Book Review: The Complete Peanuts, 1987-1988
Fantagraphic Books continues marching through the history of the Peanuts gang, with their latest release.
On a personal note, I think this time period was where my comprehension on some of the stories really started to happen, when reading the series at a young age. I was surprised to find myself remembering a June 1988 storyline where Spike convinces Snoopy that the 1988 Olympic Games have been moved to Needles, CA. Speaking of Spike, it seems that Schulz got over his ‘fix’ during the last few years, and the amount of Spike strips has diminished in 1987 and 1988.
During these two years, Schulz references certain character traits that have come and gone with the passing of time. One reference is this Saturday strip from 1988:
I found it rather humorous to see Snoopy consider something that was entertaining for readers, to be akin to the whims of youth. A Sunday strip a few weeks later would have Snoopy attempting to do a ‘suppertime dance,’ only to find out he’d forgotten the steps.
Another fun area of thought happens when Charlie Brown is witness to a tree eating his kite. Horrified at what he’s seen, he goes to Lucy for therapy, only for her to bring up a question that most ‘logical’ people would ask:
This volume also shows one of the major changes for the comic strip, when the decision was made to go from 4 boxes to 3 for the daily strips. Word was some found this ‘condensing’ of a comic to be terrible, but Schulz was said to embrace the layout change.
Thinking it over, It does seem to fit into the overall ‘rule of 3,’ in that the use of things in 3’s is often more effective, exciting, and effervescent. However, it is a little jarring when one turns page 181 in the book, and sees 183 with the new format. But after a few pages, you soon forget the incident.
Peppermint Patty and Marcie also continue their usual regimen of school work, sports, and attending ‘Tiny Tots’ musical concerts. The two even go back to camp, where Patty is put in charge of teaching three girls to swim.
Schulz also ramps up a bit of the ‘hinted’ rivalry the two have over Charlie Brown, leading to some rather shocking panels (like the ones on the right). There’s even another such ‘tiff’ between the two later on in 1988, that proves to be rather humorous.
Plus, an event occurs that noone probably thought could ever happen: Charlie Brown actually manages to trade Lucy to another team: Peppermint Patty’s! Charlie Brown seems to come out ahead in the deal, considering he not only got traded Marcie, but a whole pizza as well.
Speaking of ‘junk food,’ Schulz continues to parlay pizza, cookies, and other non-healthy items throughout most of his comics. One has to wonder if he was put on a health-food kick by his doctor, and his inclusion of them in the strip was a way to let out his frustration over being unable to have such goodies. This is normally shown as Snoopy claims he hears chocolate chip cookies in the Brown family pantry calling to him.
Along with his love of junk food, Snoopy’s love of multiple personalities continues, this time adopting the personas of a surgeon and a doctor.
Keep in mind there’s more than enough strips to keep one preoccupied. I personally found the assortment of strips for 1987-1988, to be a little more entertaining than the ones for 1985-1986.
Each of the books contains a foreword, and in this volume, it’s provided by Doonesbury cartoonist, Gary Trudeau. It’s a brief-yet-interesting analysis as Trudeau recalls a discussion about persons whose work made a mark on society, and how Schulz ended up doing what some only dreamed of doing.