Peanuts Old And News

Earlier this month Kaboom! celebrated the return of Charles M. Schulz’s beloved Peanuts franchise to monthly comics, featuring a mix of classic strips by Schulz himself mixed with new material written by people like Vicki Scott and Shane Houghton. The decision caused a few worried ripples through the comics world, with people uncertain as to whether the new material would be able to sit alongside the late Schulz’s work. But good grief, if Peanuts #1 doesn’t silence those… ripples.

Kaboom have been compiling a highly impressive selection of comics of late, with Roger Langridge’s Snarked series delivering brilliance every month and the promise of an ongoing Adventure Time series (by Ryan North!) coming next month. Peanuts acts as the bridge between the two, offering a classic ‘gag’ comic which doesn’t have the traditional echoes of Snarked but also avoids the surrealism of Adventure Time. Each strip here is carefully judged, so nothing goes on longer than it has to. The classic strips, obviously, only last a page each, which leaves Scott and Houghton with the task of writing longer material which keeps to the tone and style of Schulz. There’s nothing harder than extending a gag, but Scott in particular proves well-suited for the role, as her strips are the best of the lot.

Focusing on Lucy is probably a good idea, because Charlie Brown was always best as a supporting character, reacting mournfully to the antics of his friends. Lucy, on the other hand, is manic energy and plays beautifully to an extended story. Editors Matt Gagnon and Adam Staffaroni have carefully selected the classic material to work with the new material, so we have recurring Lucy anger throughout the book. At one point Houghton’s story references an old strip in passing, so the editors smartly put in that strip to provide later context. It adds a neat sense of continuity, of passing the torch.

And most importantly the comic is FUNNY. The Schulz strips are slightly more sophisticated, but the new stories have a great sense of energy and don’t stray far from the classic Peanuts formula. Kaboom have really done their work with Peanuts #1, making sure it respects the old work but also pushes forward and gives readers some new, all-ages comedy. A daunting challenge defeated!

And Kaboom once again show themselves to be one of the best comic publishers around.

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