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Things I learned from A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

§ November 24th, 2011 § Filed under peanuts § 6 Comments

1. Charlie Brown’s family really needs to clean out their garage. I mean, honestly, how many old mattresses do they need? And is that a stove above the chest? And what is in the chest, anyway? What horrible secrets are the Brown family harboring inside that thing?

Not to mention the golf bag with the one lonely club within. There’s a story there, I’m sure. I mean, aside from Snoopy getting his hands on it to accessorize his rich fantasy life as “Joe Golfer.”

But aside from all that…Happy Thanksgiving, where applicable, and Happy Thursday otherwise. I’ll see you folks tomorrow.

“…And starring Edward G. Robinson as ‘The Editor-in-Chief.'”

§ November 16th, 2011 § Filed under peanuts § 18 Comments

So I was complaining just yesterday about how all these different variant covers and ratios and hoops I have to jump through to get said variants was beginning to really drag me down, maaaaan, and subsequently proved myself a hypocrite by acknowledging my desire for the Swamp Thing variant covers.

Well, I’m gonna double-down on my hypocrisy since I fully intend on getting the “first appearance” variants for the Boom! Studios Peanuts series:

That’s the “How I Hate Him” variant (note: not actual name for the variant, but it should be) for the first issue, and following issues will feature Lucy, Linus, and Snoopy, and good golly I want ’em all. Basically, I guess this means I’m against comic book variant covers except for the ones I’m personally interested in. That seems fair.

• • •

If you don’t mind, I’m going to respond to a couple of comments from yesterday’s post…and even if you do mind, I’m going to do it anyway since it’s my site:

  • My ol’ internet pal Roger Green sez

    “It was the variant covers of Spider-Man #1 and those Valiant(?) #0s that made me crazy back in the 1990s.”

    Yeah, it was Valiant with the #0s…and Malibu/Ultraverse, and DC Comics, and probably plenty more. (It was all Robert Crumb’s fault.) But those didn’t bother us nearly as much as the Spider-Man #1 variants…specifically, the prebagged editions (which you can see at the bottom of this page).

    Seriously, Marvel charged you an extra quarter so you could get a copy of the comic sealed in a polybag specifically as a collectible. The pages inside might as well have been blank. Hell, they could have been blank…did anyone buy one and open it? Anyway, I haven’t seen one of these prebagged editions in a long time…after 21 years, that polybag is probably slowly turning back into oil and becoming one with the comic at this point.

  • Alex asks

    “Speaking of upcoming books… how do you feel about the upcoming Dardevil crossover with the Amazing Spider-Man book? You still get Mark Waid writing for both, with the main artist on the Daredevil portion (I believe), and what looks like a fun little plot, buuuuutttttt…

    This does sort of run against the ‘self-contained’ vibe that book really should keep, right? Do you think these sorts of things can be pretty good and turn out alright when you get the right guy steering the ship?”

    I’m not totally against crossovers. Keeping it simple with just Spider-Man and Daredevil, and, like you say, having Waid writing both titles…that sounds like a good time. And it’s very Silver Age-y Marvel, with a nice, simple crossover between a couple of characters. No cosmos-spanning, every-Marvel-title-spanning menace needed.

    My main objection with crossovers is more with the company-wide event-type things that force folks to push aside their own storylines to make space for the Beyonder or for Atlantis Attacking or whatever. And even then, depending on how the creative teams handle it, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. (The Crisis on Infinite Earths tie-ins in Green Lantern at the time are a good example of using crossover-event shenanigans for a book’s own benefit.) But for readers who aren’t following every event that comes down the pike, having yet another tie-in to a separate series they’re not interested in, yet another “INFINITE FEAR COUNTDOWN INVASION” branding above the comic’s regular logo, can be bit of a turn-off.

    I wonder how the creative teams of these books feel when it’s time for the thrice-yearly event tie-in? Is it “oh boy, a challenge!” at fitting the editorially-mandated event into their plotlines, or “ah, crud, there go my plans for the book over the next month or two,” or a mixture of both?

