Schulz and Peanuts: A  Biography
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Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography

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3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  2,283 ratings  ·  422 reviews
A biography of Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts.
Hardcover, First edition, 655 pages
Published 2007 by Harper
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Darren
Luciously readable, fascinating, and flawed account of the life of the creator of Charlie Brown. I first decided to read this book because of a massive roundtable featured in the latest issue of "The Comics Journal," the basic conclusion being that the book does the real-life Schulz no justice. (I read the book, and then read the roundtable.)

Monte Schulz, the son of the great cartoonist, kicked off the roundtable with a massive essay that's divided into three parts: a brief memoir of his time an...more
bup
Mar 10, 2011 bup rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: web cartoonists whose characters owe a lot to Schulz
Shelves: 2011, biography
I've loved Peanuts since I can remember. I really liked Peanuts - the actual comic strip that appeared daily - not the Hallmark cards and movies and countless tv specials (save the original Christmas one). It drives me absolutely bonkers when people talk about what gentle humor it was, and how it was part of a nicer time that is gone today, and talk about it like it was a bunch of precious princess pony fairies.

(Admittedly, it drives me absolutely bonkers whenever anybody talks about Peanuts li...more
Jeffrey
As much as this book is getting negative reaction from the Schulz family as character assassination or whatever, I've really enjoyed reading. The way Michaelis pulls elements of Schulz's life from the actual Peanuts strips really pays off. But whatever flaws he exposes Charles Schulz as having actually makes me like Schulz more. For a cartoonist who has perhaps been sainted or put up on a pedastel, this book makes him much more complex, and makes him above all human.
^

“Schultz & Peanuts”. Here is a biography ostensibly of two subjects; the clue lies in the title. Inside, Charles M. Schulz, the boy (and later the man), is depicted as being impressively insignificant and insecure; whilst unsurprisingly the innate nature of the Peanuts cartoon strips are drawn from the values and family life experience of their creator. The puzzle lies in trying to understand just how quite such an unremarkable life engendered a product that went, in today’s terminology, ‘vi...more
James
This is a pretty good book considering it’s about a person who was boring; lonely, distant, anxious, depressed, sad, religious, melancholy, and a teetotaler too. Charles Schulz did not drink, did not smoke, and did not swear. Picasso or F. Scott Fitzgerald he was not.

On his honeymoon, Charles Schulz looked at his bride and said, “I don’t think I can ever be happy.”

David Michaelis has achieved something truly remarkable and impressive with this work, a fascinating examination of a creative proces...more
Chadwick
Mar 19, 2008 Chadwick rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who love biography, people who love Peanuts
Recommended to Chadwick by: Bill Watterson
Shelves: comics, biography
This may really be the first critical biography ever written about a comics artist. The format is revolutionary, actually using the strips to highlight the events of Schulz's life and how he expressed what he felt and thought in the day to day unfolding of Peanuts. If Michaelis is right, and his extensive, exhaustive research seems to support him in this, Schulz may have been one of the most autobiographically transparent artists of the 20th century. Some of his strips are downright creepy after...more
Carol Storm
Charles M. Schulz was more than a cartoonist -- he was an American original, one of those profoundly revolutionary individuals who erases an entire art form and reinvents it in his own image.

The way Babe Ruth transformed baseball, the way Elvis Presley transformed popular music, the way Clint Eastwood transformed the American western, the way H.P. Lovecraft transformed modern horror, Schulz transformed the American comic strip.

Before Schulz, all was darkness and slime. Brenda Starr's drooling...more
Mikhail
I, for the most part, found this book to be an enjoyable read. I loved how honestly Michaelis portrayed Schulz as basically an asshole, because, it seems, that he actually was. My only gripe with the book is how repetitive it can get. Michaelis regurgitates a lot of what he already establishes earlier on in the biography (i.e. Sparky's insecurities and self pity and etc.) He even repeats comic strips even though Schulz had made 18,000 to choose from. There were also segments in the book where in...more
Lindsay Russo
I think the reason I had trouble getting through this is because I think Peanuts is depressing on the whole. It is a world where you lose your voice as an adult, girls screw with boys and a beagle's dream world is much more thrilling than reality.

