This is the first of Fantagraphics' series reproducing Charles Schulz's fantastic Peanuts comic strip in its entirety.
A primitive Charlie Brown and Snoopy, barely recognisable as the characters we have come to know and love today, share the first pages with a fantastically large-headed Shermy and Patty. This book charts the development of Schulz's strip, as his drawing settles into its well-known style and we are introduced to now-familiar characters; Violet, Schroeder, Lucy (and the origin of the "fuss-budget"), and a baby Linus (before his famous "security blanket"). These strips, covering the first two years of Peanuts history, show Snoopy's dog house before it assumes its side-on view, Charlie Brown as catcher of the baseball team before Schroeder replaces him, and Shermy as pitcher before Charlie Brown himself steps into his most famous role. Schulz's unique humour and comic timing are evident from the very first strip with Shermy's tirade; "Well! here comes ol' Charlie Brown!...Good ol' Charlie Brown...Yes, sir!...Good ol' Charlie Brown...How I hate him!" A brilliant insight into the world of early Peanuts and great for anyone who ever wondered how Schroeder acquired his toy piano and Beethoven fixation, what Lucy's first words were, or anyone who wanted to see Charlie Brown actually keeping a kite in the air (albeit low-flying, as he is "afraid of airplanes").
The book also includes an introduction by Garrison Keillor, a short biography of Charles Schulz, and an informative but somewhat lengthy interview with Schulz.
Great for Peanuts fanatics, but for those looking for an introduction to, overview and history of the whole of the Peanuts fifty-year run, I would recommend the 50th anniversary book, "Peanuts- A Golden Celebration".