The important thing is Peanuts.
But Peanuts is always the important thing.


110) The Complete Peanuts: 1993 to 1994 by Charles M. Schulz, finished November 10

With The Peanuts Movie out now, it's easy to just bump into good articles about the strip. Here are a few I've liked that were easy to refind:
"The bleak world of Peanuts, one of the 20th century's greatest works of art, explained" by Todd VanDerWerff
"It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is a Christmas special wearing a Halloween costume" by Caroline Framke
"The Peanuts Movie is surprisingly good, but it gets one big thing wrong" by Todd VanDerWerff
"On ‘Krazy Kat’ and ‘Peanuts’" by Umberto Eco, translated by William Weaver
"The Exemplary Narcissism of Snoopy" by Sarah Boxer
Only the first and last two in that list are focused on the comic, but the high points of the tv specials join the comic as high points of 20th-century American culture and the movie is what's happening now. So there you go.

The above is from the book I'm reviewing now (though I swiped it from the Internet---click that link and you can read the Complete Peanuts, legally, for free). It was originally published on my birthday, shortly after I graduated from high school. I'm sure I read it in the paper that day, though I have no memory of such. It's not, in fact, a particularly remarkable example of what makes Schulz's work great, but then again, to quote Eco,
...you could never grasp the poetic power of Schulz’s work by reading only one or two or ten episodes: you must thoroughly understand the characters and the situations, for the grace, tenderness, and laughter are born only from the infinitely shifting repetition of the patterns, and from fidelity to the fundamental inspirations. They demand from the reader a continuous act of empathy, a participation in the inner warmth that pervades the events.

(Incidentally, this is why I don't understand the genius of Krazy Kat---I've never immersed myself.)

Eco wrote this as Peanuts was midway through its second decade and if you read his analysis, that's easy to tell. The above strip appeared midway through the fifth and final decade of its run. Plenty had changed in those thirty years, but that core observation remains untouched. If that strip was your first or fifth or twentieth connection to Peanuts, it seems like a throwaway bit of laziness. In fact, as I read this volume, I often read strips that should have seemed as soulless as those that appear in generic, soulless, corporate strips like Garfield or Hagar the Horrible, but didn't. Even though the punchline might not have been very punchy, there remains a soul that's impossible to miss.

One thing many analyses suggest is that the growth of Snoopy's imaginary world (and the consequent addition of other animal characters) was the downfall of Peanuts. Indeed, many movie reviews make snide remarks to that effect. As someone currently reading strips well into that development, let me just say that those analysts are dead wrong.

For one thing, for all his battles with the Red Baron and weighty court cases and ability to type, Snoops never ceases to be an earthbound dog. He relies on the filling of his supper dish and loves sleeping indoors with Charlie Brown. He's an unusual, strange, remarkable dog to be sure, but he's just a dog. No character forgets that. Not Marcie who joins in his fantasies. Not Charlie Brown who has him type his homework. Certainly not Snoopy.

Not many years left for The Complete Peanuts. A small number of books left to add to my shelf.

Then I will start over. And I'll need to pick up some scholarly analysis of the strip. And I will agree or I will disagree, but I will know whereof I speak because these are the words of mortal life, drawn with an economy of line unmatched.
a few measured, treasured weeks


109) Ball Peen Hammer by Adam Rapp and George O'Connor, finished November 7

Bleakness upon bleakness. And you can tell Rapp is a playwright because it's bleakness is very much the sort one would expect from a son of Beckett (why are the killing children? because.). Limited settings (mostly two rooms in the same building), lots of dialogue with little action beyond mere business. All paths to redemption cut off.

I guess it was good. But I've read enough bleak stuff in my life that I'm not super stoked to add to my store.

O'Connor's art reminds me of Paul Pope's work.
one night


108) Magic Trixie Sleeps Over by Jill Thompson, finished November 6

Like the first book, this reads much like a picture book. The basic structure is the same, just with more iterations and more variety within the iterations and thus more room for Trixie to undergo meaningful change. The art is lovely and the writing is oxygenated and what better way to move from David Shannon to Adam Rex?


107) "D" Is for Deadbeat by Sue Grafton, finished November 5

If you read these posts regularly, you may have noticed that I don't really read series. I'll read the first one to get a taste, then I stop. And if a series---no matter how excellent---betrays me, I'll stop. And here I am, ready to move onto book five of Grafton's series. I don't quite understand what keeps me coming back. Part of it is the Favorite Brand of Potato Chips Theory, but I dunno. I don't really have potato-chip loyalty either.

