Reading the book

I’m reading the much balleyhooed biography of Charles Schulz courtesy of the Public Library. I’ve read a lot of internet chatter and heard some NPR stories on how the Schulz family are disparaging the book due to it’s gloomy portrait of “Sparky.” Nowhere did I read or hear how or when Michaelis got the job but if whoever made the decision had read his book on N.C. Wyeth (if the timing made that possible) they should not have been at all surprised as he did the same thing to that giant of the Golden Age of Illustration! At this posting I’m still in the early stages of the book, Schulz’s childhood, but what I’ve read so far seems pretty typical for an artist. In my experience we are, most of us, depressed, tortured and moody to some degree. (Not that I’m putting myself on the same level of Charles Schulz, I’m definitely not.) “Artistic people,” at whatever level of success, have a lot with which to deal. Some do it better than others.

I’m looking forward to reading about how he developed the idea that became “Peanuts” (or “Lil Folk” which was his title for the strip, “Peanuts” was foisted on him by the syndicate.) and how the strip grew into an uber-strip cartoon. When biographies like this have an index (which all good bios should) I first flip through it and look for names of other people that may be mentioned and read those bits. I found the name of Al Plastino, one of the mainstay artists of Superman Comics in the 40s and 50s. It seems that in 1977, during a difficult contract negotiation, the Syndicate commissioned Plastino to ghost some months worth of “Peanuts” strips in case they couldn’t come to terms with Schulz! When Schulz’  contract was settled the Plastino work was locked away not to be seen for years. When some Syndicate person sympathetic to Schulz found them they were declared “ghastly, absolutely third-rate.”

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