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Good Grief: The Story of Charles M. Schulz Paperback – June, 1995

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The popular cartoonist who distills shrewd psychological insights in Peanuts emerges in this authorized biography as a shy man who suffers from chronic depression and agoraphobia, weighs his words carefully and talks much like his comic-strip characters. Johnson, a syndicated columnist, sketches Schulz's boyhood in St. Paul, where his father ran a barber shop. She links his unhappy first marriage, his sense of futility and his deep religiosity to Peanuts 's exploration of themes such as rejection, loss, longing and the nobility of pursuing goals despite near-certain defeat. She interviews Donna Wold, Schulz's unresponsive early love, who inspired "the little red-headed girl" of his strips. Johnson also offers superficial analyses of Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Lucy and the rest of the gang. Devotees will probably enjoy this innocuous, flattering bio, even though it circles around Schulz without deeply penetrating his inner life. 50,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This biography of cartoonist Schulz coincides with the 40th anniversary of the "Peanuts" comic strip. Apparently Schulz's work is semi-autobiographical, so this book draws parallels between his life and incidents and characters in the strip. The author belabors Schulz's chronic depression and describes him as having an "aura of anonymity." An overabundance of detail and digression clutter this work, and the book's structure and purpose is not always apparent. But perhaps the book's main problem is that "Schulz is a loser, of the vulnerable, lovable Charlie Brown variety," and that is just not the stuff of which interesting biographies are made. Despite the book's weaknesses, however, the popularity of "Peanuts" will probably create some demand.
- Annie Davis, Technology Training Assocs., Cambridge, Mass.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing; Subsequent edition (June 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0836280970
  • ISBN-13: 978-0836280975
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #677,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 5, 1998
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this book a lot. It was entertaining to read about the life of my favorite cartoonists and one of the many people I would like to meet. I learned that some of the social troubles I am going through now in high school happened to Schulz in high school but he broke through that to be a successful man. This book helped me learn about him and get an "A" on my literature term paper.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By "matrixzine" on January 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
"Good Grief" is the story of Charles M. Schulz, his early life and his struggle to become a cartoonist. "Good Grief" chronicles the evolution of the Peanuts gang and Mr. Schulz himself. And now with the retirement of Mr. Schulz, this is a timely biography
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By D on July 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
First off, I am a Peanuts fanatic. My child's nursery has a My Little Snoopy theme, and, as a child, I wrote to Mr. Schulz and received a print of Snoopy, with his own "pawprint" autograph as my return gift.
This book, which is the most comprehensive biography of Schulz I have found, is a gem for a fan like myself. For those who are just peripherally interested in Schulz, this book will probably be too detailed and discuss issues of no interest.
However, for a fan like myself, hearing the true story of the "Little Red Haired Girl" and reading of Schulz's perceived failings in his life was very insightful.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By David A. Bede on July 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
Half biography and half analysis of "Peanuts," this book is an unconventional look at an unconventional subject. It's now over a decade old and the references to Schulz in the present tense have an unintentionally poignant quality now, but it remains the best single source of information about the most influential cartoonist of all time.
Johnson's approach to Schulz is anything but chronological; she alternates her chapters between biographical sketches of Schulz and essays on "Peanuts," its characters and the resonance of Schulz's work with his fans. Also, the biographical chapters bounce around from his youth to the "present" (1989) and back again without a clear rhyme or reason. It isn't an ideal arrangement, and the flow of the book is sometimes hard to follow as a result; but the rare look inside the world of the comic strip we know and love is well worth the patience.
Schulz was a highly religious and private man, and it shows in all of the windows on his world that Johnson provides. From his humble beginnings in St. Paul to fame and fortune that he never quite seemed to accept, the quiet, somewhat troubled genius shows throughout the book, as do the sources of his dark and incredibly innovative comic strip. Although Johnson details plenty of defining episodes in Schulz's life (including a deliciously heartbreaking chapter about Donna Mae Johnson, the real-life "little red haired girl" who spurned his marriage proposal in 1950), she allows his private experiences to remain such. There's no dirty laundry here unless you count a few low-key but revealing remarks from Schulz about his politics.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Lee on November 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
The first full-length biography of Charles M. Schulz, dealing head-on with his feelings of shyness and loneliness, including new revelations such as the identity of the real-life Little Red-Haired Girl, and Schulz's struggles with agoraphobia...oh, you thought I was talking about "Schulz and Peanuts" by David Michaelis? No. Although all the reviews and articles about the Michaelis book breathlessly tout all the "new revelations" about Schulz, many of them actually first appeared here. For us Peanuts fans who only knew Schulz's story from his own writings in various anniversary & childrens' books, this book was like a gift from Heaven. Johnson traces a life a full of tragedy and triumph in a very engaging way. The tone is along the lines of a book-length People magazine profile, but she makes up for it with a wealth of detail, some memorable turns-of-phrase, and wit (something sorely missing from Michaelis' book). Obviously, the book doesn't cover the final decade of Schulz's life, and there are gaps(like the details of Schulz's first marriage) that the Michaelis book fills out. But this is a far more readable, pleasant book, though not without its poignant moments. In fact, for anyone unfamiliar with Schulz, I would tell them to read this book first, then the Michaelis book. I hope, in the midst of all the hype over the Michaelis book, that Good Grief gets some renewed attention. While it doesn't cover the Schulz story with the same depth as "Schulz and Peanuts", it's still a fine book. My only major gripe: no index!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By tvtv3 TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 24, 2002
Format: Paperback
Though Charles Schulz created one of the world's most popular comic strips and became a celebrity in the process, he remained a very private person. He was a rather simple man, and though he took the name of Charlie Brown from an old friend, Charles Schulz was the true soul of that lovable loser. GOOD GRIEF examines the life of Schulz, his work, and it's effect upon society. The book remains the most informative work on Schulz and gives insight into the inspiration for most of the Peanuts gang and even the story about the real "little red-haired girl". The only real flaw is that the book skips around from past to present from description to analysis from looking at Schulz to talking about one of his characters. It's not a bad style, but unfortunately in this case ruffles the flow of the biography. Nevertheless, it is a wonderful book for any Peanuts fan to read and also would be a good reference for anyone wanting to gain an apprectiation of one of the best comic strip artists of all time.
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