Synopses & Reviews
Charles M. Schulz, the most widely syndicated and beloved cartoonist of all time, is also one of the least understood figures in American culture. Now acclaimed biographer David Michaelis gives us the first full-length biography of the brilliant, unseen man behind Peanuts
: at once a creation story, a portrait of a native genius, and a chronicle contrasting the private man with the central role he played in shaping the national imagination.
It is the most American of stories: How a barber's son grew up from modest beginnings to realize his dream of creating a newspaper comic strip. How he daringly chose themes never before attempted in mainstream cartoons—loneliness, isolation, melancholy, the unending search for love—always lightening the darker side with laughter and mingling the old-fashioned sweetness of childhood with a very adult and modern awareness of the bitterness of life. And how, using a lighthearted, loving touch, a crow-quill pen dipped in ink, and a cast of memorable characters, he portrayed the struggles that come with being awkward, imperfect, human.
With Peanuts, Schulz profoundly influenced America in the second half of the twentieth century. But the humorous strip was anchored in the collective experience and hardships of the artist's generation—the generation that survived the Great Depression, liberated Europe and the Pacific, and came home to build the prosperous postwar world. Michaelis masterfully weaves Schulz's story with the cartoons that are so familiar to us, revealing how so much more of his life was part of the strip than we ever knew.
Based on years of research, including exclusive interviews with the cartoonist's family, friends, and colleagues, unprecedented access to his studio and business archives, and new caches of personal letters and drawings, Schulz and Peanuts is the definitive epic biography of an American icon and the unforgettable characters he created.
"For all the joy Charlie Brown and the gang gave readers over half a century, their creator, Charles Schulz, was a profoundly unhappy man. It's widely known that he hated the name Peanuts, which was foisted on the strip by his syndicate. But Michaelis (N.C. Wyeth: A Biography), given access to family, friends and personal papers, reveals the full extent of Schulz's depression, tracing its origins in his Minnesota childhood, with parents reluctant to encourage his artistic dreams and yearbook editors who scrapped his illustrations without explanation. Nearly 250 Peanuts strips are woven into the biography, demonstrating just how much of his life story Schulz poured into the cartoon. In one sequence, Snoopy's crush on a girl dog is revealed as a barely disguised retelling of the artist's extramarital affair. Michaelis is especially strong in recounting Schulz's artistic development, teasing out the influences on his unique characterization of children. And Michaelis makes plain the full impact of Peanuts' first decades and how much it puzzled and unnerved other cartoonists. 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. 16 pages of b&w photos; 240 b&w comic strips throughout." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)"
"Michaelis...has produced a stunningly insightful and compulsively readable account." Denver Post
"It is Mr. Michaelis's achievement...that he leaves us with both a shrewd appreciation of Schulz's minimalist art and a sympathetic understanding of Schulz the man....[He] has done a fluent job of weaving the many facts and anecdotes he's collected into an engaging narrative..." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"[T]his 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. All that's needed about a prodigy of American cultural history." Kirkus Reviews
"Read David Michaelis' startling biography...and you'll never look at Good Ol' Charlie Brown in the same way....To great effect, Michaelis mixes his text with hundreds of reprinted strips, each of which drives home his points better than a full page of words could." Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Michaelis...tells this story brightly and engagingly, if not always succinctly and without repetition." Charles McGrath, The New York Times Book Review
"Anyone who grew up with Peanuts and our numbers are legion will find much satisfaction in this wonderful, honest portrait of one of America's great and fascinatingly complex artists." Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Michaelis has done a masterly job of assembling the often puzzling and even contradictory pieces of Schulz's life into a convincing whole....[I]t makes a strong argument that, like Charlie Brown, Charles Schulz deserves that highest of encomiums: a good man." San Francisco Chronicle
"Thanks to reprints in newspapers and reruns on TV, Peanuts remains as popular as ever; its many fans will be enthralled by the unexpected insight Michaelis provides into Schulz's singular accomplishment." Booklist
Charles Schulz, the most widely syndicated and beloved cartoonist of all time, is also one of the most misunderstood figures in American culture. Now, acclaimed biographer David Michaelis gives us the first full-length biography of Schulz: at once a creation story, a portrait of a hidden American genius, and a chronicle contrasting the private man with the central role he played in shaping the national imagination. 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 humour 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 post-war world.
