Batter Up, Charlie Brown!
Written and Illustrated by Charles Schulz
These are truly great days to be a Peanuts fan — Fantagraphics Books is nearing the end of their reprint the entirety of Peanuts and they’ve launched a full-color Sundays reprint series, Andrews McMeel has started a line of themed Peanuts collections for kids, there’s a new Peanuts movie coming out next year.
And there’s a new gift book from Fantagraphics, Batter Up, Charlie Brown!
Fantagraphics released their first Peanuts gift book a year and a half ago, Charlie Brown’s Christmas Stocking, a reprint of two little-seen Christmas stories, little-seen because they were created for magazines rather than the comic strip.
Batter Up, Charlie Brown!, by contrast, is a collection of comic strips from 1959 and 1960, all about Charlie Brown and his hapless baseball team. The strips collected comprise three storylines.
In the first, from April 1959, Charlie Brown tries to whip his team into shape before the season begins. Then, opening day is rained out. (I had a little difficulty locating this one in The Complete Peanuts; Lucy makes reference to Minneapolis as a threat to the Yankees, but the Senators didn’t relocate to Minnesota until the 1961 season.)
From later in that season, August 1959, Charlie Brown is tasked with pushing his sister Sally around in a stroller when he really wants to be managing his team. This, by the way, is also Sally’s debut in Peanuts.
And, from May 1960, Charlie Brown tries to decide whether or not to steal home plate with predictable results.
If you have the relevant volumes of The Complete Peanuts, there’s nothing new here in Batter Up, Charlie Brown! that you haven’t seen. In that sense, it’s an inessential book.
What makes this book nice is the packaging. It’s a little square book. Peel off the dust jacket and there are more baseball-themed panels printed on the covers. In sum, it’s a nice little gift book that would find a happy home in the Easter basket for the Peanuts-loving baseball fan.
Play ball, Charlie Brown!