Review by Woodrow Phoenix
Volume 23 of The Complete Peanuts: 1995-1996 features an introduction by Conor Lastowka and Sean Thomason, who together are the masterminds behind a popular movie commentary show called Rifftrax. They explain when you’re making over seven hundred jokes per commentary, you need the widest pop culture references that everyone gets, whatever their age or background, and you can’t go wrong with jokes based on Peanuts. The pair write about their love for this strip and some of the esoteric minutiae that fascinate them (apparently Olaf merchandise is big in Japan). They even demonstrate how their show works by commenting in sarcastic Rifftrax-style on four daily strips that are included in this volume. You might wonder if Schulz would have found them funny.
Schulz presents a little pop culture parodying of his own when the cover star of this volume The World Famous Attorney handles the case of an unnamed rabbit versus a cruel farmer called Mr McGregor: “When Mr McGregor chased my client, this innocent little bunny, with a rake, he caused him great emotional distress..” Both Snoopy and the traumatised rabbit start sniffling. “Your honour, may we have a ten minute recess?” There are also lots of appearances for the World War I Flying Ace, Joe Blackjack, the famous riverboat gambler, and The World Famous Sergeant-Major of the Foreign Legion searches for Fort Zinderneuf in Charlie Brown’s school. No wonder he’s hardly ever home when Rerun comes over to ask if he can come out and play. Lucy suggests Charlie Brown take dancing classes as a cure for loneliness. “What if no one will dance with me?” he asks. “Then you’ll be a lonely person who knows how to dance.”
Linus is bothered by coyotes howling at night, and finds himself popular with snowmen in one of the oddest Peanuts Sunday pages you have ever read. There’s not a lot of focus to this volume. A lot of the strips just kind of tail off with no punchline or point to them, but this one feels like the conclusion to a sequence of jokes that we haven’t seen, or accidentally crossed over from another entirely different strip. Rifftrax should have tackled that one.