Monday, May 2, 2016

Brooks on Books: "Only What's Necessary: Charles M. Schulz and The Art of Peanuts

This is a really heavy, solid art book. I mean, you know those brick walls Charlie Brown and Linus often lean on when pontificating? You could build a thicker barrier out of these things. It's not a casual reading book, but a coffee table book--not tall, but kind of short and wide. It's a great thing for Peanuts fans, and as you would expect, it is sharply designed by award winner Chip Kidd.

I find the content a little bit lacking for the $40 MSRP, but I'm kind of a cheap son of a gun. It's quite possible that Peanuts fanatics will be glad to shell out for what I borrowed from the local liberry. Kidd, given access to Charles M. Schulz's archives from his official Library, gathered lots of original artwork and ephemera (I'm still not sure exactly what that is, but I know that's what in here) and stuffed the book with it.

So what's the issue? Well, there was a little too much original art for my taste. I have seen plenty of the old strips, and there is a great series of reprint volumes from Fantagraphics. I know plenty of buffs love seeing the original art, but to me it didn't do as much as the ephe--the ephe--uh, the cool stuff.

There is promo material used to sell the strip when it was beginning. There are photos of vintage merchandise like colored pencil sets. There are collages of the original paperback reprints. I enjoy the heck out of seeing all of this. I just wish there were more of it. The sketches and drawings scattered throughout are cool, but this book, as solid as it is, isn't all that long. I'd rather a book twice as long, with more ephemera, in a nice and sturdy paperback for maybe 75% of the price.

That's just me, though! It's a fine achievement and something that should delight Peanuts fans.

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