krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
"The Complete Peanuts" may be more than complete, but the spinoff project to release the Sunday pages in colour is still under way. It did take me a while to get the latest volume of "Peanuts Every Sunday." I had ordered the previous large and pricy volumes from amazon.ca, but this time the wait for the listing to offer physical copies had stretched on until at last I ordered it through my local bookstore, which with my discount card was cheaper than going through an online reseller. In any case, I had a definite interest in this volume. The second half of the 1960s, as I understand it, were "the phenomenon years" for Peanuts, where all the developments of the fifteen years before added up to more attention than most comic strips get as the television specials added up along with the magazine covers, followed by appearances on stage and screen and going to the moon, with the World War I Flying Ace more or less leading the way.
'I scan the air carefully searching for the Red Baron.. I *must* bring him down!' )
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
For the unexpected twenty-sixth volume of The Complete Peanuts, I pondered over just how to get a copy of it and wound up ordering one online, almost "for old time's sake" remembering how I'd got a certain number of volumes that way over the years. There was something a little "Charlie Brown-like" about that, though, when I received the book in the mail and found its hardcover boards were warped. I had it anyway, though, and could contemplate seeing what had been selected to go in it. Hearing what would be in it a little while before it was published did get me realising that, for all that I seldom suppose myself "an assiduous collector," I'd lucked into getting a good number of the stories promised to be in it back when they were still generally for sale. Even with that, though, there did turn out to be surprises.
'Now, I can go back to worrying about soil erosion!' )
'Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia.' )
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
The "next volume preview" at the back of what I'd supposed the penultimate volume of The Complete Peanuts surprised me a bit by putting Sally on the cover of the collection to come. Some years ago I had seen a seemingly official anticipation on all the cover characters that had said the series would end with Charlie Brown, as it had begun and as it had included a Charlie Brown from each decade, and so far as I can remember the list had seemed accurate up to that point. Some months after that, though, I saw an explanation of sorts in that plans now included a twenty-sixth volume featuring "comics and stories," things Charles M. Schulz had drawn outside of the regular strips. This, of course, would mean an even number of volumes in the series and the opportunity to put the actual final days of the strip in one more consistent-sized boxed set. In the piece I saw the explanation in, though, there was also the comment the introduction to the last regular volume would be by President Obama, and that was in a strange way reassuring. I did wonder all over again about what I'd heard of Schulz's personal politics for all that he'd seemed to have kept them out of the strip (in a collection of interviews with him I once bought, a wide-ranging late interview included him remembering how depressed he'd been when Dewey hadn't defeated Truman after all and criticising Bill Clinton's policies, even if Clinton has provided a back-cover quote for the last several volumes, and in an earlier interview he had been contacted by people associated with Adlai Stevenson's 1956 campaign, supposing anyone writing such an "intellectual" strip would surely support that candidate; Schulz had to turn them down and explain he was an "Eisenhower Republican"), but I could suppose that no matter how careful Obama would be in his comments (his introduction wound up just one page long, and that included the usual page-wide graphic at the top) he wouldn't cluck and sigh that Schulz could have enjoyed his retirement and maintained the respect of those whose opinion counted (just like the commentator's) by having quit long before. Now, I just had to see what my own opinion would be.
'Dear Harry Potter, I am your biggest fan.' )
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
I always take my time reading through new volumes of The Complete Peanuts; with the new Peanuts Every Sunday volumes reprinting the Sunday pages in colour, I might be even more careful rationing them out. With a Christmas vacation coming up I did change my pace just at the end so I wouldn't have to take the latest yearly oversized volume with me, but wound up also taking my own time getting around to writing down my thoughts on it.
'A little blue in the sky and a little orange for good flesh tones...' )
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
I dallied again on pre-ordering the latest volume of The Complete Peanuts, thinking instead of waiting until I saw it at the local bookstore, where I would have a chance to see just what the introduction said. At first glance there, I wasn't sure who Paul Feig was, but I soon understood him to be a producer of the new Peanuts Movie. I may not have gone to see that film at the movies, but the introduction did seem positive, so I bought the penultimate volume of the series. Now, I just had to see how I'd take the comic strips themselves.