    I’m probably oversimplifying things a bit, but I picture the editor, puffing on his giant stogie, picking up the phone to call his writer to say “Look, there’s this event we’re having, see? And it’s gotta go in all the books, see? And we want you to play along, see?” And the writer, knees shaking, stammers out in reply “y-y-y-yes sir, Mr. Big, sir,” and immediately hunches back over his typewriter, sparing only a brief, sad glance out the window at yet another sunset he will again only experience from his under-lit office.

    Anyway, Alex, I hope that answers your question. And probably created some new questions in the process.

There is an index entry for “angelfood cake with seven minute frosting.”

§ August 29th, 2011 § Filed under fantagraphics, peanuts § 4 Comments

So I just finished reading Fantagraphics’ The Complete Peanuts 1981-1982, and again, like I explained last time, the vast majority of this book was new to me, having not read previous reprintings of the strips from this period (as opposed to the near-memorization of the reprint books from the late ’70s and earlier).

One of the great new features of this particular reprint series, aside from, y’know, the whole completeness of the strips reprints and all, is the index in each volume. Sometimes humorously exact (like the breakdown of which Beagle Scouts are mentioned by name on which page), sometimes helpful (the “psychiatric help” listing helped my research in writing this Content Farm gag), sometimes facilitating celebrity spotting (oh, hey, namecheck of Carl Sagan in this volume)…

…And sometimes it’s a useful tool in documenting character appearances in the strip. Like Violet…in this 1981-1982 volume, Violet only appears on one page, versus (pulling out an earlier volume at random) 1961-1962, where she appears on about 30 pages. Yes, I know it’s no secret that some characters fell by the wayside as time went on (alas, poor Shermy), but it’s still a little…sad, I suppose, to see once prominent inhabitants of the strip only pop up once in a blue moon in the latter part of its run, if at all.

By the way, in the earlier volume, Violet was listed in the index under “Violet,” but when I couldn’t find her in the 1981-1982 volume’s index, I realized that she was probably listed under her last name, which I could not remember for the life of me. A quick Googling took me to her Wikipedia page, revealing that her last name, appearing once in a strip in 1953, is “Gray.” Also, I learned that “her birthday is unofficially celebrated by Peanuts fans on June 17,” so only about 10 shopping months left, friends. Apparently, according to the Wiki entry, this contradicts previous information placing her birthday in other parts of the year. Hey, reader De, remember when you joked about Peanuts canon arguments?

By the way, the index to her Wiki entry reveals her to be a monster:

• • •

In other Peanuts-related news, Tom Spurgeon reports on the possible loss of the Charles Schulz Library at the Center of Cartoon Studies due to storm damage.

Remember when they rebooted Peanuts and took that jagged line off of Charlie Brown’s shirt?

§ June 10th, 2011 § Filed under peanuts, publishing, superman § 5 Comments

Two things that struck me while reading the latest Complete Peanuts volume:

1. This book is reprinting from the years 1979-1980, which is also about the same time I was reading just about every Peanuts strip reprint book I could lay my hands on at the time. So, I was reading a whole lot of strips from before 1979, but not a whole lot of contemporary ones which hadn’t yet made it into the reprint books at the time. As a result…nearly this entire book feels “new” to me, since I recognize almost none of the strips. I suppose I may have caught a few in the paper, but I wouldn’t recall those as well as the strips I’ve seen in the various Peanuts collections that I would read over and over again.

Yes, that means I didn’t really read any of the reprint collections from the early 1980s onward. I wouldn’t get back into seeking out Peanuts books ’til the late 1990s, reprinting those last few years of the strip.

2. There’s a sequence of strips in this book where the gang attends what appears to be some kind of religious cult summer camp. I may be reading a bit into this, but clearly something has gone horribly wrong when this kind of injustice is perpetrated upon innocent youth:

Those monsters.

Anyway, Peppermint Patty gets a bit freaked out by one of the guest speakers going on about “the last days” and the end of the world. Not a storyline I really expected in my Peanuts book, but yet another example of Charles Schulz’s continuing topicality…though in this case, the regular arising of doomsayers is nothing new and was bound to cycle through again. SPOILER ALERT: Peppermint Patty gathers evidence and uses skeptical, critical thinking to resolve her particular issue here.

