The Complete Peanuts is a noble project to publish every strip of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts, from its inception in 1951 to its final panel in 2000. It’s a gargantuan undertaking, and a new volume covering two years is issued every six months. The project is now nearly finished, having reached the mid-1990s, but I’m a little behind and have only reached 1983-84. I’ve reviewed three previous volumes of the Complete Peanuts, the 1977-78 volume here, the 1979-80 volume here, and the 1981-82 volume here.
This one seemed to have fewer long-running arcs than previous volumes, although Schulz does try something I haven’t seen before from him. After Peppermint Patty fails her grade, her dad decides to take her to Paris for the summer as an educational trip. Throughout the summer, the other characters receive a postcard from her perhaps once or twice a week, usually featuring a humorous picture of Patty in front of the Eiffel Tower or sitting in a cafe or something similar. Sprinkling these strips throughout the summer actually produces a nice little rhythm. At the end of the summer, she returns but, suffering from jet lag, keeps waking Marcie and Charlie Brown up with phone calls or house visits in the middle of the night. Back in school, her old desk produces “ghost snores” even though she’s not sitting there any longer, frightening the teacher into moving her up to the proper grade.
There’s another sequence near the beginning of the book that I remember well from reading the Peanuts reprint books when I was a kid. Sally expects a Valentine’s Day card from her Sweet Babboo, Linus, though he has no intention of sending her one and makes that quite clear to her. When the holiday passes without receiving a card she is heartbroken. Charlie Brown feels he has to punch Linus to avenge his sister’s honor, but doesn’t really want to do it because he knows how delusional she is. Instead, he holds out his fist and asks Linus to run into it. That produces this result:
When I was eight years old, that was the height of humor. Okay, it’s pretty funny now, too!
One thing that detracts from this volume is an excessive reliance on strips with Spike, Snoopy’s desert -dwelling cousin. The Spike strips are rarely funny or interesting (although there is one sequence that produced a contender for my Bleak Peanuts feature). Unfortunately, Spike is a permanent fixture in Peanuts at this point.
This is late Peanuts, still well-done but not as sharp as the earlier years. This volume is more for the completist, which I guess I am. For a general reader who just wants to read some funny Peanuts strips, I would turn to one of the volumes from the late 1950s to the early 1970s.