Looks quite interesting
Looks quite interesting
The Rally Onion wants 150 fans before Opening Day.
He also has a book out about him
Peanuts creator Schulz led secret life of misery
By Arthur Spiegelman
Friday, October 19, 2007; 7:43 PM
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Good Grief, Charles Schulz. The creator of the beloved Peanuts comic strip was a shy, lonely man who used his child-like drawings to depict a life of deep melancholy, according to a controversial new biography.
The book is based on six years of research, unlimited access to family papers, more than 200 interviews and a close reading the 17,897 strips Schulz wrote and drew. It portrays Schulz as a man who felt unseen and unloved even if his readers numbered in the hundreds of millions.
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Biographer David Michaelis, author of "Schulz and Peanuts," said the cartoonist was also a man who could neither forget nor forgive any slight or lonely moment.
Not for a minute did he believe that "Happiness was a warm puppy" -- and he may not have believed in happiness at all.
"He thought it was impossible to draw a happy comic strip and actually he was fond of saying that 'Happiness is a sad song,"' Michaelis said in a recent interview.
The cartoonist's family says it is very unhappy with the 655-page portrait of Schulz, who died in 2000 at the age of 77, and say they do not recognize the man on display.
His son Monte Schulz told Newsweek magazine: "Why would all of us (children) gather at his bedside for three months if we hadn't felt enormous affection for him?"
"Had we known this was the book David was going to write, we would not have talked to him."
But they did talk to Michaelis and the writer stands by his findings. "Charles Schulz was a funny, warm and charming man with a great sense of calm and decency. But he also had a lifetime of being lonely, misunderstood and unhappy," he said.
FEAR OF BEING LEFT BEHIND
Michaelis says that to the day he died, Schulz could recall the terror of being separated as a boy from his mother on a crowded streetcar in his hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota.
"Schulz never stopped believing that he had been forsaken and would be left behind, that nobody cared," wrote Michaelis.
"In his work, indifference would be the dominant response to love. When his characters attempt to love, they are met not just by rejection but by ongoing, even brutal indifference -- manifested either by insensitivity or as deeply fatalistic acceptance."
All of Schulz's beloved characters -- Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy -- seem to have been torn from his life.
Michaelis says a close reading of the comic strips reveal them to be a Rosetta stone in which Schulz puts the most intimate details of his private life on display, including a romance that led to the breakup of his first marriage.
He says the bossy Lucy was inspired by his first wife, Joyce, who had no patience with his worrying and used to tell him during his bouts of melancholy, "Snap out of it."
Charlie Brown had a big head because Schulz's father continually warned him about getting a swelled head. Charlie Brown's dreams of grandeur had no place in Schulz's working class world.
As to the family's criticism of his book, a note of regret can be heard in Michaelis' voice but he says a biographer has to draw the line between different views of the subject.
"I don't think there is one version of a man's life. I interviewed a lot of people who said Charles Schulz was a humble man, a shy man, a warm man and a sweet man. But they all also said he was a complicated man. I was not out to get him, but to understand him."
Well, that describes probably 90% of law abiding male citizens...But they did talk to Michaelis and the writer stands by his findings. "Charles Schulz was a funny, warm and charming man with a great sense of calm and decency. But he also had a lifetime of being lonely, misunderstood and unhappy," he said.
This quote "Why would all of us (children) gather at his bedside for three months if we hadn't felt enormous affection for him?" seems to show a failure of understanding on behalf of his son. People's affections towards a person and that person's feelings about the world and/or himself are often at odds. I'm sure his children loved him very much. That doesn't mean he wasn't sad and lonely.
Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.
'Schulz and Peanuts' by David Michaelis
The long and (sometimes) happy life of Charles M. Schulz, creator of the iconic Charlie Brown and his pals.
By Rich Cohen
October 21, 2007
656 pp., $34.95
Back in my adolescence, whenever I came across "Peanuts," the comic strip drawn by Charles M. Schulz, in which, say, Linus was clinging to his blanket or Peppermint Patty was fighting the good fight and various characters were chiding the foibles of humanity, I would imagine raffish heroes from another, darker strip breaking through the inked borders and shooting the joint to pieces: Charlie Brown, riddled with slugs from an AK-47, collapsing on the pitcher's mound in a pool of blood; Schroeder garroted at his piano, his fingers still banging out a jazzy fugue as his tongue emerged and his face turned blue; Lucy hurled from a speeding sedan, cartwheeling into the river, her tattered dress later washing up in Secaucus.
