It's Only a Game cover

It's Only a Game

Charles M. Schulz is the most famous and most influential cartoonist ever, and his Peanuts comic strips have been reprinted in hundreds of books. Yet few people know that during the late 1950s, during a period of great creativity, Schulz also produced a second newspaper comics feature. Itís Only a Game took a look at people and their pastimes, showing us how we win, how we lose, and how we play the game. This long-forgotten work has been put into a book for the very first time, in the collection, Itís Only a Game.

This treasure trove of lost Schulz material was dug up at a time when interest in Schulz was running high. It joined projects such as The Complete Peanuts, Liíl Beginnings (reprinting Schulzís pre-Peanuts series, Liíl Folks), and Peanuts: The Art of Charles M. Schulz , all of which focused popular and critical attention on Schulzís work.

People who know Peanuts know that sports was a favorite topic, with Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the gang regularly involved in baseball, football and hockey. Itís Only a Game was a single-panel gag feature that covered all that and more: bowling, fishing, golf, tennis and every recreational activity from Monopoly to rodeo. And because Schulz was an avid bridge player at the time, a good percentage of the cartoons involve that popular card game.

Schulz created the series himself and initially did all the work on it. After the series had run for awhile, cartoonist Jim Sasseville -- at the time, a professional colleague of Schulz's, who also did "ghost" work on the Peanuts material that was appearing in Dell comic books -- did the finished artwork based on Schulzís sketches. During a series of interviews with editor Derrick Bang, Sasseville chatted extensively about his work on this feature, and his comments run throughout the book. He also gave About Comics access to some special materials.

Although Sasseville died on November 30, 2005, he lived long enough to see this book completed, and share in the joy of seeing his involvement with this feature spotlighted, after nearly half a century had passed.

"Working with Jim was great," said Nat Gertler, publisher of About Comics. "Not only do we get a lot of insight into how the strip was put together and what it was like working with Schulz, he also gave us access to some of Schulzís roughs for cartoons that were never used."

Schulzís widow, Jean, expressed her enthusiasm for this project. "It is wonderful to see the entire run collected and to read Jim's reminiscences. Sparky [Charles M. Schulz] spoke highly of Jim's drawing ability, and in this book I can see what he meant."

Sasseville is no less effusive about Schulzís work on the strip, referring to him as "the best cartoonist ever."

Fans are in for an extra treat, because Itís Only a Game features mainly adults. Since Peanuts, Liíl Folks and Schulzís illustration work focused on kids, this is a rare chance to see his talents applied to older characters.

It's Only a Game features:

Some sample pages (click on each image to enlarge):

page 18 page 53 page 101 page 140


The book is available at all retail outlets, or can be ordered from

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