In recent months I have reviewed a couple of Schulz bios aimed at school libraries. One was 2000 words, one was 200 words, and neither of them had any information you wouldn’t get out of a basic obituary. These were just simple excuses for school book reports; if you really wanted your kid to know about Schulz, you could have a three-minute conversation with the kid and convey far more information.

CHARLES M. SCHULZ, CARTOONIST AND CREATOR OF PEANUTS, written by Michael A. Schuman and part of the People To Know series from Enslow Publishers (www.enslow.com) is something better. It’s about 20,000 words, aimed at kids in sixth grade and up. This wasn’t the work of someone who just rewrote an official bio; Schuman did original research, interviewing various people in Sparky’s life. The result is a book with texture and some depth. It covers Schulz’s life and the evolution of the strip, and it doesn’t shy away from covering the bruises, whether that be failed characters or personal failures (for example, Schulz’s divorce gets more of a mention here than in the popular Rheta Grimsley Johnson bio Good Grief). Most of the "plot" won’t be new to Peanuts fans who have read other Schulz bios, but there are some nice added insights, largely arising from the original interviews.

This is not meant to be a biography for adults. The sentences seem abrupt, and some topics that would be of more interest to adults (such as Schulz’s relationship with religion) are largely skipped. A few minor factual errors crept into the text, and a few terms ought to have been defined in the text (such as "syndicate"). Still, the book should make a good gift to any 10 to 15 year old Peanuts fans.

The book is a rugged hardcover, designed to withstand the demands of a school library. It has about two dozen black and white photos plus a handful of reproduced strips. The book does have heavy citation of sources in end notes, a list of further reading, and an index.

To order, go to: http://AAUGH.com/go.htm?0766018466
PEANUTS: THE ART OF CHARLES M. SCHULZ, that gorgeous and unique book edited by Chip Kidd, has been nominated for an Eisner Award. These awards, named for Spirit creator Will Eisner, are voted on by professionals in the comic book industry. The book is competing against four other titles, including another book designed by Chip.

This is not the first time a Peanuts book has been up for an Eisner. PEANUTS: A GOLDEN CELEBRATION won the award in the same category (Best Comics-Related Book) in 2000.

These awards will be given away at the Comic-Con International in San Diego on August 1-4.

To order PEANUTS: THE ART OF CHARLES M. SCHULZ: http://AAUGH.com/go.htm?0375420975 To order PEANUTS: A GOLDEN CELEBRATION: http://AAUGH.com/go.htm?0062702440
The text storybook IT’S A HOME RUN, CHARLIE BROWN has started shipping months before its announced June release date. This is available both as a paperback: http://AAUGH.com/go.htm?0689849397 and as a more durable library-bound hardcover http://AAUGH.com/go.htm?0689852630
I’m just musing on the fact that the original 1965 version of LOVE IS WALKING HAND IN HAND features Shermy and Flavorless Patty holding hands on the cover. While there are clear creative reasons for this choice (most of the other characters are specifically unrequited lovers), it is still an odd choice of characters to promote a Peanuts book. By 1965, both had become minor supporting characters.
I’ve got over 800 Peanuts books by this point, but some books I don’t consider to be very important to buy. Price guides to Peanuts collectibles are definitely in that category, but I finally got around to buying copies of PEANUTS GANG COLLECTIBLES and MORE PEANUTS GANG COLLECTIBLES, two unauthorized guides. Flipping through the MORE book, my eyes fall on the bibliography, and there’s my name! They references one of my articles. The influence of my article (which is online here: http://www.aaugh.com/guide/texture.htm ) can be seen in the two pages of Introduction. So for a moment, I’m full of pride. Obviously, this was a deeply researched book, done with the finest attention to detail. After all, they referenced my work!
And then I looked at the next entry on the bibliography. And it says that the book You Don’t Look 35, Charlie Brown was written by "Charles M. Holt". So much for attention to detail…


Both books are full of color photos, and reveal some interesting objects. (My favorite? Kuwaiti coloring books!) Order PEANUTS GANG COLLECTIBLES: http://aaugh.com/go.htm?0764306715 Order MORE PEANUTS GANG COLLECTIBLES: http://aaugh.com/go.htm?0764307479
Over the years, many of you have probably seen THE CHARLIE BROWN DICTIONARY, a Peanuts adaptation of the Rainbow Dictionary for kids. You may have seen the all-in-one edition, the six book edition, or the eight book edition. However, you’ve probably never seen the Chinese edition. This 1999 book aimed at the native Chinese speaker turns the work into an English-Chinese dictionary by including all of the English definitions of English words as well as translating them into Chinese.

