Monday, March 16, 2009

Hype: Complete Peanuts, 1971-72

peanuts 1971
It's easy to forget that these books are coming out on a regular basis. The temptation is to take them for granted now that the initial interest over the first volumes has largely subsided. Now that two whole decades of Peanuts have been reprinted in the deluxe hardcover format published by Fantagraphics and designed by Seth, we can really get a sense of what a huge achievement this project is and will continue to be for a generation.

The latest volume is number 11 in the series. It features major appearances by Marcie, Rerun, and the ultra-obscure sportsman, juvenile delinquent and class warrior Thibault (featured on the spine). Here is the press release:

Peanuts surges into the 1970s with Schulz at the peak of his powers and influence: a few jokes about Bob Dylan, Women's Liberation and "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex" (!) aside, these two years are as timeless as Peanuts ever was.

Sally Brown -- school phobia, malapropisms, unrequited love for Linus and all — elbows her way to center stage, at least among the humans, and is thus the logical choice for cover girl... and in her honor, the introduction is provided by none other than Broadway, television and film star Kristin (Wicked) Chenoweth, who first rose to Tony-winning fame with her scene-stealing performance as Sally in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

Two long Summer-camp sequences involve Charlie Brown and Peppermint Patty, who has decided that Charlie Brown is madly in love with her, much to his clueless confusion. Snoopy shows up at camp as well, as does Peppermint Patty's new permanent sidekick, the one and only Marcie.

The eternally mutable Snoopy mostly shakes off his World War I Flying Ace identity and turns into Joe Cool, college hipster extraordinaire. And in three long sequences he writes a fan letter to his favorite author, Miss Helen Sweetstory, then goes on a journey to meet her, and finally enlists Charlie Brown's help when her latest opus, "The Six Bunny-Wunnies Freak Out," falls afoul of censors.

Also, Woodstock attends worm school, falls in love with a worm (perhaps the most doomed unrequited Peanuts love story ever!), and is nearly eaten by the neighbors' cat... Peppermint Patty is put on trial for another dress code violation and makes a very ill-advised choice in terms of lawyers... Snoopy turns Linus's blanket into not one but two sportcoats... Lucy hits a home run... and the birth of one Rerun Van Pelt!

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