Monday, January 20, 2014

Review: The Complete Peanuts 1950-1952

I don’t know how I can calculate the effect Charles Schultz has had on my life.  Schultz’s creations have been a constant as long as I can remember.  I read the daily Peanuts comic strip, always at the top of the page in the local papers.  I watched the TV Specials every year.  I had many collections including the hardcover “It was a Dark and Stormy Night”.  When I got older I took my kids to Camp Snoopy to ride the Woodstock roller coaster!  Schultz has been responsible for so much entertainment, joy, and even introspection in my life. I’d say he has to be one of the top 5 most influential people from the Arts to affect me.

Recently I read the Complete Peanuts, 1950-1952.  This is a collection of the earliest Peanuts strips and it is very different from what the strip would become.  The art is similar to Schultz’s familiar style, but rough. The content is different, as Charlie Brown is less the loser and sometimes the instigator of trouble.  Snoopy isn’t pretending to be a pilot or a lawyer yet.  In fact, he’s just a puppy at first.  Lucy, Schroeder, and Linus show up as babies, then start to get more time.  The main cast is Charlie Brown, his friend Shermy, and two girls named Violet and Patty. (Not Peppermint Patty, she would come later!)

Though these strips are nowhere near as good as what would come in later years as Schultz developed the characters and chose to focus more on others in the supporting cast.  Shermy, Patty, and Violet aren’t nearly as interesting as Linus, Lucy, Peppermint Patty, Marcie, and others that would come along.  However, the charm of this volume is discovering these seldom-reprinted strips and watching as the strip changes and grows as Schultz evolves artistically.  I’ve read about the early days of Peanuts before, and it was great to finally read all the strips.  I’d recommend this volume to any Peanuts fan, and I plan to continue with volume II as soon as I have time.

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