Peanuts! Get Yer Peanuts!
September 28, 2003 11:24 PM   Subscribe

The entire 50 years of Peanuts are to be reprinted in chronological hardback volumes by Fantagraphics in a project that will take 12 and a half years to complete.
posted by Robot Johnny (49 comments total)
By my math it includes roughly 22,000 individual comic strips for about $750 total.
posted by dgaicun at 11:56 PM on September 28, 2003

When I was aged 7-10, I was a Peanuts faNATic. Then I kinda forgot about it. Now, for whatever reason, it bores or irritates me. Perhaps it has to do with the cinder my heart has become.
posted by squirrel at 11:57 PM on September 28, 2003

Excellent news! Peanuts (and much later, The Simpsons) was my main US cultural influence from an early age and I've always contended that the two cartoons give a great grounding to what the US is really about.

My grandmother used to tear out the strips from the Daily Mail (yetch!) for me to collect every weekend and I have about 40 of the Coronet/Hodder+Stroughton paperback collections.

Put me down for a subscription...
posted by i_cola at 12:32 AM on September 29, 2003

Squirrel, Possibly because Peanuts while cute,and sometimes insightful usually doesn't tick much above 'amusing' on my scale. Now for a child amusing = smile=happy etc., and all it right with the world. However how many times can we watch CB fall flat on his ass before it no longer is amusing and its symbolism is trite. I still read peanuts, but i suspect out of habit than entertainment.
posted by MrLint at 1:21 AM on September 29, 2003

I support this not because I enjoy reading Peanuts- though I respect and acknowledge the impact of the strip of comics. I support this because with any luck it gives the fans a place to archive and own all the previous strips, and eliminates the need to keep rerunning it in the comics page, where the space could easily go to newer cartoonists desperate for a chance to get their work shown.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:49 AM on September 29, 2003

In years from now, maybe this will enable comic historians to track down the mythical "funny one".
posted by cell at 4:45 AM on September 29, 2003

Peanuts "amusing"? The attraction for me has been the melancholy and angst of the comic.
posted by cx at 5:07 AM on September 29, 2003

Am I the only person here who on first glance wondered if George Washington Carver would be a major focus for this project?
posted by techgnollogic at 5:10 AM on September 29, 2003 track down the mythical "funny one".
well, some of Lucy's "Psychiatric Help 5 cents" were good, and Snoopy was reliable for at least a smile...

It's funny--they were talking about the tv specials on I Love the 70s on VH1, and mentioned how depressing they are.

"I got a rock" is unforgettably sad and funny.
posted by amberglow at 5:19 AM on September 29, 2003

I always hated Peanuts. Perhaps this will establish a good precedent for more worthy comics, though.
posted by rushmc at 5:23 AM on September 29, 2003

Any comic strip that runs for 50 years is bound to jump the shark at some point, and Peanuts was no exception. However, I can't ever recall a time when it was "Haha" funny.

Regardless, it still stands the test of time for me as a remarkably poignant commentary on human nature. I could always count on it to make me smile a sad little melancholy smile at the truth in it.
posted by MrBaliHai at 5:30 AM on September 29, 2003

The newspapers' comics page has a weird place in our (meaning my; U.S.) culture. It seems to be about the only place (even including TV) where quality is not only irrelevant but actively quashed. Try replacing Family Circus with something a little more edgy -- hell, with anything -- and editors are buried in a shitstorm of protest, to which they usually accede. By what measure of quality is Nancy still worth the space it takes up? Cathy? Even Peanuts, compared to other cultural acheivements, was just a little bit good. But it got credit for being amazing because of the dreck it was surrounded by. Not that there aren't exceptions -- you have a few at the level of a Boondocks or aDoonesbury, but the former is kept on a very tight leash, and the latter is long past its peak.

The comics page is the one page of the paper owned and operated by the Lowest Common Denominator, and ruled thereby with an iron fist. Cultural taste arbiters don't respect it, editors don't expect much of it, and artists would sooner abandon the medium than see their work squeezed down to micrographic levels that we might enjoy Wizard of Id in all its trenchant hilarity.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:44 AM on September 29, 2003

Peanuts is merely the most influential comic strip of the last century, cited by creators as diverse as Bill Waterson and Jaime & Gilbert Hernandez as a major influence. I can't think of another strip "more worthy" of a collection such as this.
posted by MegoSteve at 5:47 AM on September 29, 2003

Lucy: "What in the world are you eating?"

Linus: "Sugar lumps with honey."

