I had made the decision last year to no longer purchase the wonderful and amazing Fantagraphics box sets of Peanuts "Featuring Good Old Charlie Brown." But... well, the sets are so amazing I went ahead and purchased this year's four year collection. As others have pointed out, Schulz was in decline over the last half of his career, but pinpointing the exact point is difficult, at least for me. I am not unhappy with my purchase, as Schulz is one of the most consistent writers, mixing humour with philosophy and religion, and usually hitting me just right. While I had decided that the box set ending with 1974 was the last of the strips I would re-collect, I cannot say that the downward slope is especially noticeable in the present set, and all that I can say is that I miss the 50's and 60's mindset. These are not bad strips at all, it is just a new philosophy of cartooning, and while it is not the path I would have chosen for the characters to go down, I would not have been able to create the characters and the series in a million years, so I will just try my best to enjoy the ride. It is enjoyable, just different than the past.
Funny, though, to think back to a musing I made in my twenties, hoping that Schulz would have the sense to go out on top, and not decline like Ernie Bushmiller and the Nancy series. I think I sensed that "Superstar" Snoopy was beginning to be the tail wagging the dog, so to speak, and unfortunately I was making that observation right about the time the un-hoped for began to happen. I agree with some of the other reviewers that Bill Watterson got the timing right with Calvin and Hobbes (but wish he had as long a prolific period as Schulz had.)
For all that, I still can recommend this set, as Schulz is still the best. We are so fortunate to have had him.