Celebrated cartoonists interpret the look, legacy, and worldview of the “Peanuts” comic strip in this vibrant homage to its creator.
In addition to a pantheon of iconic characters, images, and pratfalls, “Peanuts,” which ran from 1950 until the day after Schulz’s death in 2000, introduced groundbreaking themes of neurosis, failure, and unfulfillable longing into postwar America’s funny pages. This splendidly illustrated comic book gathers more than 40 modern cartoonists to explore in their own panels the impacts of these materials. Some, including contributions from Matt Groening and Tom Tomorrow, are straightforward tributes; others are single- or multipaged strips that tell complete stories using the “Peanuts” characters. Among the most amusing are Roger Langridge’s vignette of the Red Baron taking time out from World War I to get psychoanalyzed for his recurring apparent hallucinations of a flying beagle; Stan Sakai and Julie Fuji’s joyous account of Charlie Brown’s Tokyo outing with a Japanese girl; Terry Moore’s drolly deflating take on what would happen if Charlie Brown finally managed to make contact with the football; Zac Gorman’s hangdog scene of Lucy critiquing Charlie Brown’s dejected funeral oration; Jeremy Sorese’s probing meditation on the missing adults of “Peanuts,” grown from evocative recollections of his own childhood; Shaenon K. Garrity’s hilarious tale of a collective nervous breakdown precipitated by Lucy’s remorseless truth-telling; and a Lovecraft-ian epic by Evan Dorkin and Derek Charm, told through Charlie Brown’s letters to his pencil-pal—“Things here are the same. I am hated and alone”—as the ordinary quirks of the “Peanuts”-verse twist themselves into subtle, sinister portents of a demonic netherworld. Some of the cartoonists work in their own distinctive styles—from the perspectival naturalism of Chris Schweizer’s WWI tableaux to Tony Millionaire’s verminous, bug-eyed Charlie Brown and Snoopy portraits—while others imitate the Schulz-ian look. The admiration these artists feel for Schulz is palpable, as are the potency and versatility of his comic inventions. As the cartoonists take Schulz’s ideas in fresh new directions, the reader still feels that they are revealing dimensions that always existed within Schulz’s vision.
An entertaining testament to the enduring richness of “Peanuts” and the creativity it still inspires.