GOOD GRIEF: The Story of Charles M. Schulz by Rheta Grimsley Johnson

GOOD GRIEF: The Story of Charles M. Schulz

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Authorized and amiable biography of Charles M. Schulz, creator of Peanuts, the most successful comic strip of all time. Writing with Schulz's blessing, syndicated-columnist Johnson tells the story of insecure, depressed, ultrarich Schultz, (who makes $50 million per year from the billion-dollar-yearly Peanuts industry), whose every creative moment is wrung from a despair that, turned into art, consoles countless millions but drives his closest friends batty. Johnson goes to Schulz's childhood and early manhood for the wellsprings of sadness that feed his storytelling. Schulz suffers from chronic agoraphobia, a fear of leaving home. His father was a barber who tried moving from St. Paul to California, failed to make good, returned to St. Paul and his barbershop and never traveled again. His mother died of cancer just as Schulz was drafted for service in WW II (he served as a machine gunner in France and rose to staff sergeant). His first marriage lasted 24 years, produced 5 children, one divorce. ""She was like a surgeon,"" he says, ""I was more like a doctor of internal medicine."" The themes of Good ol' Charlie Brown's relentless failure, long history of unrequited love, of Snoopy's Red Baron fantasies on the roof of his doghouse, of Lucy's endless carping, all spring from Schulz himself--though Charlie Brown is not Schulz, he is careful to say. ""Make it funny"" rules the Schulz drawing hand. Johnson often repeats herself but gets Schulz warmly one-on-one as she sketches in the world of cartooning, follows the growth of Schulz's characters, interviews family members and Schulz's famed peers of the pen, and goes into the Schulz industry and its management by King Feature Syndicate. All-right journalism, then, but not yet the literary work Schulz deserves.

Pub Date: Oct. 12th, 1989
Publisher: Pharos--dist. by St. Martin's