This oversized volume was published a few years ago to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the PEANUTS comic strip, but I'm just now getting around to reading it. I first became a PEANUTS fan by picking up the Crest paperbacks in the Sixties, which led to me buying the other collections that were available then. I couldn't read the current strips in the newspaper, because the Fort Worth Star-Telegram didn't carry PEANUTS. The Fort Worth Press did, and my family didn't subscribe to it. But eventually the Press went out of business and the Star-Telegram picked up PEANUTS, where I read it until the strip ended and where I still read the reprints of old strips every day.
This book reprints hundreds of strips from all five decades of PEANUTS history, interspersed with text by creator Charles M. Schulz about a variety of subjects related to it. Most of them I'd read before, but there were some I hadn't. What struck me was just how dark PEANUTS was, going all the way back to the beginning. Like the protagonists of countless noir novels, Charlie Brown is doomed no matter what he does. But if the comedy in the strip is pretty black on occasion, it's also very, very funny most of the time. It's true that the quality declined in later years, but Schulz was still capable of brilliance every now and then. And in these days when cartoonists seem to burn out in a relatively short time, I'm not sure any comic strip will ever again be as good, for as long, as PEANUTS was. Reading this book brought back a lot of wonderful memories.