Things I’ve Been Reading: It’s Summer Camp, Charlie Brown

Peanuts #25
BOOM! Studios/kaBOOM!
Written by Paige Braddock and Vicki Scott
Pencils by Vicki Scott
Inks by Paige Braddock

For about three years now, BOOM! Studios has published comic books and original graphic novels starring Charles Schulz’s beloved Peanuts characters. Typically, each issue of the the comic book has three or four original stories of about four to six pages, along with reprints of classic Schulz Peanuts comic strips in full color. For the twenty-fifth issue of the ongoing series, BOOM! decided instead to do a single, ad-free, long-form story, “It’s Summer Camp, Charlie Brown.” Thirty-two pages of Charlie Brown and the gang going away to summer camp, as some of them do every summer.

School is out, and it’s time for Charlie Brown to go away to summer camp. He doesn’t want to go, Lucy tells him it’s a growth experience for him, Snoopy tags along, Peppermint Patty and Marcie are at another camp, Snoopy and his bird scouts go on a camping trip, Charlie Brown gets mail from home, and so on. Most pages are self-contained scenes with beginning, middle, and punchline. (The exceptions involve Snoopy and his bird troop, which amount to a longer-form narrative.) Sally’s friend Eudora makes an appearance, as does Roy.

It’s delightful to read. Each page feels like one of Schulz’s daily comic strips, told in four to six comic book panels, and the punchlines on many pages feel authentically Schulz-like; in other words, they’re bitter and somewhat cruel. The overall feeling I got from the comic was that I’d watched an early 80s Peanuts special, one that’s not a classic but is certainly fondly remembered. If you’re looking for something on par with the classic “Mr. Sack” summer camp storyline, you won’t find it here, but what you will find is something with its heart in the right place.

It’s not without flaws — it’s not clear that Charlie Brown and Linus are at the same camp until one page puts them together, and Charlie Brown has no story that carries through like Snoopy or Peppermint Patty and Marcie do — but they are flaws I can overlook because the overall feel of the comic is so charming. One issue I’ve had with BOOM!’s Peanuts comics has been their inauthenticity; tonally they weren’t as bitter as Schulz’s work, and the comics have an approach toward the characters (like telling stories with Shermy and Pettermint Patty at the same time) that forced me to treat them as though I were reading comics based on The Charlie Brown & Snoopy Show rather than on Peanuts itself. “It’s Summer Camp, Charlie Brown” feels like a cut above BOOM!’s usual fare, like its ambitions were higher.

If you read one Peanuts comic book this year, make it “It’s Summer Camp, Charlie Brown.”

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

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