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The Complete Peanuts 1950-1954 Box Set Hardcover – Box set, October 17, 2004

4.9 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews

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Good grief! The Complete Peanuts is the most ambitious and most important project in the comics and cartooning genre: over a period of 12 years, Fantagraphics Books will release every daily and Sunday strip of Charles M. Schulz's "Peanuts," the best-known and best-loved series in the world.

Most everyone with an interest in its history has seen the very first strip ("Good ol' Charlie Brown... How I hate him!"), but this first volume follows it up with 287 pages (three daily strips or one Sunday per page) of vintage material in chronological order. "Peanuts" was unique at the time for portraying kids who seemed like real kids, but they also had a wisdom beyond their years, embodied especially by the lovable loser, Charlie Brown, who even in these early years has lost 4000 checker games in a row. We see him don his familiar jagged-stripe shirt for the first time (December 1950) and, at the age of 4, at his peak as a babe magnet. Shermy is the other significant boy, and the girls in their lives are Patty (not to be confused with Peppermint Patty) and Violet. Schroeder is an infant who has learned to sit up in order to play Beethoven on his toy piano. Snoopy is an anthropomorphic dog who plays baseball (April 1952) and has his own thoughts (October 1952). In March 1952 we meet a bug-eyed Lucy, who by November has been designated "Miss Fuss-Budget of 1952" and is pulling the football away from Charlie Brown (Violet had done it a year earlier). Her baby brother Linus arrives in July 1952. The book itself is beautifully packaged, the strips printed large and clear on high-quality paper and accompanied by an in-depth essay by David Michaelis, a 1987 interview with Schulz, an introduction by Garrison Keillor, and even an index of characters and subjects.

The second volume covers 1953-54, and the visual style and character development is closer to the kids we know and love, as they try to exist in a grown-up world. Charlie Brown is no longer the object of Patty and Violet's affection--derision, more like--and his pattern of losing continues. His misery at checkers hits 5000 (June 1953), 6000 (August), 7000 (November), 8000 (still November), and 10,000 (December) consecutive games, he gets shut out on Valentine's Day (February '53), he wears his first bad Halloween costume (October '54), and he gets a form rejection slip from Santa (December '54). On the baseball diamond, though, he actually has the lead in a game (April '53, but we don't see the final score) and briefly plays catcher. By now Lucy has become the main girl in the strip, and in addition to beating Charlie Brown at checkers, she begins her romantic pursuit of Schroeder (January '53), joins the baseball team (August '54), and wins her third consecutive Miss Fussbudget of the Year title (November '54). Her younger brother, Linus, starts what will become a longstanding feud with Snoopy in the first Sunday strip of '53, shows he's a prodigy in jump rope, blocks, houses of cards, and balloon blowing, and cuddles his security blanket (May '54). Schroeder continues his obsession with Beethoven and reveals the secret to playing great literature on a plastic piano with painted-on black keys (practice and "getting the breaks"). We meet two new characters, the perpetually dirty Pig-Pen (July '54) and the loudmouthed Charlotte Braun, whose funny name wasn't enough to keep her around for long. Charles M. Schulz, whose own insecurity manifested itself in Charlie Brown (who not coincidentally draws his own cartoons), came up with his first multiple-strip storyline (starting with a four-Sunday series of Lucy joining a golf tournament coached by Charlie Brown, May '54) in this period, and provides us with a glimpse of the 1950s--deco furniture ("What in the world is a 'rocking chair'? asks CB), 3-D movies, H-bomb testing, and even what in hindsight looks like a prediction of the troubles in Vietnam (May '54). The second volume maintains the high quality of the first volume; even if it doesn't have the same extent of extra materials, it has an introduction by Walter Cronkite, a note on one strip that had to be partially reconstructed, and that handy index of characters and topics. --David Horiuchi

About the Author

Charles M. Schulz was born November 25, 1922, in Minneapolis. His destiny was foreshadowed when an uncle gave him, at the age of two days, the nickname Sparky (after the racehorse Spark Plug in the newspaper strip Barney Google).In his senior year in high school, his mother noticed an ad in a local newspaper for a correspondence school, Federal Schools (later called Art Instruction Schools). Schulz passed the talent test, completed the course, and began trying, unsuccessfully, to sell gag cartoons to magazines. (His first published drawing was of his dog, Spike, and appeared in a 1937 Ripley's Believe It or Not! installment.) Between 1948 and 1950, he succeeded in selling 17 cartoons to the Saturday Evening Post―as well as, to the local St. Paul Pioneer Press, a weekly comic feature called Li'l Folks. It was run in the women's section and paid $10 a week. After writing and drawing the feature for two years, Schulz asked for a better location in the paper or for daily exposure, as well as a raise. When he was turned down on all three counts, he quit.He started submitting strips to the newspaper syndicates. In the spring of 1950, he received a letter from the United Feature Syndicate, announcing their interest in his submission, Li'l Folks. Schulz boarded a train in June for New York City; more interested in doing a strip than a panel, he also brought along the first installments of what would become Peanuts―and that was what sold. (The title, which Schulz loathed to his dying day, was imposed by the syndicate.) The first Peanuts daily appeared October 2, 1950; the first Sunday, January 6, 1952.Diagnosed with cancer, Schulz retired from Peanuts at the end of 1999. He died on February 13, 2000, the day before Valentine's Day―and the day before his last strip was published―having completed 17,897 daily and Sunday strips, each and every one fully written, drawn, and lettered entirely by his own hand―an unmatched achievement in comics.

Garrison Keillor has hosted the comedy/variety radio show A Prairie Home Companion since 1974. His many books include Lake Wobegon Days, Leaving Home, Happy to Be Here, The Book of Guys, Homegrown Democrat, Lake Wobegon Summer 1956, Love Me, Wobegon Boy, Pontoon, Liberty, and Pilgrims. Audio CDs and cassettes of compilations of A Prairie Home Companion and Keillor's readings of his books have sold in the millions. He wrote the script for and starred in the 2006 motion picture A Prairie Home Companion, the final film directed by Robert Altman.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics; Box edition (October 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560976322
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560976325
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 2.9 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #430,483 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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?
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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
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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