Charles Schulz, the most widely syndicated and beloved cartoonist of all time, is also one of the most misunderstood figures in American culture. Now acclaimed biographer Michaelis delivers the first full-length biography of a hidden American genius. 130 b&w comic strips throughout. Two 16-page photo inserts.
Charles M. Schulz (1922andndash;2000) believed that the key to cartooning was to take out the extraneous details and leave in only whatandrsquo;s necessary. For 50 years, from October 2, 1950, to February 13, 2000, Schulz wrote and illustrated Peanuts, the single most popular and influential comic strip in the world. In all, 17,897 strips were published, making it andldquo;arguably the longest story ever told by one human being,andrdquo; according to Robert Thompson, professor of popular culture at Syracuse University. For Only Whatandrsquo;s Necessary: Charles M. Schulz and the Art of Peanuts, renowned designer Chip Kidd was granted unprecedented access to the extraordinary archives of the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa, California. Reproducing the best of the Peanuts newspaper strip,all shot from the original art by award-winning photographer Geoff Spear, Only Whatandrsquo;s Necessary also features exclusive, rare, and unpublished original art and developmental workandmdash;much of which has never been seen before.
At lastand#8212;a spotlight on the flesh-and-blood cartoonists whose sensibilities have helped define The New Yorker.
Available for the first time to The New Yorker
and#8217;s one million-plus readers: a volume dedicated to the individual careers of the magazineand#8217;s cartoon superstars.
Widely considered to be the pantheon of single-panel cartooning, The New Yorker cartoonistsand#8217; styles are richly varied, and their personal stories are surprising. For example, did you know that Arnie Levin is a seventy-three-year-old former Beatnik painter with a handlebar mustache and a back decorated by Japanand#8217;s foremost tattoo artists?
Gehrand#8217;s book features fascinating biographical profiles of such artists as Gahan Wilson, Sam Gross, Roz Chast, Lee Lorenz, and Edward Koren. Along with a dozen such profiles, Gehr provides a brief history of The New Yorker cartoon itself, touching on the lives and work of earlier illustrating wits, including Charles Addams, James Thurber, and William Steig.
About the Author
is a graphic designer and writer, and editor-at-large for Pantheon. A three-time Eisner Award winner, he has written and designed over a dozen books on comics including Peanuts: The Art of Charles M. Schulz
. His novels, The Cheese Monkeys
and The Learners
, were national bestsellers, as was True Prep: Itandrsquo;s a Whole New Old World
(with Lisa Birnbach). Other books include Go: A Kiddandrsquo;s Guide to Graphic Design
and the forthcoming Judge This
. He lives in New York City.
Geoff Spear is an award-winning photographer who has collaborated with Chip Kidd on over a dozen books and numerous book jackets. His compelling photographs have appeared on the cover and in the pages of TIME, Newsweek, Fortune, Entertainment Weekly, GQ, the New York Times Magazine, and many others. He lives in New York City.
Table of Contents
Foreword: View of The New Yorker from Portland, Oregon by Matt Groeningand#8195;ix
Introduction: How to Read a New Yorker Cartoonand#8195;xii
1.and#160;The Editor with a Horn: Lee Lorenzand#8195;1
2.and#160;Sex, Death, and Frogsand#8217; Legs: Sam Grossand#8195;21
3.and#160;The Exurban Everymom: Roz Chastand#8195;40
4.and#160;King of the Scrapyard: George Boothand#8195;59
5.and#160;The Beastly Beatitudes of Edward Korenand#8195;75
6.and#160;The Kansas City Curmudgeon: Charles Barsottiand#8195;94
7.and#160;Hep-Cat Cartoonist Arnie Levinand#8195;111
8.and#160;The Coupled Cosmos of Victoria Robertsand#8195;129
9.and#160;Auteur dand#8217;Horreur: Gahan Wilsonand#8195;145
10.and#160;The Belated Middle American: Jack Zieglerand#8195;162
11.and#160;Neckless: The Short, Sharp World of Zachary Kaninand#8195;181
12.and#160;The Doctor of Dots: Robert Mankoffand#8195;197