The writing was stellar, and the hook of following the man from his first strip to his last was a great framing device for a man who is made out to be such an iconic figure. A true product of the Midwest's flat landscape, you have to look hard and clos...more
Allison
I admit that I'm not a die-hard Peanuts fan. I adore Charlie Brown and Snoopy, but I don't have such grandiose ideas about their creator to be put off by some of the less wholesome details of Charles Schulz's life. I read somewhere that a few of his children were displeased with the way their father is depicted in Michaelis' book. As far as artists go, Schulz was a saint, never touching drugs or alcohol and cranking out over 17,000 Peanuts strips in his career. The characters are so much a part...more
nicole
let the record show: schulz was kind of a tool box.

the author goes out of his way to attribute this to the early loss of his mother and inability to accept the love other people give him, but there's only so much artistic temperament one can take while reading a 672 page book. also, he was such a skirt chaser that i found the whole "oh i don't understand why anyone would love me" excuse to be full of crap.

i liked the idea of the peanuts strips used to physically illustrate inside jokes and smal...more
Book Concierge
Charles M Schulz always wanted to be a cartoonist. From early childhood he displayed an extraordinary gift for drawing and impressed his teachers and friends with his talent. He was just twenty-seven when his comic strip PEANUTS debuted on Oct 2, 1950. For the rest of his life he would be the sole creator of the strip – conceiving, drawing and lettering the daily and Sunday strips without assistants. Stricken with colon cancer and weakened by chemotherapy, he announced his official retirement an...more
James Murphy
Everybody loves Peanuts. The enchanting characters Charlie Brown, Lucy, Schroeder, Snoopy and all the rest speak a universal language we identify with. This biography of Charles Schulz reveals the times and personal influences on its subject as well as any I've read lately. In telling the story he spends about a third of its length on his childhood, which may be appropriate because that was the world Schulz dealt with in his strip every day. Michaelis's analysis of his subject has to include a h...more
Tien
I didn't have any clue about Charles Schulz except that he is the creator of Peanuts. My husband is the Peanuts fan and I got this book for him (because of the cover!!). Nothing stopped me from reading it though...

The first half of the book was pretty easygoing but then, it was a bit of a slog for me until nearly the end. It was, however, mostly due to how unhappy he was during his first marriage and how this is mirrored in his comic strips. At this stage, I wasn't sure whether I was regretting...more
Jules
Michaelis does a disservice to the gift of Charles Schulz (not to mention his loved ones) by spending an inordinate amount of time on the negatives of his life and his limitations, and comparatively less time on his creativity and his creation. The second half of the book particularly devolves. The risk is that people - as shown by some reviews here - take the specific characterization in such a biography as hard fact. The Comics Journal roundtable shared useful viewpoints here and here

On the o...more
Sara
This is a very, very personal book. It gets into a whole lot of less-than-flattering aspects of Sparky's life and personality, and doesn't pull any punches when talking about the way he and the people around him acted. I'm sure the representations here probably felt unfair to those who had known the people themselves, but boy does it make you feel really close to the subject.

I've never cried while reading a book, or at least not since I was in elementary school (I'm still trying to find that tea...more
Theresa
I loved Snoopy growing up, identified heavily with him (strange, I know!), and going to the library usually meant that me and my sisters would check out a bunch of Peanuts books.

This was a great character study of Charles Schultz, and how interesting to see how the cartoons themselves echoed his life and personality. For me, living in Minneapolis, just across the river from the St. Paul that Schultz grew up in, it was interesting to read about locations that I know quite well.

