Review by Frank Plowright
Although Peanuts seems such a simple strip, drawing the characters to look exactly right is far more difficult than you might think. Give it a try. Charlie Brown doesn’t look right, does he? It’s the same for writing the characters, although some are easier than others. Capturing the overall mood, though, that’s the real trick. All this preamble is by way of noting that over the opening half of the book, writer and artist Vicki Scott nails the characters and the mood while also providing some good jokes.
Scott starts with yet another fiasco for Charlie Brown’s baseball team prior to the good news that the President has personally selected them to travel to Japan and represent the USA in a little league game. It puzzles everyone, but it’s a trip to Japan, so off they go, the cast regulars who’re not part of the team coming along as ringers.
Visually, Scott has another problem as the Peanuts characters interact well among themselves because they’re all scaled to the same size, but placing them into the wider world and against landmarks and adults removes the magic. She handles that problem very capably also, and imaginatively when it comes to a section with Sumo wrestlers. As with other Peanuts graphic novels, taking the kids abroad involves a tour of the cultural specialities, and this is handled respectfully, but the jokes are more generic as they aren’t generated by the personalities.
By the end Scott’s led the cast back to the safer prospect of another baseball game, and the magic returns with more character-based laughs. It’s a good outing, faithful to Schulz and his characters, and the bonus is a hefty bunch of process pages in the back, with Scott and inker Paige Braddock giving their thoughts about the story and illustrations.