In this issue:
*REVIEW: EASTER BEAGLE KIDS BOOK
*BEWARE BOGUS "SIGNATURES"
*ODD PEANUTS BOOK: SHORT, BALD, AND UGLY
*ODD PEANUTS BOOKS: TWIN-VISION BOOKS
Hey, what did you all think of A CHARLIE BROWN VALENTINE? I thought it was well-done. It carried the half hour well, holding together without getting too tied up in plot. The humor had good rhythm. I wish they hadn’t shown the Little Red-Haired Girl, and I don’t have the love for this that I have for the Christmas and Halloween specials, but it was well worth watching.
REVIEW: EASTER BEAGLE KIDS BOOK
The new book adaptation of IT’S THE EASTER BEAGLE, CHARLIE BROWN has been out for a few weeks now, but with Easter coming up I thought I’d look it over. I’m not the biggest fan of the special; the parts with Peppermint Patty and Marcie trying to cook eggs are wonderful, but much of it is weak, and seeing Linus believing in another holiday creature besides the Great Pumpkin is both redundant and somewhat sacreligious, like seeing your pastor saying good things about Zeus.
The writing in this adaptation (by Ron and Justine Fontes) captures a bit more of the humor than previous adaptations did. The art by Paige Braddock is not her strongest in the series (Linus is clearly still a struggle; it’s hard to reproduce the character that large and still make his hair work), but thas some nice touches, including the willingness to have a couple pages of multi-panel shots, which is really what the characters were designed for.
I wouldn’t use these books to introduce a kid to Peanuts characters. They probably work best as an encouragement to read for kids who not only already know Charlie Brown and friends, but who have seen the special that’s adapted.
(And yes, kids do still like the specials. In fact, A Charlie Brown Valentine led its timeslot for viewership among kids, despite the fact that so many households had the Olympics on.)
BEWARE BOGUS "SIGNATURES"
I knew this was going to happen. I knew it, knew it, knew it.
The book PEANUTS: THE ART OF CHARLES M. SCHULZ has a copy of a Schulz signature and sketch printed on the inside front cover. Copies are now showing up on eBay, being touted as actually signed by Schulz — who died before work began on this book, and more than a year and a half before the book was published. And people are bidding well more than cover price for these "signed" copies, when they are no more signed than the copies you’d get from http://AAUGH.com/go.htm?0375420975 for less than cover price.
I don’t know whether these auctioneers intend to rip people off, or are merely ignorant about what they have. (Added later: now I know. I contacted one of the auctioneers, pointing out the situation, and he replied that he knew…
and left his auction description unchanged.) If you see someone selling a copy "signed by Schulz", or know someone bidding on that book, steer them to: http://AAUGH.com/guide/faq.htm#signed I’ve put up a short explanation about the true nature of this signature.
ODD PEANUTS BOOK: SHORT, BALD, AND UGLY
The minicomic YOU’RE SHORT, BALD, AND UGLY CHARLIE BROWN is not a licensed Peanuts product, which the producers try to make clear on the back cover (admitting Schulz’s copyright in the artwork while making it clear that Schulz was in no way responsible for the book.) Rather, it’s an underground parody product that dates back to 1991. This photocopies minicomic is the work of cartoonists who reused Schulz’s artwork but reworked the dialog (and, occasionally, made small art modifications.)
The 20-page booklet is broken into three sections. The first and third rely on the overused and rather lame method of parodying Peanuts: introducing sexual and scatalogical themes into the strip. The second section shows a spark of inspiration. Entitled "Billiards", it starts with strips from the storyline about the kids’ mothers getting involved in playing pool. The strips are treated, however, as if they had been originally written in Spanish and had been awkwardly translated into inappropriately precise English without humorous rhythm. "Diego (that is Charlie Brown’s name in this), a most startling development has transpired at our house." says Juan (Linus). "Our family has acquired a billiards table." "That is most interesting, Juan. I am sure that your father will indulge in the game a good deal and enjoy himself immensely." "No Diego…
it is my mother who is enjoying herself with this game of billiards." The parody storline evolves, eventually falling into a level of ugliness, but I have to give the parodyist points for getting there with style. Diego’s response to an unexpected comment from Juan will stay with me for a long time: "Ha ha ha. Sarcasm is an amusing and popular form of humor."
The work is credited to "Dr. Casey ‘Sparky’ Finnegan", an obvious pseudonym. One need look no further than the lettering of the strips to discern the efforts of varied hands at this enterprise. Despite this booklet’s cheap nature, there was clearly some effort put into this. Both the interior and exterior covers have a number of minor polishes that show that the parodyists were striving to do this right.
ODD PEANUTS BOOKS: TWIN-VISION BOOKS
A few issues back I promised some info on what may be the rarest set of Peanuts books ever, and here it is! The American Action Fund For Blind Children And Adults (formerly American Brotherhood For The Blind) created a line of what they call TWIN VISION books. They take standard printed books, cut them apart, and add pages of the same text in Braille, so that a blind person and a sighted person can both refer to the same book. Among the many titles that have been given the Twin Vision treatment are a number of Peanuts books, beginning with some of the prose-and-picture books that Determined Productions published in the 1960s. Happiness is a Warm Puppy, Christmas is Together Time, Love is Walking Hand in Hand, Suppertime and Security is a Thumb and a Blanket all have Twin Vision editions. Each spread has the standard version of the text and pictures, plus a Braille version of the text, plus a Braille description of the picture, and finally (and coolest of all) a raised version of the picture, so that the blind reader can actually feel the Schulz drawing. The picture has been adjusted in some ways for reproduction, and texture is added to some items (for example, when Sally holds a teddy bear, it’s made rough.)
The Braille is "Grade 2", which means that in addition to having characters for all the letters and numbers, there are abbreviation characters. There are single characters for common short words (the Braille equivalent of using & instead of AND), but even those characters can show up in the middle of a word (H&ST& instead of HANDSTAND).
How rare are these? They only made about 100 copies of each volume. That’s rare. How do you go about getting one? You don’t. These were created specifically for lending libraries for the blind, and they are apparently still quite popular, decades later. (If you just want to see one, however, you may have an opportunity coming up. More on that in a later newsletter.)
That’s it. No new books to announce, for once, but I thought I’d put out the newsletter anyway.
As always, questions and suggestions are welcome!
–Nat proprietor http://AAUGH.com