Monday, April 17, 2006


A publishing house called Fantagraphics has undertaken the ambitious project of publishing the entire run of the "Peanuts" comic strip in book form. I had seen them on the shelves, but didn't but one till they got out their fourth volume, which covers 1957 and '58.

I could tell you I preferred this one above all others because these were the years when the comic strip really gelled and the characters flowered, before they veered into excess and self-parody in the '60s. It was the period when Snoopy was still a dog, not some mythical undoglike being, and the children were still children (no psychiatrist's booth for Lucy).

I could offer all that explanation for why these years are simply the best in the strip, but I'd be lying. Fact is, when I was a little kid (mid-60s) I had a paperback book with this run of Peanuts comics in it, and so I remember them well from my own childhood, and so I am fonder of them than others. There's no crime in preferring the familiar to the less-so. The crime is in thinking it really is better based on nothing but that preference.

A nuclear annihilation gag! (Click for full strip). It never struck me as odd or creep-inducing back then.

Definitely click for full. Perfect and eerily prescient depiction of the Chomskyite Blog Troll (Fanaticus antiamericus) almost 50 years before the fact. From a series of strips where Linus decides he wants to be a "wild-eyed fanatic" when he grows up. Churchill once described a fanatic as someone who can't change the subject and won't change his mind. It works as a quip, but a true definition also would include "someone who can steer any remark into his obsession-topic in under 5 seconds."