'Sorry, Charlie Brown.. I thought I heard someone say the millennium is coming..' )
'What's the name of the guy who draws 'Dilbert'?' )
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
With this year being the sixty-fifth anniversary of Peanuts and a major motion picture set to premiere, a variety of books are showing up too. The volumes of The Complete Peanuts I have lined up on a bookshelf perhaps put me in a mood where I've supposed I don't need anything else, but the announcement some of the very first comic strip collections were to be reprinted got my attention anyway. I'd already known plenty of strips hadn't been reprinted in those books; for some reason, wondering what had been had me contemplating the past experiences of the first people who hadn't made scrapbooks but still sought something more permanent than one strip a day in their newspapers. I started looking up the ISBNs for the reprint books so I could order them should I decide to; then, I found the first two of them on a shelf at the local bookstore and accepted the opportunity and the decision somehow made for me by buying both. They weren't that expensive anyway.
Peanuts )
More Peanuts )
krpalmer: (europa)
I was in a nearby dollar store when I saw a good number of trade paperbacks of Dark Horse Star Wars comics on the racks, the "original trilogy-focused" titles they were publishing after the sale of Lucasfilm when they seemed to be trying to get ahead of the obvious curve but before the comics license was brought more in-house. They did all look to be numbered higher than "volume ones," though, so I at least had a different way out than just continuing to dwell on how the comics and novels and video games kept being talked up by certain people as "making up for the movies," such that it became easy to not bother with any of them. I did get to reflecting a bit, however, on just how easily spinoffs can be altered and replaced. It would be a bit too easy to project this into the future, of course.
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
One thing I didn't mention when commenting on the previous volume of The Complete Peanuts was that with it, I already had "Peanuts in complete": a few years ago now, five paperback volumes collected "every strip per year" for the final years of the strip, and I wound up getting all of them. While their production values weren't quite as "dignified" as The Complete Peanuts, a thought that did come to me was that one of the final introductions in the three volumes then remaining might yet seem so dismissive of the last years of the strip as to feel unpleasant to me... That thought then returned when I heard the introduction to the latest volume would be provided by "Rifftrax MST3K". While I suppose it's interesting to see the "post-Mystery Science" project placed alongside the other figures who've provided previous introductions, and I at least remembered a MSTing of a "Peanuts fanfic" (among other things), the thought "I'm not interested in them taking cheap shots at current convenient targets I happen to like myself" that's kept me from taking chances on any of it popped up in a new context. I wound up reluctant to pre-order the book, instead waiting to see if it would show up in the local bookstore, where I could at least read its introduction first.

One of the volumes did turn up there. I already knew the introduction inside the book was "by Conor Lastowka and Sean Thomason," names not associated with the "Best Brains" of Mystery Science Theater; I supposed they had joined the Rifftrax writing staff. However, their comments were pleasant and entertaining enough, although they did make a big deal out of "selling the premise of Peanuts would be tough these days," which had me remembering how different and perhaps easily describable the strip had been in its first days. They also, however, brought up Snoopy's brother, the "ugly dog contest" winner Olaf, in a "he's big in Japan" kind of way, which was a bit more fun. The "riffed-on" comic strips also in the introduction, said to have been done by the more recognisable names of Rifftrax, were also quite acceptable, and with that (and the thought that both Charles M. Schulz and Mystery Science Theater were from Minnesota), it was on to the actual comic strips.
