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: 1971 to 1972
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
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.
Black Hole by Charles Burns (Pantheon, 2005) [collecting Black Hole #1-12, Fantagraphics, 1995-2004] Burns goes all out in this shadowy and grotesque, trippy mix of 70s teen culture, body horror and sexually explicit allegory (self-identity; belonging). The plot is deliberately abstruse, and though the black-and-white artwork is striking, some characters are hard to tell apart.
X’ed Out by Charles Burns (Pantheon, 2010) In this confronting homage, Burns shows us what Tintin’s adventures might be like if they took place in a grim alternative reality (think the Upside Down of ‘Stranger Things’). Burns lacks Hergé’s sense of movement and pacing but this remains darkly memorable.
Tintin: Land of Black Gold
Tintin: Land of Black Gold by Hergé (Methuen, 1972) Land of Black Gold had a troubled creation (which ultimately shows), interrupted by the German invasion of Belgium in 1940, completed six years later and then revised twice more, ultimately being shoehorned— without a commensurate joie de vivre—into the Calculus years.
The Wayward Leunig
The Wayward Leunig: Cartoons That Wandered Off by Michael Leunig (Viking, 2015) This collection shows that more is less for Leunig. Those cartoons with few or no words are often striking and droll, whereas those given to loquacity (or worse, second- and third-rate poetry) are increasingly hard to stomach. The cumulative effect is… depressing.
Dollhouse: Epitaphs by Andrew Chambliss et al. (Dark Horse, 2012) [compiling Dollhouse #1-5] In style, script and content, ‘Epitaphs’ is a perfectly adequate post-apocalyptic adventure, yet like its television namesake ‘Epitaph One’ (the unaired offspring of Dollhouse season one), it deals largely in new characters and bears almost no tonal resemblance to the parent programme.
Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn by Hergé (Methuen, 1959) Written during the German occupation of Belgium in World War II, The Secret of the Unicorn sees Hergé eschew political satire in favour of a well-constructed and comically sublime mystery/adventure. From nuances of expression to outrageous slapstick, Hergé here reaches new heights.