It’s Only a Game
Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts, had another comic strip running from 1957-1959. It’s Only a Game focused on sports and games — often golf, bridge, and bowling, pastimes of the suburban 50s.
The strip was offered in two formats. There was a single gag panel, run three times a week, in black and white. Those comics were reprinted in 2004 in a compact paperback. As Schulz found that his workload became heavier, Jim Sasseville came on to finish the art for the comic. Sasseville provided commentary for the book (shortly before he passed).
The strip was also available, back in the day, as a three-panel color Sunday comic with the same content. That version of the formatting has been reprinted as It’s Only a Game: The Complete Color Collection. Although the book is roughly magazine-sized, it reads with the spine on top. You flip pages as though changing the month on a wall calendar.
The three-panel color comics are simply groups of three separate gags, with no connection. However, while art fans will want the black-and-white version, to avoid visual distraction from Schulz’s linework, many casual readers will enjoy seeing the comics in color. Sasseville’s comments about working on the strip have also been reprinted from the previous book.
These are time capsules at this point, since no one has a construction worker bowling league any more or bridge parties with the neighbors or coworkers who play cards over the lunch hour at work. I found it charming, a vision of a simpler life with more specifically designated roles. The figures are mostly adults, but their faces are where they look like the Peanuts gang, particularly when worrying over a call or a deal. Other topics of the gags include croquet, ping-pong, pool, football, tennis, fishing, darts, chess, and desert island horseshoes. There’s even a curling joke! (The publisher provided a review copy.)