The Complete Peanuts: 1967 to 1968

By 1967, Charles Schulz's Peanuts was grossing over $20 million per year. The comic strip's ancillary products extended from animated specials to pillows to the bestseller Happiness Is a Warm Puppy. Some of this outsized success shaped the strip in these years -- the super-marketable Snoopy took over, and its seasonal rythyms became predictable: in fall, Lucy and the football inexorably yielded to the Great Pumpkin and Beethoven's birthday. But Schulz was nevertheless still a comic genius in his prime, exploring the topography of his melancholy humor and finding new ways to humiliate Charlie Brown on the baseball mound. (The best: Snoopy takes over as a manager, and proves to have a short fuse, delivering violent kicks to his underperforming players.) This ninth impeccable volume in the Peanuts collection from Fantagraphics also marks the introduction of Franklin, the strip's first African-American character, whose dad, we soon discover, is in Vietnam. Encumbered with all this baggage, Franklin never really became funny, but he nevertheless lingered in the strip's ensemble for decades. Franklin did get one great straight line early on, when he encountered Lucy's psychiatric booth for the first time, initially mistaking it for a lemonade stand. "Are you a real doctor?" he asked her. Lucy's response: "Was the lemonade ever any good?"

July 23: Jessica Mitford died on this day in 1996.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).

Watching Them Be

What makes a film actor into a larger-than-life movie star? James Harvey's passionate, freewheeling essays explain why there are some faces (from Greta Garbo's to Samuel L. Jackson's) from which we cannot look away.


What if you called up the spouse on the verge of leaving you -- and instead found yourself magically talking to his younger self, the one you first fell for?  Rainbow Rowell, author of the YA smash Eleanor & Park, delivers a sly, enchanting take on 21st-century love.