'Then a voice comes to me that says, 'We can't take your question now..We're all out rollerblading..'' )
'Aren't you on the internest?' )
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
I read the daily reruns of Peanuts online (a habit formed even before the volumes of The Complete Peanuts started being published and kept up to the point where now there's the interest of seeing how the strips have been coloured and there's some interest to be found in the comments), but my newspaper is still re-running For Better or For Worse. While in the last years of the actual comic strip things had shifted to a combination of sentiment and melodrama that seemed to trigger certain groups of people online in a quite unpleasant way, I can at least avoid thinking too much now of my own reactions to all of that in these current "good old days." It's easy enough to see the comic strip as more or less timeless; however, when I read the latest Sunday page (which my paper has always run on Saturdays) I experienced the electric shock of connection to a certain topic of recent history my personal interest in may push to odd levels.

The page had Michael and his friend Brian programming "this neat jumping man on the computer!"; after Michael has enthused to his mother Elly about how "It took us hours! Just look at the length of the printout!", Elly replies she can "do the same thing in minutes with two pieces of paper!" Understanding what sort of capabilities the home computers of the 1980s had, I also know there was an undercurrent of "but what actual good are they?" from people who made a big show of being pragmatic; I suppose it's interesting to see one more example of that even as I remember how around the middle of the decade the fad went a different kind of "soft", whose who'd embraced "systems exploration" and "cyber-utopianism" were left with a hangover, and things were left in a limbo I'm not quite as familiar with to be re-colonized in the next decade by elaborations of a rather more uniform "business standard."

If it's the contrast between "then" and "now" that makes this particular comics page stand out to me, I can suppose that nowadays you might well make two (or more) drawings on paper, scan them into a computer, and enhance the drawings to make a simple animation that way; I can then wonder about that being much more a matter of "using programs someone else has written and sold" than "working on a low level," except that I can turn around and wonder if even "assembly language" might then be taken to a still lower level of first principles, such that there is something to "accepting and building on the work of others." Having familiarized myself with the Apple II in particular of late, I am inclined to think it wouldn't be that hard to create a "flip-book" even in Applesoft BASIC by using the computer's two "graphics pages"; I then wondered if the "computer" in the Sunday page could be taken to be an Apple II, and how easily the same sort of thing could be done with any other home computer, whether the Commodore 64 with its "superior hardware" much less accessible to a casual programmer or my own family's Radio Shack Color Computer, which in its very first incarnation might also look like the "computer" drawn. However, all of that doesn't quite distract me from thinking a bit of how the comics page could be interpreted to get indignant about Elly "being condescending" to kids "who'll never grow up to be successful programmers now," which I'm afraid brings me back to one particular starting point.
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
Some positive recommendations on "comics news sites" got me interested in a newspaper comic strip called Cul de Sac still not that long ago, and I added it to the short list of comics I read through their online sites. I am a little aware of all the comics available online, even recommended there, that I don't get around to reading, but Cul de Sac did stand out even in what can seem, from the way some people dwell on it, these later days for newspaper comic strips. Its art had a lot of character as compared to what can seem the "usual" uncomplicated linework and its characters were entertaining in varied ways, but its run was tragically brief when its artist Richard Thompson developed Parkinson's Disease and couldn't draw any more. Some time after having bought the first collection books of it but then not quite keeping up with news of them, I happened to hear a boxed set of "The Complete Cul de Sac" was available, and asked for it for a Christmas present.
'Maybe it's just as well comic strips are a dying art form.' )
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
I went to look at the daily Peanuts comic strip online (the new year has brought the 1968 strips into play), and noticed a surprise. The comics site has now also started a feature called "Peanuts Begins" (which did make me think of how older Dilbert strips can be found online), making a point of this being the sixty-fifth anniversary of Peanuts. Even for someone who has all the "Complete Peanuts" books, the fairly famous first strip being coloured got my attention; beyond Charlie Brown's initial featureless T-shirt being golden yellow instead of the "white" that seemed to have stuck in my own mind, the "antique" colours of sky and landscape are also sort of intriguing.

I did reflect a bit on the beginning of the strip, where Shermy was "the boy" and Patty was "the girl," with Charlie Brown as "the little guy" and Snoopy at times more the neighbourhood puppy than anyone's dog. How long this will be kept up does leave me wondering a bit (given the strip started in October, eventually the seasons will get out of sync), but it would be nice for the effort to get to 1952, when for me the characters will have grown past an odd initial sense of them looking sort of "half-finished" to "really kind of cute."
