Peanuts: A Tribute To Charles M. Schulz (October 2015)

Peanuts: A Tribute to Charles M. Schulz

Peanuts: A Tribute to Charles M. Schulz. “Over 40 artists celebrate the work of Charles M. Schulz.” It says so right on the cover. And Tribute is a fine celebration of Peanuts. There are some great cartoonists who contribute pieces for the collection. It’s 144 pages, which means contributors average less than three and a half pages each.

Collections of Peanuts strips, like the Fantagraphics Complete Peanuts, have three strips a page. So Schulz would have ten or eleven strips in similar page count. It shows just how magical he was with pacing those strips day-to-day.

There are some good strips, some okay strips, some cool strips. The Paul Pope Snoopy and Schroeder strip? Very cool. But given the whole grab is Pope doing these realistic looking Pope characters and them still operating on Peanuts logic. When Schroeder worries Lucy’s going to show up… well, Snoopy’s cute and all but I’d much rather see Pope Lucy. Beautiful art, though. Because Pope’s a lover.

There aren’t any strips non-Peanuts loving strips in the book. There are even strips just about loving Peanuts.

A few strips after Pope is Roger Langridge, who does a Snoopy the flying ace strip from the perspective of enemy pilots. It’s cute. It’s not great. Raina Telegemeier does a one page thing right after. Langridge got four pages. Her’s is cute. It’s not great. But she does it in one.

Stan Sakai and Julie Fujii do one of the best longer strips in the book, Escapade in Tokyo. Charlie Brown gets separated from the class on a school trip and spends the day with a cool Japanese girl. It’s anti-crap on Charlie Brown (most of the book, if not all of it, is anti-crapping on Charlie Brown) and it’s a nice story. Sakai and Fujii give it just the right amount of nostalgia and sentamentality without sacrificing the humor.

Terry Moore does something similar. Lucy vs. Charlie Brown only this time Charlie Brown’s going to kick that football. Moore mimicks Schulz’s style but sort of not enough to get away with the strip. Charlie Brown winning has to be perfect, like Sakai and Fujii did.

Chynna Clugston Flores does a “Why I Love Peanuts” strip. It’s good. It’s just a “Why I Love Peanuts strip”. There are some more in the book and Clugston Flores’s is probably the best but… Tribute is just a tribute. Sometimes the cartoonists interact with the characters, sometimes with the media itself.

Evan Dorkin and Derek Charm do a “Cthulhu comes to Peanuts” long strip and it’s inventive, beautifully illustrated (the style homage ages like Schulz’s did as the strip goes on), and kind of thin. Not many contributors do a riff on Peanuts without staying in Schulz’s constraints.

Except then there’s Melanie Gillman’s beautiful Marcie strip addressing her relationship with Patty. Liz Prince had a nice Patty strip earlier, but nowhere near as ambitious. Shaenon K. Garrity’s long, color strip about Patty taking on Lucy is good. It’s mostly in Peanuts constraints, just with some visual storytelling differences.

Peanuts: A Tribute is a good book for a Peanuts fan. To check out from the library. It’s a great proof of concept for a more ambitious project. I didn’t realize I wanted other cartoonists doing Peanuts until I read it. But I want them doing more, trying harder.

I also wish, given it just being this assortment of homages, Boom! had printed it more coffee table size.

CREDITS

Contributors, Mike Allred, Art Baltazar, Paige Braddock, Megan Brennan, Frank Cammuso, Derek Charm, Colleen Coover, Evan Dorkin, Chynna Clugston Flores, Shaenon K. Garrity, Melanie Gillman, Zac Gorman, Jimmy Gownley, Matt Groening, Dan Hipp, Keith Knight, Mike Kunkel, Roger Langridge, Jeff Lemire, Jonathan Lemon, Patrick McDonnell, Tony Millionaire, Caleb Monroe, Terry Moore, Dustin Nguyen, Molly Ostertag, Lincoln Peirce, Paul Pope, Hilary Price, Liz Prince, Stan Sakai + Julie Fujii, Chris Schweizer, Ryan Sook, Jeremy Sorese, Raina Telgemeier, Richard Thompson, Tom Tomorrow, Lucas Turnbloom, Jen Wang, and Mo Willems; editors, Alex Galer and Shannon Watters; publisher, KaBoom!.

