I read the family - when they realized they hated the book - wouldn't let the publishers use Schulz's signature for the cover. Presumably Schulz's zig-zag was off-limits too.Apparently the big revelations in the book are that he had one affair during his first marriage and he was a bit aloof in his personal relationships. SHOCKING.
Michaelis will be at Olsson's Books Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. There's a blurb about the book in this week's City Paper on page 70. People get really worked up over "Peanuts." A former co-worker of mine--a very calm, thin man with one arm--berated me and nearly punched me when I said the strip went down hill in the '80s and Schultz shoulda called it quits.
I have the book sitting in my office like a ticking bomb. I've read many complaints about the book, warning readers away from the shrapnel of skewed facts and mistakes. But biographies are always subjective. I have many idols with clay feet. I just keep a broom handy to sweep out the dust. I'm looking forward to reading it. (I'm still waiting for an in-depth biography of Isaac Asimov that gets past his avuncular persona.) If the book doesn't explode in my face, I'll gladly send it your way.
Watterson liked it. Updike reviewed it in the new New Yorker, but I haven't read that review yet.
I'm also in the cheapskate category, waiting for my local library to track down a copy for me through interlibrary loan.Soon as I read it, though, I'll write something about it.
The Updike review was fairly positive, and it summarized portions of the book, so you could read that as a sort of Cliff's Notes (Updike's Notes?). Families of dead artists can be pretty good at obscuring parts of the artist's life and magnifying others. The biography probably touched on parts of Schulz's personality that his family would prefer to forget.Yoko has practically beatified John Lennon all by herself. I love Lennon's music, but he was in a rock band, not a choir.
Got my copy from Amazon today. I stopped at page 31 feeling utterly despondent. Michaelis paints such a morose and relentlessly depressing portrayal of Schulz and his family (at least his mother and her side of the family), that it's hard to slog through. One gets the feeling the author is chronicling the early life of a serial killer rather than one of America’s greatest cartoonists of the 20th century. I now understand the Schulz family’s dismay. It's rather obvious that Michaelis has a central thesis (the artist as a melancholy misfit, unable to achieve or appreciate real happiness) that he's painstakingly constructing, material to the contrary be damned. Several cartoonists have recently posted their personal stories about Schulz on the net; all show a gracious, supportive and generous man. I've no doubt that Charles Schulz had his demons; nearly all great artists do. But the demons weren’t the sum of the man. I never met Schulz, but I've read enough about him, and talked with people who did know him, to feel that this book -- at least thus far -- is doing him a rather large disservice. On a personal, and amusing, note: When discussing Garfield and Jim Davis later in the biography, Michaelis quotes from the Garfield 25th Anniversary book -- a book I co-wrote and co-edited.
I'll probably put off reading it till I've heard so much about it that reading it is no longer necessary.My only Schulz story is this; at the Reubens in '96 I stood in between him and Mort Walker for about 3 seconds. Neither of them noticed, and I kept on going, but for those three seconds the atmosphere was so charged that my hair stood on end.
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