It's not that I hated "Peanuts." Like most of us, I thought highly of Charlie Brown and Snoopy, and my room was filled with merchandise I had no memory of buying, but there was something whiny about the strip I wanted to see smashed. It had the air of a school nurse's office, where, thermometer under your tongue, you gaze at the picture of the cat clinging to a tree limb over the slogan "Hang in there, baby" or the chimp with the disgusting smile admonishing you to "Grin and bear it."
I was wrong about "Peanuts," of course. Uneducated. I was like the people who knew Elvis Presley only from the Vegas years, with the sun-god jumpsuits and swinging medallions, but had never heard "Mystery Train." I knew the "Peanuts" of "Happiness Is a Warm Puppy" and dancing Snoopy, but I knew nothing of the early years, when Charlie Brown (like Elvis) was a regional figure, a sketch as basic as Steamboat Willie: the little body with the big head, seen -- in that first strip, published in seven newspapers in 1950 -- walking down the street, as another kid says, "Good ol' Charlie Brown, yes sir! . . . " and then, "How I hate him!" That strip appeared in a world owned by Popeye, just as Elvis appeared in a world owned by "Your Hit Parade." It too changed everything. "Peanuts" is the father of "The Simpsons" and "South Park," as Elvis is the father of the Beatles and the White Stripes. They are to be honored (or blamed) for what followed.
"Schulz and Peanuts," by David Michaelis, tells the story of the cartoonist from first strip to last, capturing Schulz in all his bitter, melancholic, Midwestern glory and clearing away the decades of merchandise and clutter that surrounded him, to show us the original vision: one man's expression of longing and fear. In this sense, "Schulz and Peanuts" resembles "Last Train to Memphis," Peter Guralnick's biography of the young Elvis: That book too showed you something you thought you'd lived through and known, yet made you see it for the first time. Michaelis gives us back the skinny Elvis and, in the process, shows us how truth turns into sentiment.
Michaelis, author of a biography of illustrator N.C. Wyeth, organizes this story in the straightforward, research-heavy manner you'd expect in a book about, say, Harry Truman or Picasso, thus suggesting that "Peanuts' " creator is aptly classed with the iconic American artists. And, indeed, in his simplicity and tone, Schulz is on a continuum with Hopper and Warhol and Johns.
Charles Schulz was born and raised in Minnesota; he came from German and Norwegian stock, and there was something icy about him. His father was a barber, deft with his hands, and if there was any legacy from father to son, it was skill with the knife, the ability to do close cutting. From boyhood, Schulz loved the funny pages, and he loved to draw. He believed a person could make a career in the comics, even become rich, and he was right. After high school, he lived at home, drew pictures and sent them to newspapers, where they were almost always rejected. Then came World War II. Before he shipped out, his mother died after a long battle with cancer. Michaelis sees this as the wound that never healed -- the hurt that explains the melancholy of Charlie Brown. The death is the key, as Rosebud is the key in "Citizen Kane." In fact, among the dozens of strips in "Schulz and Peanuts," Michaelis includes several that goof on Rosebud.
Not just his mother's death but also his war experiences made Schulz a misanthrope. He led soldiers across Germany in 1945, the towns flattened, the dead everywhere. "Schulz and his squad tracked through mounds of shattered stone, hills of bricks, villages reduced to rubble, here and there a wall standing," Michaelis writes. As Schulz recalled it, "Everything was bombed out, crushed, every building shot up; bullet holes were every place."
Of course, none of this made it into the strip -- but it's there, sublimated. Knowing it, and knowing the rest of Schulz's life story, gives "Peanuts" an eerie depth: It suddenly seems hyper-modern, best read as a graphic novel about a coldhearted Minnesotan. You don't have to imagine the killers breaking into the strip; they're already there. Read before the book, the strip is the "Peanuts" of the television special; read afterward, it's a movie by David Lynch, where, in the next panel, Linus will find a severed ear in the grass behind his house.
