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review 2019-06-13 20:18
The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 5: 1959-1960
The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 5: 1959-1960 - Whoopi Goldberg,Charles M. Schulz

In these years Schulz really gains a lot of confidence and the experimental tweaking of gags and characters begin to truly pay off. There are some great debuts in this collection, but the craftsmanship of the strips is evident even in the strips that, at first glance, could have appeared in any of his late '50s strips.


I love sharing my favorite strips, but its a little labor intensive, so from now on I'll skip it unless the spirit moves me. (le sigh).


Debuts! I can't believe it took over eight years for Schulz to give Lucy her Psychiatric Help booth (the rate was 5 cents even then)! Linus simply can't get a break, on top of Snoopy's continued depredation, his grandmother confiscates his blanket for the first time, and he has his faith tested by the Great Pumpkin.


Of course, the biggest change is the introduction of Sally. We hear about her being born and, much like toddler Lucy and baby Linus, quickly grows up.


The original Patty doesn't get much love, even though she was one of the original three Peanuts characters. I remember reading a reference that Schulz got tired of drawing her tartan dress. I'm glad she got the cover at least once.


Complete Peanuts


Next: 'Volume Six: 1961-1962'


Previous: 'Volume Four: 1957-1958'

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review 2019-02-28 18:28
Tales From the Crypt, Vol. 2 (EC Archives)
The EC Archives: Tales from the Crypt, Vol. 2 - Al Feldstein,Joe Dante

An issue of 'Tales From the Crypt' was one of the few comic books lying around my house growing up. It was sick, it was gruesome, and I read it all the time. I was never sure where it came from and my parents refused to get us any more, but it stayed with me. I remember my siblings and I loved to watch the cartoon on Saturday mornings and later watched the TV show and movie.


These are just as fun to read now as when I was a kid. Even with the overuse of exclamation marks - literally there's one at the end of every sentence even on the most mundane of statements! These stories have vengeful corpes, premonitions of death, voodoo dolls, curses - you name it! The vibrant colors on these reissues makes them really pop. I can see why my parents raised their eyebrows at this stuff in the early 90s, so yeah, this was controversial in the 1950s and led to some pretty heavy restrictions on the industry.


EC Comics Archive


Previous: 'Vol. 1'


Next: 'Vol. 3'

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review 2019-01-12 16:19
The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 4: 1957-1958
The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 4: 1957-1958 - Charles M. Schulz,Jonathan Franzen

After a long hiatus, I've resolved to start reading these again. Whenever I feel like I need a boost I'll go ahead and buy another volume. I mean, I'm never going to retire anyway so what's the point of having a savings account?


Edit: Also, sorry folks you have to click through to the blog to see the whole comic strip. 


These were good years for the strip, with Schulz continuing to refine his technique, there are long sequences here - notably Linus' pledge to go without his blanket for two weeks and Charlie Brown's epic baseball gaff - and there are jokes with almost identical panels repeated many times. This repetition wasn't detrimental, it seemed more like Schulz working out a joke in his mind until it reached maximum absurdity. Violet's hi-fi parasol inevitably becomes Lucy's hi-fi jump rope.




Much of the humor appears timeless, but the Peanuts gang were children of the 1950s, young baby boomers as observed by the previous generation. There are many gags that deal with outmoded technology, branding, or early television, but those dealing with child psychology were some of my favorites. This was the beginning of parenting being serious business:





Snoopy's impressions took off in the last volume, but he adds many more to his repertoire in these years and in general is just delightful.



There were no additions to the cast, the last two comics have everyone in them (the very last even with names)  but Schulz has a lot on his hands figuring out the group dynamics, good and bad. Schroeder and Charlie Brown compete for who's better at despairing over contemporary pop culture:



It was truly difficult picking a Sunday for this review, but this one touches on a lot of things I love about the series. Poor Charlie Brown, he suffers all the pangs of childhood and rarely catches a break:



Maybe it gets better for him next year, but I doubt it!



