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Schulz Sketched Own Life in 'Peanuts' Strip
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Schulz Sketched Own Life in 'Peanuts' Strip

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Schulz Sketched Own Life in 'Peanuts' Strip

Schulz Sketched Own Life in 'Peanuts' Strip
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Charles Schulz at work. i

Charles Schulz draws in his studio, One Snoopy Place in 1999, not long before he was diagnosed with cancer. Holger Keifel Photography hide caption

toggle caption Holger Keifel Photography
Charles Schulz at work.

Charles Schulz draws in his studio, One Snoopy Place in 1999, not long before he was diagnosed with cancer.

Holger Keifel Photography

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Charlie F. Brown i

The real Charlie Brown was a colleague of Schulz's at Art Instruction, Inc. Brown saw "so much of Charlie Brown in himself," according to Schulz and Peanuts. Courtesy Art Instruction Inc. hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy Art Instruction Inc.
Charlie F. Brown

The real Charlie Brown was a colleague of Schulz's at Art Instruction, Inc. Brown saw "so much of Charlie Brown in himself," according to Schulz and Peanuts.

Courtesy Art Instruction Inc.

Charles Schulz used his Peanuts comic strip to reveal secrets and angst in his own life, according to a new biography of the strip's creator.

David Michaelis, author of Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography, said he noticed a connection between the Peanuts strip and Schulz's life as he researched the book.

For example, as Schulz began to find success with sketching, his father warned him not to get a big head, Schulz said. Years later, Schulz created the Charlie Brown character, whose main feature is an enormous head. And Schulz, like Charlie Brown, consistently absorbed rejection and moved forward in life.

And there were private moments that made their way onto the page.

Take a strip that features Snoopy swooning over a girl beagle he had just met at Daisy Hill Puppy Farm. Michaelis discovered that the same day the strip was published, Schulz had sent a postcard to Tracey Claudius, whom he had met a few months prior at his ice arena. At the time, Schulz was married to his first wife, Joyce Halverson.

'Peanuts' comic strip #1. i
PEANUTS: © United Feature Syndicate, Inc.
'Peanuts' comic strip #1.
PEANUTS: © United Feature Syndicate, Inc.

The pair had a long-distance affair that Halverson discovered after seeing calls to Claudius in the Schulz family's phone bill.

 

Michaelis said that Schulz felt a "rush of feeling about being liked" after meeting Claudius, and not long after their meeting, Schulz began writing her letters and incorporating her into his drawings.

 

Another strip featured Snoopy on a frozen pond declaring that "Ice skating is a good way to meet girls."

'Peanuts' comic strip #2. i
PEANUTS: © United Feature Syndicate, Inc.
'Peanuts' comic strip #2.
PEANUTS: © United Feature Syndicate, Inc.

Yet another showed Charlie Brown telling Snoopy to "stop making those long-distance phone calls."

 

Michaelis said Schulz had a "very profound relationship" with his readers, and he would often use the strip to communicate directly with people he admired. Strips about artist Andrew Wyeth, actress Shirley Temple and model Cheryl Tiegs sparked dialogues with the famous figures.

 

"Peanuts was a way to be in touch with the world and yet remain removed from it," Michaelis said.

 

Michaelis said the strip was considered existential and profound in the 1950s. "To hear someone say in 1951, 1952, 'I'm depressed, I don't fit in, I feel alienated,' you'd have to go to a supper club and hear Mort Sahl,: he said.

 

For example, in one series that lasted several days, Charlie Brown is thrown out during a baseball game on his way to home plate. The strip shows Charlie lying at the side of third base, staring at the sky and asking "why" in strip after strip.

 

"In daily after daily after daily, there lay Charlie Brown looking up into the dark sky," he said.

'Peanuts' comic strip #3. i
PEANUTS: © United Feature Syndicate, Inc.
'Peanuts' comic strip #3.
PEANUTS: © United Feature Syndicate, Inc.

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Schulz and Peanuts

A Biography

by David Michaelis

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