The son of a barber, Schulz was born in Minnesota to modest, working class roots. In 1943, just three days after his mother's tragic death from cancer, Schulz, a private in the army, shipped out for boot camp and the war in Europe. The sense of shock and separation never left him. And these early experiences would shape his entire life.
With Peanuts, Schulz embedded adult ideas in a world of small children to remind the reader that character flaws and childhood wounds are with us always. It was the central truth of his own life, that as the adults we've become and as the children we always will be, we can free ourselves, if only we can see the humor in the predicaments of funny-looking kids. Schulz's Peanuts profoundly influenced the country in the second half of the 20th century. But the strip was anchored in the collective experience and hardships of Schulz's generation: the generation that survived the Great Depression and liberated Europe and the Pacific and came home to build the postwar world.
Michaelis brilliantly weaves Schulz's story with the cartoons that are so familiar to us, revealing a man we've never fully known and shedding new light on a touchstone of American life.
©2007 David Michaelis; (P)2007 HarperCollins Publishers
"This is a fascinating account of an artist who devoted his life to his work in the painful belief that it was all he had." (Publishers Weekly)
"This fine, exhaustive text is well-organized and knowledgeable....Michaelis offers considerable insight into the semiotics of comics and the psyche of a master of the craft." (Kirkus Reviews)
This seemed to me to be a fair and overwhelmingly positive portrait of Schulz. I'm not sure what his kids are upset about--so Dad was generally melancholy and a bit removed. What do they think made him a cartoon genius? And his love for them and for his wives is also quite palpable. The stories about where all the ideas and characters for Peanuts came from are quite entertaining. The story of A Charlie Brown Christmas alone is quite revealing. I was rather disappointed not to hear a bit more about the business end of things--how Peanuts became an industry and how Schultz's characters wound up selling snack cakes and life insurance and all that. There's an amazing business story that's not told here, and the author suggests that that's because Schultz himself sort of let it happen via his surrogates rather than directing it himself. But that seems a bit of a copout. On the other hand, the book is quite long enough, there's no real dross here, so I can't complain too much. Recommended.
Although this biography is fascinating, there is too much of a focus on the gruesome cancer Schulz's mother had and too much pseudo psychiatry about him being the loner type.
It was great to hear how he developed his cartooning craft and how sheer persistence helped him win through.
When reading the Peanuts cartoons, I often wondered if the characters were in any way developed from children or people Mr. Schulz knew.
It was interesting to learn they were so interrelated with Mr. Schulz' own family and friends.
It was also interesting to read about Mr. Schulz' life.
I did not know much about Charles Schulz...and at times reading this book I felt like I was learning too much. I knew Charles Schulz created Peanuts and Snoopy. I grew up with them. The world grew up with them. I believe Snoopy and Charlie Brown were the first characters I tried to copy as a boy. I loved the seasonal T.V. Specials and waited for each one...They were important and not to be missed. This book showed me a side of Charles Schulz I had not expected....He had flaws, and fears, and sadness and tragedies. I think America always knew that there was a lot of Charles Schulz in Charlie Brown...but there was so much more that we didn't know. I didn't know he was an honored WWII combat veteran. I didn't know that he and his parents were so emotionally stoic. I didn't know how his mother had died...which explains some of his later struggles...All of these things bothered me a great deal because to me it makes Peanuts seem a lot sadder. Despite the not so comfortable reality of Charles Schulz's life he managed to create something consistently that the world adored. I am amazed and saddened to know that his life was not all smiles and warm puppies at supper time. I am equally amazed at his astounding good luck. It seems that some of his greatest successes came about almost by chance. I was glad near the end that Charles found happiness and then saddened again at the nature of his passing. Just like Charlie Brown, who never, ever got to kick that football.
? have you seen (CS) charles schulz's charlie brown christmas special
? did you ever wonder where the "peanuts" comic strip came from
? did some of charlie brown's comical woes touch your soul
david michaelis has a more than insightful story for you to explore
the "peanuts" comic strip was a daily part of my youth in the 1960's
the play "you're a good man charlie brown" had a 1,500 show run off broadway
the strip was a highly autobiographical account of CS's youth and adulthood
his intelligent, introspective and misanthropic style permeated each story
CS's mother and first wife became the basis for lucy and other females
graphic novels and storytelling seem to be the rage these days
strips like "peanuts" seem quant and almost stodgy by comparison
but knowing CS's back story made the comic strip come alive for me
CS mined the misery and confusion of his youth for veins of comic gold
later, the strip's simple style made it a safe venue to discuss hard problems
i see it now, as a loving guide to adult life for the introspective child
A somewhat dry biography, this book gives the reader amazing insight into the eccentric Schultz. If you are a 'Peanuts' fan then you will appreciate learning how the strip's characters came to be and why they act they way that they do.
Die-Hard Cubs Fan
Engaging backstory tale.
Most interesting was history of his breaking into the business. Least interesting was repetitive commentary of how the strip never reflected Schulz's life (when it clearly did).
Narration was superb (is it just me or does Graham sound an awful lot like Charlie Brown should?).
Worst reaction was how sick and tired I got of Schulz whining about how nobody loved him, what a clear womanizer he seemed to be (at least mentally), and how all he needed was a break. Very disillusioning. I now have to work to forget that to enjoy these classic characters I (used to?) love.
It's an amazing thing to read or listen to a well written biography of one of your heroes. For all of my life, since my grandmother first got me a Charlie Brown painting as a child, I have followed the characters of Charles M. Schulz. For some reason I identified with those characters. They were special to me, and so was the man behind them.
David Michaelis' "Schulz and Peanuts," gave me a look at the man I admired, a complete look: the good, the bad and the ugly, if you will, that all of us have in our lives. This look, while not always pretty, gave me what I believe is an insight into why Sparky and his characters spoke to me as they have for almost 50 years.
Just like the man who is the subject of this wonderful book, the book itself may not be perfect, and that's ok. I think Michaelis did an outstanding job I giving a complete look at Sparky and his life, and really that's all you can ask for. Holter Graham's reading and interpretation was excellent and enjoyable.
I would recommend this book to anyone who ever felt a connection to that "round headed kid," or read Peanuts and thought "wow, there's more to this than just a cartoon." In the end, I felt that Charles Schulz was truly remarkable and just like all of us, all at the same time.
I enjoyed every chapter of the book. from beginning to the end.
There were a lot of memorable moments. I liked to hear about his childhood and and his pitching Peanuts to the syndicates. The last days of his life were very sad.
Holter Graham did a fantastic job
I choked up towards the end
Being a cartoonist myself, Charles Schulz has been an inspration my whole life. This book was well written. It gave me great Insight to this man and the strip I've adored all my life.
"Are you a good man Charles Schulz ?"
Yes, this is a very interesting audio-book but you really need to be into Peanuts to like it. Despite Sparky Schulz' great achievement of 50 years of Peanuts his life is not so spectacular. Of course: he spent most of his time at the drawing board. However, it's fascinating to understand the deeper meaning of the strip, of finding out how he came up with his ideas and characters. The book manages a good mix between Schulz' life and the coming to life of his characters. It surely is no adventure story, but an insight into the life of one the world's greatest comic artists.
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