Intern RJ Casey recently helped index The Complete Peanuts: 1995-1996 (Vol. 23), which inspired him to write this Flog post.
There’s someone who is too heavy for a blimp, too underground for greeting cards, too cool to be afloat on Thanksgiving. There’s someone named Rerun Van Pelt, and he’s the only Peanuts character that matters.
Charles Schulz created Rerun as a throwaway character in the ’70s, good for a couple baby jokes here and there; the youngest Van Pelt was mostly relegated to the background for the better part of two decades. But the background was perfect for Rerun. That’s where he sat and observed all the blunders and gaffes everyone around him made in the daily, cyclical rotation. All the blankets, the bullying, the balls missed, the bad hygiene. These weren’t mistakes Rerun could afford to make, because he was a different sort of character. In the historic run of strips, Rerun was the only character that evolved into a Midwestern agent of change.
Rerun comes from a family of lunatics. At best, his sister Lucy is kind, but only when she’s attempting to manipulate anybody on two feet (this includes dogs). At worst, Lucy’s manic, often violent outbursts usually land Rerun somersaulting in the snow, or with a broken board game cracked over his head. His evangelical conspiracy theorist brother is no better. When Linus tries to teach his kid brother about the Great Pumpkin and convince him to go door to door to spread the good word, Rerun straight-up bails, because he’s not a blind follower to the gourd. Rerun is no hack physiatrist or wet security blanket adherent. He’s his own man—a Peanuts punk to his overalled core.
Rerun had to learn how to ride solo when Charlie Brown, Schroeder, Shermy and the squad didn’t even allow him on the baseball diamond. Not one to be relegated to the bench—especially after he started co-headlining the comic in the ’90s—Rerun takes to basketball, a more physically taxing and mentally demanding sport. Though the ball is about the same size as his body, Rerun’s handle is sick, and he even occasionally sinks a few buckets. Rerun had to adapt to tough times, like his parents not allowing him to own a dog. He didn’t whine or give up. No, he begged, borrowed, and stole until he scammed Snoopy into sending for his brother Spike. When Spike showed up and didn’t fit Rerun’s strict specifications, he sent him right back to the desert.
Although he may not be a Peanuts OG, Rerun Van Pelt is the most intriguing character in the long-running comic strip by far. If you tell me anything different, you might as well be squawking like Miss Othmar, because I’m not hearing it. Rerun won’t mind though. He’s just going to keep evolving, keep discerning, and keep making those basement comics.
The next Complete Peanuts volume has an introduction unlike any one you have ever seen before. We've had comedians before from Whoopi Goldberg to Patton Oswalt talk about their connection to Schulz, Snoopy and the Gang but never before have we had someone riff on top of a Peanuts comic strip!
The comedians behind Rifftrax, Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy are also known for their work in Mystery Science Theater 3000. Mike was a writer and then host of the show, while Corbett and Murphy wrote and provided the amazing voices for the 'bots, Crow and Tom Servo respectively. They riff on four Peanuts strips in the upcoming The Complete Peanuts Vol. 23 (1995-1996).
The indomitable Charles M. Schulz, aka Sparky, hits home the week after Thanksgiving by having our new Thanksgiving-themed books on the NY Times Best Sellers list. In this humourous collection, Woodstock goes through a variety of masks and outfits to disguise the fact that he is a bird during this poultry-fied food holiday. As for Snoopy, he decides it's time to visit some kin and enjoy a nice holiday with his brother, Spike, or so he thought...Snoopy's Thanksgiving is one of our many Peanuts gift books that fit small hands, big hearts and don't hurt your wallet.
N0. 2 on the Best Seller list was The Complete Peanuts 1991-1994 Gift Box Set by Charles M. Schulz. There's a reason this two-some is so popular; the books are full of surprises for the most ardent Peanuts fan and Schulz's humor is unrestrained and glorious. There is a charmingly odd story of when the school bus never comes, full-on Waiting for Godot. In addition, Charlie Brown finally FINALLY hits a home run but the entire story is worth the boxset.
