Official Press Release
Charles M. Schulz is the most famous and most influentialcartoonist ever, and his Peanuts comic strips have beenreprinted in hundreds of books. Yet few people know thatduring the late 1950s, during a period of great creativity,Schulz was also doing another newspaper comics series. "It'sOnly a Game" took a look at people and their pastimes, showingus how we win, how we lose, and how we play the game. Thislong forgotten work is now being put into a book for the veryfirst time, as About Comics publishes the complete collectionIt's Only a Game.
This treasure trove of lost Schulz material is being dug up at atime when interest in Schulz is running high. Such projects asThe Complete Peanuts, Li'l Beginnings (reprinting Schulz'spre-Peanuts series "Li'l Folks"), and Peanuts: The Art ofCharles M. Schulz are focusing popular and critical attention on Schulz's work.
People who know Peanuts know that sports was a favorite topic,with Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the crew regularly involved inbaseball, football, and hockey. "It's Only a Game" was asingle-panel gag feature that covered all that and more. "Schulzfocused the comics mainly on participation sports and games, sothere are strips about bowling, bridge, and fishing, as well asthe big team sports," explains Nat Gertler, noted Schulzbibliographer and publisher of About Comics. "In fact, it'srather amazing how broad a range of topics is covered. Overthe course of 255 cartoons the series covers everything fromMonopoly to rodeo."
Fans are in for an extra treat, because "It's Only a Game"features mainly adults. Since "Peanuts", "Li'l Folks", andSchulz's illustration work focused on kids, this is a rare chanceto see his talents applied to older characters.
Schulz created the series himself and initially did all the workon it. After the series had run for a while, cartoonist JimSasseville to do the finished artwork based on Schulz's sketches. Sasseville provides the book's commentary, as well as access tosome special materials. "Working with Jim was great," explainsGertler. "Not only do we get a lot of insight into how the stripwas put together and what it was like working with Schulz, healso gave us access to some of Schulz's roughs for cartoons thatwere never used."
Schulz's widow Jean expressed her enthusiasm for this project."It is wonderful to see the entire run collected and to readJim's reminiscences. Sparky [Charles M. Schulz] spoke highlyof Jim's drawing ability and in this book I can see what hemeant." Sasseville is no less effusive about Schulz's work onthe strip, referring to him as "the best cartoonist ever," aview of Schulz that is common in the cartooning world.
Contributing an editorial hand to the book is Derrick Bang,the editor of Charles M. Schulz: 50 Years of Happiness. Derrickalso provided the acclaimed commentary for Li'l Beginnings.
It's Only a Game (ISBN 0-9716338-9-4) is a 240 page 5.5"x6.5"black and white paperback with a color cover. Priced at $14.95,it will be distributed to the comic book stores (by DiamondComics, FM International, and Cold Cut) and to the bookstores(by Diamond Book Distributors) in November. It can be found onpage 197 of the current Previews catalog.
Found in 1997, About Comics is a small publisher whose selectlist of titles are not limited by the usual categorizationsof the comics field. Working with some of the most respectednames in comics, About Comics publishes titles ranging fromtraditional superhero material to all-ages humorous graphicnovels to adult-themed prose material aimed at comics fans.For more information, go to www.AboutComics.com