October 8, 2007

"A depressed, cold and bitter man who was constantly going after different women."

That would be Charles Schulz, according to a new biography (which his kids are upset about). Oh, good grief, what do you expect from a cartoonist? Of course, the guy is going to be depressed and bitter. That's comics, isn't it?


rhhardin said...

Charlie Brown appearing on an oversized keychain tag in 1975 :

``I've made an interesting theological discovery.

If you hold your hands upside-down when you pray, you get the opposite of what you pray for.''

angie said...

It's all sounding like a shaggy beagle joke many of us live with our old uncles or parents. There's never anything actually funny about it, even as you're sure the dirty old man behavior and convulated values are a cosmic joke.

B said...

Even the best biographies - and it is already evident that this one will never be considered "the best" on Charles Schulz - can only give a partial view of the complexities in any life. The wise among us take it for whatever value it might provide, blow away most of it like chaff, and move on to await further enlightening on the subject.

I often hear the remark that we are in a more polarized America. I'm not certain that's true. I believe that we Americans have always had our pet prejudices. Political correctness has simply dictated over the generations that we publicly do away with some and replace them with others.

When I hear the phrase, "the good old days", most of my generation are referring to the "Leave it to Beaver" Eisenhower days. But I have always shuddered at the thought of returning to that time period. While life was certainly "simpler" it certainly wasn't the good old days for blacks and many other minority groups in America.

That said, the pendulum swing that feeds the appetite for gossip - especially the idea that there are no really "good" people, just good sscret keepers - does as much damage to our national fabric today as sanctioned racial prejudices did in our past.

ricpic said...

There were a million depressives out there. How many created Peanuts? One. Charles Schulz. That's what counts.

rcocean said...

I wonder why these families never "get" it. Authors are out to sell sell books, which means stressing the negative.

People will read a book about how terrible Bing Crosby was, or how Charles Schultz was a mean, dirty ol' man. Very few want to read a nice boring book about a wonderful, nice guy, who drew cartoons. Unless he hated Republicans.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

It does help explain the quixotic quest for the little red-haired girl.

rcocean said...

My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I'm Happy. I can't figure it out. What am I doing right?.

Yesterday I was a dog. Today I'm a dog. Tomorrow I'll probably still be a dog. Sigh! There's so little hope for advancement.

AlphaLiberal said...

I found the phrase "going after women" vague and nondesceriptive.

Was he always bedding women or always trying? Or was he yelling at them a lot? There's a difference.

rcocean said...

"I found the phrase "going after women" vague and nondesceriptive."

Wink,wink,nudge,nudge, say no more.

Maxine Weiss said...

"quixotic quest"---Ruth Anne

By the way, Quixo says hello.

Quixo would like to ask Althouse if he may return.

Both Reality Check, and Quixo would like to reenter the fold.

John Stodder said...

The article leaves the "going after women" topic vague.

However, I am led to believe there really was a "little red-haired girl."

Other than that...this is a surprise? If you only read the cartoons, you are immersed in the language of pain, humiliation, boredom and escapism. That's why the cartoons are so universal, why I devoured them as a child, why my son devours them 40 years later, and why I read the classic cartoons even today and can hardly put them down. The Complete Peanuts series, which my son has been collecting, is a brilliant as any literature I own. To take this material and make it consistently funny and inventive is a timeless achievement.

I think Charles M. Schulz was as good a man as he could be, and tried very hard to be kind and generous, despite his depression. I think he was a hero whose real self doesn't need to be soft-soaped for his reputation to be preserved.

Luckyoldson said...

angie said..."It's all sounding like a shaggy beagle joke many of us live with our old uncles or parents. There's never anything actually funny about it, even as you're sure the dirty old man behavior and convulated values are a cosmic joke."


dick said...

Funny but when I was in college back in the late 1950's we had a lot of talks about the theology of Pogo and Peanuts. The college I attended was very much into analyzing the comics to see what they were actually about. They were funny but there was a deeper meaning to the best of them and Peanuts and Pogo were to my mind the best of them.

Luckyoldson said...

Good grief...book reviews...before anybody reads the book...based on out of context clips?

Didn't we just go through this with Clarence?

Luckyoldson said...

Maxine: I don't know either, but...no.

angie said...


Sometimes, maybe often, people act out shaggy dog jokes in real life. I'm always looking for a punchline that isn't there.

Poor Schultz is being made into a cartoon, now, and the worst of it is there's no clever final frame.

Luckyoldson said...