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
It seems there's going to be one "Peanuts Every Sunday" volume each year to reprint the Sunday pages in colour. I took my time reading through the latest one, managing to finish it just before leaving for Christmas vacation; as it was another large volume, though, I decided to leave it behind and summarize it in the new year. There was a bonus this time around as compared to the first, an extra year's worth of pages; it ought to mean the pages will be divided up a bit more logically going forward. The five years covered in this volume did sort of strike me on reading as the strip's "ramp-up," its transition from a comic strip focusing on precocious kids to the philosophical phenomenon of the 1960s. Then, of course, I did a bit of looking and discovered that Charles M. Schulz had won his first Reuben award, given by his fellow artists, in 1955.
'White, gray and black *sigh*' )
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
It was getting to me as I started into the latest volume of The Complete Peanuts that there wouldn't be many more to go, but this reminded me yet again of the possibility I might read this one and not be able to, or not want to, say anything about it. The introduction seemed positive enough again, however, and I started into things ready to let them accumulate a bit at a time.
'Joe Grunge' )
'Why is Barney purple?' )
'Forrest Blimp!' )
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
A lot of "popular" references to the work of H.P. Lovecraft do seem "joking" (as opposed to the introductions written by academics who proofread errors in the pulp magazines of the 1920s and 1930s and sniff that trying to fit his cosmic horrors into a "mythos" misses the real point of his stories as postmodern commentaries on materialist malaise), and his elaborate prose and the way his horrors wound up more "strange stuff piled together" than variants on physical dissolution might make those cosmic horrors more comic from a skewed perspective. I can't seem to shake the feeling, though, that not taking the mythos seriously is taking it seriously, that the humour winds up very much the "gallows" variety. As much as I can imagine a "self-aware" take on the mythos making those who prefer to take a more positive, perhaps even "science-fictional" take on cosmic depths and that which might follow different patterns within it just the first to get eaten, I guess I'm not quite inclined to grin at "The indifferent immensity of the universe will drive us mad before it drives us from existence? Now that's funny!"

When I saw a link to a webcomic series by Patrick Dean getting under way that pushed beyond mere "underwhelming" depictions of the Lovecraft anti-pantheon to six-panel adaptations of his early short stories (where some of Lovecraft's personal hangups about "the other," knowing about which may help me think he's not necessarily revealing some hard "universal truth," weren't quite so coded), though, I started thinking there might be something I could enjoy about it. I suppose it does help that I've read the original stories and can contrast them against their lightweight compressions, but the comics are fun in their own way. That the series has just completed a six-part adaptation of "Herbert West--Reanimator" (which I've seen described, in academic notes no less, as Lovecraft getting to the point of parodying himself) may have helped produce a positive impression too. I am wondering how much further the adaptations will go and whether they'll get to the more famous yet longer later stories.
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
People who keep up on comics took particular note in the past few days when it turned out the "Watterson-esque" panels, "drawn by a second-grader," some were beginning to speculate about in Stephan Pastis's "Pearls Before Swine" had been drawn by Bill Watterson himself. In seeing the confirmation, though, I did have to face how I was still conscious of being in a "grudge-holding mode" over how a recent strip had been meant to make a "joke" out of "prequel denial." A first attempt by someone else to lead off with a declaration of there being "three Star Wars movies," as if to bait the chance to ostentatiously deny there are any more, which they got straight to anyway, had already annoyed me when I'd seen it. However, in retrospect Pastis might have managed to add an interpretation of "prequel denial" being sort of pathetic; maybe I was just aggravated by this giving a chance for all the commentators on the official site I read the comic on to pitch in with their own contempt.

