krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
[personal profile] krpalmer
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.

Peanuts didn't start running seven days a week until the beginning of 1952, but the first few Sunday pages (identified by a different, "typeset" logo) do leave me theorizing they must have been drawn some months before with the characters sporting the "big-headed" look they had in the middle of 1951, as if Charles M. Schulz had started preparing to go ahead with Sunday pages before the syndicate had lined everything up. As the logo changes to one that ought to be familiar, though, the characters seem at their "cutest" to me, somehow "large-eyed" so far as dots of ink go. They look that way for a year or two, then grow into a sort of "squat" form that might amount to a period of Peanuts I'm not quite as interested in art-wise. Snoopy, on the other hand, has changed from a tiny puppy (if with large ears that sometimes do leave me with odd thoughts of Mickey Mouse) to a long-eared, long-snouted hound by the end of this volume. With only every seventh comic included, things do seem to change faster than with the regular volumes.

The enlarged panels illustrating the somewhat Snoopy-focused introduction looked sort of "yellowed," and I was just a little concerned this would get obtrusive with something like Snoopy's white fur. However, the colouring of the strips themselves don't have that ostentatious aging, looking a bit richer than what I can still think of as the standard "four-colour process." I knew the colour schemes of the Peanuts animation, which went a long way towards being what I and everyone else seems to have come to mind first, weren't quite the same as the way things often turned out on Sundays. However, the very first Sunday page did give Charlie Brown a yellow shirt not quite as "lemon-yellow" as he has on the dust jacket. As I was reflecting on that, though, I happened to turn to Chip Kidd's "Peanuts: The Art of Charles M. Schulz," one of the first books to start bringing the 1951 comic strips back to the attention of people through scrapbook clippings, and discovered a clipping of that first page where Charlie Brown has a red shirt as he did in the pages that followed and Violet has the white sleeves she sports for the rest of the book. However, there was also a blob of yellow in Charlie Brown's squiggle of hair, which can at least make me think the colouring decision of Fantagraphics was deliberate and not somehow a matter of missing the old guidelines altogether.

By the end of this volume, Linus has left the longest time any character spent as a "baby" or voiceless toddler, although he's still pretty young. Before that, Lucy started off as a "googly-eyed" toddler, Charlie Brown took in a drugstore comics rack ("What a beautiful gory layout!") that did have me thinking again of how a comics strip artist with an all-ages audience might feel sort of superior to mere comic books, and there was the "continuity" sequence with adults looming with their heads just out of panel above Charlie Brown and a golfing Lucy, which reminded me of a certain worry things would end with "Charlie Brown blows the whole thing for someone else" as things would turn out later on. Anyway, I'm also interested in the next Sunday pages volume to come.

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