More bulletins as events warrant.
a few weeks

Previously in 2015 . . . . :

Book one hundred-second to one hundred-sixth

106) The Secret of the Stone Frog by David Nytra, finished October 18
105) The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood, finished October 27
104) Magic Trixie by Jill Thompson, finished October 18
103) Binky Under Pressure by Ashley Spires, finished October 17
102) Humor, Horror, and the Supernatural by Saki, finished October 15

Book ninety-eighth to one hundred-first

101) 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King, finished October 14
100) Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye by Tania del Rio and Will Staehle, finished October 5
099) Wonderland by Tommy Kovac and Sonny Liew, finished September 29
098) Johnny Cash — I See a Darkness by Reinhard Kleist, finished September 26

Book ninety-seventh

097) Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, finished finished September 24

Books ninety-third through ninety-sixth

096) North 40 (volume one) by Aaron Williams and Fiona Staples, finished September 23
094) Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar, finished September 17
093) Castle Waiting Volume 2 by Linda Medley, finished September 15

Books ninetieth through ninety-second

092) Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O'Brien, finished September 5
091) The Wallcreeper by Nell Zink, finished September 5
090) The Animal Family by Randall Harrell, finished September 4

Books eighty-seventh through eighty-ninth

089) Zenith: Phase 1 by Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell, finished September 4
088) The Last Dragon by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Guay, finished September 1
087) Anthem by Ayn Rand, finished September 2

Books eighty-second through eighty-sixth

086) A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales edited by , Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, finished August 31
085) Castle Waiting by Linda Medley, finished August 30
084) An Amorous Discourse in the Suburbs of Hell by Deborah Levy, finished August 30
083) Women at Church: Magnifying LDS Women's Local Impact by Neylan McBaine, finished August 30
082) The League of Outsider Baseball: An Illustrated History of Baseball's Forgotten Heroes by Gary Cieradkowski, finished August 25

Books seventy-fourth through seventy-seventh

081) Saint Cole by Noah Van Sciver, finished August 20
080) That A Guise, John? by Brace Pannier, finished August 19
079) A Blink of the Screen by Terry Pratchett, finished DATE
078) Revival Volume Four: Escape to Wisconsin by Tim Seely and Mike Norton, finished August 16

Books seventy-fourth through seventy-seventh

077) Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, finished August 15
076) Happy Birthday, Wanda June by Kurt Vonnegut, finished August 6
075) The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, finished August 4
074) The Erotic Spirit: An Anthology of Poems of Sensuality, Love, and Longing edited by Sam Hamill, finished July 28

Books seventieth through seventy-third

073) Dial H: Exchange by China Miéville et al, finished July 27
072) Sir Charlie: Chaplin, the Funniest Man in the World by Sid Fleischman, finished July 24
071) "C" is for Corpse by Sue Grafton, finished July 22
070) Isle of 100,000 Graves by Fabien Vehlmann and Jason, finished July 19

Books fifty-ninth through sixty-ninth

069) Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett, finished July 17
068) Dial H: Into You by China Miéville et al, finished July 15
067) Benny Breakiron: The Red Taxis by Peyo, finished July 15
066) Bossypants by Tina Fey, finished July 14
065) Liberating Form: Mormon Essays on Religion and Literature by Marden J. Clark, finished July 12
064) The Rise of Aurora West by Paul Pope and J. T. Petty and David Rubín, finished July 12
063) Battling Boy by Paul Pope, finished July 11
062) The Last Days of Video by Jeremy Hawkins, finished July 6
061) Arabel's Raven by Joan Aiken, finished July 3
060) Templar by Jordan Mechner and Alex Puvilland and LeUyen Pham, finished July 2
059) Heaven Knows Why! by Samuel W. Taylor, finished June 26

Books fifty-sixth through fifty-eighth

058) Itself by Rae Armantrout, finished June 21
057) Western Wind: An Introduction to Poetry by John Frederick Nims and David Mason, finished June 19
056) Matilda by Roald Dahl, finished June 15

Books fifty-second through fifty-fifth

055) Bad Houses by Sara Ryan and Carla Speed McNeil, finished June 14
054) Star Wars Underworld: The Yavin Vassilika by Mike Kennedy and Carlos Meglia and whoever, finished June 12
053) Batman Vol. 5: Zero Year - Dark City by by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo (et al), finished June 11
052) Deadpool's Art of War by Peter David and Scott Koblish, finished June 10

