I’ve got some catching up to do as this fall’s book solicitations hit the system. A number of things need to be logged’n’blogged, and life is pretty full at the moment, but I wanted to get right to pointing out that you can now preorder The Complete Peanuts volume 26: Comics and Stories, as well as a boxed set of volumes 25 and 26. And if you click on that first link, you’ll see the book is described thusly:
The final volume of this game-changing series collects Peanuts rarities and other Schulz-created ephemera, much of which has never before been reprinted.
This book collects all of Schulz’s rare, non-strip Peanuts art: storybooks, comic book stories, single-panel gags, advertising art, book illustrations, photographs―even a recipe! With close to 1000 Peanuts images included, all created by Schulz himself, no true Peanuts library would be complete without this final volume. As a fitting end to The Complete Peanuts series, Jean Schulz, who was instrumental in putting this beloved series together, provides an emotional introduction to the volume. Black & white illustrations throughout.
Well, there’s two words I’d like to excise from that description. One is “all” – even with a full book to play with, there wasn’t room for every things Schulz drew beyond the newspaper strip. We focused primarily on things that were not otherwise available – generally on things that had not been in a book this century, with much of it never having been in a book. So you won’t see Happiness is a Warm Puppy here, for example, nor the book adaptation of Why, Charlie Brown, Why? You also won’t see every spot illo, every cover he drew.
The other word I’d like to pull is “non-strip”, because while what we chose for the book were things that were not in the daily newspapers, much of what we got were legitimate comic strips, things that look just like they could’ve appeared in the papers, with a series of panels, word balloons, the whole thing. There are dozens of four-panel strips in here, there are strips from as early as 1952 and as late as the 1990s. For things that were not precisely comic strips, our goal was to get material that was as strip-like as possible. We had two rules (it has to be Schulz, and it has to be Peanuts) but beyond that, we had some goals, some ways to measure strippishness – does it have multiple panels? Dialogue? Does it tell a story or try to be funny? So what kind of things will the book have? My co-curators (Derrick Bang and Timothy Chow) and I don’t have final say in that, the book is in Fantagraphics’ hands, but I can tell you that we provided them with:
- Dozens of pages of Peanuts comic book stories.
- Dozens of advertising cartoons.
- Four storybooks circa 1970 (Snoopy and his Sopwith Camel, and the like)
- The 1980s equivalents of the Happiness is a Warm Puppy books: Things I Learned After It was Too Late and Things I Had to Learn Over and Over and Over
- Original content that was done for books, whether it was a Peanuts book like Snoopy’s Tennis Book or whether it was a book on using your camera that Schulz did original strips for.
- Single panel gags done for golf tournament programs
- Various interesting bits from odd places – a multi-panel cover for a hockey magazine here, some coloring book pages there, and so on and so forth.
We also did provide them with plenty of spot illustrations, which may (or may not) be used in various ways in the book, we shall see. So is this book a “complete” collection of every Peanuts thing Schulz did beyond the strip? Of course not. But it’s full of funny and sometimes quite offbeat Peanuts material. This is a book I’d be eagerly looking forward to even if I weren’t one of the folks putting it together. I do think you’ll find it “complete” in one way: a complete delight!
(And hey, it’s got an intro by Jeannie! That’e better than volume 25, where they got some guy who is probably eager for work because he knows he’s gonna lose his job in less than a year…. a dude named “Barack Obama”.)