From October 1950, when the very first installments of Peanuts was published, every single installment of the strip was drawn by Charles M. Schulz's own hand, and the only variations in the style of the characters' depictions came organically through the evolution of Schulz's own drawing style. Even when the characters have appeared outside their home strip, in various animated specials or in the Dell or Boom comic books, the animators and artists have closely aped Schulz's style.
That's what makes Boom Studios' new Peanuts: A Tribute to Charles M. Schulz so compelling. It's difficult to imagine what any other artist's version of the iconic characters might look like, but this book is full of them, and being faced with these characters divorced from their creator's designs is fascinating and at times even disconcerting. It's hard to look at the realistic image of Charlie Brown by Ryan Sook on the cover of the book, staring into the eyes of the "real" Charlie Brown, and not be a little freaked out, isn't it?
Tony Millionaire's Sock Monkey stories are a superb example of the unparalleled story-telling that only the medium of comics can offer, so the announcement of a new book featuring Uncle Gabby, Mr. Crow, and Inches the doll is exciting news. For those unfamiliar with Sock Monkey, it's a strange but satisfying amalgamation of traditional, old school children's books (particularly in terms of narrative style), ostensibly following the escapades of a monkey made from a a sock, a stuffed crow, and a creepy porcelain doll, but crossing into darker themes and horror, as the eccentric, superficial innocence of the set-up meets a very human realism.
Written in collaboration with animation director Matt Danners, Into The Woods finds the toys convinced that their human owner, Ann-Louise, has been kidnapped by a vicious monster dubbed the Amarok, and so they embark on a mission into the Haunted Woods to rescue her and bring her home.
On sale now from Fantagraphics is 500 Portraits, a very handsome hardcover volume collecting more than two decades of pen-and-ink portraiture by Tony Millionaire, the award-winning cartoonist of Drinky Crow's Maakies and Sock Monkey...
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