Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Review: My Life With Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schulz

Every now and again, a book comes along and captures my imagination--and my heart--and refuses to let it go. My Life With Charlie Brown is one of those books. The concept is simple enough, it's a short book that consists of a number of autobiographical essays written by Charles M. Schulz, the creator of the infamous Peanuts comic, and a selection of Peanuts comics, all of which are entirely suited to the topics at hand. However, the writing style--intelligent and straightforward--and the authors explanation of the creative process are what makes this book a real winner.

Anyone who reads this blog should already be well versed in the Peanuts universe, so I doubt that there is a great need to describe it here. However, I was amazed at the variety of facts about the comics--and their creator--that I learned from reading this book. In particular, Schulz hated the name Peanuts! (Initially, the comic strip was to be called Lil' Folks, but this was too similar to another comic of its day. Peanuts was the idea of someone who worked for the company who distributed the comic.) Schulz was a man who never settled for second best when it came to his art, and he offers common sense advice for artists who wish to follow his example--and just a little bit of disdain for those who don't. In any case, it's a great book to put in the hands of anyone who wants to succeed in the arts.

Short, brilliant and completely practical. Highly recommended.

PS: Note that on the cover of this book, Charlie Brown's shirt is red, instead of the usual trademark yellow that we associate with the Peanuts comic strip. Apparently Schulz always intended for Charlie Brown's shirt to be red, but an early printing error lead to Charlie Brown wearing yellow instead. Good grief!