Just a trace of Schulz

Know what can make me happy on a tough day? Getting a Peanuts book in the mail.

Know what can make me very happy? Getting a Peanuts book published in a country not already reflected in my collection.

Know what can make do a little dance? Getting a Peanuts book in a language not already reflected in my collection.

Know what can make me ecstatic on a tough day? Getting a book from a country and in a language not already reflected in my collection, and finding it’s wonderfully weird.

Fistaszki: Trzecie Spotkanie is a Peanuts book published in Warsaw, Poland in 1984. For those of you who don’t have all your dates memorized – yes, Poland was still under Communist rule in the time (no, it was not part of the USSR, but it was generally allied with them.) And while the Communist bloc countries may be known for many things, respect for copyright and big budgets aren’t among them. I can’t say with absolute certainty that this is not a licensed item – there is a 1975 copyright notice for United Feature Syndicate at the end of the book – but this doesn’t look like something that would’ve passed approval. You see, this is a strip collection… and the strips are all traced.

Not a lick of pure Schulz to be found here. The quality of tracing varies, but the cover is particular hideous.

This particular 48 page saddle-stitched (i.e., stapled) black-and-white book with a color cover is the third in a series (online translators tell me “trzecie spotkanie” means “third meeting”), and the page numbering starts where the previous one left off – the pages are numbered 97-144. The strips are numbered 26-41, and there are a number of added illustrations framing the strips, on title pages, and so forth.

In the original version the soccer ball is... a golf green!
In the original version the soccer ball is... a golf green!

On one hand, it’s sad to see that people got redrawn Peanuts, because it was cheaper to produce. On the other hand, it says something that they were willing to do what it took to get some form of Peanuts to the people, as watered down as it may have been. Certainly, this is not a sort of book that I would encourage anyone to produce, but it’s a cool artifact to have…. and it’s the sort of thing we’re not likely to see again; even if there was a place where it was financially worthwhile to produce black market Peanuts books, it would be far easier to scoop some digital source material from somewhere than to trace the whole thing. To someone who knows what Peanuts is, this is like buying a bootleg DVD of Avatar and discovering that, rather than someone holding a video cam up to the movie screen, it’s whole film reenacted from memory by a group of high school sophomores.

I’m in love with this cheaply printed pile of tracings that I can’t read.

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