Further Adventures of That Round-Headed Kid: How Boom Keeps the ‘Peanuts’ Story Alive
In terms of sheer ubiquity, no comic strip matches Peanuts. I can’t remember Charlie Brown and Snoopy not being around. Neither can my parents or relatives. Peanuts is so omnipresent that it’s easy to forget how revolutionary the original strip actually was/
And the strip is inextricable from its creator, Charles M. Schulz, whose work has never been out of print — be it thanks to the Fantagraphics Complete Peanuts collections or the “Classic Peanuts” strips still running in newspapers. But over the past couple of years, Boom Studios has been releasing Peanuts comic books and original graphic novels that brings Schulz’s work to a format it was never really in before (except once), while adding stories by new creators who hope to honor Schulz’s work while incorporating their own takes on Chuck, Linus, Peppermint Patty, and the rest.
Each issue of the monthly comic consists of short stories interspersed with newly recolored Schulz strips, and said recoloring is akin to Rich Tommaso’s work on the Fantagraphics Carl Barks reprints; usually provided by Justin Thompson, it stays true to the palette of the strip while looking modern.
The original stories --- here and in the original graphic novels --- are where the book shines brightest. Particularly in recent issues, stories like Peppermint Patty and Lucy deciding to get their ears pierced or Charlie Brown going to the hospital have let loose with expressive artwork and interesting compositional choices. These creators aren’t hampered by trying to strictly conform to Schulz’s style.
Many creators contribute to Peanuts, but cartoonists Paige Braddock and Vicki Scott are the book’s heart. Appearing in every issue, the two women perfectly capture the Peanuts aesthetic while making it their own. Braddock, who is also the creative director of Charles M. Schulz Enterprises, is usually inking Scott’s pencils, but the two cartoonists also write and draw separate stories.
Braddock, a respected talent in her own right, has branched out in recent issues to slightly update the way these characters are drawn while still retaining their classic look. Together, Braddock, Scott, and others use fun visuals and witty dialogue to make wholly new stories their own or to flesh out work by Schulz.
The restrictions here are more stringent than in other licensed comics. For one, according to an interview with Scott and Braddock in the OGN The Beagle Has Landed Charlie Brown, no new characters can ever be introduced. For another, the characters have strict personalities and actions. Charlie Brown can never kick that football.
Yet, it’s those restrictions — and things like corded phones still being around — that add to the series’ charm. The modern humor and art make these stories feel contemporary but their spirit and look are utterly gentle and timeless.
All issues of Peanuts and the OGNs, Beagle Has Landed, Where Beagles Dare, Happiness Is A Warm Blanket Charlie Brown, and It’s Tokyo, Charlie Brown are available on Comixology and in print.