Schulz and Peanuts, by David Michaelis, is a completely absorbing, stunningly researched, pain-scorched biography of the last century’s most influential cartoonist.
Charles Schulz's genius was built on traits common to great artists: unstinting discipline, narrowness of focus, solipsism, arrogance, self-doubt, independence, competitiveness, an embracing humanism, hunger for the new, a sense of unquenchable aloneness, and a taste for passive aggressive revenge.
I knew enough about Charles Schulz going in to understand that his avuncular public image belied a lifelong sense of torment and so wasn't shocked or surprised to learn of his dark side. What did startle me was just how autobiographical Peanuts turns out to be.
I'm eager to read this book. Though Schulz' widow Jeannie has publicly rejected the portrayal of her husband as someone who "couldn't love and couldn't believe that he was loved," there's an oppressive gloom to Schulz that I've always found fascinating. I read every Peanuts paperback I could get my hands on as a kid, identifying with the block-headed kid who could never catch a break, yet never stopped thinking Lucy might let him kick the football.