On October 2, 1950 a boy named Charlie Brown first appeared in American newspapers. Peanuts popularity grew steadily and on January 6, 1952, the strip's first Sunday edition debuted. For the next 48 years, Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy, Schroeder, and all the other players appeared in full color on the comics page.
But I wasn't there for any of that. Rather, I found Peanuts in the early 1980s, when comics pages had already started to shrink and the famous characters of the strip were more readily accessible to kids through specials. Even then, I didn't read the comics page as much as I did the dusty paperback collections with titles like Happiness is a Warm Puppy and A Boy Named Charlie Brown.
Growing up as a fan, the single greatest headache was trying to find all the strips. I wanted to know when Snoopy changed from being a dog to being another kid in a funny costume. I wanted to know when Charlie Brown first fell in love with the Little Red Haired Girl. But it couldn't be done. Although most had been reprinted in one collection or another, there was no single resource that had all the strips.
Enter Fantagraphics Books. Beginning in 2004, Fantagraphics collected and published The Complete Peanuts. While this series collected all the daily strips, the Sunday strips were spun off into a second series, Peanuts Every Sunday, the third volume (of ten) of which has just been released. These are the strips I never had access to as a kid. These strips were not collected in those old black and white trades.
Peanuts Every Sunday reprints the strips in chronological order, in full, glorious color. While some commentary is provided in both the foreword and afterword, mainly the strips are left to speak for themselves. Each strip is given its own page, in its original size, complete with the date the strip originally appeared in newspapers.
These are beautiful books. Full color dust jackets and numbered bindings make for books that look great next to each other on the shelf. But you'll need a big shelf. At close to $50 per volume, this is not a collection to get into lightly. But for the fan, they are a collection absolutely worth having.
– Joel Neff
Peanuts Every Sunday: The 1950s Gift Box Set
by Charles M. Schulz
2015, 576 pages, 10 x 13.5 x 3.1 inches