Friday, March 17, 2017

“Read a Damn Book – 012: All This and Snoopy, Too”

In 1989, (or was it 1990?), I bought about a dozen Peanuts collections at a library book sale for 10 cents apiece. Every now and then, when I get in a specific mood, I grab one of those books and give it a read. Like most people from the “T.V.” generation, I grew up watching The Great Pumpkin and the Charlie Brown Christmas specials every holiday, and I still enjoy them today. I would read the newspaper comics, I wore the tee-shirts, I bought the VHS tapes, I even had several Peanuts Pez dispensers, and I loved my Snoopy and the Red Baron Viewmaster Slides. Despite all this nostalgia and cultural familiarity, how does a Peanuts book hold up today?

Charles M. Schulz – All This and Snoopy, Too (1962)

According to the cover, this book is a selection of cartoons from a previous collection, which seems weird to me, (why make a collection out of another collection?) Neither am I exactly certain when these cartoons were first drawn. I can tell from how Snoopy is presented that this is not a 1950s collection. In the earliest comics, Snoopy was drawn with a smaller nose, which looked almost like a real beagle’s. In the much later renditions, from the 1970s on, Snoopy’s personality changes and he becomes almost a human character: riding motorcycles, using a typewriter, cooking food, wearing sunglasses, etc. However, in this book, his nose is big and bulbous, but he doesn’t really do much that would count as human. He mostly sits on his doghouse and thinks thoughts to himself.

I actually really like Snoopy’s personality as it comes across in his monologues. It’s a shame that he’s made mute in the animated shows because we lost a lot when they took away his voice. He’s easily my favorite character in this book. Besides Snoopy being funny, I also noticed that there are several jokes in this collection that would later show up in the Christmas Special (which came out in 1965) and other animated shows. And, most interesting to me, I was surprised to (re)discover that Lucy’s Psychiatry Booth was actually the punchline to a lemonade stand joke! Lots of history here in this little book, if you’re a fan of Peanuts.

Is the collection worth reading beyond the history lesson? Yeah, it’s not bad. It’s a quick read, some of the jokes are still pretty funny (although some are a bit dated---but jeeze, these cartoons are over 50 years old!), and like I said, I like Snoopy. I probably wouldn’t pay an arm and a leg for it, but if you find it used for cheap, and you already like Peanuts, it would probably be worth grabbing. (If you DON’T already know Charlie Brown and his dog, if that’s possible, then this might not be the book for you.)

---Richard F. Yates

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