Coming out this October is Celebrating Snoopy, which is a big, thick, high-end strip collection. This thing is a monolith – two inches thick, 10 inches wide, and thirteen inches tall in its slipcase. (If you saw the hardcover edition of Celebrating Peanuts from a few years back, this is that same format; this book is designed as a cousin to that one.) The meat of the book is over 500 pages of Peanuts strips, roughly a couple thousand strips in all and all of them are about Snoopy. That’s not every strip with Snoopy, of course, but it’s by far enough to give you a good sense of the character in all his evolution, from the very doggy dog of the early days to the sophisticated author, baseball player, and all around raconteur that he grew into (and then, in some ways well into the strip, back into a dog again.)
The dailies are in black and white, the way that nature intended. The Sundays are in color – although not always the original color. An editor’s note fills you in on the fact that some of the color is taken from the original tear sheets or as the strip originally ran, others were freshly recolored for this volume. The use of color gets a bit jarring in the 1970s section, where some of the strips are printed using color gradients that weren’t used in the newspapers of the day; this would be fine in a more random strip collection, but with one designed to show us how the strip and the character evolved over the years, this anachronism is jarring.
It’s the evolution of the character that makes the heart of the experience of this book, and truly that is one of the great developments in the years of cartoon literature. In the same masterful creative hands for half a century, Snoopy’s development from merely representing a dog to representing the hopes, dreams, and imagination in all of us is a great achievement, and it’s an achievement that you can witness one strip at a time.
In addition to the strips, the book includes an introduction by The Peanuts Movie director Steve Martino, a foreword by comics columnist Michael Cavna, and introductions for each decade of the strip by the Schulz studio’s own Lex Fajardo. Those section introductions cover both what was going on with Peanuts in the greater world at the time and what are some of the high points of Snoopy’s presence in the strip over those ten years. The book does have some Schulz quotes about developing Snoopy, but far fewer quotes from him than the Celebrating Peanuts volume had.
I wish they had gone with a matte paper rather than the glossy stock that is used. With a book this big, you don’t just prop it up in your lap and adjust the angle. You have to find a big flat surface to lay it out in, and deal with whatever light sources you have. In my case, that meant problematic glare. Besides, as a purist, paper that doesn’t reflect would better reflect the format in which Peanuts was intended to be seen. But these are the nitpicks of a person with a few too many Peanuts books.
The book lands October 24th, which means you’ll have two months to get it for someone for Christmas, or to convince someone else to get it for you. (Or both!) Preorders are, of course, available now.
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher. That’s one of the perks of being The AAUGH Blogger. That, the fast cars, and the sultry women, but mostly the occasional – very occasional – review copy. That’s the life that I lead!