I’m not one to do link posts, particularly to things that aren’t about books, but here’s a few things that I’ve been keeping browser windows open for, thinking “someday, I might links to this”:
I stopped by Meltdown Comics on Wednesday and picked up a couple copies of issue 1 of the new Peanuts comic book…. Meltdown is a bit out of my way, but they were having a signing by Shane Houghton and Matt Whitlock, the writer and artist of one of the stories in the issue, so I got a couple copies signed (and passed own the change to buy the rarer cover for $20, something I may ultimately regret.)
Having now read the comic, let me now say that the whole gang working on it has done quite a respectable job, certainly better than most of the older Peanuts comic books. Does it look exactly as if Schulz had drawn it? No… but then, neither does Peanuts animation. But it doesn’t look “wrong”, it looks like a legitimate take. Are there places where I think “that’s not quite right”? well, yes, but I have a picky sensibiity, my own beliefs in how things work, and fine-tuning (Lucy shouldn’t be angry here, that neck is bent wrong), and there are some things that I’ve spent too much time thinking about not to have an opinion (oh, we could get into a long discussion on what is the appropriate amount of gradients to be used on a page of simple, clean art!) But these are quibbles, and this is a book which I’m glad to buy.
There are two regular stories in the book, the one I previewed here with Lucy having a song stuck in her head, and one where Lucy hires Snoopy out to help find Frieda’s lost cat. Lucy also provides the narration for the three-page guide to drawing Charlie Brown, so this is a very Lucy-heavy issue. Lucy’s even key in two of the three Sunday strips reprinted here, leaving me wondering whether the plan was to have each issue focus on the character who was going to be on the rare alternate cover… and then they decided that the Lucy issue was strongest, so they’d lead with that despite the Charlie Brown cover. That’s just a guess.
The cast and characterization focuses on the mid-1960s, which can be viewed as being either the tail end of the previous Peanuts comic book runs or the cast from A Charlie Brown Christmas, and thus the characters who have gotten the most exposure. I do hope that they stretch at least into the Peppermint Patty era, not that much further down the road.
Reading through this leaves me thinking of the problem of trying to do longer Peanuts stories, seen in comic books and some original storybooks. Peanuts in its native format is episodic; even when doing a longer storyline, Schulz worked to make the individual strips self-contained. The TV specials are very scene oriented, which each scene building its own humor, and usually with multiple storylines to flip through. Trying to do a single building story that doesn’t break down, even for just 6 pages, builds a form of plot complexity that is hard to pay off in Peanuts fashion, as much of Peanuts hinges on small responses to small situations. I don’t think they’re fully successful in meeting that challenge here… but all in all, it’s an interesting attempt, and I think it’ll entertain the kids it’s aimed at – and I’ll find out for sure, should I decide to let my seven year old get her damaging kiddie fingers on my (autographed!) copies.
If you’re into the “collecting” aspect, then buy these issues. If your goal is to read the stories though, remember that they will be a fair bit cheaper if you hold out for the trade paperback collection.
The first issue of the new Peanuts comic book hits comic shops in North America today, so use the Comic Shop Locator to find a store near you, and call ahead to see if they’re carrying this book (not every store will). And if you’re lucky, you may be able to buy the rarer cover showing Charlie Brown’s first appearance. (There’s another variant cover, but I think that will first be available at the Emerald City Comic Convention at the end of March.)
Here’s the first few pages, click each to enlarge. (The comic has two stories, some strips, and a how-to-draw-Charlie Brown feature.)
Of course, you could just preorder the book collection, which will save you a few bucks over buying four issues at $3.99 each.
Good morning, and welcome to the future! Remember, you only have three more days to make Mayan calendar jokes, and then we can all move on to something else.
The year will not be bereft of new Peanuts books. Of course, there will be two more volumes of The Complete Peanuts, one including all the strips from 1983-1984 and the other (gasp) 1985-1986! And as mentioned before, a collection of the new Peanuts comic book is due in August. That little “seedling” edition of Happiness is a Warm Puppy that was announced for last year seems to have been pushed back to October of this year. And there’ll be the usual string of animation adaptations, activity books, and novelty items.
But will there be any particularly cool books that haven’t been announced yet? Well, there’s something I Can’t Talk About Yet that makes me say “yes”, and I bet there’s other things that I don’t know about at all that will also qualify. And as always, there’s the fervent hope that someone will finally do a book edition of A Charlie Brown Christmas! (I’ll bet dollars to donuts that this year, at the very least we will get a mass market record-a-book version, to follow up on this year’s Hallmark exclusive. Of course, that dollar-to-donut ratio is not nearly as impressive as it was in the days when people actually used that phrase.)
I shall do what I can to keep the blog from being empty. Thanks for coming along for the ride!