Now that the series of books is complete, I’m starting a project I’ve been wanting to do for years: reading every Peanuts strip in order. I’ve read hundreds of them over the years, of course, and as I’ve collected the books I’ve dipped in randomly and read chunks here and there, but there’s 50 years of it, I probably haven’t read 90% of them, and never from the beginning in order.

I’ve finished most of volume one so far, and it’s already fascinating to read like this. There’s much more ongoing continuity than you would think just reading individual strips. The subtle way that Schroeder and Lucy have aged from their first appearance as babies is interesting to see. And of course it’s fun to spot things like the first time the stripe shows up on Charlie Brown’s shirt and stuff.

One of the first things to surprise me is how much I love Schroeder. He wasn’t one of my favorite characters before, I mostly remember the jokes about Lucy flirting with him and him not caring. But I love the rage he has as a baby, flying into fits when the Philistines around him just don’t appreciate art as much as he does. I identify with this very much. Haha. And as Schroeder’s love of classical music was a projection of Schulz’s own interests, it was obviously him poking fun at himself, as well.

And of course, Fantagraphic’s presentation of these books is just orgasmic. The subtle design details throughout the series, and how it’s set up for all 26 volumes to form one giant design on your shelf when you have them is amazing. Seth is a genius, of course. I just kind of stare at the books on the shelf and notice little things… The characters on the spines of the first 12 volumes are walking right to left, and then on volume 13 Charlie Brown is standing facing you, and the other half of the volumes have characters walking left to right, so the whole thing is symmetrical. Down to little details, too… Snoopy is on the spine of the sixth book from the front, Woodstock is on the sixth book from the back. Every little image across the twenty-six books is thought out like that. It’s pretty incredible.