Actually, I use "definition" rather loosely. The original version of the dictionary usually doesn’t provide clear definitions. Instead, it shows the word used in a sentence, often followed by the same concept expressed in a different sentence without using the word. This makes sense in an English dictionary, but it seems a bit overkill to have an English-Chinese dictionary with the word in a sentence, then the Chinese translation of that sentence, and then a synonymous English sentence, and then a Chinese translation of the synonymous sentence!
All of this text, plus the phrase book, US map, pronunciation and tense guides, and the full-color spread for each letter featuring words starting with that letter make for a thick book. 568 pages is the thickest all-Peanuts book I have in my collection. The book is heavily illustrated, although they use few of the images that were used in the English version of the dictionary (which took many of its images from the animated Peanuts specials). Rather, they use full-color images taken from various strips, standard Peanuts licensing art, and a few images that seem to have been reworked just for this book.

The print quality is generally great, but some of the images appear to be taken from degraded old printed copies, creating a sharp reproduction of a picture with missing lines and lines that have spread. Worse yet, some images look like someone tried to rescue a degraded image by drawing a too-heavy outline over some parts of the picture. Still, with over 500 images, this is an interesting book for people who like Peanuts images.

The book doesn’t reflect the changes in the language during the 29 years since the English version of the dictionary was published, and even that may not have reflected all of the changes in the decades since the Rainbow Dictionary was first published. Oh, "television" is among the thousands defined, but "computer" is not. The word "stewardess" is there, but not "flight attendant". And I sincerely doubt that anyone creating an English language dictionary today would define the word "gay" with the phrase "Snoopy is gay."
This is a cool book to have on your shelf. I found mine by using Alibris — you can find a link to them on the http://AAUGH.com/guide/shopping.htm shopping guide page (and yes, Alibris does give me a small kickback when you order something after going to their page from that link, but no, that doesn’t up your price at all.) They don’t have any copies left at the moment, though. This book has been published in both hardcover and paperback; I have the hardcover.
As long as I’m mentioning Chinese books, I can’t help but mention SUPER SNOOPY BOOK #19: HE WON A COLORING CONTEST. While this is a Chinese language book (translated by Minchu Chou), it’s actually quite useful to the Peanuts fan who knows English but not Chinese. That’s because this reprints daily strips from the second half of 1995, which won’t be collected in a U.S. book until next spring! Better still, they leave the English text in the strip, placing the Chinese translation outside of the panel. Due to formatting problems, the strips aren’t all in order, but each strip *is* dated. I may need to find some earlier volumes in this series, so I can have more dailies from the period reprinted by Harper Collins, which skipped about a dozen dailies in each year they reprinted. (They also skipped about 40 Sundays per book, but this Chinese book skips all the Sundays.)

The book starts off with four pages with brief intros to 28 Peanuts characters. Presumably these pages are the same for every book in the series, and a lot of characters are introduced who don’t show up in the pages. I’m not sure one ever needs an introduction to Joe Agate or Tapioca Pudding; the same book that has their first appearance is apt to have their last.

This book is on very heavy paper, and the single-panel strips are stretched across two pages — making it very hard to see the center of the strip without breaking the book’s spine. Ah, the troubles of collecting a disposable medium…
Well, that’s all the news and notes for today. If any of you are going to the WonderCon comic book convention in Oakland next weekend, stop by my table in Artist’s Alley where I’ll be selling my own work. For more info on the con, go to: http://www.wondercon.org/ As always, let me know if you’re changing your email address, or if you have any comments, questions, or concerns!
–Nat proprietor http://AAUGH.com

The Untouchable Charlie Brown

If you look at this ad, you may be wondering (as I did when I stumbled across it) why Charlie Brown is advertising a television show in 1963… and why, of all shows, he’s advertising┬áThe Untouchables. (Or you may be one of the many people now populating the earth too …

Peanuts First Edition guide

As proud as I am of my Peanuts Book Collectors Guide, it is not the be-all and end-all guide…. and as much as I have visions of making it so, the real life of being a father of two, the runner of a business, a make of dinners, and a …

Peanuts and the public domain

As you may have seen discussed elsewhere, as of today, the first couple Mickey Mouse cartoons are in the public domain in the United States. That means that people are free to make not just copies of the cartoons, but derivative works based on those cartoons. It doesn’t mean that …