Book Review: Peanuts EverySunday 1952 - 1955 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, January 21, 2014
When I was a kid my mom used to drag me out shopping on Saturdays. Thoroughly boring but the highlight was she would always let me buy a new book and it was usually one of those paperback Charlie Brown collections. I would read them over and over again. For several years now, Fantagrahics has collected Charles M. Schulz’ iconic strip into hardcover archive editions, each covering a two year period. They now turn their attention to the Peanuts color Sunday strips, gathering the first four years in this beautiful tome.
The book begins with the very first Sunday strip published January 6, 1952 and continues through December 25, 1955. The Sunday strips started just two years after the daily strip made its debut in 1950 so this the Peanuts in their infancy, still not developed into the look we know today. The characters look younger, not much older than toddlers. Even Snoopy looks more like a puppy in these early days. The other difference of note is that these early strips featured characters who would be basically phased out over the years such as Shermy, Patty (not Peppermint Patty), and Violet.
The early strips are far more child-like in their tone than the later philosophical strips of the 1960s and 1970s. The gang delights in all manner of pretend fun such as imagining being attacked by crocodiles in Africa or playing restaurant. In one bizarre scene Snoopy runs from the dog catcher and envisions himself in the electric chair! Snoopy sitting in an electric chair? There is an image I never expected to see. Lucy doesn’t appear in a Sunday strip until March 30, 1952 and looks and acts much younger than Charlie Brown, perhaps only two or three years old as she takes bites out of Charlie’s prized record collection. By November of 1952, Schulz has “aged” Lucy to where she now seems to be the same age as Charlie Brown and we get the first Sunday strip where she grabs the football out of the way when Charlie Brown goes to kick it…because his shoes were dirty.
Therein lies the charm of this book. Once the strip moved into the early 1960s Schulz seems to have settle upon the character’s looks and personalities. New characters would be introduced but the core group remained basically the same over the next few decades. This book gives you the chance to see them actually develop over time. But no matter how they appear the Peanuts gang has a charm that has woven itself into the fabric of American culture for over 60 years.
Mania Grade: A
Writer: Charles M. Schulz and Jonathan Rosenbaum (Introduction)
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
Format: Hardcover, 288 pages