Friday, December 31, 2010

The Peanuts Collection: Treasury From The Worlds Most Beloved Comic Strip

I’m lucky enough to have the week between Christmas and New Year’s off which allows me to catch up on all my chores around the house. My favorite chore involves reading, and reviewing, the stack of books that has grown next to the bed. The first book I read was The Peanuts Collection: Treasury From The Worlds Most Beloved Comic Strip by Nat Gertler.

What drew me to this book was the fact that it was going to talk about all the “stuff” of Peanuts. Let’s not kid ourselves, if you read comics there is a high chance you have all sorts of ancillary stuff related to comics whether it be action figures, t-shirts, or even a poster or two. The Peanuts gang has been present in American culture for so long that a chance to see Peanuts “stuff” was just too much for me to resist.

Books like this are hard to do because it requires the author to place the significance of the ‘stuff’ in time, but not bog the reader down with to much information about the source material. Personally, I really wanted to see all the marketing gimmicks, games, t-shirts, toys, and what nots without getting into the minutia of Peanuts lore.

This book succeeds in making Peanuts 'stuff' interesting and exciting. It is brief, and concise, in the best of all possible ways. It is broken into chapters dealing with a theme, such as Christmas, Halloween, or Sports, and the primary characters such as Charlie Brown, Linus, and Lucy. This allows Gertler to present some interesting trivia about the subject and showcase how the character, or theme, was marketed. For example, everyone knows that for years, Snoopy was the spokesman for Metlife Insurance but did you know that the Peanuts gang was used in an advertising campaign for the Ford Mustang.

Another great aspect about this book is the fact that it is a giant pop up book with pop ups that actually fall out of the book… in a good way. The book contains many examples of materials that Schultz produced. There are reproductions of Schultz’s Christmas cards, book covers, little league schedules, and my personal favorite, the cover of a 45 entitled Jazz Impressions of “A Boy Named Charlie Brown” by Vince Guaraldi.

This is a slip cased, coffee table book that will appeal to both the casual and diehard Peanuts fan. It is full of large photos of Schultz and the strip, along with all the memorabilia. As an art lover, I really appreciated the examples of the art of Peanuts, both full strips and strips in draft.

The casual Peanuts lover will enjoy this book because of the bright pictures and the simplicity of the presentation. It's the perfect way to enjoy Peanuts without having to buy 10 different books on the subject. The die hard Peanuts collector can enjoy this because it’s a wonderful oversized coffee table book that can be left out to show visitors. It isn’t overwhelming but the perfect way to showcase a collection that likely includes an entire room dedicated to Snoopy.

In summary, this book isn’t an indepth analysis of the form of Schultz’s art and how the characters, and strip, was developed. It isn’t even an breakdown of what made the strip so appealing. This is an unadorned love letter to the Peanuts gang and all the stuff they were attached too.

You can visit Nat Gertler's website about Peanuts books here and read his blog about everything else Peanuts here. Both are highly recommended.

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