After the unrelenting brutality and almost tedious depression of 1984, I needed something FUN to cleanse my pallet. I went with a Chuck Schulz collection.
Charles Schulz – Play Ball, Snoopy (1973/1974)
This book is a reprint collection, not just of the Peanuts comic strips from the newspapers, but it is actually HALF of a book that was already published called, Win a Few, Lose a Few, Charlie Brown, Vol. 1, and I’m guessing that this book was released, quickly and cheaply by Fawcett just to make a few bucks. My evidence for this? For one thing IT’S A REPRINT OF A REPRINT, and, for another, take a look at the cover image. There is a large section of the cover, between Snoopy’s jaw and his hands (or “paws,” I guess) that is supposed to be GREEN, but it’s white. It makes no sense for it to be white, the colorist who created the cover obviously screwed up—but instead of fixing it, and SOMEBODY had to notice that blatant of a mistake, they just said, “Whatever… Print it! Nobody’s gonna care…” Well, damn it, I CARE. That’s just sloppy, and it shows a lack of interest in putting out a good product. Quick and cheap. BAM!
Oh well. This book is one of about a dozen or so Peanuts collections that I bought at a library book sale about 25 or 26 years ago for TEN CENTS apiece. For that price, the cover can be as poorly colored as it is, and I really don’t have much right to complain.
Anyway, the book is still pretty fun. By this point, the early to mid-1970s, the Peanuts characters were well established, so this book doesn’t waste any time explaining who anyone is or why they act like they do. Instead, it’s mostly a joke-a-day collection, not really an on-going story, although there are a couple of themes that recur within these pages: 1. Snoopy playing sports, usually either baseball or football; or 2. The kids going to school and encountering typical kid challenges with homework and tests and such; or 3. Snoopy trying to write the Great American Novel. Yes, you read that correctly, Snoopy, THE DOG, is typing away on his various writing projects and trying to get rich and famous. (I would argue that ANY dog who uses a typewriter and can manage actual sentences has every right to be famous, but that’s not really the point, is it?)
Of these recurring themes, the one with Snoopy typing away on top of his doghouse is my favorite. He has a dry wit and he parodies everything from romance novels to writer’s block. (Unlike in the television specials, where Snoopy is completely inarticulate, the comic strip Snoopy has a vibrant inner monologue.) As a writer myself, I can empathize with Snoopy’s struggles and hope the he (and eventually I myself) succeeds in crafting the perfect story! (Or at least makes enough dough to pay the bills!)
I enjoy the jokes in this collection, even though they are mostly old, or variations on older themes. I’m also a huge fan of the Peanuts gang in general, and of Snoopy in particular. (See my earlier Peanuts review for true confessions.) However, I have to wonder if someone who didn’t grow up with Schulz’s creations, doesn’t already love the Great Pumpkin and Woodstock, would get most of these jokes. For nostalgia fans, the book would probably be considered pretty good. (That’s what I’m going to call it.) A welcome bit of light entertainment (in a world that can sometimes feel pretty dark.) I definitely wouldn’t PAY much for this collection, maybe a buck or less, but if you’ve already got it laying around and have half and hour to kill, Play Ball, Snoopy, can probably help you fill that time with a few chuckles and a bit of “I remember when…”
—Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Supreme Bunny Lord of The P.E.W.)
SUPPORT INDEPENDENT FOLKS WHO ARE JUST MAKING STUFF BECAUSE THEY LOVE IT!!!