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The Complete Peanuts Volume 6: 1961-1962 Hardcover – Dec 23 2014
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At the start of the 1960s, Schulz had entered into a satisfying routine of putting his beloved characters through their annual paces. Charlie Brown's baseball team went down to perpetual defeat in the summer, Linus vainly awaited the Great Pumpkin and Lucy pulled the football in the fall, and Schroeder celebrated Beethoven's birthday in the winter. These strips introduce Frieda, the girl with "naturally curly hair," sadly destined to remain a second-stringer, and for a brief period in them, Linus sports eyeglasses. Singer Diana Krall contributes a heartfelt introduction. Gordon Flagg
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One of the finest cultural artifacts made in the 20th century. -- Russell T. Davies Peanuts was, and is, and will continue to be the finest comic in the world. Bravo. -- Ray Bradbury The world of Peanuts is a microcosm, a little human comedy for the innocent reader and for the sophisticated. -- Umberto Eco ...as powerful a comic art-piece as anything out today...will delight Peanuts aficionados. * Observer * Beautifully designed ... One of the high-water marks of post-war popular culture. * Daily Telegraph * All sorts of important writers have marveled at the glorious simplicity of [Schulz's] draftsmanship and his unerring jokecraft, all underpinned by a quiet melancholy and stoicism ... by some miracle, the entire Peanuts oeuvre is gradually being republished in this country, by Canongate ... in lavishly appointed hardback ... Unlike almost everything you read as a child, they are actually better than you remember them. * Spectator * ...these timely re-issues illustrate not only the skill and subtle brilliance of his work but also the origins of the form beyond simple merriment. * The List * Canongate has had the brilliant wheeze of reprinting Charles Schulz's strip cartoon from the beginning in hardback volumes... * Herald * The Complete Peanuts is beautifully bound, a comprehensive resource and, with an index and introduction, a useful contextualisation of a modern legend. * The Skinny * ...in these first volumes (1950-54), we can already see what will appeal to 21st century readers. * Sunday Times * --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.See all Product Description
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The old standbys are here: the Great Pumpkin, Lucy and the football, the hapless baseball team, and Snoopy's rich fantasy life. I also enjoyed the random references to American life in the early 1960s: especially an eerie strip from 1962 in which the kids speculate on the possibility of the Bomb dropping, with Lucy screaming "Don't Say It!" Schulz could not have known that that October the world would come closer than ever before or since to nuclear holocaust, so this is further evidence that Peanuts' popularity stems from its links, conscious and unconscious, to our own inner lives and fears.
Its hard to wait six months or so between volumes in this series, but we can endure it in happy anticipation of the advent of treasures yet to be revealed, such as the first time Snoopy climbs into that Sopwith Camel
Jazz superstar Diana Krall kicks off this volume with her introduction and her reminiscences closely mirror my own, and I suspect many others as well. This volume opens with Lucy burying Linus' blanket in a hidden spot, hoping to cure him of the habit of carrying it around. On one hand, this is monumentally callous of Lucy, and yet it also shows the tough love she has for her little brother. I'm sure I didn't understand this 30 years ago. Snoopy saves the day by digging up the hidden treasure, much to his glee and Lucy's consternation.
The memories flooded back as I read these strips for the first time in over three decades, and yet they were still as fresh, still as funny as ever. No Woodstock yet, but that doesn't stop Snoopy from entertaining many other birds on the roof of his doghouse. And of course Snoopy's imagination is in high gear as he imagines himself as a fierce, jungle prowling cat, a swinging gorilla, and even a cow. There's also a slew of topical references such as Charlie bemoaning that Willy McCovey didn't hit the ball three feet higher. Classic!
Interestingly, it is Linus, and not Charlie Brown who suffers from Pantophobia (the fear of everything) as he visits Lucy's psychiatric help booth. "A Charlie Brown Christmas" uses the strip almost word for word except for Linus being the patient instead of Charlie Brown.
My favorite strips were always the holiday ones and this volume doesn't disappoint with Linus writing to the Great Pumpkin and doing his best to find the most sincere pumpkin patch to wait for his arrival. In the strips from 1962, we again see where these are some of the strips that were used for "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" Specifically where Sally screams at Linus and demands restitution for missing out on trick or treating as she spent the night with him in the pumpkin patch. We again see a character switch from strip to cartoon as it's Lucy and not Sally who asks Santa Claus to bring her "Tens and Twenties".
This was simply a delight for me to read and just serves to prove how good Schulz really was...
