Unfortunately, for some contractual reason, the reruns of the Peanuts strip that appear in newspapers these days are limited to the 1960s or 1990s. I’ve pretty much stopped looking them. Now, if they were allowed to go back to the very beginnings of the strip, THEN I’d start reading them again.
The problem for the syndicator, from a purely marketing point of view, is that the characters were still evolving, not at all as familiar as some of them would become. The key characters in the early days were Charlie Brown; Patty, not to be confused with the much later Peppermint Patty; Shermy, who’d end up in the background by the 1960s; and Snoopy, who was seen walking more on four legs than two. Violet, who ended up in the background, too, entered some seven months later; it was she, not Lucy, who held the first football that Charlie Brown missed.
Schroeder, the piano prodigy practically from birth, and more needy than crabby Lucy were introduced as much younger characters than the other children. It was only later than the strips covered in this first volume that they, and baby Linus, aged to where we would most recognize them.
When I bought The Complete Peanuts, 1950-1952 last year, I knew that I would enjoy it. In fact, I like it more than the “classic” period of A Charlie Brown Christmas. Among other things, Charlie Brown wasn’t always so put upon. He was a bit of a scamp, who initiated mischief, compelling his friends to chase after him. He had moxie. No wonder Shermy felt as he did in the very first strip, shown below.
I recommend this book, in which we see the evolution of these beloved, and in some cases, largely forgotten, characters.