In any case, I'd already known of a few other recent instances where Bill Watterson has begun to say a few things beyond the implied "I said everything I intend to say in the work I completed." Nearly two decades of that implied statement haven't dimmed his legend, anyway, although I can be conscious of how I seem much more likely to take a volume of "The Complete Peanuts" off my bookshelf than to work one of the big volumes of my copy of "The Complete Calvin and Hobbes" out of its box. I'm also a little inclined to remember how I became interested in the comic strip "Frazz" in part because of an impression, commented on by others (even if some of them do that in a disdaining way), that its art has its own "Watterson-esque" feel.
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
I was interested to see The Complete Peanuts enter another decade, with its endpapers and the picture of Charles M. Schulz changing for what I presume will be the last time, and yet there was getting to be an edge of worry to the wondering if this time I wouldn't be able to say anything. The blurb on the back specifically mentioned Snoopy being obsessed with cookies, and I can remember the "cookies" comics being referred to with disdain back when the series was just getting under way. While it couldn't be said Snoopy wasn't a "cookie-hound" going back quite a ways, the certain blandness that he now seemed to treat the subject with might have risked carrying over to everything else. The introduction by cartoonist Tom Tomorrow seemed genuinely respectful, though, and as I read further into the volume other things started to catch my attention.
'Well, remember how you recommended the 'transdermal patch'?' )
'You said it would cure his craving for cookies... It hasn't worked..' )
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
Doonesbury has been going in and out of reruns for a while now, but with the news that Garry Trudeau would be taking a rather longer break this time at the very least the newspaper I have a subscription announced it was going to hold a poll for what would replace it on its comics page. The readership, though, would just get to vote in an online poll for one of three choices. At first glance, I had the impression I might have liked more choices; on taking a little longer look at sample strips I began to think I preferred "Dustin," whose capsule draw was "a recent college graduate is stuck at home still looking for work," the most of the three. I had the impression "Pickles" (which I'd heard of and read before) would get the most votes, though, even if this did seem to tie into inescapable thoughts of "old" media and the corresponding age of its majority demographic...

When the announcement was made today, though, I was just a little surprised to see I'd voted for the winner in the poll and "Dustin" would be showing up on the comics page. However, it also turned out that where Doonesbury had been printed at a larger size than everything else, now all the strips had been reduced to the same confines. Memories of Bill Watterson complaining how comic strips don't get the respect they could use (and that they might be a better draw for the newspapers if they were larger) did come to mind; that, though, does keep me thinking how I can't quite seem to find "webcomics" suitable to really grab my interest.
krpalmer: (europa)
It wasn't until I had the fourth issue of "The Star Wars" that I really started to get the feeling I'd manage to get every issue of this comic adapting the rough draft screenplay and felt ready to read what I had. With that done, I decided to comment on the experience as it was at that point, but in saying a bit about four issues at once there might have been the expectation I wouldn't get enough from a single issue to make a post about.
As this post suggests, though... )
krpalmer: (europa)
To get things started this time around, I decided to pick up at a midpoint. It did tickle my fancy to hear Dark Horse was going to make a comics adaptation of the "rough draft" of Star Wars, having been aware for quite a while of the development of that movie. My usual detachment from "Star Wars comics" as connected to "Star Wars novels" crumbled (even if I can suppose a distinct part of that had to do with the project being its own unique continuity), and I decided to take the comic in the old-fashioned way by checking out the local comics shop. There seemed some difficulties in getting myself on the list of people who'd have a copy of the first issue put aside for themselves, though, and I showed up the evening of day it was supposed to be released only to be told it had already sold out. Even if this proved the comic was popular, it was a bit of a blow; I supposed I'd have to wait for however long it took for the "graphic novel" collection to come out.
Then, though, I was lucky for a change... )
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
On getting the first of the new "Peanuts Every Sunday" volumes reprinting the Peanuts Sunday pages in colour, I took my time reading through it. It's a large and handsome book, but not so big as to seem unwieldy. One of the things I was thinking was that in commenting on it, I can also say a few things about the first half-decade of the comic strip, having only started posting to my journal as "The Complete Peanuts" was entering the 1960s.
'Did you ever see three more beautiful shades of green?' )

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