This fourth volume shows Peanuts keeping the stride it slowly established over the first six years of its existence. Here the characters pretty much look as they will look for decades to come. The cast also becomes more solidified with Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, Pig Pen, and of course Snoopy. Shermy, Violet, and Patty show up far less frequently than earlier. Schulz would add more characters later (most notably Woodstock, Peppermint Patty, and Marcie), but here he established his core cast.
Snoopy completely comes into his own here, and his image on the cover couldn't be more appropriate. He appears with startingly more frequency throughout 1957 and 1958. By the end of this volume his top spot gets nearly set in stone. And it's not hard to see why. Here the long transformation from the "real" pet dog of the early 1950s to an almost surreal fantasm of a dog nears fruition (he still hasn't put on his WWI goggles or quaffed root beer yet, though). The imitations...
In this installment of the Peanuts comic strips from 1957-1958, Charles M. Schulz's world is taking recognizeable shape. Raders who like me were born in the 1950s will begin to recognize the strip as they first read it in the newspapers or in those little 50 cent paperbacks Dell used to put out. Since we now have all the strips instead of just selections, we can see storylines taking complete shape and gags developing and sometimes repeating themselves with new characters and new slants.
Charlie Brown has now evolved into the chronically depressed loser we all love, Lucy is the sometimes sadistic fussbudget, Linus the budding philosopher, Schroeder the Beethoven fanatic, and Snoopy is . . . Snoopy. Familiar themes show up for the first time: Snoopy climbs atop his doghouse (in three-quarter view),Charlie Brown crashes kite after kite and loses one ballgame after another (except when he's home sick!), and Lucy pines away for Schroeder, who's obliviously pounding away at...
This is the fourth book in a proposed 25 book series that will publish all of the nearly 18,000 strips in Charles Schulz' Peanuts catalog. And again, it is a terrific tribute to two years of the man's work, this time chronicling the years 1957 and 1958. Of the four books published to date, this book had many more strips which I was familiar with than the other three. But there were still quite a few strips that I have never seen before, making it another fun reading experience. The strip quality is better in general in this volume as it appears the publishers had access to quality masters to provide reproductions than they had in previous versions (I only noticed one strip that looked a little blurred in this book). Obviously if you have the other three books, you'll be getting this one and you can expect more of the same great quality.
It was also nice to see that the publishers have kept their word where they said that if they found better or more complete strips...
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