Monday, June 26, 2023

Book Review: Funny Things

Charles M. Schulz was arguably the most influential and popular cartoonist of the 20th century, and he poured many of his own emotions and experiences into the world of Peanuts over its iconic 50-year run. Now, Luca Debus and Francesco Matteuzzi pay tribute to the master by telling the story of Schulz’s life in the medium that made him immortal: the comic strip. Every strip provides a laugh as well as a piece of insight into his remarkable life story. Starting with the last days of his monumental career, Funny Things jumps back and forth in time to narrate both Schulz’s artistic achievements and the personal episodes that formed him as an author and human being, ultimately shaping him into the most beloved cartoonist on the planet. Filled with affection, charm, and poignant insight, Funny Things imagines Schulz through the lens of the very world he created, inviting us all to meet the man behind the blanket.

Funny Things: A Comic Strip Biography of Charles M. Schultz will be published on August 29, 2023. Top Shelf Productions, an imprint of IDW Publishing, provided an early galley for review.

I own all twenty-six volumes of The Complete Peanuts. To say I am a fan is an understatement. The work of Charles Schultz has always been a part of my life from as long as I can remember. So, this upcoming book instantly drew me in.

First off, I absolutely adore the format that Debus and Matteuzzi chose. Doing six black-and-white strips followed by one larger series in full color perfectly mirrors the daily and Sunday formats of the classic Peanuts series. Also, in their own way, they succeed at bringing about the mood and humor of Schultz's work as they tell a version of his life story. For me, this all hits the right nostalgia mark.

A good biography should always enlighten as well as entertain. Though I knew a lot about Schultz's life, I learned quite a few new facts from this one as well. That made it time well spent. I am certain others who pick this up will also come away with the same feeling.

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