Obama's Peanuts: President writes foreword to Charles Schulz anthology

The US leader has taken a break from being a world statesman to pay tribute in prose to ‘an American treasure’

Charlie Brown and Snoopy have found a high-profile supporter in Barack Obama, who has taken a break from running the US to write the foreword to a new volume collecting what the president called an “American treasure”.

Out in May from Seattle-based independent publisher Fantagraphics Books, and in April from Canongate in the UK, the volume will be the 25th in a series that has brought together all of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts strips. Previous introductions have been contributed by names from Jonathan Franzen to The Simpsons’ Matt Groening and Schulz’s long-time friend, the tennis star Billie Jean King.

Fantagraphics decided to “reach for the stars” for the volume covering 1 January 1999 to 13 February 2000, when the final Peanuts strip was published the day after Schulz’s death, president Gary Groth told the New York Times.

“Obama was inevitably at the top of the list,” Groth told the paper. “Let’s just reach for the stars. All he can do is say no … It was a great day when we got the word that he agreed do it.” He added that it had been “great to tell the president, ‘We need it by this date. Don’t be late.’”

“Like millions of Americans, I grew up with Peanuts. But I never outgrew it,” writes Obama in the foreword. “For decades, Peanuts was our own daily security blanket. That’s what makes Peanuts an American treasure.”

Obama called the Fantagraphics series, which has reprinted each of the 18,000-odd strips created by Schulz between 1950 and 2000, “groundbreaking”.

“In his final strip, Charles Schulz wondered how he could ever forget the Peanuts gang,” he writes. “Thanks to this groundbreaking series of books … the rest of us never will.”

Canongate said that the 25th volume sees Rerun “take centre stage and cement himself as the last great Peanuts character”. The book will also include the weekly one-panel comic Li’l Folks, which Schulz wrote between 1947 and 1950. Fantagraphics said Li’l Folks was “the creative precursor” to Peanuts, “and its inclusion in volume 25 brings The Complete Peanuts full circle”.

A 26th volume in the bestselling series will be published in October, which will collect together Schulz’s non-strip related Peanuts art, with an afterword from his widow, Jean Schulz.


Alison Flood

The GuardianTramp

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