Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography review

Andrew Wheeler

Andrew Wheeler spent 16 years as a book club editor, most notably for the Science Fiction Book Club, and has been a judge for the 2005 World Fantasy Awards and the 2009 Eisner Awards. He is now Marketing Manager for John Wiley & Sons.

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10 Responses

  1. Rick Taylor says:

    Great review.It's interesting the way the way the reviewer tried to put things in context.A whole different side of a person we thought we knew.

  2. Alan Coil says:

    "Every characterization Michaelis makes about Schulz is backed up by quotes from the strip, from Schulz himself, and by friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and others."I have a problem with taking quotes from a strip as proof of anything. The job of a writer is to examine life, things, feelings, etc., and expound on them. I like dogs, but if I told the story of the dog that bit me and the dog that urinated on my leg, the reader might get the idea I didn't like dogs as much as I do.Coupled with the fact that the author didn't cover the last years of Schulz's life as in depth as the early years also is problematic to me. Perhaps Schulz just wasn't too happy in his first marriage and went through a period in life where he was less "up" than he might have been. This does not mean he was depressed. Perhaps the depression emphasized by the author reflects the slant for which the author was looking.

  3. Rick Taylor says:

    I find it more than a little strange that people are taking issue with a strip that was viewed as outwardly 'happy' and reading into the subtext that the creator might be projecting some of his own feelings into the content. Isn't that what every cartoonist does. On the other hand it wouldn't shock me entirely to discover that Schultz probably wasn't into the kind of 'pop culture shrink stuff that fills daytime TV.He was a complex guy with a complex life who may have put more than a little of it into his work.

    • Marilee J. Layman says:

      That's interesting because many of the book authors I know don't put their feelings into the content. Some feel the content writes itself.

  4. Alan Coil says:

    Well, I just finished reading the thread at Cartoon Brew. Monte Schulz lists many errors from the book that could have easily been corrected by an author who wanted to. I stand by my previous comment that the author wrote the book he set out to write. That he got paid for 6 years to write it and still came out with such a poor book is telling.The most unfortunate part of this is that the errors and lies will become truth.

  5. Monte Schulz says:

    I'd just like to respond by saying that I'd didn't miss David Michaelis's point at all with this book. It's irrelevent how many quotes David pulls out from his interviews because of whom he quotes from and, more importantly, who is left out. His omissions are conscious and deliberate. The argument he builds is basically a straw man. Everything he left out of the book would have completely changed the thrust of his narrative. He only seems to build a convincing case because few reviewers ever met my father or know much of anything about our family lives. I also find it disappointing to see those couple of factual errors I point out being referred to here and there as irrelevent, because I was limited by space to mentioning only those two, and because, with access to me, there was no reason for David to make any errors at all. Nor did I say the book was wrong from beginning to end. In fact, I'm still curious about what's factually true in the part of Dad's life that came before I was born. I do know that many of David's conclusions about Dad as a lonely child and the support he got from his parents are inconsistent and illogical (how does the loner end up being the driving force behind organizing his sandlot baseball team?). Moreover, to say that "claims that all of Schulz’s friends and family agree with him, … is just barely possible," simply avoids the truth of how this book has been received by all of us. I don't know any of us who either likes or believes in the book. So, yes, actually, David did misuse his interviews, and did manipulate quotes, and did, in fact, mischaracterize our family life — never worse than in making the argument that Dad was not an involved parent. That is absolutely untrue in any definition of an involved parent. Indeed, my relationship with him alone easily shoots down that argument, which is certainly why David left Dad and I out of the book in that context, and probably why for his six years of writing this biography kept telling me I ought to write my own memoir. But I'd be more than happy to discuss all of this with you, Andrew. Please contact me if you like.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Dear Mr.Shultz being a procrastinator by nature i missed my chance to send your father my little book with my own illustrationsIf you decide to accept it on his behalf where shall send it?SincerelyVal Papadin

  7. Bob Andelman says:

    You might enjoy this audio interview with “Schulz and Peanuts” biographer David Michaelis (with transcription).Bob AndelmanAuthorWill Eisner: A Spirited Life

  8. Bob Andelman says:

    My previous comment left out the URL for the David Michaelis audio interview:… . Sorry about that.Bob AndelmanAuthorWill Eisner: A Spirited Life

  9. Joe says:

    Although Mr Micaelis gives numerous examples of Sparky's personality disorder, he never mentions the word narcissism. There are many different flavors of narcissism, and I recognize this affliction personally and painfully. Sadly Charles Schulz was a man who found it difficult if not impossible to see things objectively. Certainly his parents played a critical role in determining his personality. I loved him, grew up with and loved "Peanuts", and hope that on some level he found true happiness.