So I heard from the curator of the Schulz Museum, the one and only Benjamin L. Clark (oh, okay, those are common names, so there’s probably at least several Benjamin L. Clarks, but only one is the curator of the Schulz Museum. I assume.) He let me know that the Life special on Peanuts that I chatted about yesterday was originally supposed to come out last year, as part of the 70th anniversary of Peanuts, but was delayed due to that pandemic that some of you may have heard about.
He also gave me input on the “is it a book, or is it a magazine?” dilemma that I was facing. It turns out that in the publisher’s eyes, this is…
…wait for it…
Boy, does that not help.
As for the contents of this, well, I’ve not read through every word of it, but mostly it seems a reasonably knowing overview of the history of the strip and its tie-ins. Not a bad thing to buy, perhaps not the best thing if you want this kind of a thing – I note that at the moment I type this (and likely to change at any second, given the whimsy of the Amazon pricing system), the 200 page full color hardcover The Peanuts Book is just $16.90 on Amazon, so just a couple bucks more than this.
But you’re waiting for some pointless nitpicking, for me finding some error in the book that I can chew on, right? Well, no such actual error has popped up for me yet. I don’t want you to go away disappointed, though, so I’ll give you a couple things that could be clearer.
One is that they use this photo with the comment “In 1952, Rinehart & Co. published the first collection of Peanuts comics”. Which is true, but the copy they’re showing was probably not published in 1952. The book only went through two printings that year, and this is definitely not the first printing — they didn’t print a price on the first printing. So if they didn’t bother to show the first printing, odds are good they’re showing any one of several post-1952 printings that bore this cover. (The cover would later change to have the $1.00 in the upper right corner, and with the publisher name updated to Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., although I still haven’t gone through the effort of tracking when each of those changes took place.)
In the section on A Charlie Brown Christmas, they have a big picture of the dance scene, and on it was this note:
THE MOST DESIRABLE DANCE partner in this scene? Statistics site FiveThirtyEight.com polled readers. The winner: spiky-haired guy in orange, with 75% of the votes.
Which is somewhat true. The guy in orange won. He didn’t win 75% of the votes, because this was not a simple popular vote. He won 75% of the head-to-head matchups he was in. but that’s not the part that bothers me. The bothersome part is that that character has a name. Now I understand the folks at FiveThirtyEight not knowing it…. well, okay, only partially, I mean if you’re running something like this, you really might want to know what you’re talking about (“If only we knew the name of this background guy to send him an invite to the office bash,” they say.) But Life editors, you’re doing an entire bookazine about Peanuts, working with the people on the inside. You should have taken the effort to get his name.
(There, does that fulfill the quota for pointless nitpicking? Good.)