Also interesting t...more
Hayley
This book was far more moving than I expected it to be. In many ways it is about the intersection of the personal, political, cultural, & commercial, over the course of the 20th century, through the lens of Peanuts. I was also fascinated by the way that Schultz was so darn hard on himself. Literally- on his death bed- he is complaining that he did not really accomplish much. That all he did was do what he could to the best of his ability. Peanuts is a richer, more nuanced narrative, now. Fas...more
J.
Charles "Sparky" Shultz always wanted to be a cartoonist, and he drew the Peanuts comic strip for nearly 50 years, turning it into a marketing bonanza and its characters into cultural icons. But for all the happiness he brought to so many, he was himself a rather unhappy person. Raised in Minnesota, the only child of German and Norwegian parents who weren't particularly affectionate, he grew up very shy and insecure. His mother's death as he left to serve in WWII compounded his sense of alonenes...more
Michael
A fascinating look at an American creative genius. I'm not the sort of person who has illusions of the perfection of one's idols, so the revelations of Schulz's depression and infidelity don't impact my love of Peanuts. (admittedly I would never have known that Schulz's personal life was at times intentionally reflected in the daily strip!) You'll also learn the origins of the Peanuts marketing juggernaut. Good times. Now if Mark Evanier's bio of Jack Kirby would show up ...
Robert
Thought it was a pretty fair bio, though I can understand why there's an uproar over it. Yet again, a well-liked and regarded artist is shown to be as fucked up as the rest of us - the only thing that makes him different is talent, and the ability to channel his neurosis into mass product that is popular and that actually moves people.
Suzanne
I was born in 1963 so I grew up with the Peanuts. Other than Santa's annual visit, A Charlie Brown Christmas was THE highlight of the season. And it was really special as it aired on tv once; it was an event. I remember owning and reading many times Happiness is a Warm Puppy and I had a plush Snoopy. I adored the Peanuts and still make it a point to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas during December.

I'm trying not to mix up my disappointment with what was written about Charles Schulz in this book v...more
Lucie
Excellent. A wonderful book - could not put it down. After you read it, you'll never read a Charlie Brown comic strip without understanding how deeply rooted the strip was in Schulz's life and experiences.
Andrew Schneider
This book answers a question I've had for more than 30 years. Why did the quality of Peanuts seem to drop off during Charles Schulz's final two decades writing and illustrating the strip? Schulz's health certainly did take a toll on the strip during this period, if for no other reason than his hand tremors made it increasingly difficult to draw, and he insisted to the end on producing "Peanuts" entirely on his own, with out assistants. But the answer, as with so many other aspects of "Sparky's"...more
Greg
This gave me some great insights into the life of Charles Schulz, who from now on I will always refer to as Sparky.
Lisa Yee
Interesting, but long.
Monique
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dave
Best book design I've seen in a long time. Hats off to Chip Kidd who designed the jacket, and to whoever designed the interiors. The Peanuts strips placed within the text were a welcomed breath of air in this rather dense 550+ pages of text.

Over all, a well told story with a lot of interesting behind the scenes information about how Peanuts came to be, and about how the artist's family, friends and experiences shaped his work.

I never knew how huge Peanuts was pre-1970s (because I wasn't born ye...more
Bethany
I actually had a hard time getting through this book.
it's 650 pages.
and while I never shy away from a long book (in fact, I relish in them), to be completely honest, charles schulz's life just wasn't that interesting.
300 page biography interesting? yes.
you could even make a case for 400 page biography interesting.

but 650 page biography interesting?
nope.

if I had to hear one more time about how he was different as a child, how he had loving mother complexes, how he felt superior to his cousins, et...more
Jared
I almost don't want to give this book 3 stars. I have to say i liked it, mainly because Charles Shulz was such an interesting person. I felt that the author did much more to show "Sparky's" dark side and did not focus much on the positive. He gave the impression he was not charitable but according to a friend of the Shulz who posted on amazon he often was. I liked how he used the comics themselves, and showed how Sparky put a bit of his own life in his comics. Sometimes the author would go off i...more
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article 1 37 Oct 22, 2007 05:31AM  
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David Michaelis grew up in Cambridge, Mass. and Washington, D. C., was educated at Concord Academy and Princeton University, and is the author of the national bestsellers N. C. WYETH: A Biography (Alfred A. Knopf, 1998; available from Harper Perennial), which won the 1999 Ambassador Book Award for Biography, given by the English-Speaking Union of the United States, and SCHULZ AND PEANUTS: A Biogra...more
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“Security is having a home town. - Charles Schulz” 3 likes
“That's the secret, Frank. Always have an iron in the fire. Always have another angle ready to go... Remember, if you can't outplay them, you have to outwork them. - Charles Schulz” 2 likes
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