Reviewed by Tim Janson
This sixth volume closes with Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, and Snoopy firmly established as the strip's core cast. Schroeder and Sally, though they appear often, remain more supporting characters. Some previous mainstays such as Shermy, Violet, and Patty have started to fade into the periphery. In their stead some new ones arrive. Linus introduces Charlie Brown to Frieda with her naturally curly hair and her gelatinous cat, Farron. She, much like Pigpen, remains a one joke character. Schulz does create chemistry between her and Snoopy, though. Frieda often exhorts him to get off his duff and chase rabbits. Snoopy finally agrees, but doesn't admit to her that "I don't even know what a rabbit smells like." She also comes between Lucy and Schroeder, albeit temporarily. Snoopy gives Lucy pouncing lessons, and she puts them to use to mangle the intruding newcomer. Although she appears often in this volume, Frieda never became a true regular.
Snoopy remains the ever phantasmagoric dog. He continues to imitate animals such as vultures, gorillas, rabbits, a calf ("Mooo!"), a gargoyle, and even a teddy bear. When Linus starts wearing glasses, he pilfers them and role plays: "Gentlemen, I'd like to present to you the new chairman of the board!" To aggravate Schroeder he plays "Polkas, schottishes, and waltzes" on a concertina. Snoopy always represented the height of anthropomorphism. Proto-Woodstocks invade his house day and night. Some sleep there, some have meetings there, and some just have cold feet. Also, in a wave of pathos, Snoopy befriends numerous snowmen only to watch them melt into puddles. He clutches at them and sobs as they disintegrate, but Charlie Brown notices that "he wasn't too sensitive to eat the carrot." One could argue that Snoopy was responsible for the majority of Peanuts' success. He added more than a touch of slapstick surrealism to the comic. Not only that, he also remains one of the most recognizable characters in American popular culture.
Linus' traumatic blanket loss reoccurs throughout this volume. Many get in on the action. Lucy buries it, makes flannelgraph shapes with it, and cuts it into glass wipes. Snoopy often snags it right out of his hands. Linus also loses a bet with Miss Othmar, who we never see, and she garnishes his tapestry of security. Never underestimate a blanket as a weapon, though. On January 3rd, 1961 Linus violently whacks a nickel out of the sky with the corner of his blanket. Also, in one of the more bizarre strips, July 18th, 1961, he scares off taunters by using the blanket to disguise himself as Count Dracula. They run in terror. Security blanket, indeed.
Schulz often referred to the May 28th, 1961 Sunday page in interviews. Apparently his daughter asked "am I buttering too loud for you?" one morning at breakfast. This became the answer exemplar for the inevitable question "so where do you get your ideas?"
Schulz also appreciated history, as evidenced by his later D-Day anniversary Sunday panel. In 1961 he celebrated the centennial of the Civil War by putting Union hats on Charlie Brown, Linus, and Snoopy. At first he doesn't explain them, but soon other characters start to ask "when does the centennial end?" Such subtle touches added immeasurably to the strip's depth.
Peanuts showed no signs of stagnation at the end of 1962. Many traditions, such as the Great Pumpkin and the annual pulling away of the football, were already established. Those who read Peanuts in the 1970s or 1980s would instantly feel at home in the 1960s strips. That's because, with the exception of some later additions, Schulz had his groundwork fully laid down by this time and continued to ride a rising wave. Peanuts would later dominate popular culture, though some would deride it as overly commercial. In hindsight, the strip speaks for itself regardless of the Dolley Madison and MetLife spots. Peanuts invigorated the comics page, but also set an impossibly high standard to follow. No subsequent strip, possibly excepting Calvin and Hobbes, has come close to the breadth and depth that Charles Schulz put into his semi-adult semi-child balls of neuroses.
The one first for this period that I can think of outside of Frieda and her cat, is the first mention of the little girl with red hair. There are some wonderful sequences in this book, even beyond those already mentioned. There is Lucy burying Linus' blanket, and later she makes a kite out of his blanket and accidentally lets it go. There is also a sequence where the baseball team quits on Charlie Brown. Lucy starts a practice where she stomps out germs. Snoopy helps raise some birds. There are also many recurring type strips. Lucy is back with her Psychiatrist booth several times; Frieda tries to get Snoopy to chase rabbits, and of course returning every year for so many years Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown, and many more as well.
I am obliged to mention the wonderful index which is included in each volume of this series. If you want to find a character, or the mention of an unusual subject, or a particular sequence it is all listed there and easy to look up. This volume has an introduction by the jazz vocalist Diana Krall. She talks a bit about how much she enjoyed the strip, but mostly she talks about the Peanuts specials and the music used in them. This is another great volume in "The Complete Peanuts" series.