Books forty-sixth through fifty-first

051) Men of Wrath by Jason Aaron and Ron Garney, finished June 10
050) X-Men: No More Humans by Mike Carey & Salvador Larroca & al., finished June 9
049) Alex + Ada by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn, finished June 9
048) Miracleman Book 2: The Red King Syndrome by Alan Moore (not credited by name) and a bunch of other people, finished June 6
047) Coffin Hill: Dark Endeavors by Caitlin Kittredge and Inaki Miranda, finished June 6
046) Coffin Hill: Forest of the Night by Caitlin Kittredge and Inaki Miranda, finished June 4

Books forty-second through forty-fifth

045) Castle Waiting: The Lucky Road by Linda Medley, finished at midnight so either June 2 or 3
044) The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami and translated by Ted Goossen, finished June 2
043) The Round House by Louise Erdich, finished June 1
042) Best American Comics 2014 edited by Scott McCloud, finished May 31

Books thirty-seventh through forty-first

041) The Brothers K by David James Duncan, finished May 18
040) Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis, finished May 18
039) Skandalon by Julie Maron, finished May 1
038) The Final Story by Jeff Shaara, finished April 29
037) Shutter Volume 1: Wanderlost by Joe Keatinge and Leila Del Duca et al, finished April 29

Books thirty-second through thirty-sixth

036) The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis, finished April 27
035) Zero Volume 1: An Emergency by Ales Kot et al, finished April 22
034) Deadly Class Volume 1: Reagan Youth by Rick Remender, finished April 19
033) Animal Man Vol. 4: Splinter Species by Jeff Lemire et al, finished April 17
032) Swamp Thing Vol. 4: Seeder by Charles Soule et al, finished April 15

Books twenty-eighth through thirty-first

031) Small Gods by Terry Pratchett, finished April 6
030) The Frangipani Hotel by Violet Kupersmith, finished April 2
029) The Adventures of Rabbi Harvey: A Graphic Novel of Jewish Wisdom and Wit in the Wild West by Steve Sheinkin, finished March 29
028) Vivian Maier: Self-Portraits edited by John Maloof, finished March 23

Books twenty-sixth through twenty-seventh

027) Passing by Nella Larsen, finished March 18
026) Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson, finished March 17

Books twenty-second through twenty-fifth

025) Ghost World by Daniel Clowes and Terry Zwigoff, finished March 16
024) Hawkeye: L.A. Woman by Matt Fraction and some very talented artists, finished March 15
023) Hawkeye: Little Hits by Matt Fraction and a large number of artists, finished March 14
022) Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction and David Aja and Javier Pulido, finished March 12

Books twentienth through twenty-first

021) Does Santa Exist?: A Philosophical Investigation by Eric Kaplan, finished March 11
020) Babymouse #8: Puppy Love by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, finished March 11

Books sixteenth through ninteenth

019) The Book of Mormon, finished March 3
018) Cow Boy: A Boy and His Horse by Nate Cosby and Chris Eliopoulos, finished March 1
017) Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle, finished February 26
016) Drawings II by Jake Parker, finished February 19

Books twelfth through fifteenth

015) The PreHistory of The Far Side: A 10th Anniversary Exhibit by Gary Larson, finished February 18
014) Nation by Terry Pratchett, finished February 16
013) Fences by August Wilson, finished February 10
012) Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, finished February 6

Books tenth through eleventh

011) Adverbs by Daniel Handler, finished February 4
010) Death by Chocolate: Redux by David Yurkovich, finished February 3

Books sixth through ninth

009) The End of the World by Don Hertzfeldt, finished January 31
008) Ms. Marvel: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, finished January 24
007) Drop Shot by Harlan Coben, finished January 18
006) Cardboard by Doug TenNaple, finished January 15

Books first through fifth

005) The Complete Peanuts: 1991-1992 by Charles M. Schulz, finished January 10
004) City of Brick and Shadow by Tim Wirkus, finished January 9
003) Harem Scarem in El Cerrito by Neva Calvert Carpenter, finished January 4
002) iPlates Volume II: Prophets, Priests, Rebels, and Kings by Stephen Carter and Jett Atwood, finished January 4
001) Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, finished January 3

final booky posts of

2014 = 2013 = 2012 = 2011 = 2010 = 2009 = 2008 = 2007

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