while they sigh, "Good grief." Volume one is highly recommended. Five Stars!

This excellent series by Fantagraphics continues in volume two of the Complete Peanuts. This volume features an introduction by Walter Cronkite. This book features the introduction of Pig Pen. For an oddity, we also meet the long forgotten Charlotte Braun, who is a girl that looks just like Charlie Brown. My personal favorite character, Linus, begins to develop his personality. Volume two is another 5 star edition.

So let's recap, if each book is 5 stars, shouldn't the box set be 10 stars? If it could be it should be.
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