At spot 3 is Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: The Don Rosa Libary Volumes 1 + 2 Gift Box Set including "Return to Plain Awful" and "Son of the Sun". Famed for his prizewinning "Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck," Rosa wrote and drew a whopping two decades' worth of ripping Scrooge and Donald yarns! Duckburg's richest tycoon is on the hunt for legendary square eggs - and he's bringing Donald, Huey, Dewey, and Louie along, in the sequel to "Lost in the Andes"!
The week these four books came out, we had about 54 pounds of graphic novels, comic strips and reprints come out so we still a bit shocked to have so many titles on the list (but not so shocked when you consider the awesome comics). Gary and Eric did some deadlifts just to see if they could guess the weight of the releases from Wednesday, October 22nd.
Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang have made an indelible mark on so many treasured American holidays and traditions, from Charlie Brown’s infamous Christmas tree to Linus’s obsession with the Great Pumpkin. And who can forget the most romantic—and occasionally loneliest—of all holidays? From Charlie Brown opening an empty mailbox every February 14th, to Sally Brown whispering sweet somethings to her “sweet baboo” Linus, A Valentine for Charlie Brown is the perfect gift to remind that special someone in your life just what love is all about, for better and for worse!
"While the early issues stand as rowdy documents of the 1960s counterculture, Zap was also more. In reinventing the comic book, it set off legal battles and conversations over censorship, brought attention to cartoonists as artists, and set an example for generations of alternative comics creators like Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes, Joe Matt and the Hernandez Brothers." – Dana Jennings, The NY Times
"The portraits are a genuine insight and reflection of the person and their contribution. Special kudos to Drew for his careful research so that the bios are accurate and help to add to the ongoing study of how it all began in comics." – Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson, The Beat
"He doesn't just draw the funny or sexy moments -- he lets the characters and the readers enjoy and laugh, but then he shows the fallout from some of the characters' actions, depicting them as them scared and desperate, pathetic and troubled. Hanselmann's skill at depicting this range of emotions and exploring those consequences is what makes his work so fascinating and so worth rereading." – Alex Dueben, Comic Book Resources
"Like the very best children’s classics, this is a book that isn’t afraid to confront dark matters and actively embraces fear and sadness amidst the wonders in an effort to craft a better story.
Compelling, beguiling and visually intoxicating, this latest Sock Monkey yarn judiciously leavens discovery with anxiety, heartbreak with gleeful imaginative innocence and terror with bold triumph." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
"Let me be perfectly clear: The Don Rosa & Carl Barks Duck books are as good as comics get. Period. Nothing surpasses – only matches – the pure imagination, humor, adventure, and heart of these Donald Duck & Uncle Scrooge stories." – Vince Ostrowski, Multiversity Comics
Plug: "Any time a Carl Barks or Don Rosa book of Donald Duck or Uncle Scrooge comics is released, I get all excited. Because they’re great! I’m not kidding! Also good for jaded fans too cool for kids’ comics." – Dan Greenfield, 13th Dimension
"This adorable little collection of strips is the perfect prize for your costume contest. Growing up, you may have gotten to know the Great Pumpkin mainly through the evergreen TV special — but the original strips collected here are both brainier and more emotionally complex than the show." – Etelka Lehoczky, NPR
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about them (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the links, and contact your local shop to confirm availability. WARNING: Do not atttempt to carry all of these titles at once. You are only human.
