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Existential Charlie Brown

All the loves in the strip are unrequited; all the baseball games are lost; all the test scores are D-minuses; the Great Pumpkin never comes; and the football is always pulled away.” Charles Schultz. Quoted in a provocative article about biographies and artists by Randy Kennedy.  See also Charles McGrath’s excellent book review on David Michealis’s new biography.  Here’s the money quote:

We should have guessed, for as Michaelis points out, “Peanuts” was almost transparently autobiographical. There really was an unattainable Little Red-Haired Girl. Her name was Donna Mae Johnson, and she jilted Schulz in July 1950; he nursed the rejection, along with all the other slights he suffered from wished-for girlfriends, for the rest of his life. Charlie Brown, wishy-washy, disillusioned, but also secretly ambitious, was the artist himself, of course; and so were Linus, the oddball; Schroeder, meticulous and gifted; and, above all, Snoopy, with his daydreams, his fantasies, his sense of being undervalued and misunderstood. Violet, with her mean streak; and Lucy, bossy, impatient and sarcastic, were all the controlling, withholding women in Schulz’s life, especially his mother and his first wife, Joyce. Michaelis also goes in for a certain amount of psychologizing, but once you have the key it hardly seems necessary.

I just got around to reading through the library copies of the Complete Peanuts. The earlier volumes reminded me of how visually interesting and full of energy the early comics used to be.

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