106 Luke Sutherland, Elvis
1 08 Batman
108 Scissor Sisters, Funk O’Void
THIS FORTNIGHT o
0000. Excellent 00.. Recommended 000 Good
1 10 Final Fantasy X-2
1 1 1 Pavarotti, Sykes
1 12 No Angels, Black Books
1 1 3 Hybrid,
1 14 Isle of Lewis
1 16 9 Cellars, whisky
I CHARLIE BROWNI! 0094'? YOU KNOW HOW ANNOYlNG THAT IS ?:
I GUESS MAYBE YOU'RE RIGHT...
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COMIC STRIP AN I'HOLOGY
THE COMPLETE PEANUTS 1950-1952 Charles M Shulz
The moon-like noggin with its lone strand of curly hair, the yellow shirt with its black zig zags, the hangdog expression and the world weary comments: everyone knows Charlie Brown. In the US he rates second only to Mickey Mouse as the country’s most recognisable cartoon hero. But to call his creator Charles M Schulz a revolutionary is, in some circles, overly heady praise. Not here, however. Schulz, in comic book terms, is the JRR Tolkein of his art — an early pioneer who said so much, so effectively through seemineg simple story telling. This book kicks off Seattle comic publisher Fantagraphics’ most ambitious project yet: to publish the complete works of Charles M Schulz. That’s 50 years’ worth of strips from the daily and Sunday papers — two years’ worth, twice a year, for the next 12 and a half years - in lustrous hardback volumes. Schulz’ strips are worthy of such loving attention as he not only created one of the most enduring cartoons of all time but
SCHULZ CREATED ONE OF THE MOST ENDURING CARTOONS OF ALL TIME
he inspired everyone from cartoonists such as Gary Larson to novelists such as Garrison Keillor with his gently, if skilfully sketched out stories.
When Schulz came up with the strip in 1950 he was trading in a world of children but reflected a post-war world of hope. ambition and uncertainty. Like these early strips, the characters in this inaugural instalment are similarly embryonic: Linus, Schroder and Lucy are just infants and grew up with the strip. Even Snoopy (as yet to make the acquaintance of his side kick Woodstock) is still just a puppy.
The often surreal world the Peanuts gang inhabited was a vivid place where adults were nothing more than disembodied arms or oversized pairs of feet and legs sprouting up into the top of the frame. That isn't to say this was child’s play: Schulz always insisted (and rightly so) that Peanuts wasn’t meant for children just because it depicted children. It was edgy and unpredictable, way ahead of its time. Up until this point comic strips were for the most part slight and fanciful. Schulz created a set of characters as sharp and insightful as any adult, who in their own way commented heavily, if not directly, about the contemporary world. Doubt, conflict and fear of the unknown were common themes but at the heart of it were some sweet kids and their dog doing some truly funny stuff.
Schulz kept going with the strip until 1999 when a stroke robbed him of the ability to draw. It was only a matter of months later, the evening before the final Peanuts strip was published, that he died.
‘Peanuts is about St Paul, not Santa Rosa,’ says Garrison Keillor in his introduction to the book. ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin who comes at Halloween, not the Blissful Artichoke or the Sacred Asparagus.’ Schulz moved to California in later life, but it didn’t affect the perspectives of his work. It stayed rooted in a small town with a social conscience and a loving heart. (Mark Robertson)
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