The late Charles M. Schultz created Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the Peanuts gang in his syndicated comic strip way back in 1950. Since then, Charlie Brown and company have lived many lives, popping up in just about every medium imaginable. They’ve had holiday TV specials, books, video games, musicals, had their own amusement park rides, a live action film, and albums. The rock band The Royal Guardsmen scored a hit with their 1966 single, “Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron.” Snoopy has even been the safety mascot for NASA astronauts since 1968. And these things are only the tip of the iceberg. In short, if it can be done, Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and their pals have done it. So in 2020, can there possibly be anything new to add to the Peanuts list of accomplishments?
Well, yeah, sort of. Comic book writer and novelist David C. Hayes and co-writer Michael Kary have teamed up with artist Kurt Belcher (whom Hayes has worked with on other projects, including Rottentail) to create the new Peanuts-themed whodunit, Dial P for Peanuts. The Source Point Press graphic novel’s story is intended as an homage to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, and Dial P for Peanuts is dedicated with love to both Christie and Schultz.
Hayes and his cohorts have not licensed the rights to the Peanuts characters, but they work hard here to steer clear of any legal trademark issues while making it obvious just who these characters are.
Many years have passed and the friends are now grown. As such they sometimes go by slightly different variations of the names we’re familiar with and look somewhat different.
The story goes like this: Each of the characters (who may or may not be grownup versions of our favorite Peanuts characters) receive telegrams cordially inviting them to come and stay on a remote island in the stately mansion of an extremely wealthy stranger who goes by “Mr. Iman”. (Who is this mysterious man, and why is he doing this?) This is but one of the mysteries the reunited childhood comrades will have to unravel.)
When the characters arrive at the mansion, they find their host noticeably absent. None of the old friends have seen each other in years. In the vein of And Then There Were None and many other subsequent murder mysteries, the characters will arrive one by one, reintroducing themselves to both the reader and their childhood pals. And who can blame the friends for not recognizing one other? They do, of course, look different now that they are grown (and drawn by a different artist in a slightly different style). But the gang’s all here beyond Snoopy and Woodstock, who are now long dead.
There are many surprises awaiting these old friends. Pigpen is now a cologne model. Schroeder has traded his piano for an electric guitar and now goes by the musical moniker “Shredder.” One of the gang works for the FBI, and another is a politician.
Soon the gang finds a mysterious poem promising sure death to one of them. Soon bodies start dropping and the remaining friends are tasked with trying to figure out who is behind the murders. Can they find out who the mastermind behind this diabolical game is before it’s too late?
While Dial P for Peanuts intentionally treads familiar ground, there are many new mysteries and surprises to experience within these pages. The writing is masterful and clever, and Hayes and Kary obviously had a great deal of fun writing this, and that joy is splashed on to every page.
If you’re a fan of the Peanuts characters, or you love murder mysteries, or you (especially you in this case) love both of these things, Dial P for Peanuts is for you. This silly little mashup of fun and familiar ideas and characters is absolutely magical. Highly recommended for kids of all ages.
Dial P for Peanuts is available in both physical and digital version and can be purchased in stores or directly from Source Point Press here (click link below):