An entertaining testament to the enduring richness of “Peanuts” and the creativity it still inspires.

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Peanuts: A Tribute to Charles M. Schulz

From the Peanuts series , Vol. 1

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. 

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60886-714-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: BOOM! Studios

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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AKIKO ON THE PLANET SMOO

Opening episodes of a comic-book series created by an American teacher in Japan take a leap into chapter-book format, with only partial success. Resembling—in occasional illustrations—a button-eyed, juvenile Olive Oyl, Akiko, 10, is persuaded by a pair of aliens named Bip and Bop to climb out her high-rise bedroom’s window for a trip to M&M-shaped Planet Smoo, where Prince Fropstoppit has been kidnapped by widely feared villainness Alia Rellaport. Along with an assortment of contentious sidekicks, including brainy Mr. Beeba, Akiko battles Sky Pirates and video-game-style monsters in prolonged scenes of cartoony violence, displaying resilience, courage, and leadership ability, but not getting very far in her rescue attempt; in fact, the story cuts off so abruptly, with so little of the quest completed, and at a lull in the action to boot, that readers expecting a self-contained (forget complete) story are likely to feel cheated. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2000

ISBN: 0-385-32724-2

Page Count: 162

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1999

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An appealing adventure; vibrant in characterization, humor, and imagery.

THE NOT-SO SECRET SOCIETY

TALE OF THE GUMMY

Some tweens face their biggest challenge yet when their science fair submission morphs into a colossal, candy-crazed gummy bear in this graphic novel.

The 12-year-olds who make up the Not-So Secret Society—Aiden, Madison, Emma, Dylan, and Ava—are ready to brave the mythical world under the city. But first things first: their project for Mr. Pham’s science class is due tomorrow. Unfortunately, the snarky 5Z’s (Zuri, Ziran, Zed, Zamara, and Zach) show up fellow students with their invention—an Energy Cube—and boast about their anticipated triumph at the upcoming All-City Science Fair. After Ava confidently announces in class that NS3 will likewise be submitting something, the group scrambles for an idea, finally settling on a machine that brings candy to life. Amazingly, the contraption’s successful, and the friends have a walking Bear Hug, a tiny gooey treat they name Gummy. As it turns out, Gummy loves candy and, rather unexpectedly, increases in size with every piece he eats. The band recognizes that this is a potential problem but sadly can’t prevent Gummy from running off and gorging himself on sweets. NS3 tries capturing the bear before he gets bigger, but Halloween’s arrival means a plethora of readily available, now-dangerous candy. This winning tale by Matthew Daley (Lantern City, 2015) and debut author Arlene Daley is energized by a racially diverse cast of tween protagonists with assorted interests and problems. Ava’s love of wrestling, for one, contrasts with her small stature, while Emma’s shyness (displayed with faint dialogue-balloon text) becomes a hurdle to overcome. The comedy’s silly but good-natured, with the authors fully aware of the absurdity. Fearing Gummy will destroy the world, Ava notes: “We’re going to be in so much trouble.” There are pop-culture references (a giant squishy bear recalls 1984’s Ghostbusters) and educational value, like how to combat a sugary adversary. Clark’s (Regular Show, 2016, etc.) illustrations are brightly colored with bold lines and precise character features; some visuals, like the city’s library and Halloween extravaganza, are beautifully intricate. The book also includes 25 hilarious mini-comics from various artists and learning activities for young readers (including recycling).

An appealing adventure; vibrant in characterization, humor, and imagery.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60886-997-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: KaBOOM!

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

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