The Complete Peanuts: 1975 to 1976 by Charles M. Schulz (Fantagraphics, 2010) An ever-so-slightly flat couple of years. Schulz remains head-and-shoulders above the competition but takes a few missteps in his search for new storylines and characters. Though not entirely efficacious, the attempted reinvigoration demonstrates an intent to pursue rather than rest upon laurels.
Peanuts Every Sunday, 1952-1955 by Charles M. Schulz (Fantagraphics, 2013) Everyone comes from somewhere and this is Peanuts before the characters grew up, both physically and emotionally (even artistically). There are nascent hints of what the future holds but even in large-format colour it’s difficult to digest Schulz’s work being this unsophisticated.
Pow! A Peanuts Collection by Charles M. Schulz (Andrews McMeel, 2014) Not much thought has gone into the formatting, nor indeed the wisdom of putting together an exclusively baseball-themed collection of Peanuts strips. (The humour of repetition really needs space to breathe.) On a plus side, the entire undertaking is in glorious colour.
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.
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.