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Review: Peanuts #25

Peanuts #25
Written by Paige Braddock and Vicki Scott
Art by Scott and Braddock
Boom Studios; $3.99

This particular issue of BOOM! Studios’ ongoing Peanuts comic book, which tells original stories featuring the late Charles Schulz’s immortal comic strip characters, is a sort of confluence of anniversaries.

The Peanuts comic strip is celebrating its 65th anniversary this year. BOOM! Studios is celebrating its tenth anniversary as a publisher. And this is, of course, the 25th issue of BOOM!’s Peanuts comic, a traditional cause for celebration in the comics industry… something of a carryover from back when higher numbers on monthly comics were considered a virtue, and comics didn’t just relaunch with new #1s willy-nilly, chasing a temporary increase in sales.

For certain adult readers, something will likely seem off, even slightly wrong, about the book, for as much as Braddock and Scott, who co-write and co-draw this issue (with Scott penciling and Braddock inking), adhere to the basic comic beats of Schulz’s strip and try to replicate his art style (usually fairly successfully, especially in close-ups), it’s still Schulz’s Peanuts without Schulz. With Fantagraphics publishing Schulz’s Peanuts with Schulz in a variety of formats, and, of course, many newspapers still re-running old Schulz strips, it’s not as if there’s a shortage of Peanuts in the world today.

For child readers, however, Schulz isn’t as important to Peanuts as Charlie Brown or Snoopy or Woodstock, and the book certainly provides such readers with little stories featuring those characters in a very kid-friendly format—a good old-fashioned comic book, offering a longer read than a three- or four-panel strip on the funny pages and a much shorter, more manageable read than most Peanuts collections.

This issue, entitled “It’s Summer Camp, Charlie Brown,” offers 30 pages of new comics, telling one big story of how Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Linus go off to summer camp, while Peppermint Patty and Marcie attend another summer camp, across the lake from the boys.

Scott and Braddock don’t open the narrative up much, instead telling their story episodically, with just about every page corresponding to a four- or five-panel strip. So while it may look like a comic book, it actually reads like a series of Peanuts comic strips, rearranged from their familiar, horizontal grid format into a more vertical format with panels of more various sizes.

The material and the rhythm of these strips all seem remarkably authentic, to the point where I wondered if some of the bits weren’t reworked Schulz strips—although in some cases, the strips do seem to go on a panel or two too long, as if attempting to fill space.

Where the creators make the most of the space they have is in the sections in which Snoopy plays the role of scoutmaster for Woodstock and some identical little yellow birds, as they hike around the wilderness, sometimes wordlessly.

It’s obviously not the strongest Peanuts material available today, nor can any non-Schulz Peanuts ever be the strongest, given how closely tied the strip was to its creator, but it’s strong enough, and I don’t think it will be any great surprise to find the series celebrating its 50th issue in another two years or so, when Peanuts is celebrating its 67th anniversary, and Boom its 12th anniversary.

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J. Caleb Mozzocco About J. Caleb Mozzocco

J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.

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