[horrified look from Lucy that never fails to crack me up.]

Linus: "They're good with cinnamon, too!"
posted by JanetLand at 6:23 AM on September 29, 2003

Peanuts had definitely jumped the shark by the 1990's, and probably by the 1980's. The 60's and 70's were its heyday. To appreciate it properly you have to understand that Charles Schulz was a serious Christian, and Christian ideas inform the strip. If you can appreciate the fiction of Flannery O'Connor, you should be able to appreciate Peanuts. The Gospel According to Peanuts is an interesting guide.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 6:24 AM on September 29, 2003

Maybe part of the problem with our assessment of Peanuts is that it's so beyond familiar. If I were reading about the Great Pumpkin for the first time I'd probably think it terrific stuff.
posted by orange swan at 6:26 AM on September 29, 2003

Good for Fantagraphics! Their similar Krazy Kat project is also well worth checking out (and, in paperback, much more affordable).
posted by UKnowForKids at 6:27 AM on September 29, 2003

Give me Calvin and Hobbes instead. It was drawn with a lot more detail and flair, and was funnier. If I could buy an anthology of every single Calvin and Hobbes comic, I'd sell a computer to buy it.
posted by angry modem at 6:28 AM on September 29, 2003

Peanuts is beyond familiar now, its wackiest bits firmly embedded in pop culture, but in a lot of ways was a huge minimalistic break from what was previously on the comics page. The best of it is definitely the '50's and '60's material. Schultz had a few funny and strange ones in him at the end, though. There was one I remember where Snoopy was carrying an assault rifle - I swear - and it made me do a double-take like nothing else I've ever seen on the comics page.
posted by furiousthought at 7:04 AM on September 29, 2003

angry modem, sign me up. Not that I wouldn't buy the Peanuts anthology because frankly, I probably will - they represent an indelible part of my 1960's childhood and I'm happy that I'll be able to replace the ancient paperbacks that my nieces and nephews are even now enjoying - but Calvin and Hobbes is simple genius.
posted by JollyWanker at 8:06 AM on September 29, 2003

Well, one could have both Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes, right? It's not an either/or thing, right? For God's sake, don't make me choose.
posted by jscalzi at 8:27 AM on September 29, 2003

Does this mean Fantagraphics survived that imminent bankruptcy scare a few months back?
posted by creamed corn at 8:36 AM on September 29, 2003

I just got a Fantagraphics catalog in the mail, so I'm guessing yes. Their distress call was quite well-met, and I think MetaFilter and other blogs had a huge hand in keeping them from going under.
posted by me3dia at 8:45 AM on September 29, 2003

I always related to Charlie Brown. And I always had the hots on for Marcie.

This probably has a lot to do with how my adult life turned out.
posted by jonmc at 8:54 AM on September 29, 2003

angry modem - all the calvin and hobbes are already available. and i would argue watterson is less important than schulz. and at his best period, schulz was a much better draughtsman than watterson. crisp lines. it's not about the cross-hatched nature scene with dinosaurs (however great) - it's more about reducing human expressions to the barest iconic symbols. that's a gift. the story of charlie brown is kind of a never-ending horror film of never being liked by a group of friends you can rarely trust. it's schulz' gift that he was somehow able to reduce this pained message into a series of icons that everyone could interpret as approachcable and friendly. sure it sort of got flat after the 70s but before then, damn.

my favorite story is the one where lucy buries linus' blanket and won't tell him and he goes into shock from worry. it goes on for days.

people who really like peanuts are aware of more of the series than the general public. it's sort of an obsessive collecting habit to seek out old newspapers for an ellusive strip; especially for the fifties run. this is wonderful news.

i'm personally delighted fantagraphics got the rights to this, instead of some tacky big publisher that would glut it with bad garfield-like presentation. fantagraphics' collections of Krazy Kat have been gorgeous, and designed with love worth the span of time.

hooray for all, everyone!
posted by Peter H at 8:56 AM on September 29, 2003

my favorite story is the one where lucy buries linus' blanket and won't tell him and he goes into shock from worry. it goes on for days.

that's "won't tell him where" excuse me. it's a marvelous strip. lucy is heartless! if my memory is right she admits to stealing the blanket and burying it (like it's dead) but won't tell him where, all in the (lucy-declared) interest of linus maturing, or something. he goes insane and starts talking in mutters like someone really about to snap! it's really funny.

you should all read "the art of charles schulz" if you are curious about why people who love his stuff really love his stuff.
posted by Peter H at 9:06 AM on September 29, 2003

