Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Peanuts: A Golden Celebration -- Charles M. Schulz

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.


Juri said...

Peanuts noir? Schulz started out in the early fifties, so the time frame is right. Just about the same time Carl Barks did his darkest Donald Ducks.

I remember a friend comparing Peanuts to Philip Roth's novels. He said that Charlie Brown and others go through the same neurosises as Roth's characters.

Unknown said...

I started reading Peanuts almost from the beginning, and it's always been my favorite strip. I have the book you reviewed, but I've also been buying the Fantagraphics year-by-year reprints. Great, great stuff.

James Reasoner said...

Those Uncle Scrooge stories by Carl Barks are fantastic. I remember reading a bunch of them back when they were new, and of course I had no idea then who wrote and drew them. I'm glad that Barks finally got some credit for his outstanding work.