Thursday, April 14, 2016

BOOKS REVIEW! THE COMPLETE PEANUTS 1971-1974  BOX SET by Charles M. Schulz (Fantagraphics, 2009)

Garsh, I'm suckered. Being marooned in my smelly boudoir throughout the winter months with nothing but those old PEANUTS (and MAD) books to read has really brought out the latent 12-year-old in me (good thing it didn't bring out the latent 14-year-old, because I can't find my old NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC hula girl and Japanese pearl diver issues). So hey, what else could I do but dish out some more hard-to-come-by cash for yet another box set of old PEANUTS strips which I never thought I would want to read again in a millyun/billyun years!

Sure I could be reading 'em all for FREE in the newspaper, only in these books they ain't squashed down or distorted because someone's trying to fit a whole buncha comics (both old 'n new...seems that a lotta strips are mere reruns these days!) into a partial page given the high costs of putting out a daily periodical that hardly anyone seems to read anymore! Like, they look better here as if that matters to anyone these sorry and cheapazoid days!

Those seventies-era paperback collections I brought up in the Schulz book reminded me that the seventies era of PEANUTS strips really wasn't as cloyingly bad as I remembered it to be (I might have been off a decade or two considering how horrid it eventually became at some point in the strip's run).  I could say that, after the original PEANUTS putsch of the mid-late sixties had ground down to a mild roar it had, at least in my pwn suburban slob mind, improved quite a bit what with some of the better storylines to have appeared ever in PEANUTS. Take the one about the Charlie Brown testimonial dinner or the "Ha Ha, Herman" game and the legendary "Mr. Sack" poppin' into the ol' about humor that does fit into the seventies definition of the term only without the bad taste and (cuttingly) offensive humor that the decade of NATIONAL LAMPOON and SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE was known for!

The gags were even dryer'n they were even a few years earlier, and frankly a whole lotta the cuteness that I tended to associate with the later (read: post-megafame) comics has been replaced by a nice snarly attitude that I can certainly work myself into. No more of that "happiness is a warm puppy" crap here I'll tell ya!

Maybe if I had gotten hold of the missing reprints in my collection from the mid-sixties on I'd remember those quite differently than I do, but then again alla of those PEANUTS books, dolls, posters, banners, TV specials etc. do tend to cloud my mind with some of the sappier aspects of sixties sensitive happiness cutedom that never did settle well with my esophagus (at least to the point where I got older and I suddenly had the same attitude towards PEANUTS that Charlie Brown had towards Davy Crockett---y'know, "WHEN WILL IT ALL END?"!!!).

The introduction of "Rerun" Van Pelt really doesn't do much for me considering how much I thought his existence was about as big a mistake as Faron's (a feeling that was originally felt by Schulz himself until he managed to use the young'un for some pre-school-styled roles that the others had outgrown), though I gotta say that none other'n the bespectacled and nerdy Marcie was a character that really helped boost the strip quite a bit. In fact it may be surprising to you but this particular PEANUT ain't as one-D as I always thought she was and that she did add a certain somethingorother to the proceedings what with her comparatively straightforward if at times not-always-"there" thinking that none of the other characters really seem to possess.

And hey, in no way do I now even remotely consider (after years of utter shock over the alleged fact) that Marcie 'n Peppermint Patty'r a buncha dykes like everyone and their fanabla friends have been sayin' for a longer time'n any of us could imagine. True, sometimes PP hugs Marcie in a fit of joy 'r something along those innocent lines but I see nothing Sapphic with anything regarding their "relationship" and neither should you, unless yer the kinda guy who still reads a whole lotta things into Laurel and Hardy. However, I gotta wonder about Snoopy and Woodstock who come off a whole lot more LGBTQWXYZ'n anything else onna comic page I care to know about. The way Snoopy hugs that bird and the way the two have spats 'n all before making up (complete w/li'l hearts a-flyin') has 'em comin' off like the yer idealized Hollywood homo marriage to the point where I could see George Takei making a guest appearance in their swirling hot tub! Yeah back then we were so innocent to know about such things but now...sheesh!  Ferget PP and Marcie...these two are the ultimate comic strip homos and don't let nobody else tell you different!

Given how the NANCY and ARCHIE compilation series have seem to have come to a standstill this one does help sate the early-seventies comic strip turdball in me. Might dish out for a few more, unless those aforementioned series just happen to continue whilst I'm not looking. Hey, I know where my priorities lie.

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