The Peanuts gang are some of the most beloved characters ever written. They proved themselves iconic by maintaining a run of syndicated Sunday morning comic strips that lasted from 1950 to 2000. Charles Schulz is a brilliant author, and BOOM! Studios has collected a handful of his works – beautifully preserved and carefully curated. This is the tenth volume in the series, each one as good as the last, and all of them just as philosophically existential.
Full disclosure, I love Peanuts. I grew up with their television specials as a child, and my affections have only multiplied as the years pass. If you are reading this review, then we likely share this in common. I doubt there are that many people who have yet to make up their minds on Snoopy and Charlie Brown. They are synonymous with American iconography, the same as Superman and Mickey Mouse. I am too close to truly criticize the work of Charles Schulz. I suppose, Peanuts are not for everyone, as many people find the stories and themes to be too melancholy. That being said, I love it.
The collected editions BOOM! Studios has put together are more like celebrations of Peanuts rather than a chronological release of stories. In this book, you will get 8 short stories and a few one-pagers. Each story delves deep into themes such as professional disappointment, isolation, worry of impending social embarrassment, deep loss, and, of course, my favorite, nihilistic acceptance of having no control. And yet, it’s funny. The humor is punchy and delightful. The art accents the dry delivery of each character. Snoopy himself is able to convey so much emotion with just a look. Every frame builds the joke to a punchline that is just as hilarious, sad, and, for us fans, dripping with nostalgia.
A great example of what Peanuts does best can be found in the second story titled “Dress to Depress.” In the story, Peppermint Patty is being forced to wear a uniform to school as mandated by a new policy. This changes her out of her shorts/sandals combo and into a dress. The struggle that befalls her is powerfully torturous, and in showcasing her moral convictions, we become privy to a struggle that is all too relatable. Peppermint Patty strongly identifies as “she who wears shorts and sandals.” In a meta-way, we side with Patty, because that is the outfit we know her in best. It’s the one that suits her, by now, nearly 70 years later. The story is ripe with analogous beats to anyone who has ever gone through an identity crisis. And, of course, just when we need the pick-me-up, Schulz delivers with an ending that will leave your sleeves wet with tears.
The art is spectacular. Vicki Scott does a masterful job of capturing all of the goodness and magic of the original comic strips with a popping new and vibrant flair. Donna Almendrala and Scott Jerralds are well versed in the language of Schulz’s penciling.
It is amazing to notice how much has actually not changed since the early years. It goes to show you just how far a great sketch with great character designs will take you. That is something so dang neat about these collected editions: They preserve old sketches and content that you just can’t find anywhere else. Towards the end of the book, there is a cover gallery, and they have preserved a full -olor frame from Charlie Brown’s first appearance in 1950. It is not unlike looking at a piece of art in any high-society gallery or hanging in the halls of any stuffy museum.
Do yourself a favor and pick up this collection. Pick all of them up. All ten volumes can be found on Amazon, and they look great on a bookshelf. Plus, you have added sensation of knowing that should you grab one off the shelf and turn its pages, you will be blessed with a trip down memory lane, scored by breathy piano, in step with Charlie Brown and his timeless friends.
Creative Team: Charles Schulz (writer/art), Vicki Scott (art), Donna Almendrala (art), Scott Jeralds (art)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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