krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
[personal profile] krpalmer
Even before I'd received the latest volume of "The Complete Peanuts" by mail order, I was certain I could remember one small storyline in it from back when the comic strips in it were running in the newspaper. Starting into it, though, I wondered first of all if Fantagraphics was running low on people to introduce the volumes: Patton Oswalt's introduction was brief and seemed to dwell on the "Snoopy the attorney" comics with the chiding suggestion that this reflected Charles M. Schulz talking to lawyers about merchandising. I suppose the suggestions of others that not just "everything in the strip was autobiographical" but "what really mattered was the evidence of Schulz's own suffering" don't quite agree with me. Once beyond that, though, there were still some surprises in store for me...

The characters getting dragged off to summer camp was a familiar theme, but in this volume the Browns and the Van Pelts wind up at "survival camp," wearing camouflage suits and listing to someone "saying there are people out there who want to destroy our way of life," as Linus interprets for Sally. (There was an earlier Sunday page where Linus was trying to tell people about the Great Pumpkin only to respond to actual dialogue from an apparent off-panel adult...) It does feel just a little ominous (especially given it was Lucy who signed them up), but perhaps in the end Sally's complaints about the whole deal defuse things.

As for things I had been expecting, I could remember, if perhaps not quite in a newspaper setting, Tapioca Pudding, who keeps introducing herself to Linus (whose "I know" responses I do imagine to get more and more subtly frustrated) with boasts about how merchandisable she is. I do happen to have seen a period interview with Schulz following up on Tapioca Pudding where he's flat-out asked about the merchandising of everyone else in the comic strip, and he basically responds with "I draw it myself, and it all developed organically," the usual thing that seems to help people deal with the "art versus commerce" issue when they do deal with it. At the same time, we see a different girl who keeps responding to Linus's best attempts to be friendly with "Aren't you a little old for me?", and I hadn't quite been expecting her to show up when she did. I suppose that might mean there are still things to anticipate in the next volume beyond the strip setting aside its four-panel format.

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