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 actually finished recently with volume 26, but I’m a little behind and have only reached 1987-88. I’ve reviewed five previous volumes of the Complete Peanuts: the 1977-78 volume here, the 1979-80 volume here, the 1981-82 volume here, 1983-84 volume here, and the 1985-86 volume here.
|Marcie learns what it’s like|
This volume continues following the strip during its gentle decline into old age. The first half of the book has surprisingly few long story arcs, but plenty of the dull strips about Snoopy’s brother Spike, who lives in the desert near Needles, CA, and doesn’t do a whole lot. I don’t object to the occasional strip with him, but does he have to come back so often? How many cactus jokes can Schulz give us? In the second half of the book we get a few longer arcs, including one where Snoopy heard a rumor that the summer Olympics have been moved to Needles and decides to go visit his brother to help him sell souvenirs. Of course, the Olympics did not really move from the actual location that year (Seoul, South Korea), and Snoopy soon returns home.
There a couple more interesting arcs. One is when Charlie Brown and Peppermint Patty decide to trade their useless right fielders: Marcie and Lucy. So convinced is she that Marcie is the worst baseball player on the planet, Peppermint Patty throws in a pizza with the deal, only to discover that nope, Lucy’s even worse. Too late, Charlie Brown already ate the pizza! But even so, they do decide to trade back.
In another story arc, Sally volunteers to write the Christmas play for her school, only to write a part for Geronimo instead of Gabriel. When she corrects her mistake in the script, the kid who was going to play Geronimo feels cheated, but the argument is moot when the school board cancels the play altogether for being controversial. Schulz doesn’t spell it out, but I suppose the controversy is putting on a religious play in a public school. In any case, Sally’s relieved because now she doesn’t have to deal with the Geronimo kid.
There’s also a new character who’s fairly delightful (although I think she was actually introduced in the last volume), Lydia. Lydia sits behind Linus in class and he has fallen in love with her, a condition she uses to continually bedevil him. At first she refuses to tell him her actual name, going through Sarah, Melissa, and so on. (But wouldn’t Linus know her real name from the teacher calling roll at the beginning of the day? Never mind.) Whenever Linus asks her if she wants to do something with him, she asks if he isn’t too old for her. Later, they exchange addresses for sending each other Christmas cards, only Lydia gives Linus the wrong address and his card is returned. She’s out-Christmased him! Of course all this drives Linus crazy, but when Lucy asks why he bothers to have anything to do with her, he admits that he finds her fascinating.
This is actually a little livelier than the last volume, and I noticed a number of strips where Schulz puts in a level of effort on the art we haven’t seen in a while. Still, it doesn’t approach the great strips from the Peanuts heyday from the mid-1950s to the early 70s. This one is more for completists then general Peanuts fans.