$750 total

Sign me up! I am a bit put out about the 12 year timeline, though. I want my gratification now! (On the fanboy note, I love Calvin&Hobbes, but I don't think anyone would seriously argue that you could compare Watterson with Schulz. Not only apples and oranges, but I bet Bill W would be the first to declaim "I'm not worthy!").
posted by sennoma at 9:07 AM on September 29, 2003

Give me Calvin and Hobbes instead.

angry, that's just silly (on preview, I see Peter H addressed some of this, but I don't agree that Shulz was a better cartoonist than Watterson). Peanuts may have been the one piece of pop culture that lasted the longest after jumping the shark, but before it did so, it changed the nature of kid-oriented comic strips, without which C&H would have been impossible.

I'm with those who believe the shark-jumping occurred early on, probably within the first decade - but in that time the strip established icons of childhood neurosis (the football kicker who believes this time it will work, the brainy kid who falls to pieces without his security blanket, the pianist so confident he can extract the works of Beethoven from a piano with painted on keys, even the constantly fantasizing dog) that are now such a normal part of our culture that we can't even see them anymore for the revolutionary characters they were.

Any number of strips might debut today with an "edgy" entry where the title character walks by and another says "good old" so-and-so... then adds "how I hate him!" But in 1950? Come on!
posted by soyjoy at 9:10 AM on September 29, 2003

and at his best period, schulz was a much better draughtsman than watterson. crisp lines. it's not about the cross-hatched nature scene with dinosaurs (however great) - it's more about reducing human expressions to the barest iconic symbols. that's a gift.

Schulz and Watterson's approaches have too much in common to set up a dichotomy this way, and while I also will defend Schulz's draftsmanship - the Peanuts gang post 1960 are the most deceptively simple characters I can think of - I'd be seriously at a loss to claim that Schulz was a better artist that Watterson. I tend to think Watterson had the better line, for example, though Schulz's could be marvelously expressive, especially when dealing with extreme stress. Schulz did lay much of the groundwork for the visual vocabulary of Calvin and Hobbes, so it's hard to imagine the second without the first.
posted by furiousthought at 9:34 AM on September 29, 2003

It's not fair to argue Peanuts vs. Calvin and Hobbes and forget all about Pogo. There's an anthology I'd like to have.
posted by uosuaq at 10:04 AM on September 29, 2003

Fantagraphics sells Pogo collections, uosuaq. I have a few.
posted by furiousthought at 10:12 AM on September 29, 2003

Early Peanuts has a lot in common with Watterson. Someone oughta compare them. When I was young Peanuts used to make me strangely said. I really related to Charlie Brown and thought Lucy was a real b*tch.

How on earth did Fantagraphics get a contract this big?
posted by mecran01 at 10:41 AM on September 29, 2003

mecran01, I'm sure Fantagraphics' recent treatment of the Krazy Kat reprints helped. Besides, I know the Schulz estate wanted Sparky's strips to be remembered as art and not as a bunch of shiny paperback pieces of merchandise.
posted by Robot Johnny at 11:01 AM on September 29, 2003

On a side note, I grew up partly in Santa Rosa, CA, where Schultz lived and worked. He gave a lot to the community and was something of an honorary statesman--riding in parades and showing up at openings. He was always self-effacing and kind. He owned an ice skating rink, and could often be seen there with his kids.

On an even sider note: what is the origin of "to jump the shark?" I like it, but I'm not familiar with it.

I agree with stupidsexyFlanders about the iron rule of the lowest common denominator in the newspaper comics biz. I still read the funnies by habit, but I have slowly accumulated a skip ratio of about 80%.

There's just no excuse for Garfield anymore--sorry lasagna gag lovers--and if Cathy ever represented some kind of progressive voice for women, that has long passed. For about 20 seconds in the mid-90s, Dilbert seemed like the voice of this disgruntled cubicle dweller, but it quickly became more of a corporate apologist. The heaping pile of comics aimed at boomers with teens (For Better or for Worse, Sally Forth, etc) bug me because, generally speaking, they present an almost 1950s-narrow portrait of middle-class white people coping with the petty gripes of conformist affluence which I find alienating.

We definitely need a shake-up on the comics page, or an abandonment to a new format
posted by squirrel at 11:54 AM on September 29, 2003

squirrel: look here.
posted by JanetLand at 12:18 PM on September 29, 2003


I agree that the comics page isn't "cutting edge" anymore, but does everything have to be?

