Charles Schulz's lovable gang bring hilarity to the Reagan era in the latest volume of The Complete Peanuts 1981-82. Now up to Volume 16, the comic strip shows no signs of getting stale as the years go by and the antics continue.
Here's some of what the gang is up to in this in this volume:
– Charlie Brown gets his big chance to pitch for Peppermint Pattie’s baseball team with 2 outs in the ninth and a 50-run lead. Sounds like a sure thing doesn’t it? His own team runs into trouble – on top of always losing – when they have their baseball field taken away. But Charlie Brown actually has something good happen to him when a girl cast member (no, not his sister) gives him a kiss!
– Lucy has her mind set on having a vegetable garden but she expects Linus and Snoopy to do all the manual labor.
– Charlie Brown’s sister Sally goes to "Beanbag’ Camp" where she gets to lie in her beanbag, watch TV, and eat junk food. She has some "weighty" issues to deal with when she gets home.
– Marcie gets promoted to Patrol Person, but it becomes too tiring so her pal Peppermint Pattie fills in for her.
– As for Peppermint Pattie, she aspires to turn pro golfer to become rich and famous. She also has an encounter with a butterfly that she later believes was an angel. Although not the most alert of students she tries to apply to a school for gifted children, thinking it hands out presents.
– Woodstock continually gets into trouble with the notes floating up from Schroeder's piano.
– Snoopy is busy in this volume. First in his WWI exploits, this time joined by his brother Spike, as a soldier in the trenches and his sister Belle, as a Red Cross nurse. Snoopy also has to deal with bugs moving into his supper dish thinking it’s the coliseum and then a department store. Molly Volley is back to enlist Snoopy into being her partner in mixed doubles tennis. We also get to meet another of the beagle’s long-lost siblings – his spotted brother "Marbles."
– And of course we get 2 years of anticipation for the arrival of the "Great Pumpkin." Poor Linus never gives up hope.
As usual, the strip reproduction is flawless, each appearing in crisp black and white with 3 daily strips per page and full page Sundays. The handy index to quickly find a favorite character or subject returns as well.
This volume’s introduction is by Lynn Johnston, a fellow cartoonist and creator of the long running strip "For Better Or For Worse." She shares some heartwarming recollections from her long friendship with "Sparky." We learn that the Peanuts creator fought writer’s block and that he saw no humor in getting old. “I’m not ready to go. I haven’t finished yet. I still have so much to do!” Schulz lamented in his hospital bed. It's a heartbreaking moment that makes you wonder about all the strips we will not see but all the more appreciative of the ones we can treasure, with over 30 years collected and more to come as the Fantagraphics series moves towards completion.
So make sure your trick or treat bag is a big one and fill up on the fun, you’ll enjoy every morsel. It’s almost as if the "Great Pumpkin" arrived after all!
Rich Clabaugh is a Monitor staff artist.