Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Peanuts (nothing to do with S$600K)

I'm a big fan of Peanuts. Not the kind that costs S$600K, not the edible type but the comic strip Peanuts. How big a fan, you ask? The long drawer of my wardrobe is not for clothes. It is packed to the brim with Peanuts comic reprints. These are books reprinting past strips that has been printed in the newspapers from years past. I believe I've invested thousands, yes thousands with the "S" at the end, in my collection. I scoured Ebay, used bookshops online, local bookshops online, global bookshops online. That list of links is NOT exhaustive. I've once paid US$50 for a book. Because it was and still is rare. And because I have the other 28 books in that collection; I needed it to complete the series!

But I won't even dare claim myself as the biggest Peanuts fan of them all. I'm not even close. Some of the fans I've "met" are truly incredible. I feel rather insignificant compared to their fervour and love for Peanuts. Check out, for example, the
AAUGH blog and the Peanuts newsgroup. Some of these fans spend their lives RESEARCHING Peanuts. All I do is collect and read and reread and reread. *Grin*

For the uninitiated, the author of Peanuts was (and forever will be) Charles M. Schulz. It began its run on 2nd October 1950 and ended on 13th February 2000. Actually, to be specific, the last DAILY strip was published on 3rd January 2000 but the last SUNDAY strip was published on 13th February 2000 (Mr. Schulz liked to work ahead of schedule). Almost continuously for 50 years (there is only one break of two weeks I think in 1998 when he had an operation), Mr. Schulz drew and wrote Peanuts. He also did not want anyone to take over when he passed away. So the Peanuts run ended when he passed away. Perhaps it was "appropriate" that he passed away on the day BEFORE the final Sunday strip was published, on 12th February 2000.

Up until two years ago, many old strips, especially those from the 50s, never got to see the light of the day again after appearing just once in the papers. The rights of different years' strips were sold to different publishers over the years. As a result, MANY MANY different collections of strip reprints appeared. Of all shapes and sizes too. To get a gauge of what I'm trying to convey, see
this, especially this guide, and this. Even then, these books were INCOMPLETE. A very high percentage of Peanuts never ever got collected and printed into a book.

That is, until two years ago when
this happened. Somehow, a publisher by the name of Fantagraphics managed to negotiate with the estate of Charles Schulz to reprint the ENTIRE RUN of Peanuts, from Day 1 till the very last strip. Peanuts fans had assumed all along that this would never happen, given the complications involved (details left out here). But it came true. 50 years of strips to be published in 25 books. One book every half year for twelve and a half years. The first volume came out in April 2004. This coming October will see volume four hitting the shops. So for the next decade or so, I will get really "high" twice a year.

But two things worry us Peanuts fans. One, will I live to see out the series (should be ok for me, I'll "only" be 41 then)? Two, will the publisher remain solvent for the entire run?

A lot of friends ask me why I am "so into" Peanuts. It's not easy to explain but...

I like the subtle kind of humour in Peanuts. A lot of comic strips these days rely on sight gags. Peanuts has its fair share too, but they are fewer in comparison.

I like the simple yet very descriptive style of drawing that Mr. Schulz possessed. A few simple lines and I can see Charlie Brown's anguish, Snoopy's mischief, Lucy's crabbiness... A lot of comics these days rely on very very detailed drawing to bring out the feelings of the character. Mr. Schulz is skilled enough to not require that.

I like the wide repertoire of characters in the strip. Most non-fans equate Peanuts to Snoopy. Simply because Snoopy's character is so colourful and varied. The truth cannot be further from that. There are so many characters in the strip, yet, Mr. Schulz manages to give each his or her own unique character. Although I admit to liking Snoopy's character a lot,
my all-time favourite Peanuts strip (scroll down to find October 24, 1999 Item 1317-02) doesn't contain him. Incidentally, one of my pals bought this comic strip reprint for me (about A3 size!) recently. I was VERY touched!

Not many Singaporeans like or have even heard of Peanuts. A number of years ago, a merchandise-cum-restaurant called Snoopy's Place opened in Plaza Singapura. I still own a T-shirt from there. After a number of years, the restaurant disappeared. Then the merchandise shop got downsized. During my last break, I discovered it has disappeared altogether! *Sigh*

Here are where I get my fix for Peanuts merchandise now (not often because of the hefty shipping costs!): and

Oh and by the way, Mr. Schulz has a
museum set up in 2003 to commemorate his past work. And there is this biennial event known as Beaglefest where Peanuts fans from around the globe congregate for about a week or so to celebrate the comic strip. I am NOT kidding you. It is held in Santa Rosa, California. I believe the last edition was the BeaglefestVIII. The next one is in June 2006. You can only sign up for it after becoming a member of the Peanuts Collector Club.

Yes, that is how BIG Peanuts is in the US.

I dislike travelling. A LOT. But when I eventually complete my actuarial exams, I would like to visit Santa Rosa and take part in a Beaglefest. Santa Rosa is where everything Peanuts is! Another place I would like to visit despite hating travelling A LOT is Malta, but that is another story.

Akan Datang: That feeling of emptiness

226 days to go.

Edit: The pictures below were added on 6th May 2006. They were taken after my return home, thanks to the digital camera borrowed from my sis:
My Peanuts comic reprints collection. It is still growing!
The books in the right drawer. 内有乾坤哦!
The books in the left drawer. Note the four volumes of the Complete Peanuts on the right of the pic. Volume 5 is coming soon, as I write.


Post a Comment

<< Home