Brown: Beloved comic strip revived to reveal a Master
Yes, Charles Schulz is the cartooning equivalent of vanilla ice cream.
But he was also brilliant.
If you want more proof of the late cartoonist’s story-telling skills, pick up the new collection Woodstock: Master of Disguise.
As the title indicates, this book focuses on the Peanuts newspaper strips in which the tiny yellow bird looms large.
The strips are packaged along with several pages of bonus information for readers who didn’t come of age during Schulz’s heyday.
Consider it the comic version of DVD extras for a younger generation.
Sure, it’s been well-documented that Schulz — known to loved ones by the nickname “Sparky” — based Snoopy on a black-and-white dog called Spike that his family owned when he was growing up.
But did you also know that Schulz drew a total of 17,897 strips during his career?
Think about that. We will likely never see as prolific or insightful a cartoonist again.
Oh, and yes, he did name Woodstock after the famed rock festival that offered hippies three days of peace, love and music.
What I can’t resist about the interplay between Snoopy and Woodstock, who talks only in hatch marks, is how their shared bond of affection shines through.
When the bedgraggled bird flies away on one of his periodic flits away from the nest, he writes his canine pal a letter that begins, “Friend of friends . . . .”
My heart melted a little when I read that.
Let’s face it, they’re both a bit bizarre.
Snoopy fancies himself a First World War flying ace.
Woodstock has a penchant for flying upside-down and doesn’t know which way is south, which is important information if you want to migrate.
Yet they somehow see beyond each other’s imperfections.
We should all be so lucky to have even one buddy like that.
Free Press columnist Dan Brown moderates the monthly graphic-novel book club at London’s L.A. Mood comic store.