Complete Peanuts


Next: 'Volume Five: 1959-1960'


Previous: 'Volume Three: 1955-1956'

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review 2018-01-02 02:18
Phoebe and Her Unicorn, Heavenly Nostrils #1 by Dana Simpson
Phoebe and Her Unicorn - Dana Simpson

When I was growing up there was no comic strip I loved more than 'Calvin & Hobbes'. On a basic level it spoke to me as a young, over-imaginative kid who dragged his stuffed bear around with him for perhaps too long. I loved the sight gags, the dream sequences, the perplexed adults, the other skeptical children. Long after it was cancelled I still returned, time after time, to my old collections and picked up more until I had the whole series.

With 'Phoebe and Her Unicorn' I finally see a successor. Phoebe is out entertaining herself in the woods when she accidentally skips a stone over the water into a unicorn's head. The unicorn is snapped out of a trance - she'd been mesmerized by her own reflection - and grants Phoebe a wish. She wishes for the unicorn, one Heavenly Nostrils, to be her best friend.

What follows are very sweet, but also sly, strips about modern pre-adolescence, school, parents, holidays and weird food. Its perfect. I would be offering it to every kid that comes into the shop if it weren't for the instant rejection of a pink cover with lady names on. Oh well, little girls love it.


Heavenly Nostrils


Next: 'On A Roll'

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review 2011-10-24 00:00
The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 3: 1955-1956
The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 3: 1955-1956 - Charles M. Schulz,Matt Groening,Gary Groth,Seth

The third volume of Fantographics complete reprinting of 'Peanuts' is just as gorgeous, but because of the repetition of some gags and punchlines (both within this book and from the older volumes) I feel obligated to knock a star off. The strips are still funny, the beauty of it is that these gags were just as funny 40 years of repeats later, but they're also the reason the strip got a stale reputation in the first place. But I can't hold that against Schulz, he couldn't possibly have guessed how popular his strip was going to become (in 1955 the circulation was still small) and ever be collected even. If you're writing a new strip every day you're going to reuse a joke or three.

[Awesome Comic Strip]

[Awesome Comic Strip]

Snoopy still gets around for the most part on four paws, but he really begins to take off as something more than canine in this volume. His impressions of animals, famous personages, and neighborhood children take off, much to consternation of Charlie Brown. By this time Snoopy is definitely Charlie Brown's dog, too, whereas before he had been a true "neighborhood dog" or possibly even Shermy's.

[Awesome Comic Strip]

[Awesome Comic Strip]

The timelessness of 'Peanuts' is a part of its charm but every once and awhile Schulz couldn't resist commenting on the emerging pop culture of the kid's, whether it was devotion for Miss Frances from a TV show called "Ding Dong School" or Davey Crocket. Schulz is best when he walks that line between "adult" awareness and conventions, and the simple dimensions of childhood thinking.

[Awesome Comic Strip]

[Awesome Comic Strip]

This is the last volume I have on hand, and only because I bought it for my dad a few Christmases ago, his birth year, but I will be keeping an eye out for later volumes. There is some repetition, but plenty of genuine insight. Still, it's probably best I'm taking a break from them for awhile. GoComics has every Peanuts strip, including reprints, up on their site but several aren't available by their original publication dates so some gems, like Charlie Brown's first tree'd kite, Linus' exposure to literary criticism from Lucy, and a great moral relativism lesson from Lucy and Linus, among others, can't appear today. But that left room for this:

[Awesome Comic Strip]

More than enough reason to continue on.

[Awesome Comic Strip]

Finally, I got a suprise treat in this volume. One of our "inherited" toys from older cousins was a Viewmaster and dozens of slide sets. You remember Viewmasters don't you? The paper disks you slid into the plastic goggles, the 3D images that changed with a satisfying click-shunk of a lever. One set we had was of 'Peanuts' and this exact Sunday strip was one of them!

[Awesome Comic Strip]


Complete Peanuts


Next: 'Volume Four: 1957-1958'


Previous: 'Volume Two: 1953-1954'

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