• • •

I’m kind of all “new DC”-ed out at the moment, so I’m breaking from the commentary…even though as I write this, we’re only hours away from the official announcement of what the hell’s going on with the Superman family of books. The pics already leaked…via DC putting them in their blog’s image directory and people finding them…so we’ve all already seen them by now, I’m sure. And that pic with Superman’s new costume…that only goes to show George Perez can make anything look great. Anyway, those of you reading this Friday morning or later can hie yourself hither to the DC Comics weblog and check ’em out yourself.

About the titles announced Thursday…I guess we can blame that movie for the more striking and recognizable Jonah Hex title for going away, to be replaced by the Hex-starring and more blandly-titled All-Star Western. And I’m not sure why a new series starring the grandson of Sgt. Rock amuses me, but it does.


Peppermint Patty, Future RIAA Board Member.

§ May 31st, 2011 § Filed under peanuts § 7 Comments

From the recent Fantagraphics release The Complete Peanuts: 1979-1980:

Yes, I know that this sort of thing has been a concern for a very long time, but there was still that very brief moment of “the past, and the future…COLLIDING” reading this, given the current nearly-constant media presence regarding the dangers of home taping. Or whatever it is you kids do nowadays, what with your cassette players and your patch cords and your kinescopes.

Charles Schulz, topical humorist across the decades! (Someday, Daniel Boone-style coonskin caps will come back into style, and all the Peanuts strips about those will become relevant again…just you watch!)

Related: the Schulz Museum has an exhibit last year focusing on the various pop culture references found in the strip. No online version of the exhibit appears to exist (though maybe I’m just not finding it), but I’ve briefly discussed before the odd feeling of encountering real-world pop culture mentions in the strip.

I tried to squeeze the phrase “Peanuts Expanded Universe” into this post, but I ultimately decided against it.

§ March 1st, 2011 § Filed under peanuts, sir-links-a-lot § 3 Comments

  • Yet another online acquaintance has met me in the flesh, and lived to tell the tale…this time, it’s Bob at Tearoom of Despair, who came all the way from New Zealand for his tour of American comic shops. (You may remember Bob as the fellow who kindly sent a copy of this Swamp Thing comic to me.) He had some nice things to say about, not just me, but some other notable funnybook-sellin’ folks, so go read, already. Also, Bob and his wife were quite nice people, and I was glad to meet them.

    Also, Nik is making me just slightly worried in the comments, there.

  • Boom Studios finally explains its Peanuts teaser by announcing the Peanuts graphic novel Happiness Is A Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown. Honestly, I was expecting a monthly comic of (mostly) newly-produced material, like the old Dell / Gold Key ones from the ’60s. “Peanuts graphic novel” is not a phrase I was anticipating. Looks interesting, judging by the sample pages…Charles Schulz is credited as the writer, and it looks like storylines from the original strips repurposed by new artists into a traditional comic book-style format. Of course, this has me wondering if we’ll see new Peanuts stories in the comic (or graphic novel) format. If so, it’ll be strange having a continuation of the characters’ stories in print (as opposed to new animated specials), as the comic strip point of origin is restricted to eternal reruns.

    Renowned Peanuts expert pal Nat has a few words to say about this, as one might imagine…particularly regarding the publication timeline.

  • Gerry over at CO2 Comics talks about his early cartooning encouragement from his algebra teacher and an honest-to-goodness famous cartoonist!
  • Andrew’s latest Nobody’s Favorites entry attempts to explain the inexplicable.
  • If someone were to ask me just why pal Dorian’s Flop posts were funny, I’d have no idea what to say beyond “they just are, man.”

“It’s The Zoot Suit Riots, Charlie Brown!”

§ November 23rd, 2010 § Filed under peanuts § 6 Comments

So as promised in the comments section for this post, pal Nat dropped by and gifted me with a couple of his extra copies of Charlie Brown’s ‘Cyclopedia. One of them, volume 11, “What We Wear,” contains the single greatest Snoopy image of all time:

I can hear hotlinkers copying and pasting the URL of that image all across the internettings. JUST DOWNLOAD IT AND UPLOAD TO YOUR OWN IMAGE HOSTS, YOU BASTARDS.

