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Fantagraphics Reprints Peanuts By Brian Jacks
50 years of art. 25 books. Two books per year for 12 1/2 years. Fantagraphics Books is proud to announce the most eagerly-awaited and ambitious publishing project in the history of the American comic strip: the complete reprinting of CHARLES M. SCHULZ’s classic, PEANUTS. Considered to be one of the most popular comic strips in the history of the world, PEANUTS will be, for the first time, collected in its entirety and published, beginning in April 1, 2004. Fantagraphics will launch THE COMPLETE PEANUTS in a series designed by the cartoonist SETH (Palookaville, It’s A Good Life If You Don’t Weaken) and produced in full cooperation with United Media, Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates, and Mr. Schulz’s widow, Jean Schulz.
Fantagraphics Books co-publisher Gary Groth said that publishing THE COMPLETE PEANUTS represented the apex of the company’s 27-year commitment to publishing the best cartooning in the world. “PEANUTS is a towering achievement in the history of comics,” said Groth. “I can’t think of a better way to honor Schulz’s artistic legacy than to make his oeuvre available to the public in a beautifully designed format that reflects the integrity of the work itself.”
The genesis of the project began in 1997 when Fantagraphics publisher Gary Groth approached Charles Schulz with the proposition of publishing PEANUTS in its entirety. After Schulz’s death in January, 2000, Groth continued discussing the project with Schulz’s widow, Jean Schulz. “It’s safe to say that this project wouldn’t have happened if Jean Schulz weren’t as enthusiastic and supportive as she’s been,” said Groth. Added Jean Schulz: “This seemed like an impossible project, considering all the ‘lost’ strips, but Gary’s determination never flagged, and we are so happy with the aesthetic sensibility of the Fantagraphics team.”
“It’s a genuine honor to be designing these Schulz collections,” said Seth, who went on to describe the premise underlying his design for the series: “I want to emphasize the sophistication of Schulz’s work by creating a package that is both austere and direct. I would like to try to reflect the quiet and melancholy of the strip in a package that hopefully, shows the proper amount of respect for Mr. Schulz. Undoubtedly, PEANUTS is a great newspaper strip and I am humbled and gratified to help steward this complete strip compilation into the world.”
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Each volume in the series will run approximately 320 pages in a 8 1/2” x 7” hardcover format, presenting two years of strips along with supplementary material. The series will present the entire run in chronological order, dailies and Sundays. Since the strip began in late 1950, the first volume will include all the strips from 1950, 1951, and 1952, but subsequent volumes will each comprise exactly two years. Dailies will run three to a page, while Sunday strips will each take up a full page and be printed in black-and-white.
This first volume, covering the first two and a quarter years of the strip, will be of particular fascination to PEANUTS aficionados worldwide: Although there have been literally hundreds of PEANUTS books published, many of the strips from the series’ first two or three years have never been collected before — in large part because they showed a young Schulz working out the kinks in his new strip and include some characterizations and designs that are quite different from the cast we’re all familiar with. (Among other things, three major cast members — Schroeder, Lucy, and Linus — initially show up as infants and only “grow” into their final “mature” selves as the months go by. Even Snoopy debuts as a puppy!) Thus THE COMPLETE PEANUTS offers a unique chance to see a master of the artform refine his skills and solidify his universe, day by day, week by week, month by month.
PEANUTS is one of the most successful comic strips in the history of the medium as well as one of the most acclaimed strips ever published. (In 1999, a jury of comics scholars and critics voted it the 2nd greatest comic strip of the 20th century — second only to George Herriman’s Krazy Kat, a verdict Schulz himself cheerfully endorsed.) Charles Schulz’s characters — Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, and so many more — have become American icons. A poll in 2002 found Peanuts to be one of the most recognizable cartoon properties in the world, recognized by 94 percent of the total U.S. consumer market and a close second only to Mickey Mouse (96 percent), and higher than other familiar cartoon properties like Spider-Man (75 percent) or the Simpsons (87 percent). In T.V. Guide’s “Top 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All-Time” list, Charlie Brown and Snoopy ranked #8.
THE COMPLETE PEANUTS will be supported with an ambitious advertising and promotional campaign, including public appearances by Jean Schulz to support the series.