Panel heads, there is cause for celebration. We are in a golden age of comic strip and comic book reprints. Some of us old-timers have been beating the drum for recognizing the art of the “funnies” for decades. But a new generation of readers was raised on graphic novels and unabashed in their love of comic books and graphic narrative of all sorts. And as much as I myself loathe the rise of superhero genres as mainstream adult fare, even I have to admit that it is helping to increase general respect for the full range of comic storytelling.
And so we are getting an embarrassment of comic strip reprint riches in recent years. Here are some of my favorite comic strip archives from this past year as well as some secondary material and a few crossovers into the world of early comic book history. Over the next couple of weeks I will be counting down my ten favorite books on comics and reprints of the year.
#10 The Peanuts Papers: Writers and Cartoonists on Charlie Brown, Snoopy & the Gang, and the Meaning of Life, edited by Andrew Blauner. NY: Library of America, 2019. $24.95
Peanuts has become the Krazy Kat of the last half of the 20th Century. Its light and barely guised philosophical musings, mildly depressed tone and angst-ridden protagonist naturally attract hosannas from the dignified set. It feels like half the masthead of The New Yorker magazine got recruited for this one (Jonathan Lethem, Adam Gopnik, Jonathan Franzen, George Saunders, Ann Patchett, Maxine Hong Kingston, Joe Queenan and of course Chris Ware). Generally I am suspicious when branded intellectuals congregate to lend their imprimatur on pop culture. Who needs ‘em, I say. But there really are some nice insights here that can give even Peanuts fans fresh ways into the strip.
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