Dave-O's Reviews > The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 1: 1950-1952

The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 1 by Charles M. Schulz
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Jul 13, 2007

it was amazing

"Peanuts" is a strip easily taken for granted partly because its impact doesn't come right away. Often it comes after years of reading the strip. Fortunately, the good people at Fantagraphics are amassing the strips into volumes spanning every two years since 1950.

In this excellent first volume, Charlie Brown is not the singled-out doormat that we know and love but he is part of a group of kids that take turns trying to outwit life and each other in four panels. Shremy, Violet, Patty (not Peppermint) and a very mute Snoopy (who seems to be "owned" by all of them) are not bit players but have equal face time. As the volume progresses, we see Charlie Brown develop into a more "main" character especially with the emergence of baby Schroeder and toddler Lucy, both of whom grow up rather quickly.

You can single out any one strip and Schultz' voice rings clear. How he accomplished combining pathos and defeat with sympathy and wit without resorting to cliches is astounding. Peanuts always cheers me up not only because of the technical beauty of the simple line drawings but because it presents childhood and adulthood as a single space teeming with contradictions and disappointments. That he was able to craft lovable characters out of such a space is testimony to his genius.
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