Here Comes Charlie Brown! A Peanuts Pop-Up by Charles M. Schulz & Gene Kannenberg Jr.

I didn’t realize when I picked up this title that it isn’t so much book as objet d’art, but oh, what a lovely, accessible objet it is!

At only twelve pages, this solid little tome is a compact work of art, cramming in arguably two short essays on the subject of Charles M Schulz’s inaugural Peanuts comic strip with archival photos and a marvelous feat of paper engineering. Honestly, the entire construction of this book is a delight, from the tri-part cover designed by Chip Kidd to the carefully constructed pop-up adaptation of said first strip that constitutes the bulk of the volume.

The pop-up parts do a terrific job of making an already artistically clever comic feel even more kinetic, as Charlie Brown “walks” through the first two frames, accompanied by the commentary of two other children in his neighborhood. Well, the commentary of one other child, technically. The other bears silent, if not tacit, witness to one of the most understatedly complex ways to introduce the main character of a 1950s cartoon.

In addition to taking the liberty of reimagining these images in 3D, academic and artist Gene Kannenberg Jr has also colorized them, using era-appropriate commercial techniques that cannot help but evoke the stellar Pop Art work of Roy Lichtenstein. I’m definitely not the first person to look at the use of the Ben Day process in fine art and feel the same kind of satisfaction as I do with pointillism: having it applied here only emphasizes the nature of this book as a tidy little art piece.

Mr Kannenberg’s afterword provides welcome insight into the history of both the Peanuts strip and Mr Schulz himself. I am not a Peanuts superfan, tho I know plenty of people who are, and I found myself both enlightened and intrigued not only by that afterword but also by the carefully written back cover copy, which was head and shoulders above most commercial equivalents. Each felt like a short essay on its own, which is something I genuinely love.

My only regret is that I’ll have to hide this from my kids till they’re old enough to completely rein in their deconstructive impulses. Once that happens, this is a tome I’ll be proud to display on my coffee table for mature guests to handle and exclaim over. Definitely get this for the Peanuts aficionado in your life, or for anyone who appreciates having an accessible, inexpensive piece of art and art history to both physically interact with and admire.

Here Comes Charlie Brown! A Peanuts Pop-Up by Charles M. Schulz & Gene Kannenberg Jr. was published March 26 2024 by Abrams Comicarts and is available from all good booksellers, including

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