Life magazine regularly puts out specials on various topics, there to focus on (exploit) some popular topic — often the anniversary of some favorite item. So I was surprised to see one on Peanuts at a local grocery this week. There is no big anniversary being celebrated. Sure, we’re getting into Peanuts season, when the three most popular TV specials are aired, and yes, something like this can be bought now as a stocking stuffer. But it was surprising nonetheless.
There are two covers available. Inside is 96 pages of material, all heavily illustrated — lots of strip segments, animation stills, and photos. Much of the space is dedicated to discussing the characters, with 6 pages apiece on Charlie Brown, 4 page sections for Linus, Lucy, and Sally, and two-page spreads for Violet, Schroeder, Pigpen, the Kite-Eating Tree, Woodstock, Peppermint Patty, Franklin, and Marcie. There are also sections on the key animated specials, sports and Peanuts, and of course Schulz himself, among other material. Cover price is $14.95. I was wondering whether this might be one that they had on hand in case of a gap in their publishing schedule — it seems like they may prepare these specials in advance, so they can quickly have out a special when someone famous dies — but I can tell you that they must’ve worked on this fairly recently, as they quote Blake Scott Ball’s Charlie Brown’s America, and that came out this June.
And now I have to face a question of categorization, and I hate those questions. When I hear folks argue about whether a certain album is hiphop or pop, my instinct is to respond “who cares?” Things lie that are rough terms that can easily be applied in 90% of cases, but nearly everything is a continuum, and terminology describes a rough range of a spectrum. But I run a website with a listing of Peanuts books, so I have to decide: is this a book (which I would add to my list), or a magazine (which I would not)? It’s squarebound, so it isn’t instantly ruled out of the book range as something stapled-bound (“saddle-stitched”) would be. But it’s being distributed on magazine racks. The Life special on Peanuts is not itself a periodical… but Life specials come out frequently. It’s meant for a limited display life — the cover tells retailers to display it until Christmas Eve.
But then I check the inside back cover, and it offers a subscription to the “Life Editors’ Choice Special Issues”. So this is an issue, not a volume. It is, therefor, I suppose, a magazine.
Now excuse me — I have to put it on my bookshelf.