As we rush toward the end of Peanuts' second decade, Snoopy looms large, Peppermint Patty ascends toward future stardom, Lucy antagonizes everyone and Charlie Brown is... Charlie Brown.
Snoopy finds himself almost completely engrossed in his persona as the World War I Flying Ace to the point where he goes to camp with Charlie Brown and maintains his persona throughout the entire two-week period (much to Peppermint Patty's bafflement).
Still, Snoopy looms large, so this volume (a particularly Snoopy-heavy one) sees him arm-wrestling Lucy as the "Masked Marvel" and then taking off for Petaluma for the national arm-wrestling championship; impersonating a vulture and a "Cheshire Beagle"; enjoying golf and hockey; attempting a jaunt to France for an ice-skating championship; running for office on the "Paw" ticket; being traded to Peppermint Patty's baseball team, then un-traded and installed as team manager by a guilt-ridden Charlie Brown; as well as dealing with the return of his original owner, Lila. If you're surprised by that last one, imagine how Charlie Brown feels...
Lila makes only a brief appearance (as does José Peterson, a short-lived and short star member of Charlie Brown's baseball team), but this volume sees the appearance of what would be Schulz's most controversial major character: Franklin. (Yes, in 1968 the introduction of a black character caused a stir.) Peppermint Patty, working toward her ascendancy as one of the major Peanuts players in the 1970s and 1980s, also has several major turns, including a storyline in which she’s the tent monitor for three little girls (who call her "Sir" a joke Schulz would pick up later with Peppermint Patty's friend Marcie).
Stories involving other characters include a sequence in which Linus's flippant comment to his Gramma that he'll kick his blanket habit when she kicks her smoking habit backfires; Lucy bullies Linus, pesters Schroeder, and organizes a "crab-in"; plus Charlie Brown copes with Valentine's Day depression, the Little Red-Haired Girl, the increasingly malevolent kite-eating tree, and baseball losses. In other words: Vintage Peanuts! All this, plus an introduction by beloved transgressive filmmaker John Waters and award-winning design by Seth.
About the Author
Charles M. Schulz was born November 25, 1922, in Minneapolis. His destiny was foreshadowed when an uncle gave him, at the age of two days, the nickname Sparky (after the racehorse Spark Plug in the newspaper strip Barney Google).
In his senior year in high school, his mother noticed an ad in a local newspaper for a correspondence school, Federal Schools (later called Art Instruction Schools). Schulz passed the talent test, completed the course, and began trying, unsuccessfully, to sell gag cartoons to magazines. (His first published drawing was of his dog, Spike, and appeared in a 1937 Ripley's Believe It or Not! installment.) Between 1948 and 1950, he succeeded in selling 17 cartoons to the Saturday Evening Postas well as, to the local St. Paul Pioneer Press, a weekly comic feature called Li'l Folks. It was run in the women's section and paid $10 a week. After writing and drawing the feature for two years, Schulz asked for a better location in the paper or for daily exposure, as well as a raise. When he was turned down on all three counts, he quit.
He started submitting strips to the newspaper syndicates. In the spring of 1950, he received a letter from the United Feature Syndicate, announcing their interest in his submission, Li'l Folks. Schulz boarded a train in June for New York City; more interested in doing a strip than a panel, he also brought along the first installments of what would become Peanutsand that was what sold. (The title, which Schulz loathed to his dying day, was imposed by the syndicate.) The first Peanuts daily appeared October 2, 1950; the first Sunday, January 6, 1952.
Diagnosed with cancer, Schulz retired from Peanuts at the end of 1999. He died on February 13, 2000, the day before Valentine's Dayand the day before his last strip was publishedhaving completed 17,897 daily and Sunday strips, each and every one fully written, drawn, and lettered entirely by his own handan unmatched achievement in comics.
Director, screenwriter, and well-known raconteur of American kitsch and camp, John Waters' films include Pink Flamingos and Cecil B. Demented. In 2002 his film Hairspray was made into a hit Broadway musical.
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