Wednesday, March 23, 2016

BOOK REVIEW! CHARLIE BROWN & CHARLIE SCHULZ by Lee Mendelson in association with Charles M. Schulz (Signet, 1970)

Slower'n a quadriplegic footrace sorta week, so I'm digging into my box of old paperbacks to find something to blab on about especially during these times of dismal economic hoo-hah. And what better book to write about'n this olde tyme flea market snatch that I wanted to get really bad way back when it first hit the paperback stands in '70, only the 95-cent price tag was way too much for my depression-era wages to handle. Hadda wait a good year or two before it hit the flea markets where I snatched it up for a lot less'n it woulda cost had I been one of those spendthrift gimme dat kinda kids like the rest of my baby boobie generation types most certainly were!

Hey, did I review this 'un on this blog before? Mebbee so but so what, because given my sieve-like mind (and yours) reviewing it here in the mid-teens is probably just as relevant to us as as if I had reviewed it ten or even twenty years back. And besides, since I spent the entire winter thumbing through my bound collection of PEANUTS comics (1950-1964, perhaps more to come) and found that, other'n for a few ebbs and flows in quality, they were pretty good. A few early/mid-seventies PEANUTS paperbacks tossed my way as of late were also way better'n I remember the strip being at the time, perhaps this particular book is just the kinda thing I could go for given how my opinion of the strip having petered out around the time it became a mega-hit might have been a bit rush-to-judgement which is something I know my critics wallow in. And I sure don't wanna be like them one bit, y'know.

Nice li'l book too, even if the reprints of early days of comics masterpieces, no matter how eye-pleasing they are, come off patronizing to those of us who aren't familiar with THE YELLOW KID or THE KATZENJAMMERS. The chapters on home life at the Schulz's and how the animated specials were created come off pat and predictable (that doesn't include the story behind A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS which is rather intriguing considering just how much the CBS execs were aghast at the religious content), while the heaps of praise regarding all of the PEANUTS tie-ins from features to cute li'l plush toys read more like an advertisement for Charles Schulz Enterprises. Even the material on the overall kultural effect of the strip can get overbearing, even if some of it is rather informational and entertaining and all sortsa socially redeeming things. But it's the comics I got this 'un for and they're great, even the ones translated into a whole slew of languages that you'll never see FERD'NAND done up like!

The best things about CHARLIE BROWN AND CHARLIE SCHULZ are the reprints of old PEANUTS strips that are presented year by year. Sure these have been published to all heck for years on end, but not like this. Y'see, when all of the PEANUTS anthologies from paperbacks to hardcovers came out they always left off not only the copyright but the white-on-black "Peanuts" name tag on the upper left portion of the first panel off! I gotta admit that both gave the strip a nice look of which the tag, at least according to my four-year-old mind, reminded me of the packaging on the old Clove Gum my mother would chew (she chewed the gum, not the packaging). I sure miss seeing little things that remind me of the happier portion of my growing up days like that and, come to think of it, maybe it was when the upper left title was removed from the strip in the late-seventies that it began going downhill. Given the sorta logic my mind can churn out that would be something to ponder now, eh?

No comments: