I'm extremely happy to present this blog's first Off Topic post. While they will be far and few between, I always wanted to consolidate past articles I've written into one permanent place, regardless of their content.
With that in mind, I now present an article I wrote back in 1997 for the Comics Buyers Guide 1. For the last 7 years it was hosted on my pal Ken Quattro's Comicartville site, a haven for wonderful comic-related articles that pre-dated the more recent blog era. I'm extremely appreciative to Ken for providing the space to me for all those years. With the recent announcement of "new" Peanuts comics being released by KaBOOM! Studios, I thought this a perfect time to dust this article off once again. I'm leaving the main text of the article intact, only making a handful of updated credits. I will use many more examples of artwork than we were able to use in the past, though.
|KaBOOM Peanuts #1 (Jan/12)|
So without further ado, I present :
|(original logo created by Ken Quattro)|
"This article below originally appeared in the November 28, 1997 issue (#1254) of the COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE on the occasion of Charles M. Schulz's 75th birthday. It was fandom's first attempt to collate all the information together about the comic book appearances of Schulz's Peanuts characters and I've left it as it was originally published except for the updated material where mentioned."
Dr. Michael J. Vassallo
|Comics Buyer's Guide #1254 (November 28, 1997)|
When Charles M. Schulz's comic strip Li'l Folks was finally accepted by United Features Syndicate, re-christened Peanuts and debuted in seven newspapers on October 2, 1950, little did he realize that from such humble beginnings would mushroom worldwide popularity and prominence over the next 50 years. Peaking in the 1960's, this wonderfully endearing slice of Americana has become an institution continuing to delight us to this date. Peanuts can honestly claim the title of the worlds most successful comic strip, producing characters that will remain on the American landscape quite possibly forever.
Much has been written about this strip: Precocious children interacting in a world where adults are never seen, the underlying level of pathos of its main hero Charlie Brown, and most phenomenally, the growth from a minor role to eventual stardom by his dog Snoopy. "Peanuts" is the template for all modern child-star comic strips that followed, up to and including today's precocious wonderkid, the almost equally phenomenal strip, the late and terribly missed, Calvin and Hobbes.
With all that said, and all that has been written about its place in comic strip history, I've seen little or no mention about Peanuts appearances in comic books.
A period of intense research has produced the following information. The earliest comic book appearances of Peanuts have a somewhat cloudy chronology and there has long been some question to its origins as I've found many factual data errors and omissions in the annual Overstreet Price Guide. Based on this fact, Overstreet mentioned appearances will be accepted but confirmation will await further discovery as I continue to locate a few remaining books. The information that follows is as up-to-date as possible.
Peanuts has been published in 4 major comic book waves summarized below :
- 1) United Feature Syndicate (U.F.S.) (1952-1954), which published a line of comics including TIP TOP, TIP TOPPER, UNITED COMICS, FRITZI RITZ, SPARKLER COMICS, SPARKLE COMICS and PEANUTS (a Comics On Parade one-shot). These were United Feature Syndicate newspaper strip reprints of early 1950's newspaper comic strips.
- 2) St. John (1955-1957), after a 7 month hiatus, followed when U.F.S. ceased publishing and continued with TIP TOP and FRITZI RITZ. These appear to be Fritzi Ritz and Nancy & Sluggo reprints from earlier U.F.S. issues.
- 3) Western, under its Dell imprint (1957-1962), after another hiatus, began the third wave with NANCY (Sept/57), then continued withTIP TOP (Nov/57), FRITZI RITZ (Dec/57), FOUR COLOR (1958), and finally PEANUTS (1960 ). This is all new material created exclusively for the comic books.
- 4) Western under its Gold Key imprint (1962-1964), which continued the numbering from the Dell title NANCY & SLUGGO and a new, re-numbered PEANUTS. Notable of these issues is the fact that they are primarily re-packaged Dell reprints.
"Peanuts" characters quietly made their comic book debut simultaneously in the Mar/Apr, 1952 issues of TIP TOP COMICS #173 and UNITED COMICS #21. These appearances were not mentioned in Overstreet back in 1997 and discovered by myself. Timeline research, through an exhaustive search of all United Features Syndicate contemporaneous titles and issues, has placed TIP TOP COMICS #173 and UNITED COMICS #21 as the earliest "Peanuts" appearances, chronologically pre-dating all other appearances.
|United Comics #21 (Mar-Apr/52) Peanuts debut|
|Tip Top Comics #173 (Mar-Apr/52) Peanuts debut|
The Peanuts appearance history in TIP TOP COMICS begins haphazardly. I've established #173 as co-debut and confirmed that #174-183 do not feature Peanuts. #184-188 do feature Peanuts and complete United Features Syndicate's run of the title, including adorable covers to #185-188. St. John's entire Tip Top run features Peanuts from #189-210 and Dell's run from 211-225 likewise.
|Tip Top Comics #185 (Mar-Apr/54)|
|Tip Top Comics #186 (May-June/54)|
|Tip Top Comics #187 (July-Aug54)|
|Tip Top Comics #188 (Sept-Oct/54)|
UNITED COMICS (starring Fritzi Ritz) and FRITZI RITZ were two intertwined titles that presented comic strip characters owned by United Feature Syndicate, most notably Ernie Bushmiller's Fritzi Ritz, a leggy "good-girl art" humor character who happened to be the aunt of Nancy of Nancy and Sluggo fame.
UNITED COMICS was published in its entirety by United Feature Syndicate while FRITZI RITZ had #1-36 published by United Features Syndicate, #37-55 by St. John, and # 56-59 by Dell. The exact publishing chronology of these two titles, with their Peanuts appearances, is the following:
UNITED COMICS Vol 1, #1 (Aug/40) [one-shot]
FRITZI RITZ #1-7 (1948-49) Pre-dates Peanuts
UNITED COMICS #8-26 (1950-53) Peanuts in #21-26
FRITZI RITZ #27-59 (1953-58) Peanuts in UFS #27-33, St. John #37-49, Dell #57-59
The Overstreet Guide misses UNITED COMICS Peanuts appearances in issue #21 to this day (15 years after this article first saw print). The St. John issues are reprinted material from earlier United Features Syndicate United Comics and Fritzi Ritz issues. Dell Fritzi Ritz #56 is the only Dell issue missing Peanuts.
The Dell issues #57,58,& 59, contrary to all the earlier issues, and similar to the Dell TIP TOP issues mentioned above, have new material exclusively created for comic books. Again, story art is not by Charles Schulz. Each of these issues have a single 4-page story.
|United Comics #1 (Aug/40) one-shot (pre-dates Peanuts)|
|Fritzi Ritz #44 (July/56) [St. John] (Peanuts)|
As can be seen above in the St. John Fritzi Ritz #44 (July/56), contemporary racial stereotyping can be found even in post-code comics aimed at the youngest segment of the comic reading audience.
Historically, collectors looking for Peanuts in comic books faced an arduous task as the feature appeared haphazardly without any real pattern or sequence.
The next title where Peanuts appeared was TIP TOPPER COMICS, published by United Feature Syndicate and running 28 issues from 1949-54, comprising more United Feature Syndicate newspaper comic strip characters including Li'l Abner, Abbie & Slats,Fritzi Ritz, Curley Kayoe and Peanuts in issues #16-22, 24-28. The Peanuts are newspaper strip reprints and are 4-panel dailys and/or Sundays over two pages.
|Tip Topper #2 (Dec-Jan/50) pre-dates Peanuts|
|Tip Topper #1 (Oct-Nov/49) pre-dates Peanuts|
|Tip Topper #26 (Dec-Jan/54) Peanuts|
|Tip Topper #27 (Feb-Mar/54) Peanuts|
There are a couple of additional Peanuts strip appearances. United Features Syndicate's Sparkle Comics ran 33 issues from 1948 to 1954. The very last issue, #33 (Feb-Mar/54) had Peanuts. Could there be Peanuts is earlier issues not known about? I think yes as I've not looked in all the issues.
|Sparkle Comics #33 (Feb-Mar/54) Peanuts|
|Sparkle Comics #33 Peanuts p.2|
|Sparkle Comics #33 Peanuts p.1|
United Features Syndicate's Sparkler Comics ran two volumes. The first volume ran only two issues in 1940. Volume two ran 120 issues to cover date Oct-Nov/54. Two issues are known to contain Peanuts, #115 (Jan-Feb/54) and #120, (Oct-Nov/54). There could be others.
|Sparkler Comics #115 (Jan-Feb/54) "Peanuts"|
|Sparkler Comics #120 (Oct-Nov/54) "Peanuts"|
Nancy and Sluggo had two separate runs. The first ran #16 (#1) - 23 from 1949 to 1954 by United Features Syndicate. The second continued the numbering from Sparkler Comics above running from #121-145, published by St. John. Issue #142 (Mar/55) contains Peanuts. As with Sparkler Comics and Sparkle Comics above, there could be additional Peanuts here in issues not seen.
Nancy will continue being published by Dell starting with #146 (Sept/57) to #173, then changes back to Nancy and Sluggo #174 to #187 (Apr/62) and then published by Gold Key #188-192. All these issues have new Peanuts material created especially for the comic books not by Charles Schulz, with "one" exception I will show below.
|Nancy and Sluggo #142 (Mar/57) "Peanuts"|
And finally, finishing out the early United Features Syndicate and St. John reprints of Peanuts newspaper strips is a real unique one-shot simply titled PEANUTS, although the indicia states Peanuts No.1, Comics on Parade. The date of this book appears to be from 1953-54 and contained strip reprints such as Willie, Ferdinand, and Strange As It Seems, as well as the earliest Peanuts strip reprints I've ever seen in a comic book, from the dawn of the strip perhaps in late 1950, early 1951.The material is copyrighted up to 1953 by United Feature Syndicate. My guess is that it just pre-dated TIP TOP #184 and FRITZI RITZ #32 (both Jan/Feb, 1954) and followed TIP TOPPER #26 Dec/Jan, 1953, the final TIP TOPPER appearance. Any other suggestions are welcome. The cover below is a rarely seen slice of Peanuts wonderment by Charles M. Schulz.
|Peanuts No.1 (1953?-54?) cover by Charles M. Schulz|
When Dell took over publishing NANCY COMICS in 1957 from St. John, Peanuts appeared in the entire run from #146-187 (1957-62), with Gold Key publishing the last five issues #188-192 (1962-63). These Dell issues again, with a single exception, were not drawn by Charles Schulz. All consisted of four-page, self- contained gag stories.
As mentioned above, NANCY COMICS began as SPARKLER COMICS, running120 issues from 1941-55. It featured the first appearance of "Sparkman" as well as more United Feature Syndicate characters such as Burne Hogarth's Tarzan, The Captain and the Kids, Ella Cinders, Danny Dingle, Frankie Doodle, Abbie and Slats, Broncho Bill, Li'l Abner, Fearless Fosdick and Nancy by Ernie Bushmiller. The title became NANCY with issue #121 in 1955, occasionally titled NANCY & SLUGGO throughout the run.
|Nancy #146 (Sept/57) "Peanuts"|
Researching this article made it obvious, as mentioned, that the long multi-paged "Peanuts" stories found in the Dell issues of FOUR COLOR, PEANUTS, NANCY, TIP TOP & FRITZI RITZ (as well as the reprinted Gold Key stories) had been drawn by someone other than "ol Sparky" himself, Peanuts creater Charles M. Schulz. Upon reviewing these stories one could see this, as some stories have backgrounds that don't appear as if drawn by Schulz. Also, occasionally actions and dialogue in these extended stories appear slightly "out of character" if you will, compared to their newspaper counterparts.
I've always been under the impression that Charles M. Schulz always drew and directly supervised all aspects of his strip and characters, so this was something of a surprise. From a variety of sources, I learned that these DELL issues were produced by a crew of artists working for Schulz and who did advertising artwork for him. The main artist was Dale Hale. This information has been confirmed for me by the late comic strip art collector/historian/agent Mark J. Cohen, who was gracious enough to ask Charles M. Schulz over dinner about his contribution to those Dell issues. Mr. Schulz enumerated that he did the very first one himself with Jim Sasseville doing the next few and Dale Hale doing all the rest. In fact, Sasseville was working with Schulz between 1957 and 1959 on a single-panel sports cartoon feature titled "It's Only a Game" that ran three times a week. It was cancelled after 63 weeks in 1959.
Schulz's claim to have drawn the first issue was not clear to me. Chronologically, NANCY #146 (Sept/57) is the first Dell appearance of Peanuts. The first FOUR COLOR Peanuts issue,#878, appeared cover dated in 1958. Going back to examine all these issues one at a time has led me to believe that Schulz was right on the money. NANCY #146 really looks like Schulz's work. #147 definitely is not Schulz but #148 may be . Nothing else . FOUR COLOR #878 (1958) likewise is not, nor are any other Dell or Gold Key issues.
Of major note also is that much of the non-Peanuts material in Nancy was written by John Stanley, who also introduced Oona Goosepimple into the series.
|Peanuts in Nancy #146 (Sept/57) p.1 of 4 ; Art by Charles M. Schulz|
Timely artist David Gantz has related in a recent interview that he wrote one Dell issue for Schulz (see ALTER EGO #13, Mar/02). Gantz's memory is spotty here as he incorrectly mentions Schulz doing all the rest himself. Additionally, continued research by Derrick Bang has revealed that Jim Sasseville was actually the first artist to follow Schulz on the DELL issues, and drew the Peanuts stories in NANCY #149-168, FRITZI RITZ #57-59, TIP TOP #211-215 as well as FOUR COLOR #878 and parts of #969 (see the Feb 8, 2002 issue of CBG for full details). Bang also postulates Tony Pocrnick, a Schulz associate, possibly following Dale Hale on a handful of late Dell issues. Note also that Dale Hale, who did the bulk of the Dell run, was interviewed by Nat Gertler in HOGAN'S ALLEY #8 (Fall/2000) where he relates even more details about his contributions to the Dell Peanuts appearances : http://www.aaugh.com/guide/ldale.htm
All new data on the early Peanuts appearances have been uncovered and tallied at Nat Gertler's wonderful AAUGH.com website on our Peanuts Stories in Comic Books page : http://www.aaugh.com/guide/pcb.htm
(With the more recent addition to the list of NANCY #142 and SPARKLE COMICS # 33 and SPARKLER #115 and 120).
After a seeming Schulz drawn test-run in NANCY #146, Dell releases a series of three Peanuts issues in their Four-Color series. They are #878, #969 and #1015. These will immediately be followed by the continuation of the series now called PEANUTS and numbered #4-13 (1960-62)
All these covers are beautiful wonderlands of intense and bright colored backgrounds with large signed simple Schulz drawings of Charlie Brown and Snoopy on every cover. I once owned a copy of the debut 4-color issue below that someone had drawn glasses and an angry face over Charlie Brown in ballpoint ink. It scared the hell out of my then 3 year old daughter Michelle who adored the Peanuts characters in their animated cartoons on television! Now 20, she still remembers it!
|Four Color #878 (Peanuts #1) (1958)|
|Four Color #969 (Peanuts #2) (1958)|
|Four Color #1015 (Peanuts #3) (Aug-Oct/59)|
|Peanuts #4 (Feb-Mar/60)|
|Peanuts #5 (May-July/60)|
|Peanuts #6 (Aug-Oct/60)|
|Peanuts #7 (Nov-Jan/61)|
|Peanuts #8 (Feb-Apr/61)|
|Peanuts #9 (May-July/61)|
|Peanuts #10 (Oct/61)|
|Peanuts #11 (Nov-Jan/62)|
|Peanuts #12 (Feb-Apr/62)|
|Peanuts #13 (May-July/62)|
The stories in these issues vary in length , some up to 8 pages long. A peculiar anomoly should be noted about PEANUTS issues #4-13. The back covers seem to exist in two variants. One is simply a full page advertisement for candy, breakfast cereal or children's toy, but the other is a full page Peanuts gag strip similar to those found on the inside front or inside back covers. Both variants are of the same printing. This was a common occurrence in all Dell issues published from mid 1956 on. Not having both types to compare, I don't know whether the Peanuts back cover actually has an additional page of Peanuts material or not. I'll post what I have and if anyone can compare to theirs and give me feedback, I'd appreciate it greatly.
|Four Color #878 (Peanuts #1) (1958) [back cover]|
|Four Color #979 (Peanuts #2) (1958) [back cover]|
|Four Color #1015 (Peanuts #3) (Aug-Oct/59) [back cover]|
|Peanuts #4 (Feb-Apr/60) [back cover]|
|Peanuts #8 (Feb-Apr/61) [back cover]|
Ok, it's not Peanuts but I love old cereal ads! Anybody remember what Twinkles tasted like?
|Peanuts #9 (May-July/61) [back cover]|
And remember when kids could buy BB rifles through the mail from a comic book ad?
|Peanuts #10 (Oct/61) [back cover]|
|Peanuts #13 (May-July/62) [back cover]|
The Dell issues of Tip Top Comics ran 15 issues from #211 (Nov/Jan/58) to #225 (May-July/61) before the axe fell. The entire run consisted of just three main features : Nancy & Sluggo, Peanuts and The Captain and the Kids. Peanuts was usually an 8 page story in the middle of the book. All the covers were vignette covers so Peanuts appeared on all 15 covers as one of three small cover depictions per issue.
Here is the debut Dell Tip Top issue, #211 (Nov-Jan/58) :
|Tip Top Comics #211 (Nov-Jan/58) ; "Peanuts"|
Followed by the last issue of this long-running comic book series, #225 (May-July/61) :
|Tip Top Comics #225 (May-July/61)|
I'm also going to present "all" the cropped Peanuts cover scenes from all 15 Dell Tip Top issues:
|Tip Top #211|
|Tip Top #212|
|Tip Top #213|
|Tip Top #218|
|Tip Top #224|
|Tip Top #225|
The final Dell title to examine is the 4 issue run of Fritzi Ritz, #56 (Dec-Feb/58) to #59 (Sept-Nov/58). Peanuts can be found in #57,58,59 and run a total of one 4-page story per issue.
|Fritzi Ritz #56 (Dec-Feb/58) ; no Peanuts|
|Fritzi Ritz #57 (Mar-May/58) ; "Peanuts"|
|Fritzi Ritz #57 (June-Aug/58) ; "Peanuts"|
|Fritzi Ritz #59 (Sept-Nov/58) ; "Peanuts"|
One nice feature of the Gold Key PEANUTS (1-4) and NANCY and SLUGGO (188-192) issues are the fact that the back covers are pin-ups of the front covers minus the title and copy, which gives these books a very neat "wrap-around cover" appearance. John Stanley scripted the Nancy stories and we will see the appearance of Stanley's Oona Goosepimple in the Gold Key issues below. The artwork is Dan Gormley.
|Peanuts #1 (Gold Key) (May/63)|
|Peanuts #2 (Gold Key) (Aug/63)|
|Peanuts #3 (Gold Key) (Nov/63)|
|Peanuts #4 (Gold Key) (Feb/64)|
|Nancy and Sluggo #188 (Gold Key) (May/63)|
|Nancy and Sluggo #189 (Gold Key) (Oct/62)|
|Nancy and Sluggo #190 (Gold Key) (Apr/63)|
|Nancy and Sluggo #191 (Gold Key) (July/63)|
|Nancy and Sluggo #192 (Gold Key) (Oct/63)|
|United Comics #1 (one-shot) (Aug/40)|
- UNITED COMICS 21,22,23,24,25,26 1952 6 issues
- TIP TOP 173,184-225 1952-61 43 issues
- TIP TOPPER 16-22,24-28 1952-54 12 issues
- FRITZI RITZ 27-33, 37-49,57-59 1953-58 23 issues
- PEANUTS 1 1953/54 ? 1 issue
- SPARKLE COMICS 33 1954 1 issue
- SPARKLER 115,120 1954 2 issues
- NANCY 142,146-192 1957-63 48 issues
- FOUR COLOR 878,969,1015 1958-59 3 issues
- PEANUTS 4-13 1960-62 10 issues
- PEANUTS 1-4 1963-64 4 issues
- TIP TOP #173 (Mar/Apr) 1952, UNITED COMICS #21 (Mar/Apr) 1952
- TIP TOPPER #16 (Apr/May) 1952
- UNITED COMICS #22 (May/June) 1952
- TIP TOPPER #17 (June/July) 1952
- UNITED COMICS #23 (July/Aug) 1952
- TIP TOPPER #18 (Aug/Sept) 1952
- UNITED COMICS #24 (Sept/Oct) 1952
- TIP TOPPER #19 (Oct/Nov) 1952
- UNITED COMICS #25 (Nov/Dec) 1952
- TIP TOPPER #20 (Dec/Jan) 1952/53
- UNITED COMICS #26 (Jan/Feb) 1953
- TIP TOPPER #21 (Feb/Mar) 1953
- FRITZI RITZ #27 (Mar/Apr) 1953
- TIP TOPPER #22 (Apr/May) 1953
- FRITZI RITZ #28 (May/June) 1953
- FRITZI RITZ #29 (July/Aug) 1953
- TIP TOPPER #24 (Aug/Sept) 1953
- FRITZI RITZ #30 (Sept/Oct) 1953
- TIP TOPPER #25 (Oct/Nov) 1953
- FRITZI RITZ #31 (Nov/Dec) 1953
- PEANUTS (one-shot) #1 ??????? 1953/54
- TIP TOPPER #26 (Dec/Jan) 1953/54
- FRITZI RITZ #32 (Jan/Feb) 1954, TIP TOP #184 (Jan/Feb), SPARKLER #115 (Jan/Feb)
- TIP TOPPER #27 (Feb/Mar) 1954, SPARKLE #33 (Feb/Mar) 1954
- FRITZI RITZ #33 (Mar/Apr) 1954, TIP TOP #185 (Mar/Apr) 1954
- TIP TOPPER #28 (Apr/May) 1954
- TIP TOP #186 (May/June) 1954
- TIP TOP #187 (July/Aug) 1954
- TIP TOP #188 (Sept/Oct) 1954
- SPARKLER COMICS #120 (Oct/Nov) 1954
- All images above are scanned from my own personal collection except for : Tip Top #186, Nancy and Sluggo #142, Sparkler Comics #115, #120.
- Peanuts Stories in Comic Books by Nat Gertler and Dr. Michael J. Vassallo : http://aaugh.com/guide/pcb.htm
- An Interview with Dale Hale : http://aaugh.com/guide/ldale.htm
- Nancy and Sluggo #142 cover image is from the GCD : http://www.comics.org/
- Sparkler Comics #115, 120 cover image is from http://www.comicvine.com
- Vassallo, Michael J., Peanuts: A Comic Book History, Comics Buyer's Guide #1254, November 28, 1997, Krause Publications, Inc., Pages 60-62.