Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Book Review--Schulz and Peanuts by David Michaelis

Schulz and Peanuts by David Michaelis is a biography of Charles Schulz, creator and sole artist of the Peanuts cartoon. The book takes us from his parents' backgrounds to Schulz' own death.  It opens up the clues to his life that lay hidden in plain sight, in his 50 years of drawing Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and the rest of the Peanuts gang. 

Michaelis reveals the real-life inspirations behind each Peanuts character and tells us where Schultz got some of his most famous ideas.  Charles Schulz' inner life was hidden from those closest to him, but was revealed with startling specificity within the small squares of his daily and Sunday comics; sometimes with quotes lifted directly from his real life. 

His comic strip ideas were not just "gags" but...ideas, born from his long and interesting life that spanned the better part of the 20th century.  For some unknown reason, this shy boy from the Midwest managed to keep his pulse on the feeling of America, predating many culturally iconic moments by months in his comic strip, for example, having Linus utter "All it needs is a little love" in his widly popular "Charlie Brown Christmas" prior to The Beatles' release of "All You Need is Love."

This book is well worth reading for anyone who grew up on Peanuts and for those who still enjoy Schulz' work today.

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Dymphna's favorite quotes

"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

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