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October 08, 2007

Claim: Charles "Peanuts" Shulz Was A Mean Depressive

His family denies it. A biographer says different.

Meh. I grew up reading Peanuts -- actually I learned to read by reading Peanuts -- but I don't know if this is true or if I give a damn either way.

Mr. Michaelis said that he was surprised to hear how upset some members of the family were, but that “to their children fathers are always heroes, and very few families can see beyond that paterfamilias.” After interviewing hundreds of people, going through every one of the 17,897 comic strips Schulz drew and doing extensive research, Mr. Michaelis said, “this was the man I found.”

“Did I get the story right?” he asked. “Absolutely. No question.”

Mr. Michaelis referred to numerous interviews throughout Charles Schulz’s life in which he talked about his own “melancholy” and anxieties. “I have this awful feeling of impending doom,” he said on “60 Minutes” in 1999. “I wake up to a funeral-like atmosphere.” Many portraits of Schulz pick up the same theme. Rheta Grimsley Johnson’s 1989 biography, “Good Grief: The Story of Charles M. Schulz,” similarly describes him as depressed and plagued by panic attacks, despite a large family and mammoth financial and critical success. Nor does it seem that Mr. Michaelis made a secret of his perspective. He wrote an appreciation of Schulz in Time magazine in December 2000 after his death at 77 in which he clearly laid out the thesis he expands on in his 655-page book, sometimes word for word.


“David couldn’t put everything in,” she said, but added, “I think Sparky’s melancholy and his dysfunctional first marriage are more interesting to talk about than 25 years of happiness.” She quoted her husband’s frequent response to why Charlie Brown never got to kick the football: “Happiness is not funny.”

The Nose on Your Face has a blog exclusive, a "lost" Peanuts panel which seems to be evidence of Schulz's darker side.

A Digital Brownshirt Rat-Out: From Uncle Jefe, who says he knew "Sparky" Schulz, and I believe him:

Well...I grew up in the front row on this one! I knew Sparky, his wife Jean ( a very well respected and well loved woman in the community), their sons Craig and Monty, daughter Jill...

Sparky was very uncomfortable socially. He held an annual Senior Olympics Hockey tournament at his ice rink in Santa Rosa, and many of the people in attendance didn't like him at all. He was described as aloof and arrogant; I think it was more his social ineptness that cast him in that light, though aloof was fitting. My own personal experience was that he was a grumpy sourpuss of a man who rarely smiled (when he did it seemed pained), was very picky, demanding, and didn't like us (the kids who played hockey there). He liked the figure skaters (Jill was quite accomplished and a very nice person), and let them get away with murder. Their messes and bullshit always got blamed on us.

I liked 'Peanuts' as a kid. I didn't care for Sparky.

Atilla says that anyone reading Peanuts and not gathering the writer was depressive or melancholy is an imbecile, and I believe him too.

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posted by Ace at 08:31 PM

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