It’s been some time since I read the first volume of the complete Peanuts, mostly because I avoided reading on. I really wanted to like Peanuts, because it’s been a major influence on some of my favorite comics strips and I want to have a similiarly splendid experience as all those million peoples who liked it in its heyday, but the first volume really deflated all my expectations. I was sort of hoping that the first volume was a fluke, a cartoonist trying to find his voice, instead of a general indication of the entire direction.
So far, volume two hasn’t won me over either and only bolstered the impression I got from the first one. 95% of all the Peanuts strips are boring, trite, totally unfunny and I have to force myself to read on. The few times when I actually chuckle and find some amusement, is when words are abandoned and some situational slapstick with Snoopy occurs. I actually dread the moment when Schulz switches Snoopy over from silent to speaking dog.
And that’s I think what Peanuts means to me in the end. I love the art. I really do. When Schulz allows it to carry a strip on its own, it entirely succeeds. But these strips are very rare. Instead we get endless pointless discussion between the main characters that are neither funny nor insightfull and bore me to death.
One of those Schulz influenced was Bill Watterson, whose famous strip managed a believable kid as a character who still said things meaningful to all ages. Peanuts does nothing of the sort, having kid characters only in appearance who don’t feel like kids at all and who still don’t manage to say anything I find interesting or meaningful. I really, really don’t get how the Peanuts became one of the most famous comic strip of the last century.