80-page black & white 6" x 9" hardcover • $16.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-746-8
"Compelling, beguiling and visually intoxicating, this latest Sock Monkey yarn judiciously leavens discovery with anxiety, heartbreak with gleeful imaginative innocence and terror with bold triumph…Win's Christmas Gift Recommendation: a new classic to add to the "Every Kid Must Read" list... 10/10" –Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
"It's really good. I thought that giant Sock Monkey collection was criminally under-discussed when it came out. Those are lovely, lovely comics. The characters work in this form, too." –Tom Spurgeon, Comics Reporter
144-page black & white with color 5" x 6.25" softcover • $14.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-771-0
"Now that sublime and out-of-print yarn is back as a deliciously handy, pocket-sized softcover reissue that will - if there's any justice - finally make [Weing] a household name amongst lovers of tall tales and comic treasures." –Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
"Very few words are needed in Weing's debut graphic novel [Set to Sea] to tell the story of a poet wanna-be who is kidnapped by pirates and learns the ways of the sea through hard labor and even tougher battles. The cross-hatch styling is reminiscent of old engravings and perfectly suits the subject matter. Each page features just one frame, full of detail and atmosphere. With hints of The Odyssey, Moby Dick, Popeye and Treasure Island, Weing has created a modern classic in the pirate genre." –School Library Journal
216-page full color 8.5" x 11" hardcover • $29.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-780-2
"You're gonna want to pick that up this week, or write yourself a note to do so in the near future, as it's a pretty great collection..." –J Caleb. Mozzocco, Every Day is Like Wednesday
"You must think I'm a broken record by now. Any time a Carl Barks or Don Rosa book of Donald Duck or Uncle Scrooge comics is released, I get all excited. Because they're great! I'm not kidding! Also good for jaded fans too cool for kids' comics." –Tim Finn, Hub Comics (via 13th Dimension)
"Let me be perfectly clear: The Don Rosa & Carl Barks Duck books are as good as comics get. Period. Nothing surpasses - only matches - the pure imagination, humor, adventure, and heart of these Donald Duck & Uncle Scrooge stories. These are desert island comics - if I had to take only one box of comics with me somewhere, a couple of these volumes would be coming with." –Vince Ostrowski, Multiversity Comics
"…it's a rare, rare accomplishment what Rosa did with these great Carl Barks characters and comics." –Tom Spurgeon, Comics Reporter
368-page black & white with color 11.25" x 9.25" hard/soft/cover • $45.00 ISBN: 978-1-60699-694-2
"...[T]here's simply no denying Kelly's mastery: he evokes full characters with nothing but a few choice words, and the sprightliness of his visual style is all fun here, laying the groundwork for what would become profoundly subversive later. The included essays, as is usually the case for Fantagraphics reissues, absolutely nail the context and import of the strip, too. I just don't think you can say you love comics and not have this around." –David Berry, National Post
"The biggest revelation of reading the first two years of Pogo is how polished and funny the strip was right from the start, and also how nearly every Pogo panel is a delight unto itself. Kelly didn't necessarily build to big punchlines; he'd slip funny sight gags and memorable lines everywhere there was room. ...[T]here's a classic Pogo moment on just about every page of this book." - Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
288-page full color 13.25" x 9.5" hardcover • $49.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-794-9
"The daily black-and-white comics were great but the full-color Sunday strips gave Schulz a big, beautiful canvas to let his expert pacing and amazing linework breathe in a rainbow of color...it's really the entire mix of characters ...and their mix of adult prickliness and childlike naiveté that made Charles Schulz's iconic comics strips so timeless." - Evan Narcisse, Kotaku
472-page full color 7.75" x 10.5" hardcover • $49.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-796-3
"I will not rest until everyone is reading these reasonably priced and beautifully designed and edited volumes of Carl Barks' Disney Duck masterpieces… every one of them are great." –Andy Mansell, Heroes Online
"Even now, Barks' stories are clever and funny, as he leads the ducks into impossible situations and then gives them unexpected ways out. And they're poignant in their own way, too.... What's impressive about Fantagraphics' Lost in the Andes is that it encourages both a fannish and an intellectual approach to the material." - Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
A Valentine for Charlie Brown is here, a bright pink square contrasted against Seattle's current fall gloom. Our next holiday-themed Peanuts gift book collects Charles M. Schulz's strips detailing our ever-optimistic round-headed hero, waiting so patiently for the valentine that he just knows will show up at his mailbox. Then, there's Sally Brown's continued pursuit of her reluctant "Sweet Baboo," Linus. This book makes for a great gift, whether or not you celebrate February 14th, and you can pre-order it now for a December delivery!
You might think it's still too early to start thinking about Valentine's Day, but some of us enjoy a little more advance planning for these sorts of things. If you are one of those people, here's an 11-page excerpt of our next Peanuts gift book, A Valentine for Charlie Brown, for your consideration. The first few pages of the book features our ever-hopeful Charlie Brown staked out by the mailbox, on the lookout for any sign of a valentine addressed to him.