What Did I Learn?
This review is not so much asking What Did I Learn? but rather What Did I Enjoy?
Today’s subject is The Peanuts Collection, compiled by Nat Gertler and provided for review. As you can see from the image below, the book is in color, with extras like prints, animation cels, stickers, booklets, mini comics, draft sketches, a cookbook, some notes and more. The scan is from the back of the book-cover, a cardboard container the 10″ by 12″ book itself resides in.
The book briefly talks about Shultz’s history, Charlie Brown’s history and then some of the merchandising that was created, like lunchboxes and the board game. And those extras are really, really great. I hadn’t seen any of Schultz’s sketches before and they carry such energy in so few lines – I didn’t anticipate that.
And I’ll warn you that I kept wanting to hold all the extras in my hands. It’s very clever, you see, how some of the extras are real and others are merely printed but look real – like you can pick them up. There are plenty to pick up, unfold and look at – usually one item on every other page.
There is discussion about advertising, more of the main characters and their origins. And of course, there are pages dedicated to the holidays and animated specials and how those came about. Some of the pages discuss the variety of places where Peanuts could be found, including school books, music, Snoopy’s mouth harp, sports, plays and musicals. And NASA’s space program.
Along the way, you learn about some of the named and unnamed supporting characters and how Peanuts approached religion and race. And there is a discussion about the theme of unrequited love that several of the cast found themselves dealing with. We also are told whether or not the animated cartoons are considered cannon…
I loved comparing the earlier Peanuts character designs with the later ones that I grew up with. There’s a succession of Charlie Browns on page 10 that show the changes from decade to decade. Sometimes Chuck has more neck, sometimes he’s thicker or thinner or even slightly taller. One page 16, you can see Linus and Lucy’s progressions – I happen to like the 60’s/70’s versions because of the head shapes being ever so slightly pear shaped but not too much so. And I like every one of Snoopy’s designs.
What Did I Enjoy?
Clearly, I enjoyed everything. Peanuts is one of those comics that is just as good today as it was when you first read it. This book celebrates Peanuts, appropriately not in a haughty fashion, but in a charming way which includes some of the foibles of the comic but also the artist behind the comic. And this just moves me to buy a Peanuts Trade so I can review it and learn something from it – 60 years of comic creation experience is bound to teach one a few things about making comics.
There are a number of places you can get The Peanuts Collection and I’m sure you’ll find a copy displayed prominently in your nearest bookstore. It’s really a must have for any true Peanuts fan.