Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Comic Book Reads: The Complete Peanuts (1950 To 1952) by Charles M Schulz


For those who have enjoyed the wit, endearing artwork, humour, unexpected poignancy, wisdom and sheer joy of the Peanuts comic strip, this is a must buy. 

Canongate Books deserve applause for coming out with the complete, detailed collection of 25 books that cover the comic strip's entire 50-year illustrated history, tastefully done in hardcover. And of course, hats off to Charles M.Schulz, who lived and breathed the strip for most of his life. Incidentally, Schulz passed away a day before the last strip was to appear in newspapers all over the world.

This particular collection is special for it contains the complete first two years of the strip, right from the first one with the opening line - "Well! Here comes ol' Charlie Brown!". The characters looked a lot different than how they were drawn in the later years.These were early days for Schulz, we can see him still figuring out each character's look and behaviour.

As American author and radio host Garrison Keillor reveals in the introduction, Charlie Brown was a reflection of Schulz's tormented childhood. We  instantly connect with Brown, for like all of us, he has his growing up issues. He is troubled by his constant failure in managing his baseball team. His lack of self-esteem,  loneliness, inability to talk love to girls, all come to the fore.  The important thing is, despite the odds, Charlie Brown keeps trying.

Then there is Snoopy, who, like the Indian drama's 'vidushak', provides comic relief with straight-faced humour. Be it Snoopy's attempts at writing stories that all begin with the line - 'It was a dark and stormy night', his love for cookies, multiple disguises and witticisms, Snoopy is a comic-strip dog like no other.

Additional characters make Peanuts stand out, giving it an epic family feel. Take the forever sour Lucy, an embodiment of an elder sister. Catch her younger siblings Linus and Rerun cower; sometimes get back at her in their own cute, harmless way. Peppermint Patty,  a loyal friend to Linus, reminds us of school friends who stubbornly stuck to our side. Woodstock, a little whisk of a bird with his comma filled interactions with Snoopy provides cute festival decoration to the legendary strip.  

To conclude: No adult characters have ever been featured in a Peanuts strip, ever!


(Article by Snehith Kumbla)

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