First in a series of twenty six volumes which collect all the strips ever published of the classic cartoon Peanuts. The exploits of Charlie Brown. Snoopy. And other classic characters.
This volume begins with an introduction by Garrison Keillor. Then follows 287 pages worth of all the Peanuts strips from 1950-1952. Although they are not individually dated as such, it does say down the bottom of the page the year and month they herald from.
You get three strips to a page. When the Sunday strips, which were full page ones, eventually appear, they have a page all to themselves.
Those used to Peanuts as it was for so many years when Schulz was in his stride will find the strips here a bit surprising by comparison. Since they herald from the start of the run, they are quite simplistic at times by comparsion. But when it began, he was learning as he went along, and it is quite fascinating to watch things slowly develop over the course of these first two years.
It begins with just four characters. Charlie Brown. Shermy. Patty. And Snoopy. Who acts like a normal dog and walks on all fours. At first it feels like a somewhat generic funny kids strip. But ever so steadily, characterisation starts to emerge. Charlie Brown gets his familiar look when the stripe appears on his shirt. Other character are introduced and become regulars.
It's a way in before the first sunday page appears. The strips steadily get funnier. Snoopy does eventually get a thought balloon or two, and it's quite startling when that first happens. And the crushings disappointments that Charlie Brown always endured arrive in due course.
As a whole they're not the strongest batch of Peanuts cartoons, but it's fascinating to watch the series develop over the course of these first two years. Once you've finished it, go back and read the first ones again, and you will be startled by how much the art comes along across the course of it.
After the strips there is a fascinating feature about the life and times of Charles M. Schulz. Followed by an excellent and almost thirty page interview with him from 1987. Then there's an index to the whole volume.
Not the best of these, but perhaps four stars for the strips and five stars for the book as a whole. But all in all, an essential start to an essential collection for fans and those interested in the medium.