Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Watterson on Schultz

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The world’s greatest living folk hero, Bill Watterson, reviews a book on the life of Charles Schulz.

Lucy, for all her domineering and insensitivity, is ultimately a tragic, vulnerable figure in her pursuit of Schroeder. Schroeder’s commitment to Beethoven makes her love irrelevant to his life. Schroeder is oblivious not only to her attentions but also to the fact that his musical genius is performed on a child’s toy (not unlike a serious artist drawing a comic strip). Schroeder’s fanaticism is ludicrous, and Lucy’s love is wasted. Schulz illustrates the conflict in his life, not in a self-justifying or vengeful manner but with a larger human understanding that implicates himself in the sad comedy. I think that’s a wonderfully sane way to process a hurtful world. Of course, his readers connected to precisely this emotional depth in the strip, without ever knowing the intimate sources of certain themes. Whatever his failings as a person, Schulz’s cartoons had real heart.

Watterson talks about Schulz about once a decade:

Indeed, everything about the strip is a reflection of its creator’s spirit. “Peanuts” is one of those magical strips that creates its own world. Its world is a distortion of our own, but we enter it on its terms and, in doing so, see our world more clearly. It may seem strange that there are no adults in the world of “Peanuts,” but in asking us to identify only with children, Schulz reminds us that our fears and insecurities are not much different when we grow up. We recognize ourselves in Schulz’s vividly tragic characters: Charlie Brown’s dogged determination in the face of constant defeat, Lucy’s self-righteous crabbiness, Linus’ need for a security blanket, Peppermint Patty’s plain looks and poor grades, Rerun’s baffled innocence, Spike’s pathetic alienation and loneliness. For a “kid strip” with “gentle humor,” it shows a pretty dark world, and I think this is what makes the strip so different from, and so much more significant than, other comics. Only with the inspired surrealism of Snoopy does the strip soar into silliness and fantasy. And even then, the Red Baron shoots the doghouse full of holes.

Via MeFi.

Written by gerrycanavan

October 13, 2007 at 11:37 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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