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The Peanuts Collection

By Julio Angel Ortiz on 28 October 2010

I have a confession to make: I’ve never been the biggest ‘Peanuts’ fan.

As a kid, I hated the ‘Peanuts’ cartoons; the art style, pacing, and overall quality just never appealed to me.

When a holiday or event (like Halloween) rolled around and one of the associated Peanuts cartoons would air, I would internally gag, knowing an imaginary clock had just started indicating it was time to be terribly, terribly bored for the next hour or so.

The ‘Peanuts’ comic strip, on the other hand, was a different story.

I’ve been a fan of comic books most of my life, and got into comic strips in my early teens thanks to ‘Dick Tracy’, ‘Doonesbury’, ‘Bloom County’, and ‘Prince Valiant’. I read up on the medium, devouring books on the history of comic books and strips, from ‘The Yellow Kid’ on down.

From a historic perspective, I always respected ‘Peanuts’ and the work Charles Schulz put into it. His legacy is unquestionable, and found myself enjoying the comic strip in a way I never could with the television specials. I even felt a pang of dismay when I read the final strip and Schulz’s note on why he was discontinuing it due to health reasons, and like most others who respected the medium, was saddened to hear about his death weeks later.

It was for this reason I jumped at the opportunity to review ‘The Peanuts Collection’ by Nat Gertler, a beautifully crafted celebration of the 60th anniversary of ‘Peanuts’.

The oversized volume comes in a slipcase package, with the wraparound hardcover illustrated with various ‘Peanuts’ panels and shots, subtly capturing the evolution of the strip over its 50 years. The high-quality glossy paper rounds out the slick initial presentation. Although not a sporting a high page count (the book clocks in at ‘just’ 64 pages), it is the contents that will delight any long-term ‘Peanuts’ fan.

The book is not so much an in-depth, nitty gritty biography of Charles Schulz and ‘Peanuts’. Rather, after brief introductions to the strip’s creator and its origins, the volume spotlights various characters and aspects of the strip’s success (such as appearing in cartoons, games, holidays, and more) as well as its legacy. Each topic is covered in just a page or two, but it is what surrounds those few pages that provides the real value for this collection.

The book contains gorgeously reproduced mementos from throughout ‘Peanuts’ history. First, there are images of cards, notes, sketches, and ‘Peanuts’ memorabilia, which are all of high quality. These give us a great insight into the history and evolution of the strip in a way simple text never could, and a delight to read through.

But where this volume excels are the 3D pull-outs and replicas. Reminiscent of books such as the ‘Griffin and Sabine’ trilogy, ‘The Peanuts Collection’ smartly includes actual pullout replicas of various items, including: a tiny colouring book and pamphlet from the 1950s; letters (including one from a school teacher which lead to the inclusion of the black ‘Peanuts’ character Franklin in the strip); and my personal favorite, an animation cel from the ‘Thanksgiving’ special.

That’s just for starters. The volume is so packed with content that you will forget the page count and lose yourself in the plethora of extras.

‘The Peanuts Collection’ is a wonderfully packaged volume that is a must-have for ‘Peanuts’ fans.

Outside of that demographic, amateur comic historians should enjoy the love that Nat Gertler clearly put into this work. His uncluttered prose keeps things simple and dictates the history of ‘Peanuts’ with the love of a curator. The selected imagery is outstanding and the pullouts are even better.

This is clearly not for the casual fan, but for ‘Peanuts’ die-hards, it will give them the opportunity to examine the franchise’s history from a fresh perspective.

Regardless, ‘The Peanuts Collection’ is a worthy collection and well-worth the time to not only simply enjoy, but dive into.

Buy ‘The Peanuts Collection’ at Amazon.


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By Julio Angel Ortiz

Julio Angel Ortiz maintains his collection of curiosities at www.julioinprogress.com. You can also Like him on Facebook as well and check out his latest writing projects.




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