Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Fair and Balanced

I stalled out after a couple hundred pages into the new Schulz biography. As a cartoonist friend of mine said, "It's tough sledding."

If you're looking for a book on Schulz that provides a fuller -- and more enjoyable -- portrait of of the man and his work, track down Good Grief: The Story of Charles M. Schulz by Rheta Grimsley Johnson.

The book was first published in 1989, but is now, sadly, out of print. Used copies can be found here. I got mine (a British edition published by Ravette Books) over 10 years ago.

Ms. Grimsley doesn't shy away from Schulz's gloomier side and does, in fact, deal quite openly with his depression and problems finding -- and accepting -- happiness. She also includes a lot of great anecdotes and quotes from various cartoonists, both old and new.

And for what it's worth, Bill Watterson recommended Rheta's book, too.


Scott Cummings said...

You'd think the folks who published Johnson's book would rouse themselves and put it back in circulation, with all the attention the OTHER book's getting. I read it years ago and there's a lot of interesting stuff ... although at times it's a little maddening, the stuff she leaves out because (apparently) Schulz wanted her too. For example, there's a passage where she tells us that Schulz described his opinion about the meaning / significance of dreams ... she tells us that his views on this are interesting, or compelling, or something ... but then DOESN'T TELL US WHAT THEY ARE! Does the "Other Book" address that, by the way?

Chris said...

I agree with Scott C.; despite having never read either of the books, you would think that the publisher would put this "fair and balanced" book back into circulation to take advantage of all of the hype over the Michaelis book. I mean, there's sure to be a market now for people who want to read a portrayal of Schulz that's a little less depressing.

Also, there have been very few biographies of Schulz written, so I'm a bit surprised.

Scott Nickel said...

I was surprised to find the book out of print when I searched Amazon for a cover pic to post.

Seems like a natural time to reissue the book.

It's a shame that we only have the Michaelis book out there and not any others that present a more complete portrait of Schulz.