The Complete Peanuts Volume 7: 1963-1964 Hardcover – Aug 13 2013
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These 196364 strips show Schulz continuing to mine high-grade humor and charm from his small cast and such concerns as Charlie Brown's inabilities to fly kites and procure Valentines, Linus' dependence on his security blanket, and Snoopy's obsession with the contents of his supper dish. Occasionally, something anomalous happens, such as a new kid in the neighborhood; named "5," he didn't stay long. Within a year, the Peanuts' fame would skyrocket with the debut of A Charlie Brown Christmas; animator Bill Melendez sketches the behind-the-scenes story of the show in this volume's introduction. Flagg, Gordon
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"Consider The Complete Peanuts as a revelation ... I felt the looming presence of the author emanating so powerfully from these pages." -- Globe and Mail Book Review
"One can scarcely overstate the importance of Peanuts to the comics, or overstate its influence on all of us who have followed." -- Bill Watterson
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For example, there's a strip were Snoopy chases two birds off his doghouse, and remarks "I don't trust birds since I saw that movie!"
He is of course referring to Hitchcock's "The Birds" released in 1963.
I loved seeing this strip! What a shame it was lost for 44 years. There is also a strip where Sally asks her brother about Walt Disney. And one strip which was truly a revelation: SCHULZ PARODYING HIMSELF. Linus commenting on the value of a warm puppy! Terrific!
Don't miss this collection, fans!!
There are two real gems to this book.
One is the story where Linus (my absolute favorite Peanuts character) runs for class president. I'm betting Schultz had a lot of fun with this. He lampoons the entire election process. This includes the speeches and promises, the press coverage, the polling, and everything else.
The other gem is even more important to me. This is where the title of my review comes into play. They had the great Bill Melendez write the foreward for this book.
Mister Melendez was an animator who wound up directing every single Peanuts movie and special ever made. In addition to this, he also did the voices of Snoopy and Woodstock on most of them (the exceptions being those few specials where Snoopy actually talked). Considering his close association with Schultz and his creation, he really should have been the one to write the foreward back in book 1 when this series started. Instead, throughout this series, we'd get nothing but celebrity endorsement after celebrity endorsement.
I was actually afraid that they'd do this entire series without so much as mentioning the man. Thankfully, these fears came to naught with the release of this book. Like I said, "they finally got it right".
The foreward itself is only 3 pages, but the quality makes up for it. Melendez talks about the events that led up to him meeting Schultz, his first impressions of the man, and how they went from a car commecial to a Peabody Award-winning special ("A Charlie Brown Christmas"), and then to a long and enjoyable career making other animated Peanuts titles (some great; some not so great). This is a story that certainly merits more than 3 pages, but Melendez takes the space he's given and manages both to inform and to satisfy.
If you're a Peanuts fan (especially if you're a Linus fan), click on that buy button. Trust me, you won't regret it.
When the strip began it focused on Charlie Brown. The artwork was less sophisticated and the characters' personalities were subject to fluctuation. Overall, it more resembled the single-panel strip Schulz drew for the St. Paul Pioneer Press from 1947 to 1950, called "Lil' Folks," than the strip we know today. Schulz returned to single panel cartooning between 1957 and 1959 with "It's Only a Game." But the success of "Peanuts" led him to focus all of his efforts on Charlie Brown, the gang, and that morphing beagle. By 1963, Snoopy dominated the strip. He had become more human than dog. As Snoopy changed from a "real" dog that barked into a surrealistic dynamo with language capabilities, the strip followed him. The physical jokes became more exaggerated (a line drive unclothes Charlie Brown on 3/27/64, Schroeder muffles Lucy with a musical staff on 8/6/64, and Linus's wastebasket towers with rubbish on 7/22/64) and the strip lost some of the cruel hard edge it had in the 1950s (contrast the first two volumes in the series with this one). Lucy in particular was toned down and Charlie Brown's ubiquitous failings became more and more comical and less outright depressing. Schulz also experimented with some new characters. Many didn't last long, such as "3," "4," and "5," who appear in this volume. But some, like Peppermint Patty, who finally appears in the next volume, had staying power. And Snoopy would continue to develop in some interesting new directions. The 1960s were underway, John F. Kennedy was President for half of this volume, the Beatles had landed in America, and the Vietnam war was just beginning to escalate. Some signs of the times appear late in this volume as prototype woodstocks picket with grammatical symbols such as "!," "?" and ";" (from 9/1/64 to 9/12/64). Confrontations and violence occur between the "!" birds and the "?" birds. Snoopy even calls some of them "fanatics" (9/7/64) and decries "it's hard to know what to believe" (9/4/64). These particular strips provide brilliant abstractions of the trouble brewing in the larger world in 1964. Lastly, the 12/6/64 Sunday strip could provide oodles of intellectual fodder for analytic types. Freda wants Snoopy to hunt his natural enemies, rabbits. Instead, he dances and frolics with them. The strip's third panel includes an insert that proclaims "Happiness is loving your enemies." On the last panel, Charlie Brown asks "Now what was that all about?" as if we're supposed to ask ourselves that same question. Brilliant strips like this transcend the funny pages and "Peanuts" included many such moments.
Other highlights include: a spider on the flyball (8/8/64); Snoopy ends a game of catch with his slobber (11/1/64); Snoopy guards the house with a machine gun (4/21/63); Charlie Brown's run-ins with his baseball anti-hero Joe Shlabotnik; "The seat is jammed" (6/22/63); the "we prayed in school today" Sunday strip (10/20/63); Linus's speech to the snowmen (12/29/63); Lucy creates a slideshow of Charlie Brown's faults and bills him for it (1/24/64 - 2/8/64); the parody on "Happiness is a warm puppy" (6/20/64); Snoopy's doghouse gets a full cleaning (6/22/64 - 6/30/64); Linus's reaction to Lucy's "think of the power" (10/5/64); Snoopy's sarcastic jumping up and down (11/27/64). Some strips will look familiar to long time readers, but many will not. Also, some names from the past emerge. The only complaint remains the lack of color on the Sunday strips. But such an immense project probably necessitated some corner-cutting. In the end, we're far better off with black and white Sundays than without this outstanding series. With each volume the "Peanuts" legacy becomes clearer.
You want this book, you need this book. The next edition (which will come out this fall and will have Charlie Brown on the cover) will begin the biggest shift in the direction of the strip when Peppermint Patty is introduced. I can't wait.