The Art of Charles M. Schulz

The Art of Charles M. Schulz


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This beautiful album will dazzle fans of Charles M. Schulz and his art, providing an unprecedented look at the work of the most brilliant and beloved cartoonist of the twentieth century. Here is the whole gang–Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy, Peppermint Patty, Schroeder, Pig-Pen, and all the others from the original Peanuts strips.

More than five hundred comic strips are reproduced, as well as such rare or never-before-seen items as a sketchbook from Schulz's army days in the early 1940s; his very first printed strip, Just Keep Laughing; his private scrapbook of pre-Peanuts Li'l Folks strips; developmental sketches for the first versions of Charlie Brown and the other Peanuts characters; a sketchbook from 1963; and many more materials gathered from the Schulz archives in Santa Rosa, California.

The art has been stunningly photographed by Geoff Spear in full color, capturing the subtle textures of paper, ink, and line. The strips–which were shot only from the original art or vintage newsprint–reveal how, from the 1950s through 2000, Schulz's style and the Peanuts world evolved. The book features an introduction by Jean Schulz and has been designed and edited by renowned graphic artist Chip Kidd, who also provides an informed and appreciative commentary.

This celebration of the genius of the most revered cartoonist of our time is a must for anyone who has ever come under the spell of Peanuts.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375714634
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/11/2003
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 745,987
Product dimensions: 8.59(w) x 7.01(h) x 0.95(d)

About the Author

Charles M. Schulz was born in 1922 in Minneapolis, the only child of a housewife and a barber. His interest in comics was encouraged by his father, who loved the funny pages. After army duty, Schulz lettered comic pages for Timeless Topix, and sold seventeen cartoons to The Saturday Evening Post from 1948 to 1950 and a feature, Li'l Folks, to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Peanuts debuted on October 2, 1950, and ran without interruption for the next fifty years. Schulz died on February 12, 2000, and his last strip ran the next day. Peanuts has appeared in 2,600 newspapers in seventy-five countries.

Read an Excerpt


Sparky was a genius.

That is the answer to the unanswerable questions of "why" and "how." I recognized it when I first knew him, I spent the next 25 years asking the same things others ask, and always came back to the same answer. The essence of his genius is: We can't know it, quantify it, explain it; we can, simply, enjoy it. If those of us who are part of his circle puzzle over the questions and struggle for answers, no one struggled more than Sparky himself.

He understood intuitively things he couldn't explain. Things he couldn't even put into words. He could go only so far as to answer the perennial question "Where do your ideas come from?"

The ideas Sparky used are out there in the world. We all know them and that is why we relate to them. It is the particular twist Sparky put to the ideas that described his genius, and that draws us, enchanted, into his frame.

I believe there are people of genius around us, but few are fortunate enough to have their genius match the moment. A thousand years ago, Sparky would have been a storyteller, the person in the tribe or the clan who collected the tribal lore and repeated it for each generation. He understood instinctively the value of the story which illustrates a human truth, and which allows his listeners to take from it what they need at the time. The best stories can be told over and over again—forever new—because the listener changes.

Sparky loved his Big-Little Books when he was small, when he was in high school he escaped into the world of Sherlock Holmes, and always he loved adventure comics. He actually wanted to draw an adventure strip, but it was the wistful, innocent way he illustrated an emotion, expressed through the eyes of a small person, that caught the attention of the comics editors. And so it was children he drew on for his cartoons.

Children, he would have told you, are simply adults "with the lids still on." He believed firmly that we are the product of our genes and that all of the characteristics are there within us as children, simmering, waiting to emerge. So the envy and anger expressed in "Good Ol' Charlie Brown. How I hate him" in the first strip, shocks us, but Sparky knew, whether or not we want to admit it, children feel that emotion. When Sparky saw a child with a very strong personality, he observed how difficult that person would be "when the lid comes off."

Sparky loved to sit in his ice arena over lunch and have an interesting and varied group around, and he was very good in front of an audience. He knew how to draw his story out to hold people's attention. His directness enlivened any conversation and he probed others with questions. In these situations he was like the storyteller of old—interacting with his audience in a very intimate way.

But the comic strip is a long way from the storyteller of a thousand years ago. The cartoonist puts his drawings and words on paper and it is weeks before his audience sees them. Immediacy and personality must be elucidated in a different way. The comic strip storyteller of 20th century America has to tell a story that stretches across 3000 miles, and draw scenes of snow pranks that make people laugh in Hawaii as well as in Vermont or Michigan.

Like the novelist, the cartoonist must go into himself or herself, and draw upon what is there. It is a solitary craft.

Sparky frequently wasn't sure if something he'd drawn was funny. Certainly he'd receive feedback, but it would be months later. The spontaneity was missing. Often I'd stop at his studio and look over a stack of dailies on his desk. When I laughed out loud, or told him how funny I thought they were, he was truly grateful. "Oh, I'm so glad you think it's funny. I'm never sure," he'd say. He loved people's positive responses, and at the same time, he had to shut out the voices. He had to draw what he thought was funny and hope that his audience liked it too. He was always glad to know people liked his characters or a particular storyline, but he knew he couldn't write to that audience; he always wrote for himself.

He began quite early in his career to use biblical references. Occasionally, someone would write to say, "How dare you use religious material in a comic strip?" His response was that as long as he had used the reference with integrity, he was satisfied that he was on firm ground. On the other hand, once in the 70s, he used a take-off on the title I Heard the Owl Call My Name. He got a letter saying this was a sacred phrase in a Native American tribe. Sparky wrote an apology. He admitted he hadn't realized that he was overstepping propriety.