Ahem. Anyway, that’s likely not a Schulz drawing, but I would have paid one American dollar to see a sequence in Peanuts featuring this very version of Snoopy. Unless there’s a sequence I missed or don’t remember…there are 50 years’ worth of strips, after all. Yeah, okay, “Joe Zoot” would have seemed a bit…anachronistic, but it probably would have fit right in during that weird Peanuts period of the mid-to-late ’90s. My recollection Schulz was up to some odd stuff in his strips during that time.

But I’m pretty sure even then he never had Sally talking about naked people:


In which I tell you more about how I sort out my Superman comics than you ever wanted to know.

§ November 16th, 2010 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, peanuts, superman, triangle numbers § 21 Comments

So thanks to pal Nat for dropping by yesterday’s post, being a good sport, and laying down some Peanuts knowledge re: the production of those Charlie Brown ‘Cyclopedias. If you missed that comment, go back and check it out. Thanks, Nat!

Another comment, from reader “Masonic Youth” (good nickname!) mentioned a book I hadn’t heard of before, called Will Eisner’s Gleeful Guide to Living with Astrology, a picture of which you can find on this Amazon listing. I didn’t find a whole lot of information about it via the Googling, though Gary Groth describes the book as “satirical” in this appreciation of Eisner’s work. Would kind of like to see a copy of this…or maybe Mr. (or “Ms.” or “Mrs.” — I shouldn’t presume) M. Youth, who has a copy, would be nice enough to give us a brief description of the book. (You can see images and descriptions of some of the other books in this series…but not the astrology one…on this page under “Humor.”)

Boy, that was a whole lot of links squeezed into a small space. Let me try to talk about something that doesn’t involve linking anything. Well, maybe one thing.

So, on Monday, I was recovering from some follow-up root canal business, and I decided to sort through and put away some comics that’d been piling up in the “Hey, Mike, log these and sort them into your Vast Comic Archives someday” boxes that occupy a corner of the bedroom. I’ve actually been doing this on and off as I’ve been finding the time over the last few weeks, putting away some Hulks here, some Justice Leagues there…and finally, I decided to tackle the Superman books.

Now, here’s the thing about the Superman books, particularly the (for the nerdy) post-Crisis (or for the non-nerdy) mid-1980s and forward run of the series: as some of you may know, the three, sometimes four, and very briefly five ongoing Superman series had “triangle numbers” on the covers, a separate numbering system (presented within a little triangle shape also bearing the year, hence the name) indicating what order the comics should be read in. This ran for little over a decade, starting in the early ’90s and running ’til the early 2000s (and popping up again briefly in the last couple of years). So, those comics I have sorted in triangle-number order, making for ease of rereading in all this copious free time I have to reread long runs of my old comic books.

In addition, at some point during the ’90s, back when I was still young and full of hope, I decided to “chronologically” sort the post-Crisis, pre-triangle number issues as well, even though at that time the books weren’t quite as intertwined as they would be later. And if that weren’t enough, even after the triangle numbers ended, I continued sorting the Superman books into the boxes in chronological order. Because I’m crazy.

Anyway, I realized I was, ahem, a couple of years behind in getting the books sorted into the proper boxes, so without doing a little research I wouldn’t be able to sort out the Superman books in exact order. Oh, sure, I could do them by month, putting all the May ’09 books together and so on, but I wouldn’t know for sure if the May ’09 Action Comics came before the May ’09 Superman comic or not, without having to pop ’em all out of the bags to check the “coming soon/next week/next issue” box, and who’s got that kind of time?

As you may be able to tell, this is stupid. Sure, it made sense when the multiple Superman series were effectively a weekly serial, and you had to read them in a certain order, but nowadays, with one Superman book actually featuring Lex Luthor with a Jimmy Olsen back-up and is totally awesome, and the other Superman book featuring Superman walking across the country and being a smug asshole to the locals, and never the twain shall meet, the need for maintaining the exact release/reading order of the various series as they related to each other is hardly necessary.

Just so you know, I am aware of how obsessive-compulsive this all sounds. Thought I should mention that, the further along into this I get.

But I decided just to make the cut-off issue for this chronological sorting Action Comics #800 (April 2003). There are a few inter-series storylines past that, but I figured that was far enough beyond the constant intertwining of the series to allow for splitting the titles back up into their individual runs without causing too much inconvenience when I’m in my 90s and I decide I want to reread all my Superman comics. Plus, given how often I seem to be able to put comics away at home, I no longer need the additional time-sink of sorting the damned things chronologically. “Title” and “issue number” are enough, thank you.

