Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
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Our second volume 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, à 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.)
Charlie Brown is clearly in transition. Although his eventual, best-known persona (the lovable, perpetually humiliated round-headed loser) is in evidence in many strips, his brasher, more prankish side as seen in the previous volume (foreshadowing Bill Watterson's future Calvin) shows up, too.
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 lifein 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.
This book collects 730 daily and Sunday comic strips, the vast majority of which are not currently available in any in-print Peanuts collection, and over 400 (well over half) of which have never been reprinted since their initial appearance in papers over 50 years ago. The Complete Peanuts is produced in full cooperation with United Media, Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates, and Mr. Schulz's widow, Jean Schulz. Each volume in the series presents two years of strips along with supplementary material in a three-tier page format that accommodates three dailies or one Sunday strip per page. Award-winning graphic novelist Seth is designing the series so that each individual book is sharply recognizable and yet clearly part of a consistent series. Using archival-quality syndicate proofs for virtually every strip in its history, the series boasts the best-looking, crispest reproduction for a classic comic strip ever achieved. The volume's introduction is by revered news journalist Walter Cronkite.
Peanuts is the most successful comic strip in the history of the medium as well as one of the most acclaimed strips ever published. Charles Schulz's characters have become American icons. A Charlie Brown Christmas is as much an annual holiday ritual for families as It's A Wonderful Life. 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 US 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.