Late one night, Linus, the Peanuts cartoon character, is preparing himself for bed. He appears to be deep in thought as he moves his hands in differing positions. Lucy, his sister, enters the room only to find Linus on his knees, praying.

“I think I’ve made a new theological discovery,” declares Linus.

“What is it?” asks Lucy.

“If you hold your hands upside down, you get the opposite of what you pray for!”

Luckyoldson said...

Why not actually read the book before deciding "Poor Schultz is being made into a cartoon"??

Here's another out of context clip:

“He was a complicated artist who had an inner life and embedded that inner life on the page,” Mr. Michaelis said in an interview. “His anxieties and fears brought him Lucy and the characters in ‘Peanuts.’”

“A normal person couldn’t have done it,” he said.

rcocean said...


I remember a book called the "Gospel according to Peanuts". I don't recall the authors name but "Robert Short" rings a bell.

Anyway, it was a pretty good book about Christian Theology being expressed in the Peanuts comic strip.

I think Charles Schultz actually gave it the OK.

angie said...

Too tired to comment just now, LOS, but for the record I misspelled his name, "Schulz." Do me a favor and don't cut and paste my comments with typos, ok :) You can be my discreet Editor of the Left. No salary or bennies, just a title, but it's a nice one.

John Stodder said...


If you'd READ A BOOK, you'd know that serious book reviews are a form of discourse and debate unto themselves. Writers will use book reviews to launch into a discussion of the subject at hand, using information in the book and from other sources as a takeoff point. Among other things, it is a way in which the writers' ideas get transmitted to those who cannot take the time to read all the worthwhile books that are published in a given month.

Check out the NY Review of Books, the NY Times Book Review, the London Review of Books, as well as the many of the reviews in the New Yorker by writers like Louis Menand and John Updike. Most of these reviews are written by serious writers.

It is perfectly okay to discuss book reviews even if you haven't read the book. It is part of a long literary tradition.

But in any event, Althouse linked to a news story about the impending publication of a book, not even a review.

John said...

What bothers me about the strip is that Schulz wanted it to end with his death. This was specified in his will, and all of his obituaries mention this fact. He made it known before his death as well, and you can find articles on the web about the "last" Peanuts strip. Yet it continues to appear daily. Could it be that cold, hard cash was more important to the family than honoring their father's last wish?

HJA said...

John — About Schulz wanting the strip to end with his death — he may just have meant that he didn't want new strips to be created by different writers and artists, like happened for a while with "Pogo" after Walt Kelly died, and like with all those strips that started in the 30's or whenever: "Blondie," "Popeye," "Dick Tracy," etc. I think I read where those are referred to as "legacy" strips? Maybe not.

HJA said...

And yeah, I was irritated that the Times article seemed to imply, early on, that Schulz was a skirt-chaser, but then didn't return to the subject. Whether that's because I resent, on high moral principal, unsubstantiated aspersions, or because I just can't hear enough about cartoonists' libidos, I don't know and might not want to find out.

But really, absent the possibility of his having been a wolf, the big shock of the book is that Schulz was anxious and glum. I agree, the discovery of a tortured artist is not exactly a mind-bender.

Oh, plus, wasn't the article accompanied by a drawing of Charlie Brown saying "good grief"? How corny.

Omar d. said...

I really agree with Luckyoldson's quote selections.

Isn't it an obvious subtext to most Peanuts cartoons they were created by "A depressed, cold and bitter man who was constantly going after different women"? Review Charlie Brown's "conflicts" in most of the cartoons:

1. Unfulfilled love for the girl with red hair.

2. Whining to Lucy.

3. Feeling sad all the time.

Ralph said...

John, the ones in the paper now are repeats.

knoxwhirled said...

Isn't it an obvious subtext to most Peanuts cartoons they were created by "A depressed, cold and bitter man who was constantly going after different women"?

That's pretty reductive. I'd say there's an awful lot of joy to be found in Peanuts. Look at the Snoopy dance!

Pogo said...

His strips were sweet and sad, funny and insightful. I liked them when I was 4 and couldn't even read yet, and all the while I could. I loved his Halloween and Christmas specials; they were traditions at our house.

I try to read very little about the lives of people whose art or music I admire. They have touched the face of God, and shared with us a glimpse. That they remained mere humans is no surprise, and hardly needs notation.

I'm grateful for the nights I would read Peanuts by flashlight under the covers. Any gripe I have about his personal affairs seems petty and small in comparison.