After the war, while an instructor at a mail-order art school, Schulz worked up the characters that became the strip. These years may be imagined as a sequence of panels: the towheaded boy loping down the street with his portfolio; looking out the train window at roads crossing endless farmland, the city in the distance; showing his work in newspaper offices and being turned away. The strip was finally accepted by United Feature Syndicate. The name "Peanuts," which Schulz always hated, came from the peanut gallery on "The Howdy Doody Show"; "Snoopy" was a name favored by his mother; "Charlie Brown" was the name of a colleague at the art school who in later years tried on several occasions to kill himself.
"Peanuts" debuted on Oct. 2, 1950, and was a success from the outset. Henceforth, every step would be a step up. This was America in the boom years. Schulz was forever adding and growing: more papers, more fame, more money, a new wife, a new state -- California, where the strip (and America) went soft. "Peanuts" became a mini-industry; in the 1990s Schulz made from $26 million to $40 million a year. By the end of the book -- culminating with the last strip (it ran on Feb. 13, 2000, the day after its creator died) -- you see Schulz as one of those lucky men who could do what he loved clear to the finish. He got better at being human right up to the moment he ceased to exist, but he lost his talent as he lost his rage and became less of an artist as he became more of a person.
Michaelis captures his great gift: an uncanny ability to net profundity with seeming ease -- which reminds me of a postcard I kept in my room long after I'd put all my other Charlie Brown merchandise away. It shows Snoopy in three panels: In the first, he muses, "Descartes said, 'To do is to be' "; in the second, "Plato said, 'To be is to do' "; and in the third, "Sinatra said, 'Do be do be do.' " *
One of my favorite places to go in my job is Santa Rosa, CA. I go twice a year and, in addition to fabulous restaurants it is the former home of Charles Schultz.
Santa Rosa is a pretty town of about 75,000 located in Sonoma County. A lot of terrific restuarants, wineries and the Luther Burbank museum. Charles Schultz called it home and you can visit a 'Charlie Brown' museum. Additonally, there are statues of various 'Charlie Brown' characters scattered around town that add a whimsical touch. My favorites are around the 'Railroad Square' area.
From pain comes genius. And not many know how to articulate (express) that in a way the masses can understand and associate with it like Schultz did in such a simple manner.
Last edited by GAC; 10-24-2007 at 10:07 PM.
"panic" only comes from having real expectations
But to also label what Schultz did as sophmoric or lacking originality, simply because he could draw, is missing the point. Alot of peole can draw. I'm an amateur artist who has always been able to draw/paint. But I could never express (communicate) my feelings at a level like what a Schultz (and others) have been able to do.
Your average person can identify (associate) far more with what Schultz was attempting to portray (express) in his Peanut characters on a day-today basis then they can with the Holocaust.
"panic" only comes from having real expectations
As for the family's negative reaction to Michaelis's book, I'm not surprised by their reaction, but it also is not surprising that Michaelis depicts a person somewhat different than the husband and father they knew. Most of us do not reveal all of ourselves to others, even loved ones, and how would his children fully know what effect the death of Schultz's mother or Schultz's military service had on him? This doesn't necessarily mean that Michaelis's depiction of Schultz is spot on accurate; it just means that it shouldn't have surprised Schultz's family that Michaelis's perception of Schultz differed from theirs.
"Hey...Dad. Wanna Have A Catch?" Kevin Costner in "Field Of Dreams."
Thanks for posting this. I didn't know about it and I will now set my DVR. Schulz's kids shouldn't be surprised at how he is portrayed in this book. On a 60 Minutes interview with Schulz back in the 90's he told the interviewer,paraphrasing now, that he woke up many mornings with a great sense of doom. That should have shown anyone close to him or not that he had a lot of conflicts with himself that would cause a certain amount of depression. I think many times when children of famous people let biographers write about their parent they think it will all be roses and balloons. Often it is not and they are greatly disappointed.
Reds Fan Since 1971
It may be alright for me to criticize my parents; but for anyone else it's off limits.
Charles Schultz had a dark side. Who would have thunk it?
"panic" only comes from having real expectations
That Joey Votto is some kind of Man Candy!
"For them to boo me like that, it lets me know they dream about me at night.” -- Brandon Phillips on Cards fans.