Review by Woodrow Phoenix
The first two Peanuts Every Sunday volumes, 1952–1955 and 1956–1960 are impressive enough when seen singly. Each hardcover volume displays their large colour strips on very generous 336mm x 230mm pages, and when opened that makes for an enormous double-page display. When both books are paired up in the 1950s Gift Box Set it’s a massive and almost overpowering chunk of comics greatness; the first of five decades of Peanuts colour Sunday pages in a single jumbo slipcase. There is no additional material to be found here, it’s purely a packaging of two books into one big, big box – although it’s a very nicely designed, very sturdy box.
While the Sunday strips are available in black and white in the Complete Peanuts volumes, this is the first time they have been reprinted in full colour since their initial publication in Sunday newspapers, fifty years ago. The line art has been carefully restored, and then “re-mastered” to match the original published versions. The new colouring is the work of Joanne Bagge, based on original Sunday paper tear sheets including several different colours for Charlie Brown’s zig-zag shirt, before Schulz decided it should always be yellow. The slightly muted tones are supposed to duplicate the feel of the strips as originally printed on newsprint – no glaring whites or bright primaries, but greyer and yellower colours for a mellow, golden appearance.
The first volume features an introduction by critic Jonathan Rosenblum, and the second volume is introduced by author and journalist Chuck Klosterman. These beautifully designed books make the most of their large size, over twice as large as the Complete Peanuts volumes. This is the definitive presentation of Charles M. Schulz’s legendary newspaper strip and fans of Peanuts will find this box set completely delightful to spend hours with, if they can find somewhere to put it.