Now available for pre-order is volume 5 of the paperback edition of The Complete Peanuts. This volume covers the years 1959 and 1960, and features an introduction by Whoopi Goldberg.
I’m back from the post office with my first two books of A Charlie Brown Christmas postage stamps. And yes, they count as books, or at least pamphlets; they’re designed to be folded down (you peel off the thin stickers that have the copyright information that’s between the blocks of stamps.) I do have more of these on the way, as I ordered some from the postal service by mail. And maybe I’ll even get more. They are “forever” stamps, after all (although “A Charlie Brown Christmas Forever Stamps” doesn’t sound quite as cool as when that descriptor was applied to a recent set of Batman stamps, as it made it sound like a set of stamps about Batman Forever, the little-loved film with Val Kilmer as the Caped Crusader) and can supposedly be used for first-class domestic postage for centuries to come. However, most of them are Christmas themed, and I don’t have that much need for Christmas stamps even around Christmas, much less the rest of the year. Still, a couple of the ten are non-holiday winter themed, showing skating and snow man building. One of them is just good mailing-themed, showing a kid digging into a mailbox. And they’re all Peanuts themed, and that’s a good thing. The book has 20 stamps, two each of 10 designs, and sells for $9.80.
Sixty-five years ago today, paperboys were hitting doorsteps with newspapers that included the very first Peanuts strip. Folks who read about Good Ol’ Charlie Brown (“How I hate him!”) probably hadn’t a clue as to how old he would become.
And let’s think about that age for a bit. We still see Peanuts as a modernish thing – not cutting edge, mind you, but there were new strips being produced by the creator during the lifespan of every adult reading this. It’s not black-and-white TV, much less silent pictures. The last episode of Friends is only three years newer than the last Peanuts strip.
Yet if you line it up with culture things that are old, things that are on the slim list of survivors of the days before we were born… it’s getting there. It’s more than 60% as old as Tarzan, more than half as old as Sherlock Holmes. It’s clearly not one of those things that is fading away, to be forgotten like Buster Brown or Frank Merriwell. It doesn’t even look to be teetering on disappearance, like The Lone Ranger. There are new major projects, there is ongoing sales of collections of Peanuts strips, it is not merely a nostalgia item or a window on the past.
It will be interesting to see how the future treats Peanuts, whether it becomes modernized, treated as an element of nostalgia, becomes more of an iconography to people than a set of actual characters with story, or simply continued to fine a new audience for what it already is.
I was just looking at “I Never Promised You an Apple Orchard”: The collected Writings of SNOOPY, a 1976 storybook by Schulz (which is largely gags taken from the strip, although the art is all new), and I saw that it was dedicated “For Joanne Greenberg, of course”. Of course.
So being my ignorant li’l self, I had to look it up. Joanne Greenberg is the real person who wielded the name “Hannah Green” to write the 1964 novel I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, a semi-autobiographical tale about teenaged Deborah Blau struggling with mental illness. (She went on to be a professor in creative writing at the Colorado School of Mines, which I’ve always assumed was a school where you could major in being a miner.) So for those of you who thought that Snoopy may have been inspired by the hit 1970 song “(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden”, nope. It was inspired by Greenberg, writing as Green, about herself as Blau. Of course.
As I’d mentioned, I accidentally double-ordered some of the recent Peanuts books… but in the case of The Sky’s the Limit, Snoopy!, I don’t mind. This thin, floppy, full-color storybook of the Snoopy-centric portions the upcoming The Peanuts Movie movie “includes,” as the cover promises “double-sided posters!” There’s two: a 15.5″ square poster with the World War I Flying Ace on one side (goggles up on top of the head) and full cast shot on the other side, and 15.5″x6.5″ shot of everyone skating, backed with a 6.5″x15.5″ that features Snoopy hugging Woodstock, over the text “It’s so nice to know you’re loved”. So these may prove a decoration (although it also makes me realize that instead of these smaller folded posters, I should probably spring for some of the full rolled movie posters. I mean, when else are you going to be able to get separate posters of Franklin, Pig-Pen, and Violet?)