“Peanuts” was launched, in 1950, in a squat, space-saving format and under an enigmatic title imposed, to Schulz’s lifelong indignation, by the syndicate heads. That same year, his nomination to the National Cartoonists Society was blocked by Otto Soglow, the membership-committee chairman, on the ground that no member—not even his nominator, Mort Walker, of “Beetle Bailey” fame—had ever met him. In 1954, while “Peanuts” was taking off with the public and setting new standards of minimalist subtlety and quiet daring, Schulz came east to the society’s awards dinner on the rumor that the coveted Reuben, already bestowed upon Walker and “Dennis the Menace” ’s Hank Ketcham, would go to him. Instead, the sports cartoonist Willard Mullin received it. Schulz left without a word of farewell to his tablemates and claimed, back in Minneapolis, that he had been treated like “someone’s poor relative.”
MEANWHILE, Vulture tracks down how the Wall Street Journal tracked down reclusive cartoonist Bill Watterson to review the book. Vulture suggests that this is Watterson’s first print appearance since CALVIN & HOBBES shut down. He’s uttered a few things, like this Q&A with readers, but in general the guy sets a new standard for keeping a low profile. On the other hand, every time we talk about Watterson with someone who actually worked with him, they get a far off, uncomfortable glaze in their eyes, so maybe there’s a reason for that.