With the Red Sox having handily dispatched the Rockies, there is nothing to keep you from watching tonight’s PBS’s American Masters focusing on Charles Schulz. All sorts of goodies in the link, including an excerpt from David Michaelis’s controversial new biography, a preview clip, and additional footage including interviews with Lynn Johnston and the little red headed girl, and more. There’s also a link to find out when the show airs in your area.
MUST watching, of course. Variety reviews the show:
It is not an entirely unflattering portrait, but one can see why the Schulz heirs would object, since Michaelis in particular (unlike the testimonials from Schulz’s widow or friends) injects a degree of pop psychology into the analysis — questioning rather unconvincingly, for example, whether the cartoonist’s fascination with the movie “Citizen Kane” amounted to a kind of pathological obsession. From that perspective, the most telling clips come from interviews with Schulz himself, whose simple demeanor reflects a man of considerable wit, who is nevertheless clearly ill at ease with the spotlight.
Schulz’z children, Monte, Amy and Jill and other associates have been making their feeelings over the Michaelis’s biography’s purported inaccuracies known over in a comment thread at Cartoon Brew. It’s definitely thought provoking reading.
I can’t pretend that I knew Charles Schulz at all, but I did interview him once over a decade ago, and the impression I got from a half hour conversation was that the guy never ever let go of anything sad that had happened to him. (The sadness in his voice when he talked about the death of his dog 50 years previously was heartbreaking.) If that was the takeaway from a short talk with a complete stranger, I would suspect that this profound melancholy was a regular part of his character, and it certainly was reflected in his work. I’m sure there were other aspects of his character (his kindness was also well known) but the melancholy was so pronounced that once I got over the shock of actually talking to Charles Schulz, I never forgot it. This view is not incompatible with the kind, caring father remembered by his kids…great artists are complex, and Schulz was both.