* Prices may differ from that shown
Jogging is in, Snoopy was written and illustrated by Charles M Schulz (obviously!) and features about 120 pages of selected strips from The Beagle Has Landed volume 1. This particular compilation was first published in 1980 according to my copy. Peanuts - which featured the adventures of the loveable loser Charlie Brown, his dog Snoopy and various other characters including Linus and Peppermint Patty - first appeared in 1950 and went on to become one of the most famous comic strips ever published. I have about a dozen of these books lying around the house somewhere or in boxes with comics and still find them quite cosy and amusing to dip into when the mood takes me. They can be surprisingly poignant and profound sometimes too and Charlie Brown is certainly a character I have a lot of fondness for.
Each page features four panels and there are some storyline threads that run through the collection (each lasting for about ten or more pages before we move on) and also some shorter bits and pieces that just run for a few pages - like the lovestruck Lucy annoying the oblivious Schroeder while he plays the piano or Snoopy starting yet another novel at the typewriter on top of his kennel. The compilation begins with Charlie Brown taking his revenge on the infamous kite-eating tree by taking a bite out of it ('I was mad! That stupid tree ate my kite!') but his actions have unexpected consequences when he receives a letter from the Environmental Protection Agency. After hearing a typically gloomy prognosis of his situation from Lucy ('Fifty cents says they throw you in the slammer!'), the neurotic Charlie decides to run away with his posssessions slung over his shoulder and tied in a handkerchief on the end of a stick. Naturally the handkerchief falls apart almost as soon as he walks away!
'No one's going to miss me anyway,' he muses to himself. 'I never do anything right. If life were a camera, I'd have the lens cap on.' Charlie is soon knocked out by a stray baseball that belongs to a group of little kids and ends up agreeing to become their new coach. Through some comical coaching sessions with the youngsters (who are so small they can barely lift a bat let alone play baseball) Charlie becomes someone they look up to and gains some redemption. It's quite touching when one of them pays tribute to him near the end of this story thread. Charlie Brown is a great character I think for his sense of self-deprecation more than anything else. His dry asides about his own situation are often very deadpan and enjoyable. He's likeable because, despite being riddled with insecurities and cursed with terrible luck, he's quite plucky and prone to bursts of optimism and sudden determination. He's usually brought crashing back to earth but he keeps trying in the belief that one day he just might be able to boot that football before Lucy whips it away.
I like the panels here too where Sally is feeding Snoopy in Charlie Brown's absence and remarks that he must be missing his owner. 'Oh, yeah,' goes Snoopy's speech bubble, as he puts a paw on his chin and has a think as if trying to remember. 'The round-headed kid.' There are various Snoopy and Woodstock capers in the book and, as ever, Snoopy seems to have different hobby on every page, by turns a golfer or an author and so on. I'm always intrigued by Snoopy's kennel, which seems to be like Dr Who's TARDIS (although we never see the inside), and I like it when he uses his ears to turn himself into a helicopter! Like Charlie Brown, Snoopy has his own problems in the book when he is paired with the volatile Molly Volley for the big mixed doubles tennis tournament.
'In the last tournament,' says Charlie. 'She beat up her partner, two linesman and a ball boy!' The tournament is quite good fun as Molly (who is drawn to look permanently annoyed and takes her tennis very seriously) disputes every single decision and barges Snoopy out of the way to hit everything herself. 'Here's something to think about partner,' she tells Snoopy. 'The first time you double fault I'm gonna hit you right over the head with my racket! And just one smart remark about my fat legs gets you a knock on the noggin!' The black and white art is very simple (often with no backdrops) but it really works and makes you feel like you are entering a little private world with these characters. The facial expressions are conveyed nicely too with characters able to look sad, happy, thoughtful, annoyed or merely confused.
Sadly, there isn't too much of Linus in this collection though. Linus is the one with the comfort blanket and the irrational belief in the 'Great Pumpkin' magically appearing each Halloween. He's sort of like the amateur philosopher of Peanuts. I like those panels where Linus and Charlie Brown are leaning on a wall discussing life but there is only one of these scenes in Jogging is in, Snoopy. Charlie Brown's younger sister Sally is another great character and there are several pages featuring Sally at school, desperately trying to stall and bluff her way through a class speech on a subject she knows absolutely nothing about. I really liked the panels of Peppermint Patty in school too attempting (and failing) to answer questions from the teacher. The teachers (and adults) are of course never seen in the strips so we experience life from the perspective of Charlie and the children.'Pease Ma'am, no hard questions this morning,' suggests Patty from her desk. 'The sun is shining, it's a beautiful day. Let's not spoil it. Who was Moses Mendelssohn? You spoiled it!'
This is not the best Charlie Brown/Snoopy collection I have but it still contains many amusing panels and some great lines and is a lot of fun.