The Peanuts Papers ed. Andrew Blauner (Library of America, 2019) A collection of quasi-academic studies, character analyses, and personal reminiscences centred around Peanuts — most commonly its life-changing influence on the contributors (writers and cartoonists) when in their formative years. The arguments are mostly accessible, offering a level of insight beyond casual appreciation.
The Complete Peanuts: 1977 to 1978 by Charles M. Schulz (Fantagraphics, 2010) Two consistently sublime years of history’s greatest comic strip. There are few wasted days and, even putting philosophical wit aside, Schulz demonstrates unparalleled mastery purely as a cartoonist, his minimalist panels capturing moment after perfect moment of character, emotion and physical humour.
After the Goat Man by Betsy Byars (The Bodley Head, 1974) A remarkable middle grade novel. By delving deep into the protagonists’ wistful ruminations—especially poor overweight Harold’s—Byars not only guides her characters to a precocious philosophical maturity (cf. Peanuts) but also holds the reader’s attention despite there being almost no plot.
The Complete Peanuts: 1993 to 1994 by Charles M. Schulz (Fantagraphics Books, 2014) Spurred perhaps by Rerun’s belated coming of age, Schulz bestows upon the Peanuts gang some nice little touches of character growth (Charlie Brown’s more active pursuit of the Little Red-Haired Girl, for instance). Unfortunately, his once-consummate penmanship is starting to look shaky.
The Complete Peanuts: 1961 to 1962 by Charles M. Schulz (Fantagraphics Books, 2006) By the early 60s, Schulz has more or less perfected his Peanuts strip: droll adult wit filtered through the eyes and actions of children (plus the irrepressible Snoopy) and interspersed with tour-de-force visual humour. This is a particularly good volume for Linus.
The Complete Peanuts: 1971 to 1972 by Charles M. Schulz (Fantagraphics Books, 2009) An evocatively drawn mix of wit, whimsy and preternatural wisdom. Poor old wishy-washy Charlie Brown remains the unifying figure but there are a good number of delightfully droll (and character-defining) strips involving Peppermint Patty, Sally Brown, and in particular Lucy van Pelt.
The Complete Peanuts: 1979 to 1980 by Charles M. Schulz (Fantagraphics Books, 2011) An excellent vintage. As well as his usual pithy one-offs, Schulz presents several week-long serials and even one month-long epic. Peppermint Patty comes particularly to the fore, validating the claim that she could have sustained a comic strip in her own right.
Peanuts Dell Archive ed. Whitney Leopard & Chris Rosa (Kaboom!, 2018) A collection of lamentable (though Schulz-endorsed) Peanuts knock-offs that appeared in comic books during the late 1950s and early 1960s. These are of curiosity value but the artwork, format, stories and characterisations serve only to highlight the superlativeness of the genuine article.
The Complete Peanuts: 1991 to 1992 by Charles M. Schulz (Fantagraphics Books, 2014) Despite Schulz’s at times self-indulgent format experimentations, Peanuts in the 90s starts to feel a little tired. (Snoopy’s cookie fixation, for instance, disappoints as a recurring punchline.) Nevertheless, there is much here to like. Only by his own benchmark is Schulz diminished.
The Snoopy Treasures by Nat Gertler (Titan, 2015) Presented like a deluxe collection of comics — an odd format for its purpose — the Snoopy Treasury is more a potted history of the Snoopy (not Peanuts) phenomenon, exploring Snoopy’s development within Schulz’s strips and his many, many manifestations in the outside world.