I received my copy of Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography from Amazon today. I stopped at page 31 feeling utterly despondent. Author David Michaelis paints such a morose and relentlessly depressing portrayal of Schulz and his family (at least his mother and her relatives), that it's hard to slog through.
One gets the feeling the author is chronicling the early life of a serial killer rather than one of America’s most beloved cartoonists.
I now understand the Schulz family’s dismay. It's rather obvious that Michaelis has a central thesis that he's painstakingly constructing: the artist as melancholy misfit, unable to achieve or appreciate real happiness, material to the contrary be damned.
Several cartoonists have recently posted on the Internet their personal stories about Schulz; all show a gracious, supportive and generous man. I've no doubt that Charles Schulz had his demons; nearly every great artist does. But the demons weren’t the sum of the man.
I never met Schulz, but I've read enough about him, and talked with people who did know him, to feel that this book -- at least thus far -- is doing him a great disservice.
On a personal, and amusing, note: When discussing Garfield and Jim Davis later in the biography, Michaelis quotes from the Garfield 25th Anniversary book -- a book I co-wrote and co-edited.