Are you up on your '70s trivia? There are plenty of topical references in the latest volume of the The Complete Peanuts 1977-1978 by Charles Schulz. These include converting to the metric system (what ever happened with that anyway?), jogging, Farrah Fawcett, Donny and Marie, Phyllis George, Billie Jean King, Cheryl Tiegs, and disco dancing.
While the 1970s were winding down, Schulz was bringing fresh hilarity to his beloved cast. Not only are our favorites all here, but he uses some of his newer cast members, even introducing a few more.
It’s a nice visit with these characters we all know and who, despite – or perhaps because of – their imperfections, we love like old friends. Here’s a peek at what they’ve been up to in 1977 and 1978:
Lucy Van Pelt is back to torment Charlie Brown and Schroeder.
Beethoven-loving Schroeder has to not only contend with the ranting Lucy but with little Woodstock as well, who fights with and gets tangled in the musical notes that float from Schroeder's piano as he plays.
Charlie Brown's sister Sally practices her penmanship, revealing the hidden personalities of the letters of the alphabet. She also has to present reports to her class. The funniest is her "Santa and his rain gear."
Linus gets hit by Cupid again, this time falling for Sally’s camp pal (and new character) Eudora – and he actually gives her his beloved blanket! Truffles, the farm girl, makes an appearance as well. So Sally has lots of competition for the affections of Linus – or, as she refers to him, her "Sweet Babboo."
Peppermint Patty has trouble keeping up in the classroom mostly because she’s always falling asleep. Even her trusted pal Marcie can’t keep her awake.
Both the inanimate school building and the pitching mound return to share their thoughts with us again.
But our favorite beagle, Snoopy, and his pal Woodstock are the real stars of the show, making us laugh in the largest number of strips. Among his antics: Snoopy meets the beagle of his dreams but is left at the altar. A returning foe is the (off-panel) next door cat, who continues to tear into Snoopy’s doghouse, now cutting shapes out of it. Brother Spike shows up and Snoopy tries to get him adopted by a family in the neighborhood. He leads his Beagle Scout Troops (Woodstock and friends) into adventures in the wilderness. Snoopy attempts to play tennis, teaming in mixed doubles with a new character and tough cookie, Molly Volley.
He even becomes a living helicopter, flying around spinning his long ears.
So from the introduction by actor Alec Baldwin to the last New Year’s Eve strip that ends the book, it’s a breezy, fun read though 314 pages. Once again, Fanatagraphics Books puts everything together in a nice, neat package. There is the customary two years of strips (including Sunday strips) and the handy glossary so you can quickly find a favorite. Even with the '70s references, these are still timeless classics to be enjoyed by all ages.
Rich Clabaugh is a Monitor staff artist.