Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Review - The Complete Peanuts Vol.1: 1950 to 1952 HC

This book collects the first two-and-a-bit years’ worth of Charles Schulz’s long-running, world-famous Peanuts strips. And of course it’s great. Not every strip works but most of them do, that sense of melancholy was there from the very start (first strip: ‘Well! Here comes ‘ol Charlie Brown! Good ol’ Charlie Brown... Yes, sir! Good ‘ol Charlie Brown... How I hate him!’) and the Peanuts characters just looked so cute in the ‘50s. In these pages, we get to meet Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy, Schroeder, etc., for the first time (no Woodstock yet, Linus is still a baby and Schroeder and Lucy started out as babies but quickly grew up to be more or less the same age as Charlie Brown) and this is pretty much an essential purchase for anyone who likes comics and the perfect gift for people who think they don’t like comics. The book is rounded out with a (slightly pretentious) article about Charles Schultz and a much more interesting interview with Schultz, conducted in 1987, in which he comes across as surprisingly unconfident for a man who, at the peak of his success, apparently made $30 to $40 million a year from his creations. I don’t have much more to add to that, so here’s the dialogue from my favourite strip in the book (Note: Charlie Brown overhears every word):

Patty: ‘Charlie Brown is an easy going sort of fellow, isn’t he?’

Violet: ‘I’ll say he is... Good ol’ Charlie Brown...’

Patty: ‘He seems to get along with everybody.’

Violet: ‘Nobody hates him...’

Patty: ‘Everybody likes him... What a wishy-washy character!’

Cost: This has a recommended retail price of £15.00 (but the US editions of these books are usually nearer £22.00 in comic shops). I bought the first four volumes in this series when they first came out a few years ago – I am just re-reading them before I attempt to catch up with the series, which is now up to Vol.14 – and honestly can’t remember how much I paid for them or even where I got them, but both Amazon and the Book Depository have most of the earlier volumes for around £9.00 each at the moment, which seems like a really good deal to me.


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  2. I never got Peanuts. I don't mind Snoopy, but I HATE, HATE, HATE Charlie Brown. That little fucker needs a good kicking if you ask me.

  3. Charlie Brown was the best character (in this book, at least)! Although I can't help thinking that he (and maybe Charles Schulz) just needed a particularly strong dose of anti-depressants, as he was a miserable little sod (which is probably why I like him best). I have not read that many Peanuts strips in my time, as my parents never bought a paper that carried it when I was a kid, and maybe I will get tired of it once these books start printing more recent material, but these early strips really are very good and very cute (the art style is quite different to the art in later Peanuts strips).

  4. Rol, I would suggest givimg Peanuts another go if you get the chance. It's an extraordinary work.

    Peanuts appeared in The Daily Mail. It was he only thing that made that paper worthwhile. Of course, now the strip is finished, so what's the point of the Mail now?

  5. Never mind Peanuts, I just won a copy of the Frankencastle hardcover on eBay for £8.30 (plus postage)! Yay!

  6. Just looking at Charlie Brown's face above is enough to drive me into a rage, so a reassessment of the strip is not a good idea for my blood pressure.

    Congrats on the Frankencastle win though, Rob.

  7. I also won Wolverine Goes To Hell issues 0-6, by Jason Aaron, from the same seller. Any good?