Funny Things: A Comic Strip Biography of Charles M. Schulz

Top Shelf. Aug. 2023. 440p. ISBN 9781603095266. $39.99. BIOG
The life and times of one of the most beloved and influential artists of the 20th century are revealed in this biography from Debus (The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comic Strip for Serious People) and Matteuzzi (Banksy: A Graphic Novel). Rather than rendering their subject’s life in a straightforward graphic novel narrative form, the creators present Schulz’s story in the format of a daily newspaper comic strip, with six black and white strips consisting of four or five panels in between full-page, four-color “Sunday” spreads. As readers follow Schulz’s development from a lonesome, introverted child who fantasizes about one day becoming a successful cartoonist, to eventually achieving undreamed of success as the creator of the internationally beloved Peanuts characters, the format masterfully emphasizes the deeply personal quality of Schulz’s work. Schulz’s father was a barber, just as Charlie Brown’s is; his childhood pet was an idiosyncratic beagle; he really did pine for a little red-haired girl. More interesting, though, is the revelation that Schulz used Charlie Brown to express his own sense of inadequacy, timidity, and frustrated inability to go along as one of the crowd.
VERDICT An insightful and affectionate biography of an iconic American artist.
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