So begins The Complete Peanuts, a 25-volume collection of Charles Schulz’s classic strip that began in 1950 and continued until Schulz’s death in 2000. Published by Fantagraphics, the books are beautifully designed by Canadian cartoonist Seth. Each book also contains an essay by somebody influenced by Peanuts strips, from Walter Cronkite to Paul Feig.
It’s easy to see why Peanuts is so beloved. In just four panels a day, Schulz conveys heartbreaking sadness and disappointment while remaining extremely funny as well. In one memorable series of early strips, Charlie Brown has to skip a baseball game to push Sally, only a baby at the time, in her stroller. After his teammates taunt him, he puts Sally aside to play, only to cause team to lose. “Life is just too much for me…” he confides in Linus, “I’ve been confused from the day I was born…” “What did you want,” replies Linus, “a chance to warm up first?”
Though the 50-year span of the series can seem daunting, it’s easy to start reading at any point. Those who begin at volume 1 can see the characters develop as Schulz gains his footing– Lucy, for example, debuts as a wide-eyed and naive toddler before becoming the crabby older sister we know and love (or love to hate). Strips from the mid sixties, created around the time of TV specials like “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, contain many of the strip’s classic moments. Fans of Peppermint Patty and Marcie (and I count myself among them) will enjoy collections from the seventies, where the two friends really cement themselves as members of “the gang”. Overall, The Complete Peanuts is treat for new and old Peanuts readers alike. Consider it a gift from the Great Pumpkin.