Review by Woodrow Phoenix
The Complete Peanuts collected all of Charles M. Schulz’s nearly 18,000 daily and Sunday strips, thousands of them never reprinted since their initial appearance, in 25 volumes which even included Schulz’s first proto-Peanuts cartoon series L’il Folks. That record of fifty years of work did not comprise the entirely of Schulz’s output, however. The Complete Peanuts: Comics & Stories rounds up most of the material created by Schulz for books, ads, comic books and advertising from 1948 to the 1990s. It’s introduced by the three men responsible for finding most of the content: Nat Gertler, Derrick Bang and Timothy Chow. There is also a second introduction from Seth, the Complete Peanuts series designer.
The contents include 17 cartoons from the Saturday Evening Post from 1948 to 1950 (featuring generic kids similar to L’il Folks); three four-page Peanuts strips drawn for Dell Nancy comic books in the late 1950s; selections of strips for Dell’s ‘Four Color’ comics drawn by Schulz and Jim Sasseville (Schulz’s assistant on his second comic strip of that period, It’s Only a Game); illustrations for the instruction manual that came with Kodak’s 1955 Brownie camera; a twelve-panel strip for Better Homes and Gardens magazine in 1958 that linked to the Peanuts Sunday page of December 21, 1958 (where Linus has difficulty learning his lines for the school Christmas play); comics advertising the Ford Falcon from 1960 to 1964; single-panel ads for Dolly Madison Cakes and Butternut Bread from the mid-’1960s; ‘Charlie Brown’s Christmas Stocking’ for Good Housekeeping magazine from December 1963; ‘A Christmas Story’ for Woman’s Day magazine from December 1968; illustrations for a 1960s Bing Crosby Pro-Am golf tournament, and a “cold cereal” recipe with drawing from 1983. Snoopy’s best-selling solo books are reproduced including Snoopy and the Red Baron; Snoopy and His Sopwith Camel; Snoopy and ’It was a Dark and Stormy Night; I Never Promised You an Apple Orchard, The Collected Writings of Snoopy; Things I Learned After It Was Too Late (And Other Minor Truths); Things I’ve Had to Learn Over and Over and Over (Plus a Few Minor Discoveries); Snoopy’s Grand Slam; Snoopy’s Tennis Book; and An Educated Slice.
Some dedicated and knowledgeable Schulz fans have noted several errors, misattributions and omissions in this edition and hopefully they’ll get picked up for the reprint. This final special volume ends with a 24-page memoir by Jean Schulz, illustrated with selections from the 1970 book Charlie Brown & Charlie Schulz. This is a remarkable collection of rarities that will satisfy practically any reader who loves Peanuts. It’s also available as a box set paired with volume 25.