I pulled myself back from the brink. There’s a happy ending after all! I’m no longer obsessed about comics, he said in his nearly seven-year-old daily-updated comics blog.

In case you didn’t get enough Superman triangle-number talk, and boy, I’m sure you didn’t, I actually made a category for it so you can see what I said about these things the last time DC tried to implement them.

And here’s where I find out how many astrologers I have as readers.

§ November 15th, 2010 § Filed under peanuts § 8 Comments

So pal Dorian gave me this book over the weekend:

It’s volume 8 of Charlie Brown’s ‘Cyclopedia (1980), covering stars, planets, and plants, too, for some reason. It’s a collection of science facts accompanied by appropriate Peanuts strips and various illustrations with the Peanuts gang doing things of varying scientific value. You can read more about this series at pal Nat’s site in this entry specifically about the set this book is from, and this series, which was the actual source material from which the ‘Cyclopedia series drew.

Nat notes that some of the strips had their dialogue changed to more closely fit the material at hand, though it looks like some of the spot illustrations of the Peanuts gang were either cobbled together from various sources, sometimes over backgrounds obviously done specifically for the book (like a two page spread of various characters standing along a pier stretching out over a polluted lake…it almost looks like the characters were pasted into the image), or maybe even drawn specifically for the books, perhaps by Schulz, or more likely by studio artists. I have no idea, and I hereby invoke the name of pal Nat to shed some light on this if he’d be kind enough to do so, should he happen to drop by the comments.

In this illustration from the book, Linus reveals his secret hippie leanings:

This next image is kind of awesome, not just because of Snoopy tripping shrooms, but because of Woodstock face to face with a terrifying and comparatively photorealistic chipmunk:

Being this was 1980, and woo and magical thinking were running rampant through society (unlike now, where we’re all completely rational and sensible and there isn’t a half-dozen TV shows on the air devoted to people wandering through dark houses and pretending there are ghosts) , a page was included devoted to astrology. This was the amusing illo that ran on that page:

Linus and Sally’s word balloon order is a little wonky, and Charlie Brown’s balloon was cut off in my scan (too close to the spine…it reads “That’s all!? That’s it???”) but it’s a nicely skeptical take on the matter, compared to the actual text piece on the page which describes in a mostly neutral tone what people who follow astrology believe. I say “mostly” because the last line of the piece is

Man, those close-minded scientists, not buying into things that have no scientific basis whatsoever. Isn’t that just like them?

Anyway, it’s a neat and colorful little book, and now I kinda want to track down the rest of the volumes on the eBay. …Great, something else to collect! According to the back of the book, one of the other volumes is entitled “The Body,” and I’m picturing it as being page after page of images like this (except, of course, for Frieda’s cat, who, by all appearances, has no bones).

Oh, hey, comics…they still publish those?

§ November 11th, 2010 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, peanuts, retailing, this week's comics § 7 Comments

So apparently what the people want is creepy hobo Charlie Brown, judging by the linkage and traffic I’ve been receiving lately. Thanks for encouraging my behavior, Other Internet Sites, though sadly I don’t have much else in the vagrant Peanuts character vein. However, it does remind me that I haven’t mentioned pal Nat‘s new book The Peanuts Collection, a neat compilation of photos and replica tchotchkes (like trading cards, rare booklets, cels, and such. He brought a copy by for me to poke through, and it’s certainly a neat and beautifully-done package. No Hobo Charlie Brown that I noticed, but you should probably buy a copy anyway, courtesy this little box here:

In other non-Peanuts news, people have been sending me the link to Our Valued Customers, a collection of one-panel cartoons presenting things said by customers and Overheard at The Comic Shop. Reminded me a bit of that mini-comic I did back in ’96, and posted here on my site, though my examples are more general “everyone’s heard ’em” quotes, and Our Valued Customers’ examples are more of the frothing-at-the-mouth type. As has been noted by a pal of mine, I’m not sure I’d draw actual caricatures of my customers and post them online, but hell, I can enjoy ’em and not have to worry about taking the heat if any of them find out. (Though, as I admit in that old post, one person in my mini, aside from the self-portrait, was an intended caricature…she hasn’t come back and killed me in the 14 years since, so I think I’m safe. …So far.)