Sparky sometimes tried out an idea on me or others. For example he'd say, "How would it be if Charlie Brown goes to camp and meets this other kid who won't say anything except 'Shut up and leave me alone.'?" Well, it's difficult to imagine that as a funny storyline, but I knew better than to say no, and of course, because of the funny drawing and the particular way he paced the strip and the story, it became a funny sequence. If this or any new character made for a good storyline, Sparky might go back and resurrect the character a year later for a second camp episode, but more often than not, that first appearance would be the last. He explained that the character was too one-dimensional to create opportunities for humor.

In order to produce a strip every day, he had to rely on characters whose personalities themselves engendered ideas. Sparky always had a pen handy to write down any notions that came to him, or if we were in the car he'd ask me to write for him. Frequently, at the symphony, I'd see him reach into his pocket for his pad and pencil. On the way home he'd tell me the idea he had—but what he related to me at the time was only the germ of what would become a fully realized daily or Sunday page. He could come up with ideas from almost any situation because his characters had such distinct personalities and idiosyncrasies.

As much as most of us are drawn to the personalities and the situations and the lines the characters deliver, Sparky was always quick to point out that the appeal of Peanuts is still funny drawing. He would use a yellow lined pad to "doodle," drawing the characters in antic poses, rolling over, flying upside down, etc. These provided him with ideas.

When the strip ended, the response was overwhelming. Sparky touched people deeply and often changed their lives, as the thousands of letters attested:

"I remember [as a child] often being consumed by feelings of profound anxiety and unrest, and yet as soon as I could come home to read my Peanuts books, I was peaceful, even happy."

"When I was about 11 years old I had to go into the hospital and I was very scared. My mother had to leave me after visiting hours, but my stuffed Snoopy didn't. I held it all night long."

"I often identified with Charlie Brown's feelings of inadequacy, of not fitting in anywhere. And my favorite character was always Linus, who was sensible but had an almost magical sense of the power of his innocence and imagination."

"Charlie Brown and the gang were a solace and a balm to my soul. I always wanted to tell this to Mr. Schulz. So now I tell you."

Sparky once said, "I would be satisfied if they wrote on my tombstone 'He made people happy.'"

He did that, and so much more.

— Jean Schulz

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The Art of Charles M. Schulz 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
babemuffin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful book! A memoir really to Charles M. Schulz and his masterpiece (the Peanuts gang). It's really interesting to finally found out how it all began, how characters / personalities developed or are dropped, & all his successess were earned. The peanuts gang have real qualities to them (in terms on personalities) and whilst I can relate to them, it also makes you realise how cruel children really are! Though now that I'm all grown up, reading Peanuts just makes me laugh (I've got no kids yet). Charles M. Schulz writes & illustrates wonderful stories... just remember: Happiness is a warm puppy (I can sooo relate to that!)
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Someone gave this to me as a gift the Christmas of 2001 and I loved it. I have read and re-read this book and never cease to enjoy it everytime. I have given this as a gift to others and they feel the same. If you are a Peanuts fan then you need this book. This book was put together so excellently, I can't say enough good things about it!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I got this for a Christmas present two years ago or so and I finished the whole book in one day. It's such an insight on Charles Schulz's art and it so nicely setup and is a very intelligent book to look for. If you're a fan, I really recommend it. It's probably one of the greatest 'Art of ____' book and it's so nicely done. I loved it. I love flipping the pages and nowadays, whenever I'm bored I would be taking it out and eventually, reading the little comics of the earlier and the later versions and Peanuts and this book really shows how Charlie Brown, being this little kid turns out to be an odd, somewhat-philosophical, and lovable person. And Snoopy, who changed dramatically over the years. If you're a fan, you should really get this book, it's a must-have.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book serves as a testament to the incredible talent of Charles M. Schulz as well as a chronicle of the Peanuts gang and how they've grown and changed over the years. This book is filled with dozens of hilarious strips and rarely seen sketches spanning from the 1950's to 2000. There are little anecdotes and a wonderful introduction. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This magnificent book covers the entire history of Peanuts,from the very beginning.Extemely rare strips from the 1950's are reprinted(Its amazing how much the characters have changed over the years-one character said she could't play with Charlie Brown because her mom said he was too much of a roughneck!)Even the very rare strips featuring Charlotte Braun,(a female Charlie Brown) are Peanuts website said,"If you by only one Peanuts book in your life,this is it."A truly amazing book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a diehard Snoopy and Peanuts fan and this has to be my favorite book. It shows you the early years of Peanuts until now. I even learned a thing or two. As my husband would say 'It's a must for the Snoopy shrine'. My life has been so much better with Peanuts in it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I grew up with Peanuts for almost thirty years and had up to 80 Peanuts books pre 1980 and this book is excellent at showing the early years of the strips. It is a very unique book and in a class by itself. You see the the transformation of the characters from the beginning to the 90's. Very entertaining book. A must buy for real fans of Peanuts.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Escape into Charles world, just what I needed after a brutal day at work/traffic. Picked it up for lack of choice. Kept it open all night.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Here is a person who is the most modest and immensely talented man that made millions laugh everyday with his accurate portrayal of the world. It would have been a shame if he had never picked up a paint-brush and show us his view of humanity. I can only say, Thank God he did. Stacey D. Chait