Little Patriot Press, the branch of conservative publisher Regenery that had been publishing historically-linked Peanuts Great American Adventure books is showing signs that cause concern. Amazon just emailed me to say that they couldn’t get their hands on thew new volume that was supposed to be out, I Declare, Charlie Brown. Checking the Little Patriot Press website, their front page has a “Latest News” section announcing the new Peanuts books that will be out September 19, 2014… so it doesn’t sound like there’s been a lot of news there. Checking the imprint’s page on their parent company’s website, those 2014 books really are the most recent books the Press has released. And while it’s always been a small line, they have no further books already solicited except for the three Peanuts books slated for release this summer. They’ve pushed books back on the calendar before; I would not be surprised if those books quietly disappeared (or if they didn’t; stranger things have happened.)
The one-and-only D. D. Degg pointed me toward this obituary for cartoonist Linus Maurer, who passed away earlier this week at the age of 90. Mr. Maurer was, of course, the person whose name Schulz nicked when giving Lucy a baby brother (and I always thought it was a great choice; Linus is not a common name, not a freaky name, one that carries some gravitas – it works.)
Remember folks, if you want to do any research into the background of the pop culture you love, the time is now, it’s always now. The past does not stay with us in useful forms. With Peanuts, we are hitting a horizon soon. Schulz is gone, many of the people who were involved in its launching and success are gone. We still have plenty of people who knew him, but each day brings another loss of potential information, as people forget and people pass. We are in an era that is doing a great job of keeping a record of the present, as chronicles are stored online and may (or may not) be available for centuries to come. It is easy to forget that even the recent past was not so throughly stored.
This is the latest addition to my Peanuts book collection, and one of the more expensive items I’ve purchased. Some of you who have been reading for years or who were there at my presentation at Beaglefest a few years back might recognize what this is, but there are probably a few of you who are saying “hey, it just looks like someone took a normal copy of Love is Walking Hand in Hand, chopped off the spine, and re-bound it with a comb binding.
And you’d be right. Mostly.
What makes this book special is what they added. This was a book reworked by the American Brotherhood For The Blind as part of their Twin-Vision line, adapting published books for the blind. They insert pages in Braille, so that blind folks can read with their fingers.
Now, if you’re familiar with these Determined Production books like this (and, more popularly, Happiness is a Warm Puppy), you know that they’re made of two-page spreads, an adage facing a picture. These Twin Vision books have the adage in Braille…
…and then, turn the page, and there’s Schulz drawing, plus a raised, layered 3-D version of the same!
Dozens of raised Peanuts image – simplified a bit from their print equivalent (you’ll notice that there is no cover image on the comic books violet is reading in the raised version) make this a rather cool item.
I contacted the association that made these years ago, and they told me there were five Peanuts volumes in this series: this one, Happiness is a Warm Puppy, Suppertime, Security is a Thumb and a Blanket, and Christmas is Together-Time. However, that list is incomplete, as I know that Home is on Top of a Dog House also exists. (The Schulz Museum and Research Library has a set, so next time I’m there, I’ll check their titles.) These were never meant for private ownership; they were distributed to libraries and schools for the blind. This copy was given to the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind in 1970. Eventually, these things are either worn out or go unread and get retired, which is how I’ve gotten the ones I’ve gotten – the AAUGH.com Reference Library now has copies of four of these, still missing the Suppertime and Christmas volumes. Frankly, I’m a bit amazed that I’ve gotten this many; they only made about 100 copies of each of these, and they are subject to great wear and tear. (Looking back in my posting history, it looks like I got my first one in February 2002, my previous one in February 2010, and now this arrives today. It’s a short month, but it has its advantages !)
With both The Peanuts Collection and The Snoopy Treasures, I hoped that way could be found ton include one of these raised pages, but no such luck. But if I’m ever at Beaglefest again, I’ll bring another one along so folks can give it a feel.
So I got my copy of Comics Squad: Lunch!, the comics anthology with a new Peanuts story in it. And while the creative line-up and samples seen in Amazon’s Look Inside The Book feature made it seem interesting, the printed volume turns out to have one major change from the version seen there. This is how an early page (well, two-thirds of a page) looks at Amazon:
and here’s how it look in the book that’s in my hands:
Apparently, it was originally going to be three-color printed, using red, blue, and black, and instead they switched to two colors, yellow and black. This would be cheaper to print (every time you pass a page through a press for a different color, it costs; traditional color comics use a four-color process).
The Peanuts story is clearly made specifically for this book, not only because it follows the theme of lunch, but also because it’s laid out more simply that the current comic book series is; here they use two tiers of panels on each page, whereas the comic books generally use three. The tale is fourteen pages (including a “cover” page) focusing on Snoopy working in the school cafeteria.
All in all the package is a mixed bag, some of the stories work, some don’t. My favorite is the somewhat hallucenogenic lead story by Cece Bell. But hey, it’s about $8 (less through Amazon at the moment) for 128 pages of comics material, so if you’ve got a kid of the right age who has enjoyed the works of at least a couple of the participants, it’s probably a good purchase for them.
AAUGH Blog reader Mary joyfully showed me the book edition of A Charlie Brown Christmas that she had just gotten… and it’s one that I don’t have yet! Even worse, it’s one I’m not sure that I’ll be able to get!
Jul med Knøttene comes to us from Norway. Well, it came to Mary from Norway. For folks it Norway, I’d guess it comes from China, where both the earlier English and Japanese editions of this pop-up adaptation were printed. It doesn’t come to me from Norway, because, while I can find online Norwegian bookstores that carry this, they don’t ship to the US! Their forms are specifically designed for in-Norway addresses only. What kind of a world is this we live in where a man can be deprived of a copy of an A Charlie Brown Christmas pop-up book sheerly over the fiction of national borders?
Sorry. That’s the caffeine talking. I had some tea yesterday.