I go to the funnies for the exact opposite, a comforting half-awake chuckle over my morning java. Not every bit of culture has to be challenging.

Sometimes, you want to spit in the devils eye like, other time you wanna curl up in a quilt with some cocoa. That's what the funnies are. Ain't nothin' wrong with that.
posted by jonmc at 12:32 PM on September 29, 2003

squirrel - not to derail, but i think this shake-up from a new format is well underway
posted by Peter H at 12:37 PM on September 29, 2003

I don't get it.

Oh, wait. It's one of those "there's nothing to get and once you get that, your in on the 'joke' " things.

I get it. It's still not funny.
posted by jonmc at 12:57 PM on September 29, 2003

Does this mean Fantagraphics survived that imminent bankruptcy scare a few months back?

The more important question is, will they be sending shares of the profits from the Peanuts books to all those who bought books during the bankruptcy crisis? Because a deal like this one doesn't happen overnight, it's been in the works for months and most likely they were in negotiations when they made their "buy stuff now" appeal. "Buy stuff now so we'll still be around to reap the profits of the Peanuts books we're hoping to publish," more like...

If I'd bought anything just to help the company stay in business, I'd probably feel vaguely used now.
posted by kindall at 1:17 PM on September 29, 2003

kindall - i see your point - but wasn't the whole dilemma more about a distributor going bankrupt on fantagraphics and a bank pushing for a loan or something to be paid for immediately? I think the peanuts book is instead validation for people who helped them out. It validates keeping a small company afloat to continue making quality stuff, and to keep things from looking like garfield reprints.
posted by Peter H at 1:26 PM on September 29, 2003

the adventures of snoopy doggy dog.
posted by quonsar at 1:32 PM on September 29, 2003

Yo, dog, that ain't Linus, dig?
posted by soyjoy at 2:22 PM on September 29, 2003

Peter: It would depend on whether you think publishing a 25-volume Peanuts set constitutes "selling out" or not. Surely it doesn't do much for their indie cred, which is the thing people were really supporting by buying a bunch of stuff they didn't actually need just because Fantagraphics asked them to.
posted by kindall at 2:49 PM on September 29, 2003

People supported Fantagraphics during the bankruptcy scare because they like to read good comic books and want more of them in the future. The announcement of the complete Peanuts collection means more good comic books will be published. Why would that make anyone angry?
posted by MegoSteve at 3:19 PM on September 29, 2003

I used it as an excuse to buy a whole bunch of stuff I'd been getting around to for a while. I don't feel particularly used, as I genuinely believe they were about to go out of business, which would be a bad thing.

...and to be frank, fuck indie cred. I support FG, because they publish a lot of people whose work I like.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 4:35 PM on September 29, 2003

Right, and Peanuts isn't anathema to your superundergroundcomix fans the way Superman is indie-cred wise. In any case it's not as though Fantagraphics doesn't already pad the margins on their indie stuff with porno comics. This is better.
posted by furiousthought at 4:41 PM on September 29, 2003

I just talked to Gary Groth today and he said he had just gotten off the phone with Garrison Keillor and he will presumably be writing the forward to the first volume. (I was totally like, "You just got off the phone with Garrison Keillor and now you're telling me about it?)

If I'd bought anything just to help the company stay in business, I'd probably feel vaguely used now.

kindall, Gary brought me a great big Quimby Mouse book today. No, I didn't buy anything from Fantagraphics during their begging/warehouse sale extravaganza (too close to rent). Gary knew it but brought me a book anyhow because he knew I had helped in the small way that I had, to direct some badly needed business his way.

No, there's no reason to feel used. The books that were bought were presumably to be read and enjoyed by the kind hearted consumer. Everyone concerned with Fantagraphic's bankruptcy had a choice. Many chose to help keep them in business. Getting the Peanuts strip is yet another way they will stay in business. What's so hard to understand about that? Jesus, I'm supposed to be the anti-capitalist around here!
posted by crasspastor at 4:45 PM on September 29, 2003

I like Fantagraphics and Superman both, although Daredevil and Spiderman are more to my taste than Supes.
posted by UKnowForKids at 5:16 PM on September 29, 2003

'"I got a rock" is unforgettably sad and funny.'

Around the end of the year, there are generally quite a few seasonal decorations I am compelled to call 'Charlie Brown Trees.'
posted by majick at 8:00 PM on September 29, 2003

« Older A true fluency device to alleviate stuttering   |   The full Mayhew online Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments