I was a HUGE Peanuts fan as a kid. A whole shelf of Charlie Brown books adorned my wall.

When I was twelve, I hiked up Pecos Baldy in New Mexico with my Boy Scout troupe. Late in the hike, I was struggling to keep up having fallen far to the rear of the party. Our Scout Master, Dr Poindexter, tugged on my pack.

“Why is your pack so heavy!?!”

I shrugged. Hell, I didn’t know. It just was.

He opened it to find that it was FULL of books. Peanuts books.

“Why did you pack books for this hike?!?!”

I stared at him, amazed at his profound stupidity. “You gotta have something to read.”

Damn… what the hell was this guy a doctor of? P.E.?

Yes, I made my Peanuts bones a long time ago.

I confess to being somewhat of a Peanuts purist… I never cared for Snoopy walking upright. Also, the more ‘produced’ Schulz’ art became, the less interested I was. Schulz had this wonderful, raw style in his early work that was refined away in the late years. His work after the late seventies appeared manufactured, absent the genuine heart of his work in the fifties and sixties.

And maybe that’s what I found to be missing in the latter work – true feeling.  Regardless of how I feel about the more recent strips,  the Peanuts characters easily remain the most recognizable comic strip characters the world-over.  There’s just no disputing that Charlie Brown and Snoopy are cultural icons.  That fact alone renders the series worthy of special attention – beyond the fact it is has brought joy to generations of readers.

Fantagraphics has taken on the task of producing the Complete Peanuts, a 25-volume series reproducing all of the daily and Sunday strips publishing some that haven’t seen print in decades:

This first volume, covering the first two and a quarter years of the strip, will be of particular fascination to PEANUTS aficionados worldwide: Although there have been literally hundreds of PEANUTS books published, many of the strips from the series’ first two or three years have never been collected before — in large part because they showed a young Schulz working out the kinks in his new strip and include some characterizations and designs that are quite different from the cast we’re all familiar with. (Among other things, three major cast members — Schroeder, Lucy, and Linus — initially show up as infants and only “grow” into their final “mature” selves as the months go by. Even Snoopy debuts as a puppy!) Thus THE COMPLETE PEANUTS offers a unique chance to see a master of the artform refine his skills and solidify his universe, day by day, week by week, month by month.

The Complete Peanuts is exactly what the doctor ordered. Well, not Dr. Poindexter. But a real doctor would order it.

Santa, if you could make special note of this, that’d be great.