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Black Hammer Giant-Sized Annual 1 (January 2017)

Black Hammer Giant-Sized Annual #1

It’s a double-sized (or at least over-sized) annual for Black Hammer, yay. Colonel Weird goes through the Paraverse pursuing a creature (who looks a bit like Starro) and going into flashbacks with each of the characters, with different artists. It’s good art, it’s sad superheroes, there’s lots of implied depth, it’s moody, it’s Black Hammer.

CREDITS

Writer, Jeff Lemire; artists, Nate Powell, Matt Kindt, Dustin Nguyen, Raw Fawkes, Emi Lenox, and Mike Allred; colorists, Dave Stewart, Sharlene Kindt, and Fawkes; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Cardner Clark and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Descender 4 (June 2015)

Descender #4

I’m not sure if I’m more on board Descender after this issue, which doesn’t reveal where Lemire’s going, but does show he’s got some actual ideas. Many of them are, as usual, familiar sci-fi tropes. He just arranges them a little better this issue.

And the story itself feels very comic book. Lemire puts the emphasis on the supporting players, mostly the ship captain, as well as pulling back and letting the reader see the familiar cast members in a new environment. Descender feels a little more solid.

So why aren’t I more excited about it? Because it’s still not clear Lemire’s got anywhere to take this story worth going and this issue features the first less than great Ngyuen art of the series. Where’s the art go wrong? The outer space stuff. Where’s Lemire taking the story? Outer space stuff.

The rest of the issue’s gorgeous.

Descender frustrates.

CREDITS

Tin Stars, Part Four; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Dustin Nguyen; letterer, Steve Wands; publisher, Image Comics.

Descender 3 (May 2015)

Descender #3

I want to be able to keep reading Descender, but I’m getting close to my limit. It’s just A.I. with some flourishes on it. It’s like someone tried to make a comic book sequel to A.I., only instead of taking its visual template, Nguyen is grabbing from Alien and Outland and other seventies to early eighties sci-fi.

This issue has robot Tim dying and going to robot purgatory, where all the souls of the robots from the alien invasion are living. Okay, maybe more A.I. mixed with one of the Ender’s Game sequels, suffice to say, Lemire doesn’t have anything original in this series. And maybe he’s not supposed to, maybe he’s just supposed to sell the option to Hollywood and the comic’s going to sell on Nguyen’s art.

After all, Lemire’s just unoriginal, it’s not bad.

But I don’t know if Nyugen’s art alone is worth the time.

CREDITS

Tin Stars, Part Three; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Dustin Nguyen; letterer, Steve Wands; publisher, Image Comics.

Descender 2 (April 2015)

Descender #2

Lemire sure does know his sci-fi–this issue of Descender continues the A.I. vibe while throwing in some Outland. He also knows how to go straight for the heartstrings, which he does with a bunch of flashbacks to Tim–21 (he’s the android protagonist) in happier days.

And Lemire does a good job with it. He can get away with almost anything with Nguyen’s art. Descender will always be worth looking at. Nguyen’s color washes give each page a distinct separate feel, even when the action continues between them. It’s a lovely comic.

This issue doesn’t do much to develop the world of the comic, just Tim–21. Lemire’s careful not to give the robot too many emotional observations (again, A.I.) and it’s unclear if he can get legs out of story with a purely sympathetic lead character.

But he’s off to an okay start. It’s gloriously manipulative stuff.

CREDITS

Tin Stars, Part Two; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Dustin Nguyen; letterer, Steve Wands; publisher, Image Comics.

Descender 1 (March 2015)

Descender #1

Descender isn’t the most original thing under the sun. It’s hard to read it and not be reminded of the Spielberg movie, A.I.. Writer Jeff Lemire borrows major android concepts, but apparently not a lot of emotional heft concepts, which is good. Because, even though it’s got a lot of problems, Descender is far more successful than A.I..

Dustin Nguyen’s art makes the comic. He does this watercolor-looking thing and it’s great. He still has detail in his panels; the painting style doesn’t overtake the lines. It’s fantastic looking.

And the story has some unexpected moments, but there’s a nice collaboration between Lemire and Nguyen going on. Like Nguyen’s got more detail than Lemire’s putting into the story. Even though the story’s somewhat predictable and the details are mostly bland sci-fi things, the comic engages. Nguyen’s art is the right mix of mainstream and not to sell it.

CREDITS

Tin Stars, Part One; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Dustin Nguyen; letterer, Steve Wands; publisher, Image Comics.

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