Tuesday, March 22, 2011

notes on 'The Complete Peanuts: 1975-76

1975 and 1976 were two exemplary years of the strip, highlighted by the introduction of some new characters. There was Truffles, a new girl who formed was stuck in two love triangles, one between Sally and Linus and the other between Snoopy and Linus (love quadrangle, maybe?). There was also a new school building for Sally to converse with. Two of Snoopy's siblings were revealed - his sister, Belle, and a brother named Spike. The latter quickly became a favorite of Schulz, carrying many of his own solo strips and storylines over the next quarter century. It's striking to me that the cover character is Frieda, who appears only a couple of times in the strips collected here. [the strips may be cut off, so just click on them to see the whole thing]

5/4/75 - The perhaps innovative touch of David Michaelis' Schulz biography was tying incidents from Schulz's life together with things happening in the strip. While I think Michaelis practiced some pop psychology and took it a bridge too far, the approach has it's validity. I can't help but believe that this rambling story of Charlie Brown's is taken from Schulz's own childhood.

7/22/75 - Lucy again trying to relate to Schroeder through his love of Beethoven.

8/14/75 - In an uncharacteristic bout of altruism, Lucy decides to take Spike home and fatten him up. I've always liked the simile "thin as a promise", and I'm sure when I was little I had no idea what "scarf city" meant.

8/20/75 - This reference is one I did understand as a kid. It struck me funny then and bizarre now that Schulz would have Spike watching a "Hogan's Heroes" rerun.

9/25/75 - A simple strip, but it showcases Schulz ability to put an odd spin on an everyday thing.

10/30/75 - It's Peppermint Patty's turn to join Linus in the pumpkin patch. He lays down the law.

3/25/76 - In one of Peanuts' longest storylines (six weeks!), Snoopy has tripped over his supper dish and is confined to a cast. Snoopy's cover story is that he broke his foot while rescuing three airline stewardesses on runaway horses.

5/10/76 - Charlie Brown's stubborness keeps him on the pitcher's mound in the middle of a rainstorm. Things take a surreal turn when the mound starts to float away.

8/9/76 - A pastor named Robert L. Short made a career out of exploring the Christian themes in Peanuts. Perhaps this is a reaction to that?

8/23/76 - I often think of this strip when I can't finish all the food on my plate.

10/9/76 - One for my attorney friends.

12/22/76 - This strip says everything to me about the purity of their unlikely friendship.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I was very excited for this year's Small Press Alternative Comics Expo (SPACE) in Columbus, Ohio. Not only was last year's show the best SPACE yet, but three friends were joining me on the fun this year. It was at the same venue as last year, the Ramada Plaza Hotel, which is beyond the previous venues: the school gym-ish fairgrounds building, the poorly lit Shriners center and the seemingly abandoned Holiday Inn.

The exhibit room was full and it seemed well attended. SPACE isn't like most comic shows. It's a place mainly for folks who put together their own comics, some for the shear joy of it, some looking for their big break. It's a wonderful hodgepodge of the indy scene, from award-winners with book deals to crudely drawn characters on homemade cut and staple jobs.
You know it's going to be a good show when early on an exhibitor asks if you'd like a free mustache. Then you see he's handing you a business card with a stick-on mustache glued to the back. I now only took the card, I put on the mustache. I kept it on until I was having a conversation with another person and felt completely ridiculous. The mustache guy was Ed Delaney of Peculiar Comics. He was also selling a black & white comic that came with free crayons. Kudos on the fresh ideas, Ed!

Pal Todd Fox had a couple of artists do sketches of his co-creation, Aym Geronimo. Here he is with webcomics artist Alex Heberling.

One of those SPACE surprises was happening upon artist Sandy Plunkett. Though his comic work is sporadic, Plunkett is known for his illustrative style, reminiscent of the Alex Raymond school. Last year he released a collection of his sketchbook drawings. It was nice to meet him and talk a little Caniff. Here's pal Lucas (right) with Sandy.
This is a little much, but it's Todd's picture of me taking a picture of pal Ted with Sandy.

One nice thing about SPACE is finding truly talented artists. One such is Robert Clare Forest. He's apparently so prolific that he was selling at originals for less than most people sell prints. The pieces below spoke to me...not comfortable what that may say about me, though.

Me with the lads at the annual SPACE Prize ceremony, hosted by show organizer Bob Corby. The prizes are for the best comics at the previous year's show. You can read about the winners here. All in all, we drove away making plans to come back again next year (as long as Wizard doesn't buy 'em out)!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Here are highlights from some recent Milton Caniff-related auctions on eBay. Click any picture to enlarge it. Let's start off with three strips, all from the 1940s:
This is the 'Terry & the Pirates' daily from June 27, 1940. Paper measures 8 x 24". In this sequence, the mysterious Hu Shee (on the right) has bluffed her way into a role as secretary for Raven Sherman, a philanthropist. The normally aloof Sherman is doing her best not to pine away for the heroic Pat Ryan. Shee gives feminine advice in what may be Caniff's longest word balloon!
Winning bid:$722

I'm struck by the moodiness and texture of this strip. It's the 'Terry' daily from February 17, 1945. The paper measures 22 3/4" x 7 1/4". This is the last storyline for Pat Ryan, in a sequence that punctuates his love/hate relationship with Caniff's uber-femme fatale, the Dragon Lady. Their sexual tension and repartee was a highlight of the strip's run. In the week leading up to the strip pictured, Ryan chides her, "Don't bite your lip, beautiful, you'll poison yourself!" Hu Shee shows up in the fourth panel, as well as in the strip title - "See me Shee; Then see Lee". I can almost hear Caniff's gleeful chuckle.
Pat, DL, last arc?
Winning bid:$2,245

From a late model 'Terry' to an early 'Canyon'. This is the 'Steve Canyon' daily from April 23, 1949 comes at an exciting time in the strip. Canyon has become embroiled in a fight over Communist control in the fictional Asian nation of Damma. Canyon's erstwhile employer/nemesis, Copper Calhoon, has been shot by a sniper. He's had to transport her to India, leaving his friends behind. Canyon sidekick Reed Kimberly and love interest Princess Snowflower have fallen in with Dogie Hogan, a mercenary and occasional Canyon foil.
Winning bid:$375

The piece is approximately 10 1/2 by 13 and signed by the legend "With all good wishes" Jan. 1954. This is a beautiful example of the hand-colored prints that Caniff would send out. Too often I see Caniff's prints on eBay where the seller thinks they are originals, but this seller had it right.
Winning bid:$105.50

I'd never seen one of these before. It's 'Steve Canyon’s Interceptor Station Punch-Out book' from Golden Press. It was part of the merchandising for the 'Steve Canyon' TV show in 1959. The other Golden Press item, the 'Steve Canyon' Little Golden Book, is fairly common and can be had in nice shape for about $5. The point of this Punch-Out book was to take it apart, so finding an intact one seems next to impossible, especially 50+ years after publication. There may be a little kicking of myself down the road for not bidding.
Winning bid:$65