A boxed set of the first two volumes, just in time for the holidays, designed by the Award-winning graphic novelist, Seth! Ships shrinkwrapped. The first volume, The Complete Peanuts 1950-1952, covers the first two and a quarter years of the strip ...
he strip (October 1950 through December 1952), and will be of particular fascination to Peanuts aficionados worldwide: Although there have been literally hundreds of Peanuts books published, many of the strips from the series' first two or three years have never been collected before?in large part because they showed a young Schulz working out the kinks in his new strip and include some characterizations and designs that are quite different from the cast we're all familiar with (Among other things, three major cast members-Schroeder, Lucy, and Linus?initially show up as infants and only "grow" into their final "mature" selves as the months go by. Even Snoopy debuts as a puppy!).
The second volume, The Complete Peanuts 1953-1954, begins with Peanuts' third full year and a cast of eight: Charlie Brown, Shermy, Patty, Violet, Schroeder, Lucy, the recently born Linus, and Snoopy. By the end of 1954, this will have expanded to nine. Linus still doesn't speak (except, on a few occasions, to himself, a la Snoopy), but Schulz begins laying the foundation for his emergence as the most complex and arguably most endearing character in the strip: garrulous and inquisitive, yet gentle and tolerant. And he evens acquires his "security blanket" in this volume! Meanwhile, Lucy, an infant just a year ago, has forcefully elbowed herself to the front of the cast, proudly wearing her banner as a troublemaker or, in Schulz's memorable phrase, "fuss-budget." The strong, specific relationships she sets up with each character further contributes to making her central to the strip. (She has earned her cover status on this volume.) This period's significant new character is Pig-Pen, who would remain one of the main cast members throughout the decade. And then there's Snoopy. To readers unfamiliar with the early days of the strip, Snoopy's appearances here will no doubt come as the biggest surprise. Although Snoopy has started talking/thinking to himself, he does no imitations (except for one brief shark impression), he doesn't sleep atop his doghouse (much less type or fly a Sopwith Camel), and has no fantasy life?in fact, he doesn't even walk upright! But as we know, he is merely biding his time, and his evolution continues its fascinating course within these pages.
Peanuts is the most successful comic strip in the history of the medium as well as one of the most acclaimed strips ever published. (In 1999, a jury of comics scholars and critics voted it the 2nd greatest comic strip of the 20th century-second only to George Herriman's Krazy Kat, a verdict Schulz himself cheerfully endorsed.) Charles Schulz's characters-Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, and so many more-have become American icons. A United Media poll in 2002 found Peanuts to be one of the most recognizable cartoon properties in the world, recognized by 94 percent of the total U.S. consumer market and a close second only to Mickey Mouse (96 percent), and higher than other familiar cartoon properties like Spider-Man (75 percent) or the Simpsons (87 percent). In TV Guide's "Top 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All-Time" list, Charlie Brown and Snoopy ranked #8.