In other news, some new comics came out this week:

  • The new Smurfs volume The Smurf King is out…still the same complaint about the lettering I had last time, but that still remains really my only complaint. Some fine, funny, witty cartooning that holds up all these decades later. Don’t dismiss it just because of the ’80s cartoon show…this is genuinely classic stuff.
  • Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #6 – I think maybe if the only superhero comics I’d read from now on were ones written by Grant Morrison, I’d probably be okay with that. I get all the wonderfully strange and inventive and near-celebratory superheroic storytelling that I want from his comics, compared to some other titles where it just feels like pages are getting filled. In this particular case, it’s a shame about the series’ timing, but still remains a satisfyingly odd exploration of the history of Batman and a solid chapter in Morrison’s ongoing Bat-saga.
  • Glamourpuss #16 – I’m the only person still reading this at our shop. I’m still enjoying it. Not even quite sure how or why I’m enjoying it, but Sim’s goofy combo of fashion industry parody and in-depth examinations of classic comic artists still keeps my attention.
  • Green Lantern Emerald Warriors #4 – I’m a sucker for still getting this. I just really like the Green Lantern concept, so I’m an easy mark.
  • Comic Book Guy The Comic Book #5 – End of the series, kind of wish there was more actual Comic Book Guy action throughout the story, but still a funny parade of knocks on the comics industry and the folks who enable it. In-jokey, but not overly so.
  • Muppet Sherlock Holmes #3 – The parody Muppet minis aren’t as strong as the ongoing Muppet Show series, which means they’re only excellent instead of perfect. Plus, I’m a big fan of Sherlock Holmes pastiches and parodies, so this is right up my alley.
  • Hellblazer: City of Demons #3 – Really have no idea why this didn’t just run in the regular series. It’s not a bad comic by any means, but the market doesn’t really need two Hellblazer comics on the stands at the same time. Nor does it need three Wolverine titles, but I think I’ve mentioned that enough.
  • The Incredible Hulks #616 – I was kinda hard on this title last time, since the proliferation of Hulk characters (hence the title change) was wearing on me a bit, but I find myself enjoying Bruce Banner/the Hulk’s responses to the situations they’re finding themselves in. But I’m pretty much ready to be done with the whole Sons of the Hulk thing.
  • T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1 – Okay, first, it’s a pain in the butt to type all those periods in that name. Second, I may have mocked this comic a little in the past, but the fact that Nick Spencer, the man currently writing the fantastic Jimmy Olsen back-up in Action Comics, is also writing this is very positive sign. It’s still an uphill battle, trying to get people invested in yet another new revival superhero series, but maybe it’ll actually have a chance if the writing is strong.
  • Dungeons & Dragons #1 – By all accounts, a good comic, I’m hearing. Yes, everyone is completely surprised by this fact. The retailer incentive variant had a cover that resembled the old D&D adventure modules from TSR, and even included an actual playable adventure that wasn’t in the regular version. IDW has this habit of making the incentive editions the cool thing that might actually sell well, instead of making the regularly-available issue awesome. Don’t put that photo cover of handsome bastard 1960s William Shatner on your variant, put him on your regular Star Trek cover…and don’t make just the variant D&D book look like a module, make ’em all look like that. That variant grabbed the eye of everyone who looked at it, far more than the generic fantasy covers of the regular editions that simply blend in on the rack.
  • Avengers: Children’s Crusade #3, Avengers Prime #4, New Avengers #6, I Am An Avenger #4, Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes #1 – sigh.
  • Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali hardcovers – one version is at the original “treasury edition” size, the other at the standard comic book size (but containing additional unpublished art), and I’m unclear, since they arrived shrinkwrapped…are they both recolored by Neal Adams’ studio? If so, that’s a shame, but the fact remains that this really is one of the greatest Superman stories of all time, and if you can’t get your mitts on the original, I’d recommend the treasury-sized hardcover over the smaller one, regardless of the extra material. This comic needs to be read BIG.

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