Comic strip classics: Bloom County, The Family Circus, Peanuts

December 20, 2009 | Trades

Celebrating Peanuts- 60 Years

The Family Circus Library Vol. 1 — 1960-61

The Complete Peanuts 1971-74

Bloom County- The Complete Collection Vol. 1 — 1980-82

Three of the most beloved comic strips of all time reach milestone anniversaries in 2010 and readers have some handsome new options to help them get a jump on the celebrations.

Berkeley Breathed began work on his offbeat daily strip, Bloom County, in 1980, introducing the world to quirky characters like Opus (the penguin) and Bill (the cat) en route to a Pulitzer Prize in 1987. Breathed’s work finally gets the deluxe treatment it deserves in Bloom County: The Complete Collection Vol. 1 — 1980-82 (IDW Publishing, $39.99 U.S., 288 pages), the first of a five-volume set featuring every single daily and Sunday strip, along with new — and often very humourous — observations by the creator and handy margin notes explaining references that could be dated for some readers.

The Family Circus Library Vol. 1 — 1960-61 (IDW Publishing, $39.99 U.S., 240 pages) helps 87-year-old Bil Keane, who still works on the strip with son, Jeff, mark the 50th anniversary of his timeless strip. Published to this day in a remarkable 1,500 newspapers, these first true-to-life follies of Jeffy, Dolly, Billy and their often-flustered parents (P.J. doesn’t arrive until 1962) continue to resonate strongly a half a century later.

Next year also marks the 60th anniversary of Charles Schultz’s seminal strip, Peanuts, and the comprehensive collection of the series continues in The Complete Peanuts 1971-74 (Fantagraphics Books, $49.99 U.S., 688 pages). This collection of the 11th and 12th volumes of a planned 25-book set, designed by Canadian cartoonist and designer, Seth, show Schultz’s staggering talent in the prime of his career and even introduce Linus and Lucy’s little brother, Rerun.

A retrospective view through the decades is on offer in the coffee table-sized gift book Celebrating Peanuts: 60 Years (Andrews McMeel, 534 pages, $92).

(This review first appeared in the Toronto Star)

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