Good grief! The Complete Peanuts 1950-1952
launches 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. It's so well-done that any reader will be impatient for the rest of the series
, but in the meantime this is a book to savor. --David Horiuchi
From Publishers Weekly
With its ambitious plan to reprint all of "Peanuts" in chronological order over the next 12 years, Fantagraphics is making this comics masterpiece available for everyone. The real surprise of this first volume is watching the beloved comic strip develop from its embryonic stage. From the start, Schulz had some of the ground rules in place: the ensemble cast whose faces appeared only in profile or three-quarter views, the sophisticated language from the mouths of babes and the absence of visible adults from their world. But, although "good ol' Charlie Brown" appears in the very first strip, the early protagonist is the rather colorless Shermy. Lucy is a googly-eyed baby in a playpen; Linus and Schroeder are pre-verbal infants; and Snoopy is just a small, affectionate dog without a fantasy life. Even more odd, the strip's unique hilarity hasn't quite developed yet; most of the humor here is very mild and generally stems from the characters being little kids playing with each other and fooling around with grown-up roles. They're archetypes of children, not yet archetypes of humanity. Still, flashes of Schulz's later greatness are evident. All the characters show hints of the personalities they'll grow into, and Schulz's clean, magisterially expressive line falls into position by the end of the strip's second year. Regardless, the chance to see the early "Peanuts"much of it never before reprintedis a treat.
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