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Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography by David Michaelis

Updated on September 12, 2014

A Charles Schulz Biography

Who was Charles M. Schulz, the man behind Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, and the rest of the Peanuts gang? What made him tick, and where did he get his inspiration?

Those are some of the questions David Michaelis tries to answer in this biography, Schulz and Peanuts. Although the biography's portrayal of Charles Schulz is fascinating, it has stirred up some controversy amongst friends and family who say that Sparky was nothing like the man that Michaelis describes here.

Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography

An interview with David Michaelis, writer of Schulz and Peanuts.

The Controversy Surrounding Schulz and Peanuts

Does Michaelis' Biography Show Sparky in a Bad Light?

Charles "Sparky" Schulz's family is not pleased with this biography. Although David Michaelis spent seven years doing research for this book, the family claims that Michaelis cherry-picked information, got some facts wrong, and overemphasized the cartoonist's melancholic side.

For example, there's hardly anything in the biography about the "quality time" Sparky spent with his children. In different ways, Michaelis implies that Sparky was a distant (though not unloving) father.

According to Sparky's son, Monte Schulz, there are many factual errors. As an example, Michaelis claims that Sparky's wife Joyce had a bass pond built in 1960 so that Sparky's father could fish whenever he came to visit; in fact, the pond wouldn't be built until some years after Sparky's father died.

Monte had the opportunity to point out these errors before the biography was published. But he didn't, and he explains why: "Because to change the central erroneous nature of what he'd written would have required a massive re-write and re-thinking of the entire book, something he would never have had time to do, even had he the will and the desire, which he obviously did not. I did not want to clean up the minor errors, only to see the bigger ones remain." (Read more at dailycartoonist.com)

The theme of the biography is that Charles Schulz was an insecure, often depressed person who never quite believed that anyone loved him. Friends and relatives say that while Sparky had his dark side like anyone else, he was a compassionate man who enjoyed life and didn't go around acting depressed all the time. They are upset that the biography doesn't show much of the "happier" side of Sparky.

Despite its flaws and controversies, Schulz and Peanuts is a compelling book. It doesn't "slam" Sparky at all, nor does it make him out to be a bad person. Instead paints a picture of a complicated man who used his insecurities and disappointments as fuel for the Peanuts strip.

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