Saturday, June 9, 2012

Saturday rerun: Peanuts Envy

One can always learn something from a book, with the sole exception of calculus textbooks. But I'm glad and sad about having finished Schultz and Peanuts by David Michaelis. Glad, because I loved Peanuts in its golden heydays of the 50s and 60s, but sad because it turns out that, at least in the eye of the biographer, Charles Schulz, the genius who gave us 17,000+ daily and Sunday Peanuts strips, also was a bit of an odd duck. He was one of those people who demanded a lot of approval and sought it by downgrading himself, so that others would rush to fill the emotional vacuum with words of praise. He was also very harsh in criticizing other cartoonists, and even took Lynn Johnston to task for having her "For Better or For Worse" age its characters and have a beloved family dog die. For someone who preached clean living and so forth, he had several affairs with young women before the breakup of his first marriage.

And he did not like children...his own (5) or anyone else's. It wasn't like he went around throwing things at kids or anything; he just felt uncomfortable around them and found it difficult to converse with them. This, from a guy who, again, cranked out 17,000 and some-odd cartoons populated entirely by kids. You would think that he would be just like a big kid himself, but no! He was like a big adult who lost himself in his art and relived certain aspects of his childhood that he wished could have gone better.

Parenthetically, does anyone else remember seeing this in Parade magazine in early 1986?

L.A. of B'more got all confused. That was the same year that someone wrote to Parade magazine to ask how the Smothers Brothers could get away with calling Ronald Reagan "a known heterosexual" on TV. No wonder Stewie disdains Parade magazine.

Schulz was a genius, I feel, in that he changed comic strips from the cheap laffs and sight gags and made them far more cerebral than The Katzenjammer Kids, say. Whatever turmoil existed within him is more his business than mine; that's why I sort of wish I hadn't read the book. Perhaps I should have gone with an anthology of the strip itself, in which the reader will find gems like this one from October, 1969:

1 comment:

splendid said...

I think that is something that only comes with age~ the realization that knowledge is not always best ~ sometimes ignorance really is bliss!