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Thirty-five years into his fifty year run on this strip, Charles Schulz continues to keep me smiling and laughing. Yes, the lines in the drawing are getting a little more shaky, but the lines of dialogue are as sharp and witty as ever. The one exception for me is the cover-featured character, Snoopy’s brother Spike, living alone and lonely in the desert, pretending that cactus are people he can interact with. There are quite a few of those here, and I find them sad rather than funny. Did Schulz really find lonely people funny, or was this some kind of personal outlet for his own feelings? Most of the collection is full of great material that I did find funny.
There’s a great example, one that really resonates for me. Lucy is so self-involved it’s fun to see. Another strip has her telling Charlie Brown that she missed school because she had a cold. “There must be something going around…lots of kids have been getting colds,” he says. “Mine was a lot worse though,” Lucy tells him, “because it happened to me.”
Charlie Brown’s sister Sally is nearly as self-absorbed, always sure she knows the answer to everything. On the other side of the coin, Peppermint Patty and Charlie Brown are always struggling with self-esteem, and Linus is often struggling to have his own fun in a hostile world, as above. At least Snoopy has fun with his rich fantasy life, bird pals and an assortment of roles, all appealing. There’s one new character here, a girl that Linus is attracted to who thinks he’s too old for her, an amusing idea when “too old” is a few months!